- How is my housing application assessed?
- What are Home Seekers, Home Movers and Home Starters?
- What priority will I have for housing?
- What if I have more than one housing need?
- What type of house will I be considered for?
- What if I have a recommendation for a certain type of house?
- What size of house can I apply for?
- How are properties sequenced?
- Will all houses be advertised?
- How long will the advertising cycle last?
- What information will be included in an advert?
- What do I do if I see a property I like?
- How many properties can I bid for?
- What help and support will I get?
- How do you decide which bid is successful?
- What will happen if there are no bids from the preferred applicant group?
- How will I know if I am to be offered a property?
- What happens if I refuse a property?
- How long is my application active?
- What is the Tenants Incentive Scheme?
- What does the scheme offer me?
- What practical assistance will you give me?
- How do I apply?
- How long will it take to get a move?
- What happens if I get an offer and I want to move?
- Will I qualify for assistance if I exchange properties with another tenant?
- What happens if I change my mind about moving?
- Can my request be refused?
- What will happen if I have rent arrears?
How is my housing application assessed?
We use the information you provide to decide whether you are a Home Seeker, Home Mover or Home Starter.
You will also be awarded one of four Bands. These show the level of priority awarded for housing, based on your housing need. Further information on banding is shown in the section below.
You may be placed in Band 4 when you first register until we have carried out a full assessment of your housing need. If an assessment is needed this should be done within 28 days of registration.
Within each Band, applications are placed in date order.
If your circumstances change at any time, you must tell us about this as soon as possible. It may change your priority Band or the category you are in. This would affect the houses you can apply for.
What are Home Seekers, Home Movers and Home Starters?
You are a Home Seeker if you are considered homeless in terms of homeless legislation. This is decided by a homeless assessment by our Access to Housing Team.
You are a Home Mover if you are already a tenant of Falkirk Council,a Housing Association or a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) living in the Council area and looking to move home.
All other applicants are Home Starters. This includes applicants that have been assessed as threatened with homelessness within the next 2 months.
We aim to let 45% of our vacant houses to Home Seekers, 27.5% to Home Movers and 27.5% to Home Starters.
What priority will I have for housing?
There are four levels of priority for housing which we refer to as Bands. The highest level is Band One, and the lowest level is Band Four. You will be placed in one of these Bands depending on your level of housing need. The Bands are explained below.
Priority is awarded to the following applicants who have an urgent need to move:
- who are found to be unintentionally homeless following a homeless assessment
- that are assessed to be threatened with homelessness within the next two months following a homeless assessment
- who have been "looked after and accommodated" by Falkirk Council and are leaving their care placement
- who are leaving the Armed Forces and their right to occupy service accommodation is coming to an end and a certificate of Cessation of Entitlement to occupy Service Living Accommodation has been issued
- where a Public Protection case conference has made recommendations regarding accommodation
- who are unable to be discharged safely from hospital because their home is no longer suitable for them
- whose home is causing significant problems due to a physical medical condition or disability
- whose home is causing significant problems due to a mental health condition or disability
- who are living in an overcrowded house where 2 or more additional bedrooms are required to meet their needs
- who are living in a one-bedroom property and have 2 children under the age of 8 years sharing a bedroom with them
- who have 2 teenage children of different genders sharing a bedroom
- who are Falkirk Council tenants or RSL tenants living in the Council's area that are living in a house which is too big for their needs by 2 or more bedrooms
- living in a house which is assessed as falling below tolerable standards
- who need to be re-housed as a result of regeneration or redevelopment within the Falkirk Council area
- who are currently both social housing tenants within the Falkirk Council area who wish to move so that they can live as a family unit and require a larger property to prevent overcrowding
- with exceptional housing needs as detailed previously
Priority is awarded to the following applicants:
- who are living in a property which does not have a secure tenure or lease, this does not include applicants that live care of relatives, friends or lodgers
- who are overcrowded where one additional bedroom is required to meet their needs
- living in bed-sit accommodation
- with social housing need such as:
- the applicant needs to move to give or receive care and support
- the applicant's accommodation is unsuitable due to severe harassment (at request of Conflict Resolution Service only)
Priority is awarded to the following applicants:
- with children under 10 years living in tenement flats with no access to shared or individual gardens
- joint tenants/owners who have had a relationship breakdown
- who are living in accommodation where their independence is limited due to a physical medical condition or disability
- who wish to move to the Falkirk Council area due to a local connection eg employment
- living in a private sector tenancy
- owners living in the Falkirk Council area that are downsizing by two or more bedrooms
- living in the private sector with a short-assured tenancy agreement
- currently sharing amenities with another household with whom they are not applying to be housed
Priority is awarded where there is no housing need.
What if I have more than one housing need?
You will be awarded only one level of priority. If you have more than one housing need, you will be awarded priority for your highest ranked need.
Secondary housing needs are only taken into account when they relate to a medical condition or disability and following a Functional Needs Assessment (see Functional Needs Assessment booklet). On these occasions an indicator (F) is added to the banding e.g. an applicant may have a Band one priority for overcrowding and a medical recommendation for ground floor housing with a shower so their priority award will become Band 1(F) or B1F. This (F) indicator will allow you to bid for properties advertised as "Adapted".
If you think that the priority you have been awarded does not reflect your needs, you can ask us to review your circumstances by using the Allocations Appeals process.
What type of house will I be considered for?
The aim of choice based lettings is to give you more choice over where you want to live and the type of house you want to live in.
We have a range of different types of houses that you can apply for. When we advertise a property we will say which applicant group can bid for it.
You can only bid for properties that are advertised for the applicant group that you are in or properties that have been advertised for All Groups.
What if I have a recommendation for a certain type of house?
If you have been awarded Band 1F or Band 3F priority because your home is unsuitable for you due to a medical condition or disability this is likely to include a recommendation of the type of property that will be suitable for you. We will not consider you for any houses that do not match this recommendation, even if you bid for them. For example, if the recommendation is for ground floor housing, you would not be successful if you bid for a house with internal stairs.
If you feel that your health has improved and the recommendation is no longer relevant, you should tell us and we will review the priority and any recommendation. This may involve an Occupational Therapist or Housing Visitor visiting you at home. A review may not remove the restrictions on the type of house you can be offered.
Properties that have been adapted will be advertised as "Adapted" properties and all applicants with a medical recommendation will be able to bid for these properties irrespective of whether they are a Home Seeker, Home Mover or Home Starter (see below for further information on this).
What size of house can I apply for?
We want to make the best use of our housing stock and to do this we have Household Size Criteria as follows.
- Couples are expected to share a room. Couples and single applicants will be considered for properties with 1 or 2 bedrooms.
- Each household member over 8 years of age can have their own bedroom. Priority for overcrowding will not be awarded where 2 children under 8 years of age of either sex share a room which is larger than 110 square feet (10 square metres).
- If you have 2 children of the same sex aged 8 years or over they can share a bedroom if you wish.
- If you wish to move to a house the same size as the one you live in just now, we will not consider any overcrowding priority you may have.
- Due to the lack of larger houses with three or four bedrooms, you can be considered for a property that is smaller than you need if it will still reduce overcrowding.
We recognise that some households may need a home that is bigger than the household size criteria allows; for example, an additional room may be needed because of a medical condition. Any professional recommendation for additional rooms will be taken into account in deciding what house size you qualify for.
Based on the household size criteria above, you will only be able to bid for properties that meet the needs of your household.
How are properties sequenced?
In order to meet our target of allocating 45% of available properties to Home Seekers, 27.5% to Home Movers and the remaining 27.5% to Home Starters we have an automatic sequencing process for vacant properties.
This process takes into account the allocation area the property is in, the size of the property, the property type and the date the property became void.
There are ten Allocation Areas:
- Falkirk Central
- Falkirk East
- Falkirk West
Within each Allocation Area, properties are grouped into the following sizes:
- bedsit - 2 bedrooms
- 3 bedrooms
- 4 bedrooms or more
Within each Allocation Area and property size properties are grouped into the following types:
- Four-in-a Block
- Flat/Maisonettes/Multi Storey Flat
Properties are then sorted by the date they became empty and sequenced
separately for Home Seekers, Starters and Movers.
This is a rolling process which means that wherever we end one sequencing cycle the next one starts.
When we advertise adapted properties the advert will say that the property is adapted and what facility or adaptation is in the property e.g. level access shower, external ramp or fully adapted or accessible kitchen.
All applicants that have been awarded priority following a Functional Needs Assessment will be able to bid for these properties irrespective of whether they are a Home Seeker, Home Mover or Home Starter. Preference will be given to applicants that need the facility or adaptation.
Local Lettings Initiative
Falkirk Council aims to make suitable allocations and to promote stable communities. Accordingly, some properties will be advertised to say that they are subject to a local lettings initiative. The following are our current Local Letting Initiatives:
Group Settings - When a house in a grouped setting e.g. within a block of flats, is vacated Neighbourhood Coordinators may consider the profile of the other households living within the grouping and, where appropriate, specify further eligibility criteria for lettings within the block or grouping.
High Flats - These are advertised to say that they are subject to a local lettings initiative and that "preference will be given to applicants aged 50 or over".
New Build Council Houses - There is also a lettings initiative for the initial allocation of new Council houses built under the new house building programme. Where the Council has built general needs housing, preference will be given to existing Falkirk Council tenants.
The purpose of this lettings initiative is to maximise the opportunity for meeting housing needs that the additional supply of new Council housing offers. For example, rehousing existing tenants will result in more Council properties becoming available for letting to other housing applicants. In this way, more applicants can be rehoused. In effect, 2 households can benefit from each new build property.
Existing Council tenants that bid for new build general needs housing will be prioritised according to their Band of priority and their date of award of priority.
In the unlikely event that there are no suitable bids for these properties from existing Council tenants then other applicants will be considered.
Within the new build programme, ground floor properties are designed to barrier-free standards and are suitable for wheelchair users. These properties will be advertised as “Adapted” and preference will be given to applicants that need the facilities provided.
Will all houses be advertised?
We will let most of our houses through Homespot however, there are some exceptions and these are explained below.
- Housing with Care level 1 and 2 i.e. housing for older people who are physically frail and need care and support services at home. These properties will be matched to applicants on the housing register following a full assessment of their particular needs.
- If we need to use a property for temporary accommodation as a result of an emergency situation or to discharge our statutory duty in terms of homeless legislation.
- If a property would meet the needs of an applicant with particular needs e.g. someone who cannot leave hospital because their own home is unsuitable then we may re-house another applicant to allow their property to be let to the applicant with particular needs.
How long will the advertising cycle last?
Properties are advertised every week. The cycle starts at 12.00 noon on a Wednesday and closes at 12.00 noon on the Wednesday 7 days later. All adverts clearly state the closing date for bids to be made. Bids will not be accepted after the list has closed.
What information will be included in an advert?
We aim to make sure that adverts have enough information to help you make an informed decision about whether or not the property is right for you.
An advert will include the following information:
- The address of property
- The property type, for example, house mid terraced, flat or multi-storey flat
- The number of bedrooms
- The heating type
- The rent per fortnight
- Which applicant group will be given preference.
- Any additional qualifying criteria, for example, a lettings initiative or disabled adaptations.
- The date and time that bidding for the property closes.
- A photograph of the property.
What do I do if I see a property I like?
When you see a property you are interested in, you should check what applicant group the property has been advertised for e.g. Home Seeker, Home Movers or Home Starter. You can only bid for properties that are advertised for the applicant group that you are in.
You can bid for a property in the ways listed below:
- Online through Homespot
- By contacting one of our Advice and Support Hubs
- By using the Freephone telephone service: 0800 678 3091
If you want to bid for a property you must make sure that we receive your bid before the closing date and time stated in the advert. Bids will not be accepted after the list has closed.
How many properties can I bid for?
You can bid for as many properties as you like in any advertising cycle as long as the property is advertised for the applicant group that you are in.
What help and support will I get?
Our staff will help you use Homespot until you get familiar with bidding for properties. We can continue to help you if you have particular problems using Homespot.
How do you decide which bid is successful?
It does not matter whether you make your bid on the first day or the last day of the advertising cycle. Once bidding has closed, everyone who has made a bid for a property will be considered. We will prepare a short-list of suitable applicants who:
- meet the criteria in the advert i.e. Home Seeker, Home Mover or Home Starter and any additional qualifying criteria
- would make best use of the property – for example would use all the bedrooms
- are not suspended for any reason
- have a recommendation for a property type which matches the property advertised (where applicable)
The short listed applicants will be ranked in order of their level of priority.
If there is more than one applicant with the same level of priority, the property will be offered to the applicant that has had that priority longest. For applicants in Band 4, this will be their date of application.
What will happen if there are no bids from the preferred applicant group?
If there are no bids for a property from the advertised applicant group, we will either directly match the property to a Home Seeker that has not been bidding for properties or we will re-advertise the property for All Groups.
How will I know if I am to be offered a property?
If your bid is successful you will normally be contacted within 7 days of the closing date. If you are not available when we try and contact you a letter or card will be left at the address you have given us on your application asking you to contact us urgently. It is very important that you respond quickly. If we do not hear from you within 48 hours it will be considered that you are refusing a potential offer of housing which means that the offer will count as one of your offers of housing. Your application will also be suspended for 28 days and if you do not contact us within the 28 days, to let us know that you are still interested in housing, your application will be cancelled.
If you have not heard from us within 14 days of the closing date, it is unlikely that you have been successful on that occasion and you should keep bidding for properties which suit your needs.
What happens if I refuse a property?
We hope that if your bid is successful you will accept the property you are offered.
However, if you a Home Mover or Home Starter and refuse two properties, you will lose any priority for housing need and move to Band 4.
If you are a Home Seeker and refuse your offer, your priority for homelessness will be removed as the Council will have discharged its duty to you in terms of homeless legislation. Your application group will change from Home Seeker to Home Starter and your housing situation will be reassessed. If you are living in temporary accommodation provided by the council, you will have to leave this.
If you are a Home Seeker and have not been actively bidding for properties we will make you an offer of housing out with HomeSpot i.e. we will directly match you to a property. We will try to offer you a property in the areas you have chosen but this will depend on the availability of properties.
If you refuse this offer of housing, your priority for homelessness will be removed as the Council will have discharged its duty to you in terms of homeless legislation. Your application group will change from Home Seeker to Home Starter and your housing situation will be reassessed. If you are living in temporary accommodation provided by the Council, you will have to leave this.
This arrangement to make you an offer out with Homespot will also apply if:
- you successfully bid for a property and then refuse it and do not bid again for more than 3 months
- you do not bid for suitable properties advertised by Link Housing Association through their HomeHunt scheme
- you refuse a property offered under nomination arrangements
If, during the 3 month period, there have been no suitable properties advertised or your bids have been unsuccessful, you will continue to be a Home Seeker in Band One. We will continue to monitor your application to make sure you are bidding for properties which meet your household needs. If you are living in temporary accommodation provided by the Council, you can continue to live there.
You have a right to appeal this decision.
How long is my application active?
We are committed to housing you in the quickest time possible and to ensure your housing need is met. Therefore, if you are awarded a Band 1 or Band 2 and have not placed any eligible bids for 3 months, you will be moved into Band 4.
If you think you will have difficulty managing your application and placing bids, you can ask for help.
If you have been awarded a Band 3 or 4 and have not placed any eligible bids for a period of 12 months your application will be cancelled. We will send a letter to advise you that you are at risk of having your application cancelled. You can request a review of the decision to cancel your application.
Tenants Incentive Scheme
What is the Tenants Incentive Scheme?
The Tenants Incentive Scheme was introduced in 2013 to encourage tenants living in large, family sized properties that are now too large for them to move to a smaller home.
This is because we have a shortage of large family homes to let to overcrowded families. By offering financial and practical help, we hope that some tenants will move to a smaller property.
What does the scheme offer me?
If you qualify, you will get a grant, advice and practical assistance to help you to move.
The amount of grant you can get depends on the number of rooms you are losing. This will be a payment of £2000 if you are giving up 2 bedrooms, with an additional £1000 payment for each extra bedroom given up.
The grant amounts you could be paid are shown in the table below.
What practical assistance will you give me?
We will help you:
- Fill in forms
- Get quotations from qualified and reliable contractors such as removal companies, electricians and plumbers
- Contact utility companies for services such as gas and electricity
- Get in touch with any other agencies that may be able to help
- Arrange a house clearance
- Remove household and personal items that you do not want to take with you
How do I apply?
You must be registered for housing on Homespot, which is our choice based lettings system.
To register, download and complete an application form:
You can also pick up an application form from your local Advice and Support Hub.
We will let you know if you qualify for the scheme once you are registered. If you qualify, we will provide you with advice on your move to a smaller property.
How long will it take to get a move?
The length of time you will have to wait will depend on the availability of properties, the type of house you are looking for, the area you want to move to and the demand from other applicants.
More information can be found on our Homespot page.
What happens if I get an offer and I want to move?
We will help you fill in any forms and to sign up for your new home. If you accept an offer of housing you must confirm that you are giving up your current tenancy and sign a form to agree this.
We will offer you practical assistance to help you move, such as arranging the packing of your personal belongings, disconnecting and reconnecting utilities such as gas and electricity, and redirecting mail.
You and any members of your household must move out of your tenancy and return the keys to the local office. Any relatives, friends and lodgers who stay with you will also have to move out and will not be allowed to take over the tenancy. We will give you more information about this before you sign up for your new tenancy.
Will I qualify for assistance if I exchange properties with another tenant?
You will not qualify for the scheme if you mutually exchange properties with another tenant.
What happens if I change my mind about moving?
This is a voluntary scheme and you do not need to move unless you choose to do so.
If you have changed your mind about moving please contact the Allocations Team and let them know:
It is also important to let us know about any changes in your circumstances.
Can my request be refused?
We may refuse your request if, for example, the move would mean your house was overcrowded. Your request must meet out housing allocations policy.
Funding for the scheme is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
What will happen if I have rent arrears?
If you have arrears of rent or Council Tax, or you owe us money for repairs, the grant will be used to repay this. If there is any balance left over, we will pay this to you.