Frequently Asked Questions

You must have been accepted onto the housing register to be able to apply for properties through BCP Homechoice. Anyone aged 16 years or over may apply to join the housing register.
The houses we advertise are owned by BCP Council, or Housing associations so, by law, we have to check that you are eligible to apply for housing. We also have to make sure we allocate tenancies fairly. By registering, we have the information we need to make sure that those who have the greatest need are given priority for housing.
You will need to complete an application form online, see Registration page

If you have no access to the internet, please contact the organisation you want apply to (details on the Contact page).
You will be considered to have a local connection with a BCP local authority partner if you meet at least one of the reasons listed below:

A. You work in the local authority area for sixteen hours or more per week and have done so for the last 12 months; or

B. You have lived in the local authority area for at the last two years continuously ; or

C. You are owed a Prevention, Relief or full housing duty under the relevant homelessness legislation by BCP Council ; or

D. You are owed a Prevention, Relief or Full housing duty by BCP Council under homelessness legislation.

E. You need to move to the BCP Council area to give or receive essential and critical support where failure to do so would cause significant harm and where a move to social housing in the Council area is the only way to meet these support needs. Applicants who meet these criteria will be awarded Silver Band – Need to Move to Give of Receive Support. No further banding award will be made.

F. There are special circumstances such as health or support needs that are only available within the Council area, for example specialist medical facilities or care provisions.

G. You are assessed as having an urgent (emergency) need due to imminent risk of abuse, harm or racial or homophobic harassment, extreme anti-social behaviour, vulnerable witnesses or any other significant and/or immediate need to move to more suitable alternative housing accommodation, where a move to social housing is the only suitable accommodation option.

H. Due to institutionalisation, hospital admission or other regulation are not otherwise nonqualifying persons due to lack of local connection to the Council area being applied to (e.g. 27 offenders managed under MAPPA, and where BCP social housing is determined as the only suitable accommodation option

I. You are a victim of domestic abuse and have been placed into temporary accommodation or a refuge in the BCP Council area.

J. You are a ‘looked after child’ as defined by Children’s Services and were formerly resident in the Council area but have had to be placed into accommodation outside of the area.

K. You have been assessed as having an exceptional housing need, but do not otherwise meet the local connection criteria, and would qualify for an Emergency Band Direct Offer of accommodation.

L. You are aged over 55 years and living in the BCP Council area but do not otherwise meet the local connection criteria and would like to move to housing for older people, over 55 or sheltered accommodation.

M. You are an existing social housing tenant who lives outside of the BCP area and have been assessed as meeting the Right To Move qualifying criteria.

N. You are currently serving with the regular armed forces, or left within 5 years of the date of the application (referred to in the Silver Band as Service Personnel).

O. You have been asked to leave accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence because your spouse or civil partner was serving in the regular armed forces and has died, and that his or her death was attributable (wholly or partly) to that service (referred to in the Silver Band as Service Personnel).

P. You are serving or have served in the reserve forces and are suffering from a serious injury, illness or disability which is attributable (wholly or partly) to that service.

Q. You are divorcing/separating partners of serving members of the Armed Forces and you are being asked to leave accommodation which has been provided by the Ministry of Defence.

R. You are living in commissioned supported housing within the Council area and have been recommended for move on.

S. You are fleeing domestic violence from outside of the BCP Council area but have been placed into a refuge or temporary accommodation within the BCP Council area.

T. You have had a break in local connection, for not more than 6 months due to an enforced move not covered elsewhere in the policy, and had previously been living in the BCP Council area for a minimum of 10 years.
If you do not have an email address to allow you to register, you should contact us using the details on the Contact page to discuss this further. Alternatively, you can see one up using any of the following links:

Hotmail or Outlook

Google (Gmail)

Yahoo
For all the BCP partners, along with your application form you will need to provide the following:

- Proof of identity for all household members (e.g. passports, birth certificates)

- Proof of current address (e.g. recent utility bill)

- Evidence of your right to reside in the UK if you are not a British Citizen (e.g. passport & other relevant Home Office documentation)

- Proof of income and other financial details

- Supporting information about any medical issues or support you receive (if this applies to you)
It is now possible for applicants who already have an account to log into their account and upload more documents if required by the council.

Log in to your account and click ‘Add supporting documents to my application’. You'll be given a drop down list of document types to upload for various household members. For example, passport, child benefit award letter, doctors letters or an OT letter for a medical issue.

Applicant’s will receive the email receipt either when they have clicked that have added all the documents and /or when they click a button that says ‘Email me a receipt of documents uploaded in this session’.

Your document is then sent to the council and added automatically to your application, there is no need to contact the council unless advised to do so.
If documents are not received within 28 days of making an application (or them being requested from you by the organisation you applied to), your application will be cancelled, and you will need to make a new one.

If you have a problem getting the requested information within 28 days (e.g. you are waiting for a new passport or birth certificate to be sent to you), please discuss this with the organisation you have applied to.
Once you have submitted your application, it can take between 4 to 6 weeks for it to be assessed.

You may be asked for supporting information before a decision can be made on your eligibility to the register. When a decision has been made, you will be sent an email or letter which will explain your banding, and your bedroom need.

Only contact us if you haven’t heard from us within 6 weeks.
You will receive an email or letter confirming that you have been accepted onto the housing register. This will tell you the band you have been placed in, the date your application has been registered from and the size of property you are eligible for.
There are some people who are not eligible to be included on the Housing Register.
These are:

- Certain people who are subject to Immigration Control under the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act.)

- Certain people who are not subject to immigration control but who are not habitually resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.

- Those that have been found to have deliberately worsened their own circumstances to join the housing register

- Those that have been found to make a fraudulent application in order to join the housing register

- Those that have the financial means to resolve their own homelessness

- Those that do not have a housing need
Normally you would not be eligible however there may be circumstances where this can be reconsidered (such as if an applicant is in severe negative equity or have a medical need which cannot be met in their current home) and so it will be best to discuss this further with your Local Authority
While there is not a set limit to the amount you have in savings, if when your application is assessed it is decided you have enough in savings to meet your needs on the open market, you may be deemed ineligible for entry onto the Housing Register.
BCP Homechoice uses a banding scheme to prioritise applications with 4 different bands.

 

Please select the band for further information:


Emergency
Gold
Silver
Bronze

Your application will be assessed according to your level of housing need and placed into a band, within each band applications are placed in date order. More information about how we prioritise applications can be found on Prioritising Applications page.

Properties are advertised each week. In the 'Search for Homes' box you can enter the number of bedrooms you require and click search. If you just press Search without selecting a property type or area, all available properties will be displayed.

The adverts tell you the landlord, location, size, rent and other features of the property to help you decide which properties are right for you.

Where available a photograph of the property, or a similar property, is provided and you can access information about the local area and facilities.

The advert also tells you if there are any special requirements that you must meet, such as age requirements, or a priority due to adaptations . If you do not meet the requirements stated you may still be able to apply for the property providing it is suitable for your family size, however another household may be put forward for the property, if they meet the requirements.

You can only bid for a property that is suitable for your family size.

You can express your interest or "bid", as it is also known, online through our website.

You will be able to bid for a maximum of 6 properties.

 

All bids received will be put in priority order to produce a shortlist of eligible applicants for each property advertised. We use your housing needs band and priority date to put these in order.

If you are at the top of the shortlist 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 or the council is taking legal action against you for breaching a tenancy condition. If we are unable to offer the property to the person at the top of the shortlist, we will move to the next person and so on.

If you decide to refuse the property, it will be offered to the next person on the shortlist. You will not normally be penalised for refusing a property and will continue to be able to bid for properties advertised. However, if you have had a full homeless duty accepted you should talk to your Housing Officer before refusing any properties because it may end the homeless duty and you may be asked to leave any temporary accommodation provided.

If you are offered a property, you will not be shortlisted for other properties until you have decided to either accept or refuse the offer.

You may have to pay some rent in advance when you sign the tenancy for a property. The information about how much this is likely to be should be in the advert. The amount varies depending on the landlord of the property - some don't ask for any rent in advance but you may be asked to pay anywhere between 1 week & 1 month in advance.

If you are worried about the amount because you have a low income or receive benefits, you can contact the landlord to discuss your circumstances and get advice. It is usual for landlords to carry out an affordability assessment to see what you can afford to pay and whether you can afford the rent on the property.

Because it is now more common for landlords to ask for rent in advance, you will need to prepare yourself for this. If at all possible, you should save as much as can while you are bidding for properties so that you will not have to find the whole amount for the rent in advance if you are offered a property. Home-Link landlords would strongly advise you not to borrow money to pay the rent in advance, especially not from lenders with high rates of interest such as payday loans.

It is very important that you tell us as soon as possible about any changes in your circumstances because it could change your priority on the housing register, or the type and size of property you can bid for.

You can amend your details by logging in and updating your application form.

We will tell you if this results in your application moving to a different band.
Yes, once a year, normally on the anniversary of your application you will be asked to review your application on-line. If you fail to complete the review within 28 days, your application will be cancelled In the month before you are due a review, you will see a message when you log in to your Homechoice account, asking you to select either:

- Yes, my circumstances have changed

Or

- No, my circumstances have not changed 

‘Yes, my circumstances have changed’ should be selected if any of the following have taken place since you originally applied to join the Housing Register, and a new online form will need to be completed, detailing any such changes:

a) A change of address

b) People joining or leaving the household

c) A relationship breakdown

d) A significant change to the medical circumstances of anyone included on the application

e) A significant change of capital (savings) Please note that you will be unable to bid or considered for properties whilst your review application is being assessed.

‘No, my circumstances have not changed’ should be selected to confirm that you wish to stay on the register and there are no significant changes to your application.

Examples of the type of changes where you can also select this option are:

a) Pregnancy/birth of a child

b) Death of a joint applicant or household member

c)  Change of employer, working hours or income

d)  A small change in capital (savings)

e)  If your email address or telephone number has changed (as this can be edited by you on your ‘account’ page when you are logged in to BCP Homechoice)

However, for examples a) and b) in this category you must contact the Council you are registered with, who will advise what documentation is required to enable your records to be up-dated.

If someone in your household has a medical condition you will be asked to provide details, which may then be considered by the organisation you have applied to. As well as considering whether to add any extra priority to your application, they will look at which properties are suitable for you and your household, such as whether you need a ground floor flat or bungalow if you cannot climb stairs.

If you bid for properties that have been assessed as unsuitable for you after the decision, your bid will not be considered.
While we can appreciate the need for additional room while pregnant, as per the BCP Allocations Policy, your bedroom size will remain the same until you have had your child. In order for us to award you the additional bedroom need, you will need to provide us with their Birth Certificate.
Properties available for rent are advertised each week. More information about bidding for properties can be found on FAQ - What is bidding?
Properties are advertised on this website daily. Click on Search for Homes
The adverts will tell you the landlord, location, size, rent and other features of the property. Where available a photograph of the property, or a similar property type, will be provided and you will be able to access information about the local area and facilities.

The advert will also tell you if there are any special requirements that you must meet, such as age requirements and whether certain people will be given priority for the property.

It also tells you the number of bedrooms that applicants applying for the property need to be entitled to. If your bedroom entitlement is different to this you will not be able to bid for that property.
You can express your interest (bid) in the following ways:

Online through our website on the Search for Homes
or
Make a Bid page
Unless you have been accepted as homeless, you will not normally be penalised for refusing a property that you have been offered and will still be able to express interest in properties that become available. If you are a homeless applicant, you need to talk to the officer dealing with your case before refusing a property as it may mean the duty towards you ends and you may be asked to leave any temporary accommodation that has been provided.
You will be able to bid on a maximum of six properties at any one time.
Properties will be advertised every day and will be available for you to place bids for a minimum of 6 days
Yes, when you bid for a property you will be told approximately where you are in the queue. This is only your position at the time you bid and is likely to change frequently due to other people bidding for the same property.

Using this information you may decide to withdraw your bid for one property and bid for a different property for which you are higher placed in the queue. You can do this at any time before the closing date.
Once the closing date for bids has passed a shortlist of interested applicants is drawn up. The shortlist is in order of eligibility according to the criteria stated in the advert details for that property. The applicant at the top of the list will normally be offered the property.

There are more details on FAQ - What is an Offer.
You may not be invited to view the property for the following reasons:

- You owe rent or have other housing related debts

- You are a council or housing association tenant and legal action has been taken against you because you have broken your tenancy conditions

- You have sufficient resources to solve your own housing problems

- You have not provided the required documentary evidence to support your application by the date given

- Your circumstances have changed and this results in a reduction in your level of priority

- You have provided incorrect or misleading information, which has resulted in your application being awarded a higher priority than it deserves

Some landlords may ask to see up to date documents to prove your identity and current circumstances. This will be the case even though you supplied documents at the point of registering on BCP Homechoice.
Yes. You will be given an opportunity to view the property and decide whether you would like to accept it.
Information about homes that have been successfully let is published on the website. We tell you the number of applicants that expressed an interest in each property, the band and the registration date of the successful applicant for each property.

To see the results of properties that have been let, click on Outcomes (Shortlists) at the bottom of the page.
It will give you a better idea of how popular a particular property or area is and how long you would normally have to wait. You can then decide whether to look for other types of property or areas where you may not have to wait as long.
It is likely that you will have to pay some rent when you sign the tenancy. Most landlords now ask for rent in advance but how much varies. For more information, look at the question - What is an Offer?.
You will normally have to provide your own carpets and appliances.
There is a severe shortage of homes in the BCP area. Most applicants on the housing register will have to wait a long time for re-housing and many of those in the lower bands will have little chance of re-housing in the area.

Depending on your circumstances you may wish to consider other options such as renting in the private sector.

If you are a current social housing tenant (your landlord is a council or housing association) you can register for a mutual exchange.
Households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days need to contact the Housing Options service at the council for the area they live in for advice.

They will work with you to try to prevent you becoming homeless and will discuss your housing options with you. If this is unsuccessful, and you meet the homelessness legal requirements, you may be offered temporary housing.

Until you have been accepted as homeless, you may still express an interest in properties through BCP, providing your application has been accepted on the housing register.

Once you have been accepted as homeless, the council may place bids for you on suitable properties or limit the amount of time you have to bid, to reduce the time you have to spend in temporary housing - please check with the council you applied to. If you are accepted as homeless you may also be offered a private rented property that is suitable for you.
If you disagree with any of the following decisions you can request a review:

- You are not eligible to join the housing register

- You are not eligible for an offer

- Your application has been cancelled other than at your own request

- You think that you have been placed in the wrong band or given the wrong priority date

To request a review you must contact the organisation who made the decision within 21 days of the date you are notified of the decision and the reason for it. You may provide additional information in writing that you wish to be taken into account when the review is carried out. You will normally be advised of the outcome of the review within 8 weeks. You may not request a further review.
The Government has committed to protect the rights of EEA nationals who are residing in the UK following our departure from the EU.

EEA nationals and their family members, including those with a right to reside, will need to have applied to the Home Office under the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30th June 2021 to secure their long-term immigration status in the UK.

Those with less than 5 years’ residence in the UK will be granted limited leave to enter or remain (also referred to as ‘pre-settled status’). Those with 5 or more years’ residence will be granted indefinite leave to enter or remain (also referred to as ‘settled status’).

When being considered for social housing, you will be asked to provide the online 'share code' under the EU Settlement Scheme as proof of your immigration status.

Further guidance on this is available at Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme