Registering for housing in Hillingdon - London Borough of Hillingdon

hillingdon.gov.uk

Registering for housing in Hillingdon - London Borough of Hillingdon

Registering

for housing

in Hillingdon


Contents

Registering for housing in Hillingdon . . . . . 1

What is the housing register? . . . . . . . . . . . 1

How we assess people for housing . . . . . . . 1

Reassessing an application . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

How soon will I be housed? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Confidentiality and telling others . . . . . . . . . 5

Will you keep the information I give

confidential? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Will you give any information to other

housing staff? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Do you give information to other

departments? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

What about other organisations such as

the Department for Work and Pensions

or other government departments? . . . . . . 7

Fraudulent information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Can I see my own files? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Will you give out my address? . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Housing Needs service standards – our

commitment to you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

If you apply to join the housing register . . . 11

Contact details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Personal information and confidentiality . . 12

Your right to equal treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Comments and complaints (putting

things right) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


Registering for housing in

Hillingdon

There are currently over 10,000 people on

our housing register. Due to the serious

lack of affordable housing in Hillingdon

and the surrounding boroughs, we have to

work within set guidelines to make sure

that our limited housing is distributed

fairly to everyone.

What is the housing register?

The housing register is a list of every person

who applies for social housing. Social

housing includes council housing and

housing association properties. We keep the

list on computer and also have a paper

record file for each person. Each record

file contains the original application form

and all other correspondence and

documents associated with the application.

How we assess people for housing

The Locata scheme uses a ‘banding’ system

and a ‘priority date’ system. When new

people join the housing register, we assess

their housing need and give them a band

– A, B, C or D. We also give them a priority

date, which is the date we assess the

application form.

We use the bandings and priority dates to

make sure we offer housing fairly. It also

makes sure we prioritise emergency and

urgent cases above less serious situations,

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and that everyone on the register (no

matter what banding) can still increase

their priority in line with how long they

have waited.

We carefully assess each application to

decide your housing need and that of your

family. We judge housing need on the

accommodation you are living in, and

whether there are any medical or

environmental things that are making it

difficult for you to stay at the property.

We consider whether the property is big

enough for the number of people living

there. We also consider whether you may

be threatened with homelessness because

you have been asked to leave, or have other

reasons for not feeling safe in your home.

Sometimes we will refer your application

to another specialist housing team if we

feel that the situation is urgent. This could

be the housing options and advice team, the

emergency housing team or the privatesector

team, depending on the problem.

They will then contact you immediately to

give you further advice.

Reassessing an application

Sometimes, a change of circumstance

(such as losing your home or becoming ill)

means that we will reassess your application

to see if you should move to a higher band.

Changes of circumstances can also mean

that you may move to a lower band – for

2


example, if your medical condition improves

or you move to more suitable temporary

or other rented accommodation.

If your band changes, we may also award

you a different priority date.

How soon will I be housed?

The table below shows the total number of

people currently on the housing register.

It also shows how many people are in

each band, and the size of property they

are waiting for.

Housing register as at 1 August 2007

Band A Band B Band C Band D Total

One bedroom need 108 149 913 4013 5183

Two bedroom need 17 91 1301 1531 2940

Three bedroom need 8 16 1119 655 1798

Four bedroom need 1 7 453 124 585

Five+ bedroom need 2 9 162 22 195

Total 136 272 3948 6345 10701

Last year only 933 properties became

available to let to people on the housing

register. We let most of these properties to

people in bands A, B and C because they

are in more urgent housing need.

Although we also rehoused 70 people from

band D, the waiting time for people in this

band is significantly longer. As a result, if

you are in band D, we recommend that you

seriously consider other housing options.

3


You can make an appointment to see a

housing options adviser by phoning 01895

250147.

The table below shows how many people

we housed from each band, and the size

of property they were rehoused in.

Total lettings for 2006/2007 (including

cross borough)

Band A Band B Band C Band D Total

One bedroom need 55 168 200 50 473

Two bedroom need 22 51 197 16 286

Three bedroom need 17 27 74 4 122

Four bedroom need 10 13 19 – 42

Five+ bedroom need 1 5 4 – 10

Total 105 264 494 70 933

From this information, it is clear that we

have many more people waiting for housing

than available properties.

It is very difficult to estimate the average

length of time that someone will need to

wait before being rehoused. This is

because it depends on things such as the

number of people bidding on a particular

property, and their band and priority date

compared with your own.

When first registering on Locata you will

receive a Locata user guide, which will

explain how the scheme works including

bidding for properties on Locata. If you

have difficulties in understanding Locata,

4


you can contact customer services who

can provide further help and advice

including a personal bidding service if you

are unable to bid yourself.

You can make bids by phone, on the internet,

by text message and in person at the

Civic Centre. Bidding on Locata will show

you the position you achieve on individual

properties, so this is a very good way of

understanding how near to a successful

bid you are likely to be. You can find

information on the banding of successful

bids in the Locata magazine.

Confidentiality and telling others

Why we need information from you

We need to assess whether we have a

duty towards you and members of your

household. To do this, we need to ask you

a number of questions about:

• where you have been living

• your immigration status

• your children

• any medical problems you may have, and

• your personal circumstances, such as

income and savings

We will then carry out further enquiries to

confirm what you have told us. We have to do

this by law. We also need to make sure that

we deal with only genuine applications.

We also need information about any

special needs, so we can take them into

consideration.

5


Will you keep the information I give

confidential?

Yes. Only staff involved in your housing

application will have access to our files or

computer records.

Your computer records are also protected

by the Data Protection Act 1998. This sets

out what we can and cannot do with our

computerised records.

However, we will ask you for your permission

to contact people such as doctors, building

societies, banks and other local authorities

so that we are able to confirm the information

you have given us. We will not give these

people your information.

Will you give any information to

other housing staff?

Yes, but only information that is needed to

process your application as quickly and as

fairly as possible. An example of this would

be where we need to pass on information

about you, to make sure details on our

housing register are up to date.

Important note

However, we will warn other relevant

officers if:

• you behave threateningly during an

interview (for example, if you are violent,

or make threats or racist or sexist

comments); or

• we think you may be a danger to others.

6


If this happens, we may send you a letter

telling you that we do not accept this

behaviour. We may also set out standards

for your future behaviour.

Do you give information to other

departments?

Yes, but only in specific circumstances.

For example, if you have a social worker,

we may want to speak to them about you.

Or, they may be helping you with your

application so they may contact us.

We may also speak to medical staff who

are involved with you, or anyone else who is

working with you professionally (for example,

the probation service or solicitors).

In certain circumstances we may also contact

other council staff if we suspect fraud.

What about other organisations

such as the Department for Work

and Pensions or other government

departments?

By law, we have to send details to some

other organisations and departments. For

example, if you are an asylum seeker, we

have to send some details to the Home

Office to confirm your immigration status.

We will always tell you before doing this.

7


Fraudulent information

We must protect the public money we

handle so we may check the information

you provide against other information we

hold.

We may also pass this information to

other public organisations, or similar

outside agencies, but only for preventing

or detecting fraud.

However, you must sign a declaration on

the application form to say that you will

give us correct information, and will not

withhold relevant information or mislead

us in any way.

You must also keep us informed of any

changes in your circumstances.

The declaration says that we may prosecute

you if you provide any false information. If

we prosecute you and you are found guilty,

you could be ordered to pay a fine of up to

£5000.

Can I see my own files?

Yes, you have a legal right to see them. We

are happy for you to see the file although we

will charge a fee for the administration

costs (currently £10 for each file).

However, we would need to get permission

from the doctors, social workers and so on

before we made this information available

to you.

8


Will you give out my address?

No. Your address is completely confidential

and we will not give it out without your

permission, unless the law says we have to.

Housing Needs service standards –

our commitment to you

This section sets out our commitment to

delivering excellent customer service to

you. We have developed it after consulting

our customers.

General standards

• We will make our reception and interview

facilities welcoming, safe and private,

and make sure that everyone is able to

use them.

• We will set aside enough time for your

first interview with us so that we can

listen to and understand your personal

circumstances.

• We will make sure that our staff are

professional, understand your needs

and do not judge you.

• We will give you clear information on the

housing processes and options available

to you.

Accessing our services

Our opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm

Monday to Friday, except on Wednesdays

when we are closed until 1pm for staff

training (you can still phone us before then).

9


• We will offer you a range of methods for

contacting us, including phone, e-mail,

post and our website.

• We will reply to you within seven calendar

days if you write to us or three working

days if you e-mail us. If your enquiry

needs a detailed investigation, we will let

you know within seven calendar days

what we need to do and tell you when

you can expect a reply.

• We will answer your phone calls within

three rings wherever possible.

• If you have an appointment, we will

interview you in our offices within 15

minutes of when you arrive. If you do not

have an appointment, we will interview

you within 30 minutes. If there is likely

to be a delay, we will tell you how long

you might have to wait and give the

reasons for the delay.

• If you need an interpreter, a lip speaker or

a signer, we will provide one within three

working days. We can also translate

documents within five working days.

However, if your enquiry is urgent and

you do not understand English, we can

provide an immediate interpreting service

over the phone.

• We will provide information about our

services in Braille, in large print, on audio

cassette, on DVD and in a range of languages

(within ten days of you asking us).

10


If you apply to join the housing

register

• We will process your application within

14 working days of receiving it.

• We will assess your medical circumstances

within seven working days of receiving

your application.

• We will amend any change of circumstances

(but not a change of address)

to your application within seven working

days of receiving it.

• We will process your appeal against

our decision within 28 working days of

receiving your appeal.

• We will review all applications on the

housing register once a year to make

sure we have the most up-to-date

information.

Contact details

• Housing Needs Reception

Phase 2, Zone 10, Civic Centre, High

Street, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1UW

Phone: 01895 250147

Fax: 01895 556881

Textphone: 01895 556487

E-mail: nmailbox@hillingdon.gov.uk

Website: www.hillingdon.gov.uk

11


Personal information and

confidentiality

We will always meet our responsibilities

under the Freedom of Information Act and

the Data Protection Act. The Data Protection

Act says that:

• you have the right to see information

about you, which we hold on computer

or in a file;

• you have the right to ask us to correct

information about you which is not correct;

and

• we will not pass personal information

to anyone else without your agreement,

unless they have a legal right to see it.

If you want to apply under the Data Protection

Act, you must make your application in

writing. You can get more information from

the customer care and complaints advisor

(details are below).

Your right to equal treatment

We understand that people are unique

and have different needs, so we will treat

you as an individual and try to help you.

We are fully committed to:

• preventing all forms of discrimination;

• providing fair and accessible services

to the people of Hillingdon;

• making sure our staff treat you fairly,

no matter what your age, disability, sex,

race, faith or sexuality; and

• providing fair access to employment.

12


Please report any incidents of unfair treatment,

or where you feel you have been

discriminated against, to the customer care

and complaints advisor (details are below).

Comments and complaints (putting

things right)

We always aim to provide the best service

possible and appreciate your comments

and complaints as a way of finding out

what we are doing well and what we can

improve. If you are not happy with the

service you receive from us, it is always best

to discuss this with the officer responsible

at the time.

If you are still not satisfied, you may want

to make a formal complaint by contacting

the customer care and complaints advisor

(details below). You can also pick up an

information leaflet on comments and

complaints from council offices or your

local library.

You can phone our customer care and

complaints advisor on 01895 250366

(email complaintsmailbox@hillingdon.

gov.uk or textphone 01895 556487) for

confidential help and advice.

• We will respond in full to your complaint

within ten working days of receiving it.

If we cannot fully solve your complaint

within ten working days, we will write

to you to tell you when you will receive

a full response.

• If you praise a member of staff or a team,

we will thank that person or team for you

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Produced by the London Borough of Hillingdon. October 2007

ref: 9166

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