Changes to the Housing Allocations Policy
Our Housing Allocations Policy is used to decide who can join the housing register and the priority they should have for rehousing.
There are currently far more people applying for social housing than we have properties available to accommodate them. There are currently over 10,000 households on Lewisham’s housing register and less than 1,000 properties, on average, available for letting each year.
While we continue to deliver hundreds of new social homes for Lewisham residents, it would still take us many years to make an offer of a property to most households on the register. The current average waiting time for a property can be up to 30 years, depending on the number of bedrooms you need. Many will never be successful in securing a property through the register. We feel it is important to be honest and upfront about the limited supply of social housing and the challenges we face as a borough, so that you are able to take informed decisions about your housing situation.
Given the high demand for social housing and limited number of available properties, our new Housing Allocations Policy has increased the number of priority bands from three to four. This aims to ensure that those with greatest need are prioritised. The new bands are now as follows:
- Band 1: Emergency Priority
- Band 2: High Priority
- Band 3: Medium Priority
- Band 4: Low Priority
What are the main changes?
If you are already in Band 1
If your existing rehousing reason was within Band 1, you will automatically remain in Band 1.
If you are already in Band 2
If your existing application was within Band 2 due to a ‘Medical High Priority’, you will automatically remain in Band 2 (High Priority).
If your existing application is within Band 2 because you are seriously overcrowded in settled accommodation and require at least 2 or more bedrooms, you will be automatically placed into Band 3. If either of the following exceptions apply, you can apply to be placed into Band 2:
- You require an additional 2 bedrooms and you are statutorily overcrowded.
- You require an additional three bedrooms.
If you are already in Band 3
If you are currently on the housing register because you are homeless, you will automatically remain in Band 3. The Council has introduced a new Band 2 criteria called ‘Homeless with additional need’. We will decide if you have an additional need through our assessment of your need to remain in the borough and whether other types of accommodation, such as private rented sector housing, are suitable for you. If you are currently on the housing register and believe you are eligible to be re-assessed, you can log into the FindYourHome website and request a change in circumstances assessment.
If your application was in Band 3 (Medium Priority) because you are overcrowded in settled accommodation and require one additional bedroom, you will automatically be placed into Band 4 (Low Priority). If you require one additional bedroom and you are statutorily overcrowded, you can be awarded Band 3.
If you are not in need of an additional bedroom but you are overcrowded as a result of space, you may qualify for Band 4 as ‘statutorily overcrowded’. We will decide if you are in this group through our assessment processes and you will need to provide information about the dimensions of your home.
Anyone who is statutorily overcrowded may be eligible for a higher priority band.
Under housing law, there are two methods to assess if your home is overcrowded. The first method is by the number of rooms for people to sleep in - this is called the room standard. The second method is by the amount of space in the home and the number of people living in it - this is called the space standard. ‘Statutory overcrowding’ is when there are too many people living in your home using either of these methods.
We will determine whether you are in this group by asking you to log into your Locata account and provide the number of rooms in your property, dimensions of your rooms and up-to-date details of your household composition.
If you live in a housing association property, your assessment will be completed by your landlord.
Two offer policy
Anyone who is not subject to the one offer policy is now entitled to two offers. This means if you refuse two suitable offers of accommodation your housing register application will be disqualified for 12 months. You will be considered as refusing an offer if you fail to attend a viewing, fail to accept an offer or fail to sign a tenancy agreement of two successive properties offered under the Housing Allocations Policy.
If you reject an offer for a valid reason that we were not aware of at the time of bidding, it is possible that your application will not be amended. This will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
What happens now?
For some people, your banding will be automatically updated on 31 October. If you believe you are eligible for a higher banding, you will need to take additional action, as set out below.
You need to log in to your Lewisham Find Your Home account and:
- Click on ‘Your Account’ in blue at the top of the page
- Click on ‘Have your circumstances changed?’ in the blue box on the right
- Click on ‘Continue’ and complete the questionnaire.
The form should take around 40 minutes to complete.
Other housing options available to you
If you are not eligible for social housing, do not meet a priority category or have had your application rejected, there are other ways you can find home to live in.
- Renting privately can offer you a choice of homes and the opportunity to find a stable and affordable home, near to your work, family and friends. Find out how to find a private rented property.
- Homefinder UK advertises social housing across the country, including in areas where there are shorter waiting times for social housing.
- Swapping your home with another social housing tenant is an option if you are an existing Council or housing association tenant. Find out more information about swapping your home with another social housing tenant.
What can we do to help?
If you find your own accommodation, we can:
- Negotiate with your landlord.
- Arrange a cash incentive and/or rent deposit on the property.
- Sometimes manage any rent in advance required.
- Check the tenancy agreement.
- Carry out a property condition inspection.
- Help you to apply for universal credit/housing benefit.
If you have additional questions about how these changes will affect you, you can read the Frequently Asked Questions page on our website.