A guide to renting one of our homes

We have put together some answers to questions we frequently get asked about renting a home with us, we hope you find them helpful.

How do I rent one of your homes?

We advertise all of our general needs and sheltered properties on Choice Based Lettings systems (CBLs) which are run in partnership with the Local Authority. Click here to find your local CBL system. Before you can bid on a property, you need to register and you will be given a banding. Once this is done, you will need to log on every week and bid on properties.
Occasionally we advertise properties using different methods like Gumtree or on Facebook pages, in addition to the CBLs. If you see something you are interested in on a different forum then get in touch via the contact details provided in the advert.

My banding is low – what can I do?

Banding is assessed and decided on by the local authority and we don’t have any say in this. If you feel that the banding is not accurate, then you would need to speak to the relevant local authority.

How does shortlisting work?

When the advert on a CBLs website is live – you can place your bid. When the advert has closed, the system will sort all of the bids in order of banding (highest band and longest length in that band at the top). We then work our way through the shortlist, from the top down. Depending on how many bids there have been, this can take a long time.

I am having difficulty trying to place a bid – is there something wrong?

There may be restrictions on the property that you do not meet (for example if you are a two bedroom four person household but the property can only sleep three people). In the first instance, you should contact the local authority for help. Unfortunately, we cannot place a bid for you and we are unable to see the system from a customer perspective.

How many bids will I get?

This varies between local authorities and you should be told this when you register.

What happens if I refuse the property?

Some local authorities may take people off of the register if they refuse a certain amount of properties without good reason. Additionally, if you have a homeless duty you may be expected to accept the first property you are offered. If you have any questions on this then you would need to discuss with the relevant local authority.

When will I hear from you after I have bid?

There is no set time frame. We try and shortlist as soon as we can after the bidding has closed, but this is dependent on how many empty homes we have at that time and how many people have bid. The important thing is to make sure your contact information is kept up to date.

I am top of the shortlist but have not heard from you?

We may not have started the shortlisting yet, or you may not meet the criteria needed. For example, if the property has a local connection requirement and you do not meet this we will not contact you. We will automatically move on to the next applicant. 

You should make sure that all the information relevant to your housing application is clear and up to date. For example, if you have a different address to what is listed on your CBL application or people have moved in or out,  we would have to check with the local authority and would likely have to skip you due to a change in circumstances.

It is also really important to keep your contact information up to date – we mainly contact people by telephone and email. Check your junk mail folder in your email inbox and listen to your voicemails. If you have a weak broadband signal we suggest that you put a nominated contact onto your application so that we can speak to them instead. You have a limited amount of time to respond to us once we have made contact so provide us as much information as possible so that we can get hold of you.

What information will I need to provide if my bid is successful?

If we get to you on the shortlist this does not mean it is an offer of a property. First of all, we will carry out a Housing Assessment Form over the telephone with you. This normally takes about half an hour. There are lots of personal questions in this form and it is best that you are somewhere private when we do this. We will ask you questions about your finances, your health and the makeup of your household. 
After the telephone call, we will ask you to send us some documents, normally by email. Items we usually ask for are: 
•    Photographic ID for all members of the household
•    Proof of your current address (usually a utility bill) 
•    Three months’ worth of bank statements.
•    If the property you have applied for has a local connection requirement – we will also ask for proof of this. 
•    We may also ask for medical or support evidence, payslips, and sometimes character references. We will seek a reference from your current or previous landlord, and we may run a credit check too. 
This part of the process is called verification and this would need to be completed before we could formally offer you a property. Sometimes we will arrange for a Housing Officer to visit you at your current address as part of the verification process.

When can I view the property?

We will try and arrange access for you to view the property in the first week that it is empty, providing that it is safe to do so. It is important to keep an open mind at the viewing, as it is unlikely you will be seeing the finished product. We will try and give you as much information as possible as to what work we will do before its ready to let.

Will you decorate the property?

We do not usually decorate our properties, but in most cases, we will issue you with a paint pack so that you can do this yourself. 

Do you provide carpets or white goods?

Our standard is to provide non-slip flooring in the kitchen and bathroom, but we do not provide other flooring or white goods. Sometimes we will gift (see below) carpets if they have been left in good condition by the previous tenant. Occasionally some of our properties will come with in-built ovens which would also be gifted, but this is very rare and you would usually have to provide these items for yourself.

What is gifting?

Gifting is when something is left in the property, for example, carpets from a previous tenant or a shed in the garden, and it means that it comes with the property but is not something that we will maintain or repair.

When should I give notice to my current landlord?

We recommend you contact your current landlord and they will be able to confirm this. We will keep you updated as to when we expect you to sign up, but please note that any dates we give may be subject to change.

Do I have to pay a deposit?

We do not take deposits but we do ask for four weeks' rent in advance before we would allow any sign up to go ahead. It is a condition of our tenancy agreements that you are in credit by this amount throughout your tenancy. You will be sent a link to pay this online by our lettings team before the signup appointment goes ahead and you will need to show us that this has been paid before we would give you the keys.

When can I move in?

We will arrange a signup appointment when we know an anticipated date that the property will be ready to let. This can vary depending on if any work is needed in the property, but you will be kept up to date by your Lettings Adviser.

What is a sheltered property?

Sheltered properties are designed for older people and are usually let to people aged 60 or over. Sometimes they will have additional services like a warden or alarm systems in place. 

What is the difference between social and affordable rent?

Social rented homes are our lowest cost rented homes. They are generally older homes or new homes built using government grants or funding to support the development of much needed homes. The government grants we receive to build these homes mean rents are much lower than both affordable and private sector market rents.
Affordable rented homes are rented to our residents at 20% lower than the market rent for the area. These homes offer opportunities to rent a home in an area of choice below market rents with a social landlord. They are often newer homes that have been built using our surplus and borrowing with very little or no government grant funding.  Charging a slightly higher rent than our social rented homes means that we are able to fund and build much more needed homes that would otherwise not be available. 
If you are in a larger household you may be subject to the benefit cap if applying for an affordable rented property, which means that you might have to pay a top up towards your rent in addition to what your benefits will cover. 

Register with your local choice-based lettings scheme below:

Bath and North East Somerset Homesearch

Bristol Homechoice

Cornwall Homechoice

Devon Homechoice

Dorset Homechoice

Gloucestershire Homeseeker

Homes 4 Wiltshire 

North Somerset Homechoice

South Gloucestershire Homechoice

Homes for local people 

We recognise that we are in desperate need of more affordable housing in many of our communities and it is important that our homes are allocated to families who have a connection to the area where the homes are built. We work with our colleagues within the local authority to develop allocations criteria to ensure that the much needed homes go to residents from the locality in the highest housing need (more details about specific local connection criteria relating to advertised homes can be found through your local choice based lettings scheme.) 

Are you rent ready?

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