- To ensure Co-op’s housing is allocated fairly, in line with our equal opportunities policy, to people who meet our membership criteria. So they must be:
- willing to accept the responsibilities of membership
- in housing need
- aged 18 or over
- The housing we can offer must meet their need. They must either have some understanding and/or experience of shared living or meet our current flat allocation criteria.
Application form and open evening
- All applicants will be invited to an Open Evening (education session). The purpose of this session is to explain who can become a member of the Co-op, how the Co-op works and to ensure applicants understand the responsibilities of being a co-op member. They will also be given information about the Co-op and a summary of the allocations policy. They must complete an application form (Appendix 1).
- Co-op open evenings will be held once a month. They should be run by at least two Co-op Co-ordinators.
- If we are unable to help an applicant we will let them know as soon as possible.
- They will then be invited to a Co-op General Meeting. This is an opportunity to see the Co-op’s democratic processes in action!
- Once applicants have been to an Open Evening and a GM and have filled in an application form they will be invited for interview.
- Applicants who want an interview will be:
- asked to complete Section 5 of the application form stating which working groups they are interested in.
- given an interview date.
- Interviews will be held twice a month. Applicants must attend an open evening in the 3 months before their interview.
- Interviews will be carried out by at least two members, preferably one from either sex. All new interviewers must come to a training session on interviews and the allocations policy and procedure before they can interview. Interviewers must not interview applicants they know well. They will keep to the interview guidelines at Appendix 2.
- The purpose of the interview is to establish whether the applicant meets our membership criteria and whether the shared housing we can offer will meet their need.
- Rooms in shared houses are available to people who meet our membership criteria and are willing to share communal facilities with other people. Ash Co-op will only let a room for exclusive possession by one tenant.
- Interviewers should aim to reach a consensus decision on whether or not to accept the applicant. They must keep a written record of their reasons for that decision using the interview record sheet (Appendix 1, p5) attached to the application form.
- The Co-op will write promptly to the applicant to tell them the result of their interview.
- If an applicant has attended an open evening and has been accepted at an interview then s/he is on the Co-op’s shortlist.
- The Co-op will only grant tenancies to those on its shortlist.
- All those on the shortlist have equal housing priority.
- Applicant must inform the Co-op after 6 months if they wish to stay on the shortlist. If they don’t, they will be removed from the shortlist. If they wish to stay on the shortlist they will then be asked to contact the Co-op every 3 months to confirm they are still interested in being housed here.
- If an applicant wants to stay on the shortlist for more than a year, s/he must attend another interview to confirm that s/he is still in housing need.
- Applicants on the shortlist will be given a tenancy if they are accepted by at least half the members of a house at a house interview.
Procedure for becoming a tenant and member
- A list of empty rooms will be displayed outside and inside the Co-op’s office and will be available to any applicant on request.
- Those on the shortlist can approach houses with empty rooms and ask for house interviews.
- An applicant must be accepted by at least half the members of a household before s/he can be accepted as a member and given a tenancy. They must get their application record sheet signed by at least half the members of a household.
- It is essential that households make every effort to fill voids as quickly as possible. The Co-op’s voids policy has more information on this and on tenancy sign up procedure.
New members meetings
- All new members must attend a meeting once they have moved in to get more information on the areas of Co-op work they are interested in.
- New members meetings will be held when necessary, usually once a month. The member running these meetings will check the new members’ working group forms and invite the Co-ordinators of the relevant groups to meet the new members.
- Open evening and interview to join flat shortlist
- Interview to assess priority for a particular flat vacancy
- The procedure is the same as for shared housing except that the purpose of the interview is to establish whether the applicant meets our membership criteria and flat allocation criteria.
- The flat allocation criteria are that:Flats are to be allocated to at least 2 people – this policy agrees that children are good for this Co-op and that their residence here is to be supported.Flats are available for:
- couples with children or expecting children: flats may be allocated to those expecting children to allow them to settle in before the birth
- single parents with full time care of children or expecting a child
- single parents with part-time care of children: the Co-op will require that children are expected to be resident at the Co-op for at least 50% of the time.
- two disabled people or one disabled person and their carer.
Applicants who are less than 3 months pregnant will not be considered when flat vacancies arise.
- The Co-op will give priority to current members who have a need for flats. By giving priority to those applicants for flats who are current members:
- any investment in training and experience is not lost by the members concerned having to move out. This will help ensure a stable membership for the Co-op.
- There is a form of ‘move on’ accommodation for those members who have outgrown the shared house environment.
- The Co-op may grant the tenancy of a flat to applicants who do not fit the above criteria if this is agreed by a General Meeting. It may be necessary to alter the clauses on occupancy and overcrowding in our joint tenancies as they state that the premises are provided for not more than two adults and one child. We can alter these to allow for more people to live in a flat if the panel and General Meeting allocating a flat agree.
If an applicant has attended an open evening and has been accepted at an interview then s/he is on the Co-op’s shortlist; a flat applicant can stay on the shortlist for one year. After a year, s/he must attend another interview to confirm that s/he is still in housing need.
Procedure for becoming a tenant and member
- When a flat becomes available, the Allocations Co-ordinator will invite 3 people to be on a flat allocation panel. One of these should live in a flat and there should be one from either sex. Interviewers must not interview applicants they know well.
- The flat allocation panel will be elected by a GM/CM and chosen from a set of flat panel members agreed at AGM e.g. 6 – 10 people. Members must go to a training session on flat allocations before they can be on a panel. The agenda item covering the election of the panel will include a list of the people the panel will be expected to interview
- Once a panel has been appointed no further applications for the flat vacancy can be accepted.
- The flat allocation panel will contact the following to invite them to an interview:
- Current members who have completed a flat application form Where there are current members who clearly fit the allocation criteria the panel will interview them first. If the panel decides to allocate the flat to a current member, other applicants will not be invited to an interview.
- Applicants on the shortlist who have applied for a flat
- Where an applicant has been interviewed for a flat within the last 3 months, there will normally be no need to re-interview them, unless their circumstances have changed. All applicants will be given the opportunity to be re-interviewed when any flat becomes vacant but this is not obligatory if they believe their circumstances have not changed.
- Applications will be assessed by the flat allocation panel on the following criteria. See flat interview guidelines (Appendix 3):
- Housing need
- Can Co-op housing meet their housing need?
- Willingness to participate in the activities of the Co-op
- The interview panel must keep brief written records of each interview under each of these headings. See Appendix 4 for the suggested format.
- A GM will hear brief reports of all interviews from the interview panel who will recommend who should be allocated the flat. The final decision rests with the GM.
- The Allocations Co-ordinator will ensure the successful applicant is contacted and invited to become a member and sign a tenancy before they move in.
- Each person signing a flat tenancy will also sign the declaration at Appendix 5 confirming that they meet the flat allocation criteria and will co-operate with any effort to rehouse them if they end up underoccupying the flat according to this policy.
Underoccupation of flats
- If it happens that:
- a flat is left occupied by a single person
- a flat is left occupied by a couple without children
- a previous care arrangement for children changes such that the child is no longer resident for at least 50% of the time
the Co-op will identify a period over which the current tenant(s) will be allowed to resolve the issue of under-occupation
- In such cases, the Committee (or General Meeting) shall be empowered to establish that the under-occupation is of concern to the Co-op. Where a meeting establishes its concern, it shall also elect at least 2 Co-op. members to discuss the matter with the member(s) concerned and report back to the following meeting.
- If this second meeting is still concerned that the flat is under occupied, the Co-op will write to the member(s) concerned, asking that the situation is resolved within 3 months. If the situation has not been resolved within this time, the following procedure shall apply:
- Established under-occupation of flatsThe Co-op in meeting will set a period of time during which the remaining member(s) are requested to find alternative accommodation, whether within a Co-op shared house or outside of the Co-op.Those in this situation will be supported by the Co-op in their search for alternative accommodation by:
- asking all shared houses with vacancies to invite them for interview
- making available all office facilities, including the phone, to aid them in their search for alternative accommodation.
- If it happens that:
- Members cannot transfer to another room in the house where they live or to another house or flat if they have rent arrears. Where a member has rent arrears which are due only to Housing Benefit being paid in arrears, they will only need to clear any service charges due before they can move.
- Members must give notice to the Co-op’s office that they wish to transfer.
- Members wishing to transfer to another room within their current house can do so as soon as they have checked that they have no rent arrears.
- Members wishing to transfer to another house must be accepted at a house interview by at least half the members of a new house and then give 2 weeks notice to the Co-op’s office. See Ash Co-op’s Voids Policy for further information.
- If a Member transfers from a house to a flat, they may move as soon as possible. The house will then have 6 weeks to fill the room they have left before a surcharge applies, although they should make every effort to fill the room as soon as possible.
- All members transferring must sign a tenancy for their new accommodation on or before the tenancy start date.
- If an applicant is not accepted on to the Co-op’s shortlist they can ask for a second interview with different interviewers.
- If they want to appeal any other decision made during the allocations process they may use the Co-op’s complaints procedure.
- It is essential that interviewers keep adequate written records of interviews and the reasons for their decisions on the forms provided.
- Equal opportunities information on paper will be separated from the application form once that information has been recorded in the Co-op’s computer records.
- Applications forms will be destroyed after a year unless the applicant wishes to remain on the shortlist or has become a member.
- Application forms can be read by those who need to look at them i.e. Allocations Co-ordinators and members of the allocations group, workers and members looking to fill a void in their house.
- The computer records can be viewed and altered by those who need to look at them i.e. Allocations Co-ordinators, members of the allocations group and workers.
The Co-op will publicise itself widely to ensure that the opportunity to become a member is open to all who are suitable.
The Co-op will keep a stock of information leaflets about the Co-op and distribute them regularly to relevant bodies such as the City Council, advice centres, organisations dealing with homelessness and other housing organisations.