Consultation on proposed changes to Homechoice at Reading

Closed 7 Apr 2017

Opened 6 Mar 2017

Feedback Updated 15 Aug 2017

We Asked

The Housing department continuously strives to reduce the length of time is takes to let empty properties and aims to re-let empty homes within 30 days of becoming empty. This change will help to further reduce the time it takes to re-let properties, ensuring the use of social homes is maximised and the rent loss associated with empty properties is minimised.

 

Whilst the fortnightly advertising/bidding cycle provides a basic, effective method of letting homes, there are efficiencies to be made by moving to the letting of homes on a daily basis.  As properties are currently only advertised on a fortnightly basis, any homes becoming available just after the deadline for advertisement cannot be advertised for a further 2 weeks. The move to daily advertising will speed up this process for the majority of properties.

 

The Council also wants to ensure a better experience for applicants, the improved website will allow the process to be more informative, easier and more user friendly for those who have applied for social housing.

You Said

Analysis has shown that there is significant support for the changes proposed within the consultation.  As an overview, 98% of applicants agreed (strongly or otherwise) that speeding up the time in which properties are let is a positive approach.

 

75% of applicants felt that the change to the advertising process to daily would either be positive or would have no impact, with many positive comments about the increase in flexibility that this would provide.  6% of applicants felt the change would be harder or more inconvenient for them to bid for property.  This equates to 33 applicants, who are being individually contacted to discuss their concerns.

 

90% of respondents said that they currently use the Homechoice website to view and bid for property, so this change will have no impact for a vast majority of applicants. Only 6% of applicants said that removal of the freesheet will make it impossible to find out what properties are becoming available, this equates to 33 applicants, who are being individually contacted to discuss their concerns.

          

An equality Impact assessment has been carried out to assess any adverse impact on any particular households identified as a result of the changes, it is important to ensure that any potential concerns have been identified and support is being provided to any individuals that may need additional help through the transition.

We Did

As a result of the positive consultation response the Council will move to daily advertising meaning that properties can be advertised on a daily basis. Property adverts will show a ‘bidding closes’ date to allow applicants to know how long properties are available. Customers will be advised to check regularly for new properties as homes may be added daily. Due to the 7 day advertising period, if applicants check on the same day each week they will see all available property. In addition applicants can set up email alerts much in the same way that mainstream private sector letting websites work to ensure they are informed when suitable properties are advertised.

 

This change will mean that the Council will no longer be able to provide and distribute a fortnightly ‘freesheet’, as available properties will change on a daily basis. Applicants will continue to be able to view a property advert for a minimum period of seven days, during which time they can bid for the home as they wish. A sheet will be made available to print off in reception if necessary.

 

Applicants will continue to be able to bid for property by logging into the website, telephoning or coming into the Council offices, by text message or through staff and/or agency assistance.

Overview

We are updating and improving the Homechoice at Reading system.  
 
This will allow us to improve the website and offer more local information about the properties being advertised.
 
It also provides an opportunity for us to speed up the time it takes to let properties. 
To do this we are planning to:
 
  • advertise properties as soon as they become available
  • keep the bidding open on properties for 7 days from the day they are added
 
However, these changes mean that we will no longer be able to produce the fortnightly Property Freesheet as it would be impossible to keep it up-to-date.
 
We are now consulting with everyone on the Housing Register to find out if you agree with our plans and any concerns you have about how the changes will affect you.
 
Please take a few minutes to complete this questionnaire. 
 
You can find more details about these changes on our “Changes to Homechoice at Reading: FAQs”, in the attachments below. 
 

Areas

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