FAQs Community Housing

Frequently asked questions community housing

Frequently asked question (FAQs) about community housing 

We have put together information about community housing in a frequently asked questions format.  

How do I apply for accommodation?

You will need to make an on-line application to the Kingston Housing Register

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When will I hear back about my application?

Once you’ve completed your Housing Register application, it will be assigned to a Housing Options Officer to review and validate. We aim to turn around decisions on Housing Register applications within five working days, however, this may be longer if additional evidence is required or further investigations are necessary. You will be informed of whether or not your application has been successful by email or letter along with your login details. If your application has been unsuccessful, you will be informed of the reason for this. Back to top

How do you decide who gets a property?

Properties are allocated to meet individual households need reflecting the household composition and size of accommodation available as well as medical and social factors influencing the priority to move and type of accommodation needed. More information about this and how applications are prioritised or Banded can be found in the Allocations scheme.

As the demand for social housing in the borough is far higher than the supply, to complement the prioritisation of applications a system of re-housing quota targets operates to ensure that different categories of applicant for housing have a chance of being offered accommodation.

The targets are balanced between the needs of homeless households, existing tenants of the Council and Registered Provider (RP) partners who need to transfer and other applicants for housing.

The targets are reviewed annually to take into account the likely availability of homes during the year and to make the best possible use of the housing stock within the borough.

Progress in meeting the targets is reviewed monthly and if any customer categories are not achieving their re-housing target(s), properties may be advertised as only available to those specific target groups. Back to top

How do you take into account medical issues within my household?

You will be asked during your application whether you have a medical need. To help us establish what impact the medical need will have on your application, we will need a few details about your condition - what it is, how it affects your current housing circumstances, how serious it is and what treatment you’re receiving. You will need to complete a Medical Self-Assessment Form, which is available from the Kingston Council website as a downloadable document..

You should include as much information as possible to help us understand the impact your health condition has on your current housing. Simply stating that, for example, you have a bad leg does not help us assess your need. You should include any medical documents that support your application.

Your form and documents will be passed to our Medical Advisor for advice on the appropriate medical award – major/adverse, high, and low or none. You may also wish to provide us with contact information for medical professionals in case we need to make further enquiries. Back to top

How do you take into account social issues within my household?

In your application to the Housing Register you will have the opportunity to tell us a range of facts about your household and housing need.

Where you have made application to us as a consequence of homelessness we will also ask you to complete a Housing Needs Assessment form. This will provide you the opportunity to tell us a range of facts about your household including; where your children go to school, if you are offered support by any agency, where you work, your income and benefits and whether there are any social or medical factors that might limit where and what type of property you need. Back to top

How do I bid for accommodation?

A. Autobid

Most households will choose their own bids. However, this may not be possible for some individuals, either because they are unable to or because they are in a specific Target Group.

For those who cannot fully participate in the bidding process, we have Autobid - a system where bids are automatically placed for you against suitable propertie.

If you have a disability that means that you cannot participate in bidding, please contact the Housing Options Service to discuss your needs. Please note that Autoid is not open to those who want to use it to access the service solely as an alternative to bidding themselves.

All households in the Homeless Target Group will automatically be entered onto Autobid. Back to top

B. Bidding

One of the main changes introduced in the Housing Allocations Scheme in 2017 is that some households will only now receive one offer of suitable accommodation.

Bids made, whether by you or through Autobid, will be based solely on the information you provide and the banding you are consequently allocated. It is important that you keep your Housing Register entry up to date to avoid problems if you are a successful bidder. Back to top

Why am I being offered accommodation I didn't bid for?

The Allocations scheme also permits some Target Groups to receive a Direct Offer outside of properties advertised through the Choice Based Lettings system.

This occurs where a property is identified for a specific Target Group whose rehousing is based on ‘priority date of application’ or special request for accommodation e.g. Homeless Target Group, Sheltered Target Group, or Under-Occupiers. Back to top

How long will I have to wait for accommodation?

There is no set-time you will wait for an offer of accommodation through the Housing Register. With a Register open to new applicants, only approximately 250 lettings every year, and over 3000 current applications, it is more than likely the majority of applicants won’t be successful in securing an offer from the Register.

We are unable to predict vacancies and can’t therefore confirm the length of wait your application might be subject to but if you have specific preferences or need for location, size and type of property any wait will only likely increase given availability. Most properties we let are flats without access to a garden.

The average waiting time for those provided accommodation through the Housing Register in 2017/18 was as follows. Please note that this is only a guide to past lettings and is shown here for illustration purposes only and you should consider that these times may vary as explained above.

Homeless target group: Waiting Times of those rehoused 2017/18
 

Accommodation need

Sheltered

One bed

Two bed

Three Bed

Four bed +

Average Total

No. rehoused

11

27

47

20

4

109

Average Wait

4 Months

2 Years

6 Years

4 Years

6 Years

3.5 Years

 

@Home target group: Waiting Times of those rehoused 2017/18

Accommodation need

Sheltered

One bed

Two bed

Three Bed

Four bed +

Average Total

No. rehoused

1

3

15

3

0

22

Average Wait

2 Months

3 Years

2 Years

3 Years

   N/A

3 Years

 

Transfer target group: Waiting Times of those rehoused 2017/18

Accommodation need

Sheltered

One bed

Two bed

Three Bed

Four bed +

Average Total

No. rehoused

6

3

9

11

3

32

Average Wait

1.5 Years

3 Years

2.5 Years

3.5 Years

6 Years

5.5 Years

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How many homes do you let?

The number of permanent social housing lettings we offer have reduced over the years meaning that opportunity to secure a Council or Registered Provider (Housing  Association) home are limited. We are increasingly looking toward private landlords to help address the need for accommodation and to look outside of the local area to find homes for households.

Lettings 2011/2018:

Year

Council

Registered Provider

Total

2017/18

198

74

272

2016/17

203

92

295

2015/16

205

67

272

2014/15

Information not available

456

2013/14

354

2012/13

458

2011/12

328

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My circumstances have changed, what do I need to do?

It is your responsibility to maintain your Register entry. Failure to do so may mean that you miss an offer of accommodation or are removed from the Register. You will be able to access your entry online and we will issue you with a registration number and login details. You should report any changes to your household, living arrangements or medical needs, and update your entry with any changes of address, email or telephone number.

Once you have updated your record, your entry will initially be suspended whilst we reactivate your account. During this period you will not be able to bid for any accommodation, so we would recommend that you make any bids before updating your record.

We aim to enable changes of circumstances within 10 days so you should not miss out on any bidding opportunities if you remain entitled to be on the Housing Register.

Remember that it is an offence to obtain or attempt to obtain accommodation through the council by withholding or providing misleading information.

If you are in any doubt as to whether you should tell us about a change in your circumstances, please contact the Housing Options service.

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I am threatened with homelessness, how can the Council assist me? 

The Housing Register is very unlikely to resolve your housing need, so you should be contacting the Housing Options Service for advice on what preventative actions could take place. Complete the housing options homelessness form

The Housing Options service will look to prevent your homelessness by way of resolving any difficulties you may have with your landlord, look to see whether your tenancy can be extended, or invite you to join prevention schemes where appropriate.

Each case is different, so it is difficult to outline all that the service can do in the aim of preventing homelessness but in addition to the above we may be able to support you in securing a new property from a private landlord.

We will work with you to identify the right prevention options for you and develop a Personal Housing Plan so that you know what you need to do and what we can do.

Tenant Finder Service: This option is available to persons who are threatened with homelessness where the council would have a duty to provide long-term accommodation.

We help find an affordable private letting and offer a loan to provide advance rent and deposit monies to secure the accommodation.

To access this option you will need a referral from the Housing Options Service as part of a Personal Housing Plan. Back to top

I am homeless and being offered accommodation. What will this accommodation be?

We will look to help you find affordable private rented accommodation to meet your housing need but sometimes we may have to place you in emergency or temporary accommodation.

Due to the shortages of available accommodation, it may be that we have to place you outside of the borough for a period of time. In addition a temporary placement may offer accommodation with some shared facilities. If this is the case, we will endeavour to return you back to the borough and secure self-contained accommodation for you when alternative accommodation is available.

It is vital that you tell us about any changes in your household arrangements as we try to match, as best possible, accommodation available to your circumstances in order to reduce impact on journey times to school or work as much as possible. However sometimes we may offer accommodation in areas further away as a result of our not being able to obtain accommodation nearer to the borough.

You should also consider that we will look towards the provision of private rented accommodation as a solution to your housing need. Back to top

When will you move me back into borough?

If we have found you accommodation outside of the borough we will prioritise any move back to the borough according to our Temporary Accommodation Allocations policy

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When will I get my Council house?

We can't guarantee you an offer of either a Council property or a house. The majority of accommodation we allocate are flats on estates and very few properties have their own gardens.

We also nominate households to Housing Association vacancies that we are offered, so you may be offered a letting where Kingston Council is not your landlord. Back to top

Will I need furniture when I move to Temporary Accommodation?

The properties leased directly by the Council will be unfurnished with only a cooker provided. However if you require assistance with furniture, contact can be made with the Kingston Community Furniture Project on 020 8942 5500.

If you require furniture you may qualify for a budgeting loan or a Community Care fund, if you require any further information on these, please contact the DWP.

You may also contact our Older Vulnerable People Support Team and our Resettlement Support team, who may be able to assist you with obtaining furniture from various charities and voluntary organisation. If you require more information on this please telephone 0208 547 5819. Back to top

What will I have to do when I move in to the property?

If you are being provided a Council property or accommodation through the Council’s Private Leasing Scheme where your accommodation has a gas supply, Council contractors will visit the property on the day of your occupation to turn on your gas supply. You will need to be available on this day to allow the contractors access to your home to carry out this work. Back to top

Will I have to contact utility companies?

Yes. You will also be responsible to contact utility companies (gas, electric and water) to set up the billing in your name as well as contacting the relevant organisations about your change of address (e.g. DWP, Housing benefit etc). Back to top

What works am I allowed to do in the property?

You should always seek permission of your landlord for any works intended. Structural alterations will not be permitted but you will be allowed to decorate, but only in neutral colours. The properties offered will not normally provide a floor covering. You are allowed to put your own flooring down but if you occupy a flat above the ground floor, you will need to put down carpets and adequate underlay. Back to top

How do I pay for my accommodation?

If you are provided a Council home or Temporary Accommodation by the Council you should pay the rent for your council home in advance. You can pay:

  • every week on a Monday

  • or every month on the sixth

  • or every fortnight on the Monday

The easiest way to pay is by direct debit – that way you don’t need to keep remembering to pay your rent. But you can also pay online on the Councils website, pay by 24 hour phone line on 0345 359 1111, set up a standing order or pay at the Post Office.

If you are provided accommodation by the Council with a private landlord or Housing Association you will need to speak to your landlord about how they want their rent paid. The agreement to occupy your home provided by your landlord will normally explain their requirements about payments. Back to top

What do I do if I have trouble paying my rent?

You need to talk to your landlord. If you are a Kingston Council tenant you can contact Housing Finance Team on 020 8547 5003.

If you are experiencing problems paying your rent you may also qualify for benefits. You might be eligible to claim income and welfare benefits.

If you're having trouble paying your rent or dealing with other debts or loans, you can get help to manage your money.

You can get help from the Money Advice Service. Their service provides free advice on money matters including; managing money, running a bank account, planning your finances and cutting costs. It also offers advice on managing your debts so you can take control and borrow affordably. Back to top

I have rent arrears, will the Council be able to move me?

You will need to make arrangements to clear your debt with a repayment agreement ensuring the agreement is maintained for a period of six months. If you are a Kingston Council tenant you can contact Housing Finance Team on 020 8547 5003. Back to top

My circumstances have changed, do I have to tell the Council?

Yes, this is very important as we could offer help or information if the changes may cause a problem.

If your income or household composition has changed and you are claiming help pay for the accommodation you occupy you must inform the relevant office or department.

If you are claiming Housing Benefit from the Council you must complete the online change of circumstances form.

You are responsible for telling the Housing Benefit Department about any changes in your circumstances within a month of the change. If you need to make a new claim for Housing Benefit contact our benefits service. Some households will now need to apply for Universal Credit for help to pay their rent If you claim Universal Credit through Kingston Job Centre and would like to speak to someone, you can call 0800 328 9344. If you are housed in Kingston but your Universal Credit claim is through a different Job Centre Plus, please call 0800 328 5644.

If your household composition has changed, a new member has entered the household or someone has left, you need to update your application on the online Housing Register.

If you are being provided Temporary Accommodation by the Council as a consequence of your application as a homeless person (Housing Act 1996) and information about your household changes you will also need to complete a new Housing Needs Assessment form.

A change can include; a change in your household composition, where you work, where your children go to school, if you are provided support by any agency, a change in your income and benefits or any social or medical factors that might limit where and what type of property you need.

To complete and return a new Housing Needs Assessment form please contact the Housing Allocation Team at [email protected]

If you are claiming Universal Credit and your circumstances change you need to inform the DWP.  Back to top

How do I ask for a move?

A. If you are living in accommodation provided by the Council as temporary accommodation you can contact the Housing Allocations Office email at [email protected] or you can reach us on 0208 547 5125.

B. If your household composition has changed, a new member has entered the household or someone has left, you need to update your application to the Housing Register online.

You can provide any supporting information about your need to move to the Housing Allocation Team & complete a new Housing Needs Assessment form.

If you are an existing Council or Housing Association tenant, renting privately or living with family or friends or in any other circumstances and needing a move you can apply to the Housing Register.

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How do I get a repair done?

A. If you are living in Temporary Accommodation provided by the Council through our Hostel or Private Lease Scheme you can contact the Temporary Accommodation Team via email at [email protected] or by phone on 020 8547 6755

B. If you are living in accommodation provided through a private landlord as Temporary Accommodation, you will need to contact both the provider and the Housing Allocations Department at [email protected]

C. If you are a Council tenant you need to contact the Housing Contact Centre on 020 8547 5003

D. If you are renting from a landlord other than the Council you will need to contact that landlord directly. Back to top


I have been offered a home by the Council, Why have I been offered a private tenancy?

We can discharge our duty to accommodate homeless households who have applied to us under Housing Act 1996 (Part VII) into private rented accommodation. We will increasingly use private rented accommodation to find homes for applicants where the supply of social housing remains limited and does not meet demand. Back to top

When can I view a property offered?

We will contact you to arrange this. It is therefore important you keep your contact details updated on your Housing Register application. You can check your details on the housing register and keep them up to date. Back to top

How long do I have to decide to take-up the offer of accommodation made?

If you do wish to refuse that accommodation offered, we would ask that you view the property but at a viewing we will require you to confirm your acceptance or refusal of the property offered. Failure to advise will be treated as a refusal. Back to top

How many offers of accommodation will I get?

We only make one offer of accommodation that meets your housing need and is reasonable for your household to occupy. This offer is based on the information you have provided to us and as such you need to ensure the information you have provided to us on your Housing application and Housing Needs assessment form matches your housing requirements. This means you need to update your housing application online to reflect any change in your household and to inform us of any relevant medical or social factors influencing the type and location of property you need.

If you refuse an offer of accommodation considered reasonable for you to occupy, your application to the Housing Register may be suspended and any temporary accommodation currently provided will be withdrawn. Back to top

Why is the property offered to me unfurnished?

We let unfurnished property. This affords you the opportunity to choose the furniture and fixtures you want. We do ensure provision of cooker within lettings, however if you require assistance with furniture, contact can be made with the Kingston Community Furniture Project on 020 8942 5500

You may also contact our Older Vulnerable People Support Team and our Resettlement Support team, who may be able to assist you with obtaining furniture from various charities and voluntary organisation. If you require more information on this please telephone 0208 547 5819.

Furthermore, you may qualify for a budgeting loan or help under the Community Care fund. If you require any further information, please contact the DWP.

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Will the property be ready for me to move into?

If you are being provided accommodation on an emergency basis, the accommodation will be available in most circumstances for you to move directly into.

Where you do not require accommodation on an emergency basis you may find you are offered and view a property that is not ready for your immediate occupation. A letting may require some works before you can move in. Some works might be done around you once you have occupied your new home. The housing officer showing you the property will be able to offer you some advice on this.  Back to top

How do I refuse a property offered?

We would always ask that customers view accommodation. However, if  you have compelling reason why the offer of accommodation is unsuitable we would ask that you confirm this immediately by email to the Housing Allocations Team at [email protected]

giving your reasons why. Please include your name and the address of the property offered in any communication.

In refusing an offer of accommodation you must provide supporting information why the type or location of a property would be unreasonable for your household to occupy. This is required by Housing Allocation Team within 24 hours of the offer being made to you. You also have a right to a review of the offer. Back to top

How do I request a review of the offer?

You have a right to a review of the accommodation offered to you but as explained above it would be helpful to request this as soon as possible. However, in law if you wish to exercise this right, please write to the Lead Officer of the Allocations team within 21 days of receiving your offer or decision.

We recommend that anyone who asks for a review of the accommodation offered to them should accept the offer and move into the property. Doing so will mean you are protected if the review finds that the accommodation was reasonable for you to move into.

Should you elect not to do so and the review finds that the accommodation was reasonable, it may be that the property has been let to another household and you will have lost your opportunity. In that situation, we will look to suspend you from the Register and, if you are in the Homeless Target Group, bring to an end any duty owed to you.

If the review finds that your offer was unsuitable, then the offer will not count. If you have already moved into the accommodation, you will be placed into the Transfer Target Group and you can bid again.

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What do I need to bring with me when I pick-up the keys to a property?

Before you collect the keys for any property we offer you, we will require proof of your identity and that of the members of your household. You should bring this to any viewing of a property and any subsequent meeting arranged with the landlord.

At some viewings you may be provided an agreement to let the property immediately. On other occasions you may be asked to return to the landlord’s office to complete an agreement for the property. In either circumstance you should complete online a provisional calculation of entitlement to housing benefit. It will help you identify how much help you might qualify to pay the charge or rent for the property.

You will also need to bring with you to any meeting to collect keys and complete agreements for the property, your bank or building society details in order to enter into a direct debit agreement to pay for the accommodation.

If you are moving between different temporary accommodation provided by the Council you will need to ensure you complete your application for the Housing Register.

You must also notify the relevant benefit departments of any change in your address and ensure you make an immediate claim for help with rent payments.

If you are being provided temporary accommodation as a consequence of your homeless application (Housing Act 1996) you can claim housing benefit from the council online.

If you are otherwise moving to a property we have found for you but are not homeless you will need to claim Universal Credit with the Department of Works and Pensions online. Back to top

How do I ensure I will receive help to pay my rent?

You must make an immediate claim for benefits

You must provide original documents to the relevant benefit agency confirming proof of your income, your liability to pay for the accommodation provided and your household.

For help and advice about how to claim benefits to pay for your accommodation you can speak to the Housing Finance Team on 020 8547 5003 Back to top

How do I move to another borough?

Homefinder UK advertises social housing properties from across the UK. Homefinder UK aims to help homeless households and social housing tenants find a home anywhere within social housing.

Seaside & Country Homes scheme helps social housing tenants move from London to seaside and countryside locations. The scheme is open to people living in council or housing association properties in London where at least one member of the household is age 55 or above.

More details about Homefinder and to apply for the scheme.

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How do I exchange properties with another household?

Swapping homes (tenancies) is the quickest way to move home if you’re a council or housing association tenant. You can swap homes with other social housing tenants in the borough or anywhere across the country.  

If you’re in sheltered housing, you can only swap tenancies with other sheltered tenants.

You can swap to a different type of property, for example, from a flat to a house and you can choose a property with an extra bedroom or adapted for a disabled person. You can also swap homes with a council or housing association tenant in a different part of the country.

To register your home for an exchange you can provide your property details and the accommodation you seek on following exchange websites:

http://www.homeswapper.co.uk

http://www.houseexchange.org.uk

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