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Frequently Asked Questions

What is social housing?

Social housing are homes that are provided by housing associations (not-for-profit organisations that own, let, and manage rented housing) or a local council.

As a social tenant, you rent your home from the housing association or council, who are your landlord.

Social housing is also sometimes referred to as council housing, although these types of homes are slightly different in terms of the type of tenancy agreement you sign, and the rights you have to the property as a result.

Who can apply for social housing?

You usually qualify to apply for social housing if you are:

  • a British or Irish citizen living in the UK

  • an EU citizen working in the UK or with permanent residence

  • from outside the EU but allowed to claim benefits

  • Have a local connection to the area (as defined by our Allocations Policy)

  • Have a housing need

The following applicants are not eligible for social housing within Castle Point:

  • Applicants who are below the age of 16 years*

  • Persons from abroad who are subject to immigration control (excluding classes prescribed as eligible for an allocation of accommodation in regulations made by the Secretary of State)

  • Persons who are not subject to immigration control, but who are not habitually resident in the Common Travel Area (excluding classes prescribed as eligible for an allocation of accommodation in regulations made by the Secretary of State)

  • People that hold a tenancy with another Local Authority or Registered Provider (unless under exceptional circumstances)

* People aged 16 and 17 will usually only be considered for housing after they are 18. Exceptions are young people accepted under homeless legislation and care leavers (with recommendation from their ‘parent’ Local Authority). NB: They only qualify for a licence or a tenancy in trust. Their application date will be used as their effective date when banding is determined.

The eligibility criteria do not apply to transfer applicants who already hold an introductory, secure, starter or full assured tenancy with a Council or Registered Provider.

Sheltered Housing applicants:

The minimum age for sheltered housing applicants is:

  • Non-Council tenants: 60 years or older

  • Existing Council tenants: 55 years or older.

In both cases, all members of the applicant’s household must be 50 years or older.

Sheltered housing does not accommodate families or adult children, only single people and couples can apply.

Sheltered housing does not provide care or support facilities such as 24/7 on site staff or personal carers.

What is Local Connection?  

Applicants must have a Local Connection to Castle Point to apply for the Housing Register. Applicants who do not meet at least one of the Local Connection criteria will not qualify for the Housing Register. The Council defines Local Connection as:

  • Applicants who have been resident in Castle Point continuously for the last 5 years.

  • Applicants who have close* adult relatives who are;

    • currently resident in Castle Point; and

    • who are in receipt of carers allowance in relation to the applicant; and

    • have been resident in the Borough for at least the last 5 years; and

    • The cost of travel in relation to caring duties is causing financial hardship (evidence will need to be supplied and a financial assessment undertaken).

*Close adult relatives include parents, siblings or children over the age of 18 (including step equivalents).

  • Applicants who have paid permanent contracted employment within Castlepoint for 24 hours or more a week (16 hours for single parents with dependent children) and:

    • the employment has been for a continuous period of 12 months prior to the application; and

    • the cost of travel to and from the place of employment is causing financial hardship (evidence will need to be supplied and a financial assessment undertaken).

 Local Connection Exemptions:  

The following applicants are exempt from the Local Connection criteria:

  • Housing applicants to whom a duty is owed under Homeless legislation.

  • Applicants who are serving in or have served in the regular or reserve armed forces within the 5 years immediately prior to the date of their application.

  • Applicants who are serving or former serving members of the regular armed forces or reserve forces who suffer from a serious injury, illness or disability sustained as a result of their service.

  • Applicants who are a bereaved spouse/civil partner of a former serving member of the regular armed forces and have recently ceased or will cease to be entitled to reside in services accommodation following the death of their spouse/civil partner.

  • Care Leavers below the age of 21 years who have been accommodated within Castle Point for a continuous period of at least 2 years (including some time before they were 16 years of age).

  • Applicants who are care leavers below the age of 25, who were placed outside the Borough but wish to return.

  • Applicants living in temporary accommodation outside the Borough who had a local connection at the time they were placed there by Castle Point Borough Council.

  • Applicants from outside the Borough who need to be housed within the Borough to receive care or support for themselves or a member of the household and where it is unreasonable to travel to receive the care or support.

  • Applicants who are leaving an institution such as a prison or secure unit or a hospital, rehabilitation centre, refuge, hostel or supported accommodation scheme and did have a qualifying local connection to Castle Point through residence in settled accommodation immediately before they moved into their current accommodation.

  • Applicants rehoused outside the Borough of Castle Point under a homelessness duty.

  • Other exceptional circumstances (such cases will be referred to the Head of Housing for consideration).

How does the council decide who can join or be rehoused?

Our Housing Allocations Policy outlines how Castle Point Borough Council will assess applications for housing, determine eligibility, qualification and level of housing need, prioritise applications and allocate accommodation.

What documents do you need to apply for Social Housing?

When you submit your Housing Register Application you will also need to provide the following supporting documents (as applicable):

  • Proof of identity for all household members (passport/ driving licence/ birth certificate/ identity card)
  • Proof of address for both the primary and joint applicant (bank statement/ telephone bill/ utility bill/ benefits letter/ GP Registration)
  • Child Access/Custody documentation
  • Proof of Child Benefit (benefit award letter/ bank statement/ online benefit award statement)
  • Proof of pregnancy for any household member
  • Tenancy agreement and any eviction notices if in rented accommodation
  • Mortgage statement & property valuation if owner occupier
  • Schedule of Sale if owner occupier of a property sold within the last 5 years
  • Full bank statements for both the primary and joint applicant (covering the last 3 months for any/all accounts)
  • Proof of income for both the primary and joint applicant (3 months bank statements/ 3 months payslips/ Tax return if self-employed/ pension award letter/ benefit award letters/ online benefit award statement, etc.)
  • Proof of any other income, savings or equity held by the both the primary and joint applicant
  • Supporting medical documents (if you are applying due to medical needs)
  • Supplementary Sheltered Housing Application form if applying for sheltered accommodation

There may be occasions whereby additional documents are needed. If this is the case, we will write to you.

We encourage you to upload your own documents to your application on the website as this is quick, easy & secure. You can upload documents by logging in to your application. A guide on how to upload documents can be found here

What happens if I do not provide the required documents?

If you do not provide the required documents you will be sent one reminder to provide them. If you still fail to provide the documents your application may be closed due to insufficient information. NB: Correctly cancelled applications will not be reinstated and you will need to submit a new application if you still wish to apply.

I need help filling in the online form or unable to fill in the online form.

All applications for housing and transfers must be made via the HomeChoice website.

If you need help to fill in the online form you can contact peabody outreach support service, who can provide assistance. Peabody normally offer a 'drop in service' at the Council Offices on a Monday, Wednesday & Friday between 10am-4pm - Please note the 'drop in' is currently suspended due to Covid-19 but telephone assistance is available. Please contact them on Tel: 0800 28 888 83 or Email: efsco-ordinator@peabody.org.uk

If you do not have a computer, phone or tablet or access to the internet you can visit the local library or council offices to use their public computers - please remember to check their local opening times!

I have forgotten my login details.

You can request a reminder or reset your login details here. Alternatively if you are still struggling, please use our How to Contact Us page.

Why is the site telling me I am not eligible to bid on any properties?

If the HomeChoice site is showing that you are not eligible for any properties, this just means that there are no properties available that particular week that meet your housing or bedroom need. As Castle Point is a small borough with limited social housing stock, it is quite common for this to be the case. The properties available each week differ and due to the lack of housing, we cannot guarantee a variety of properties each week. We can only advise that you login every week to check for properties and bid on all that you can when they are available. Please note, that you can place a maximum of 3 bids per bidding cycle (each week). Therefore, if there happens to be more than three eligible properties available one week, you will need to select the three properties that you prefer and bid on them.

Why has my bidding position gone down?

When you bid, your queue position is based on your Banding and your effective date. You are not queued in order of when you place your bid, but in order of 'priority'.

The highest priority Banding is Band A, then Band B, then Band C, then Band D (please be advised Band D is now only purposed for Sheltered Housing applicants).

You can place your bid/s any time between when bidding opens and midnight on Sunday when bidding closes. Queue positions are subject to change and it is only once the bidding closes that your queue position settles. This is because applicants in different Bandings place their bids at different times between Thursday and Sunday. (i.e. If you are in Band C when you place a bid, and then a Band A, Band B, or a Band C applicant with an earlier effective date than yours places their bid after you, then they will come in a higher queue position, and therefore this will lower your position for that particular property).

Queue positions differ for each property depending on who bids for them and preferences may be applied where a property has adaptations, therefore your average queue positions for properties may fluctuate occasionally. We always advise applicants not to rush to place their bids come midnight on a Wednesday as you are not placed in order of when you bid for them. Many applicants are on Autobid whereby our system automatically bids for them. Autobids are placed at the close of bidding (Sunday midnight), which is why your Queue Position may differ dramatically after this time.

Please read the HomeChoice Guide that is sent with your Housing Application Band Registration letter (once accepted), as it will explain the bidding process and the ways in which you can bid.

Do I need to stay up until midnight on a Wednesday night to place a bid?

Absolutely not! Offers of accommodation are not made on bids on a "first come first served" basis. You can place a bid at any time during an advert cycle and it will not impact your final queue position for a property. Bids (and your final queue position) are sorted at close of cycle and are prioritised by your Band and Effective Date (the date you entered your current Band), not the time you physically place a bid.

I'm Homeless or will be homeless soon, can you help?

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days, it is very important to seek advice as soon as possible. You should complete a housing options assessment form. On completion of the form our Housing Options Team will contact you within 5 working days to discuss your situation.

For out of hours emergencies call 0800 833 162

Our Housing options assessment form can be found by clicking here.