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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Offers

Because of the shortage of social housing some people will wait a very long time before they get offered a property. You could have a long wait, even if you passed the 4 homeless tests and are legally homeless.

You'll have to renew your application every year and if you don't do this, you'll be removed from the waiting list. It's important that you keep your details up to date. A change in your circumstances could mean you're entitled to more points. You can also lose points if your circumstances change.

When you apply for social housing you’ll have to choose 2 areas where you’d like to live. Most people can choose any areas they want but there are restrictions on some people.

You're only entitled to 3 reasonable offers. If you're offered a property that you don't want you'll lose one of these offers unless you can show the Housing Executive or housing association that the offer wasn't reasonable. How you challenge the decision depends on whether you've passed the 4 homelessness tests of not.

Secure Housing Executive (NIHE) and housing association tenants can apply for a transfer to a different NIHE or housing association property. You can ask for a transfer anywhere in the UK and tenants from England, Scotland & Wales can transfer to properties in Northern Ireland.

If you pass all four homelessness tests, or hurdles, you will be awarded Full Duty Applicant status. Full Duty Applicants are entitled to offers of permanent accommodation from the Housing Executive and housing associations.

You can apply for a home with the Housing Executive or a housing association by filling in an application form. There are lots of people on the waiting list and they are ranked according to how badly they need to be rehoused. Your ranking depends on how many points you are awarded using the criteria set out in the Common Housing Selection Scheme.

Most tenancy agreements specify a term of 12 months. However, if no specific term is mentioned, a default term of 6 months will apply. If you've applied for social housing and are waiting for an offer from the Housing Executive you should try to negotiate a term of 6 months or less, if possible, as you could still be held liable for rent in your privately rented property once you move into a social tenancy.

When you apply for housing your housing officer will award you points based on your personal, housing and social circumstances. The more points you have, the better your chance of getting an offer. People can be unclear about when points are awarded. Points can only be given to you if you can show that you meet a specific standard set out in the Selection Scheme. Ask the Housing Executive for a breakdown of your points if you’re not sure which ones you’ve been given.

You'll probably wait a long time for an offer if your points are low. There are a couple of things you can try to speed up the process. You could change your areas of choice to an area with less demand or you could look at the properties available on the Housing Executive's Choice Based Lettings scheme.

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