New process for allocating housing will offer greater choice to applicants in Aberdeenshire
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Aberdeenshire Council is to move to a choice-based lettings approach next year, giving potential tenants greater choice over the type of property they wish to secure.
The new process was agreed as the council’s Communities Committee approved an updated housing allocations policy earlier this month.
Applicants for council housing currently choose the area they wish to live in but are not able to view or select individual properties.
The new online system will allow potential tenants to see all the information about available homes and register interest in the specific property they wish to be considered for.
The choice-based lettings process will replace the Apply4Homes system that is currently used by applicants.
It is hoped that it will be available from April next year, following the creation of the online platform and training for staff.
The committee was told that the system will be accessible via a range of devices with connection to the internet, including computers, laptops and smartphones.
An assistance tool called ‘Auto-Register’ will also be available for applicants who do not have regular access to the internet, allowing a note of interest to be registered on their behalf for any suitable properties.
The tool may also be used where someone has a need to move very quickly but has not actively registered an interest or been offered a property within three months.
As well as introducing the new application system, the updated housing policy includes a number of further changes, including removal of the requirement for applicants with access to children to have them for at least half the year to be considered for an additional bedroom.
Consideration will now also be given to whether an applicant owns a property where they might otherwise reside.
The committee welcomed efforts that were made to consider the needs of veterans and those serving in the Armed Forces in the updated policy.
The new housing application form will include questions to identify whether the applicant is a serving member, veteran or spouse of somebody in the Armed Forces.
The information gathered will be used to develop a better picture of the needs of such applicants and will be used to inform future updates of the policy.
Communities Committee chairwoman councillor Anne Stirling said: “While housing need will remain the priority for allocating properties, the new approach will improve the information available to allow applicants to apply for housing that best meets their particular needs.
“The move to choice-based letting also supports the delivery of our local housing strategy and rapid rehousing transition plan, and community input has been an important part of this process”
Committee vice-chair Doreen Mair added: “The new policy takes account of the feedback from a wide range of individuals and groups, including existing tenants and potential applicants.
“We hope that choice-based letting will give applicants a greater feeling of control when they are considering making an application for a property.”
An update on the system will be brought back to Communities Committee in a year’s time.