All bids received will be put in priority order to produce a list of eligible applicants for each property advertised. The landlord of the property will carry out any outstanding eligibility checks, (e.g. rent checks, household circumstance checks).
If your name is at the top of the priority list you will normally be invited to view the property unless there are reasons why we are unable to do this, for example, you have rent arrears, the Council is taking legal action against you for breaching a tenancy condition, or there is discrepancy with your application. We will also not be able to offer you the property if your family is too large for the property. This could be because you have placed a bid for a property which has specified it is only suitable for a one person household and you have more than one person moving with you. We may also consider your family to be too large for a council property if allowing you to accept would cause unacceptable overcrowding from the start of the tenancy. Housing associations will not permit overcrowding in their properties so if you have placed a bid for a housing association property and they consider your household to be too large according to their own policies, we will not be able to nominate you to them. If the property you have bid for has specified that it is only for people of a certain age, for example 50+, all the people on your application must be at least that age to qualify. If you have a person on your application who is under the specified age we will not be able to offer you the property. Occasionally, we will advertise a property which is designated for Southwark council and Housing Association tenants who are currently overcrowded. A council or housing association tenant is the person/s who are responsible for paying the rent to Southwark Council or the housing association and the person/s who are named on the Southwark Council or housing association tenancy agreement as being the tenant/s. If you bid for one of these properties and you are not currently a Southwark council or housing association tenant who is overcrowded, we will not be able to consider your bid as you do not meet the advertised criteria. We will also not be able to offer you the property if you already have an offer of another property. If we are unable to offer the property to the applicant at the top of the list we will move to the next applicant and so on.
Local lettings scheme
Occasionally we will advertise properties which will be clearly marked as giving priority to tenants living in the local lettings area. These may be newly created properties as part of the hidden homes projects or newly built council housing.In these cases, the identified local lettings area information will usually be available to view on the website. The local lettings filter which identifies all eligible applicants is applied after the close of the bidding cycle. Please be aware that if you place a bid for a property advertised in this way and you do not live in the local lettings area, your final position will differ from your bidding history as all eligible tenants will be offered in the first instance
If you have been given an accepted homeless decision, any medical recommendations given by the independent medical advisor will be considered should you place a successful bid. The council has a responsibility to ensure that any property offered is suitable to fulfil their obligations to you as a homeless person. If the property you have bid for does not meet these medical recommendations, your bid will be discounted and the offer will not be made . A letter will be sent to you to inform you in these circumstances.
Southwark Council now has a refusal policy. If households refuse three reasonable offers within a 12 month period they will be placed in the lowest priority band. Please read the refusal policy below.
Refusing an offer of accommodation from Southwark Council
As a customer of Southwark Council we want you to have a choice in applying for where you want to live and therefore we operate a “Choice-Based Lettings scheme”.
The Council will support you in every way it can to secure a new home, through conducting the relevant assessment and awarding you with priority. We will also provide advice on the best housing option available to you, and present clear transparent information on the properties we have and their availability.
In return we expect you to place bids only on properties you are interested in to ensure that you only attend the viewing of a new home where you realistically expect and hope to reside. To ensure that you are re-housed as quickly as possible the Council has now adopted a “refusals policy” for all offers of accommodation and nominations to housing associations.
Making your bid count
• You don’t need to bid every week
• Read the property advertisement carefully
• Ensure the property will meet your households needs
• Research the local area
• Make sure you can afford the rent and service charges
• Check if you are affected by any Housing Association policies if bidding on non council property.
1.1 If you refuse three properties that you placed a bid for within a 12 month period, your priority will be reduced and you will be placed in Band 4 on the date of the 3rd refusal for a period of 12 months.
1.2 Failure to attend a viewing without valid reason counts as a refusal against you. You may be asked to provide evidence to support any statements made regarding failure to attend
1.3 You can withdraw your bid any time before midnight on a Sunday, by logging into Homesearch at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk. You may also have an opportunity to refuse the property if we are able to speak to you directly when we arrange the initial viewing.
1.4 Homeless applicants owed a full homelessness duty under section 193(2) or 195(2) of the Housing Act 1996, will only receive one reasonable offer and refusal of that offer will result in the discharge of Southwark Council‘s homelessness duty.
1.5 Each time you refuse a property following viewing you will be asked to complete refusal paperwork that asks you why you refused an offer. If you do not complete the form your refusal will still be recorded and count as unreasonable. The Council will contact you in writing so you will be aware of how many refusals you have recorded against your file.
1.6 Any applicant whose priority is reduced will be provided with written notification of the decision that will contain the following information:
a) The reasons for the decision to reduce priority
b) The band that their housing circumstances would have warranted and the band that they have been placed in as a result of the London Borough of Southwark‘s decision
c) The applicant‘s right to request a review against the decision and what they have to do before they can be considered again for any higher band warranted by their housing needs.
d) That any request for a review of the decision must be made in writing within 21 days of written notification of the decision.
e) That any review will be dealt with by a Senior Officer not involved in the original decision.
f) All appeals will be dealt with within 28 days from receipt of the appeal and the applicant advised of the outcome.
1.7 It is your responsibility to read property advertisements carefully, taking note of the information icons against each property.
1.8 If someone is bidding on your behalf it is your responsibility to ensure you are aware of what properties they are applying for and that they are instructed accordingly.
2.0 Nominations to Housing Association Partners
2.1 Bids for Housing Association properties are not exempt from this policy and in the event of a refusal, officers will ask you to fill out refusal paperwork.
2.2 Each property advertisement makes clear that specific Housing Association policies may apply. These conditions vary between each organisation and include, but are not limited to:
• No pets
• The age at which children get their own bedroom
• Fixed term tenancy
• Rent in advance
Please make relevant enquiries with our partner housing associations if you have any concerns or wish to find out more about their policies. Each Housing Association’s policy is published on their own website, which we would advise you view before placing a bid.
3.0 Reasonable offers:
The Council will ensure that its properties meet the required standard at the time of letting. In some cases works may still be required to properties before a tenancy can commence. Your viewing officer will advise you of this together with an indication of when the property will be ready for occupation. Copies of the Council’s lettable standard are available from your viewing officer.
Some customers have refused offers of properties they had successfully bid for which can be time consuming for them as well as staff. It also delays the properties being offered to those who really want them, as such the Council now has a refusal policy in place.
Here are some tips to consider before you make your bid.
Is the property close to family or friends, or facilities you need, for example schools, nurseries, doctors, shops, buses or trains? Property adverts include some local information.
The adverts should indicate whether the bedrooms are single or double.
The adverts will give details of the floor levels of the properties and also indicate if lifts are available.
If you are offered a property you will not be short listed for other properties until you have decided to either accept or refuse the offer.
If you accept the property you will be advised when you can move in. You will also be given an appointment to come into the Housing Advice Centre to sign the tenancy agreement and collect the keys. This is normally during the week before the Monday that your tenancy starts.