This is how Property Pool Plus finds affordable rented housing

In this article, we examine a scheme that simplifies the process of searching for affordable rented accommodation, by offering participants a one-stop shop.

Property Pool Plus offers those seeking social housing a wider search area, by covering several local authorities and housing associations.

We explain:

  • What is Property Pool Plus?
  • Who is eligible?
  • How does it work?
  • How to register and apply for social housing

Check out this article to find out all about it!

Areas of Merseyside and the northwest are covered by the Property Pool Plus scheme.

What is Property Pool Plus?

Property Pool Plus is a scheme that helps people find affordable housing to rent in Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, Runcorn, and Widnes.

It’s the register for social and affordable homes, and registered users can see which properties are available in their search area. The system is used by Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, and Wirral councils and over 20 housing associations and Merseyside housing providers to advertise their vacant properties and find tenants.

The scheme prioritises local people who can’t afford to buy or rent privately and it aims to give a greater choice of houses. It differs from other waiting lists where you wait for an offer – Property Pool Plus allows applicants to see which properties are available and express an interest (or `bid’) on those they are eligible for and which appeal to them. Property Pool Plus puts the bidder’s applications in priority order, based on their band status (based on priority need) and application date. 

The advantage of Property Pool Plus is that it’s a cooperative scheme – there is one application form, one list of applicants, one application policy and a shared IT system across all the partners, which creates a consistent service. This means that once you are registered, you can apply for social housing across all five local authority areas, but be aware that your application may be put into a different priority banding in each area.

Liverpool City Council is one local authority participating in Property Pool Plus.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible to join the Property Pool Plus Housing Register, you must be:

  • Aged 16 or over.
  • A UK national or not subject to immigration control.

You must also be able to prove:

  • That you don’t own a home and have equity to secure the accommodation needed.
  • That you and your family would make good social housing tenants.
Flats are included in the affordable housing options offered under the Property Pool Plus scheme.

How Property Pool Plus works

Merseyside housing providers list their available rental properties on the site each week. Properties of various sizes will be listed, ranging from flats and bungalows to apartments and sheltered accommodation. Each week there are typically 150 social housing properties available on the site. Properties adapted for people with disabilities will also be advertised.

All applicants are prioritised by waiting time and their housing needs. Properties are advertised from Tuesdays to Sundays each week and registered users can make 3 bids during each bidding cycle.

Applicants can select where they want to live, and the type of accommodation to suit their housing needs. Homes are offered to those with the highest category of housing need who have waited for the longest time.

A National Insurance number is needed to register with Property Pool Plus.

How to register online with Property Pool Plus

Visit the Property Pool Plus website.

You will need the following:

  • Full names and dates of birth of everyone you want to be included in your registration for rehousing.
  • National Insurance numbers for all adults.
  • A 5-year address history for all adults.
  • If you are currently in rented accommodation, the name, and address of your landlord.
  • Details of nationality, ethnic origin, and immigration status of everyone to be included in your registration.
  • Details for equalities monitoring, such as religion, sexuality, and disability.
  • Details of any unspent criminal convictions and contact details of the Probation Office if relevant, for anyone on your registration.
  • Information of any Armed Forces service, including dates of service.

If you are unable to register online for affordable housing, a paper application form can be requested from a participating landlord.

The 5 priority status bands:

Once registered, applicants are placed into a priority status band based on their housing needs.

Band A – urgent. This is for social housing applicants with urgent health or welfare needs, the statutory homeless, or those with overcrowding issues (2 or more bedrooms) in their current accommodation.

Band B – high priority. For applicants with high health or welfare issues, including homeless prevention, overcrowding problems (1 bedroom), and property disrepair.

Band C – medium priority. For applicants with medium-rated health or welfare issues, including relationship breakdown, homelessness (no priority need), homelessness (intentional with priority need), living with family/friends, or separated households.

Band D – low priority. This is for those who have not been assessed and are not in employment.

Band F – reduced priority. The reduced preference status is due to unacceptable behaviour or rent arrears and is for those in employment.

Band E – no priority. There is no assessed need.

An up-to-date list of housing associations and participating landlords can be found on the Property Pool Plus website’s `Registered Landlords’ section.

Liverpool in Merseyside

How to apply for a house

To bid, log onto your account via the Property Pool Plus website. The number of properties you are eligible to bid for will be displayed on the `My Account’ page. Each property advert gives details of the location, size, rent, and landlord along with a picture of the property where available and information on the area.

You can only bid on properties that you are eligible for, but you can bid for a maximum of 3 properties in the current cycle (only one bid is permitted per property). You can click on and apply online for your preferred home, or bids can be made by telephone, email or text, or by visiting your local housing office. Bids won’t be taken after midnight on a Sunday.

When bids have been placed, the system shows how many others have bid and your place in the queue. Then the bids will be compared, and a shortlist is created with applicants placed in order of required criteria. Your position in the queue may vary during the current cycle.

If you are successful, the relevant landlord will contact you – Property Pool Plus does not allocate properties, the decision is made by the landlord. You can then arrange with the landlord to view the property, and if you like the house and pass the pre-tenancy checks, a mutual exchange takes place and you can then move in.

Even if you are first on the shortlist, you may not be offered your first choice of preferred home because your household details don’t meet the criteria. Reasons for this may include the house not meeting your specified health needs, because you owe money to a housing association, or because you or a family member has committed serious anti-social behaviour. You can apply again during the next cycle of bidding.

What’s an `Available Now’ property?

Only this feature applies to properties where you don’t have to bid or wait till the end of a bidding cycle to apply. If you are interested in an `Available Now’ property on the website, contact the landlord and if you meet the criteria, are registered with Property Pool Plus and your application is approved, a viewing will be arranged.

Property Pool Plus helps people search for rental properties across five local authority areas in the northwest.

How to demonstrate a local connection

To prove a local connection, you must:

Have lived in the relevant council area for 6 out of the last 12 months, or 3 years out of the last 5 years.

Have a permanent job in the scheme’s local authority area.

Have had close family associations in the area for over 5 years.

Need to be in a specific scheme council area to be near a health facility for long-term treatment.

Need to give or receive caring support.

Can I refuse an offer?

The number of times an applicant can refuse an offer is limited: when the limit is reached, their application will be reviewed.

Renewals

Applicants must renew their application with Property Pool Plus every 12 months to cater for changes in circumstances or future housing needs. For further information and if you need help with finding affordable housing, visit the Property Pool Plus website.

Registered housing providers with Property Pool Plus:

These include Sanctuary Housing, Halton Housing, Jogsaw, Cobalt Housing, alpha, Leasowe Community Homes, places for people, Riverside, the Guinness partnership, Habinteg, johnnie johnson HOUSING, Livv housing group, Onward, Liverpool Mutual Homes, One Vision Housing, Pierhead Housing, Plus Dane Group, Regenda Homes, Your Housing Group, ForHousing, Family Housing Association, Crosby Housing Association, Wirral Methodist Housing, great places HOUSING GROUP.

Have you used Property Pool Plus to help with your housing needs?

If so, we would love to hear about your experience with this service to share with other readers.

Let us know by leaving a comment on our contacts page.

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