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LOCATA UPDATE

In late March 2020, we suspended the letting of social housing using the Locata IT system because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As lockdown restrictions have started to be lifted, and following updated guidance from central government, we can now begin to re-advertise Ealing council properties, as well as homes provided by other registered housing providers.

From July, properties that are safe and ready to let will be available on the Locata system. This will allow interested applicants the chance to bid on available properties. As COVID-19 is still a threat, we have made some changes to the way properties can be viewed and let.

  • Properties will be advertised in the normal way on Locata and applicants can bid for properties that meet
    their assessed housing need.
  • Applicants will be shortlisted in the normal way, but only the highest-prioritised applicant will be invited
    to view the property.
  • Where possible, we aim to offer virtual viewings – but this will not be possible for all properties. In those cases, a physical visit to the property will be the only option. 
  • For physical viewings of a property, the applicant will need to follow a strict and safe viewing process. 

          Steps include:

a)  Maintaining social distancing throughout the viewing.
b)  Only the applicant (or joint applicants) can attend. A viewing will be cancelled and withdrawn if an 
     applicant brings anyone else, including children, family or friends, to the viewing.
c)  You cannot ask another person who is not an applicant to physically view on your behalf.

d) No physical viewings will take place if the applicant (or joint applicants) have any COVID-19 symptoms,
    or are self-isolating, quarantined, shielding or clinically vulnerable. You must tell the council officer
   who contacts you if you fall into any of these groups, as the property will have to be withdrawn. In practice
   however, you should not bid for properties requiring a physical viewing if you should be staying at home.

  • The usual refusal rules are unchanged, so please be careful when you bid for a property and are offered a viewing; not being able to attend will be classed as a refusal.
  • If you view and accept, the council will work with you to arrange a tenancy start date and the moving-in process. Make sure you have removals and furniture ready as social lets are unfurnished and no white goods (i.e. fridges, or cookers) are provided.

Before properties are advertised once again, make sure you check your housing register application and ensure everything is correct. If you have any questions or queries regarding your housing application, please email the allocations and applications team on Locatahelp@ealing.gov.uk

Ealing Council will continue to monitor public health information and advice and reserve the right to suspend social lettings again if national guidance changes and/or if applicants do not adhere to the rules set out, as the council will not put its staff at risk.

 

LOCATA CHANGES

During this international crisis, it is vital that the council diverts its precious resources to where they are most needed.  Crucial council services are working normally and our priority remains to care for our most vulnerable residents. We have robust contingency plans in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver these vital services over the coming months.

With regards to the letting of social housing, Ealing council has for many years used a choice-based lettings process through the Locata IT system. This allows tenants to register interest and bid on advertised properties that they are interested in. Normally, group viewings with prospective tenants would take place before the allocation of the property.

In line with government advice, any non-essential meetings will not take place during the current period. This means that some changes are being made to how residents can view properties are being made to prevent the further spread of the virus.

The council has decided that it will stop all viewings of vacant council housing units at this time, and any units that have recently closed to bidding will not be actioned. This means that the shortlisting process of applicants will remain in place until the property becomes available for letting in the future.

The majority of housing associations have also stopped viewings of their properties.  A small number have advised that they may allow an applicant to view a property if there is an urgent need however. In such a case, we will make a direct offer of social housing in accordance with the direct offers rules within the council’s housing allocation policy. This will be overseen by the head of allocations and accommodation.

Only the prospective tenant or joint tenants will be allowed to attend viewings. No other family members, friends or professionals will be allowed and viewings will be cancelled if prospective tenants attend with groups of people.

When contacted to arrange a viewing, prospective tenants must advise if they are suffering from symptoms of covid-19 or are self-isolating. If the prospective tenant (or any person who they currently live with) develops symptoms after a viewing is arranged, the tenant must advise the council’s allocation team to cancel the viewing. This would not be considered a refusal of a property, but we will need to offer the property to another tenant. 

These new processes have been put in place to prevent any mass gathering of people, which is against government advice and will help to stop the further transmission of the virus.

We will continuously review and monitor the impact of the Covid-19 virus and it is our plan to ensure that we move back to the open advertising and bidding process for social housing as soon as safely possible. If you have any questions or queries, please email the allocations team on Locatahelp@ealing.gov.uk

 
Ealing Housing Options is an enhanced housing options service offered by:

The London Borough Of Ealing

Ealing Housing Options has been created with a purpose in mind, to give you more choice about your housing, and, help you have more choice in your own life. In the past your council or landlord decided what outcomes they thought were the best for you, now you have the chance to choose your own housing options.

Our goal? To meet your housing needs by offering you an honest, realistic assessment of your circumstances and offer you the right advice about your housing and future housing options. We know there is a strong bond between good, appropriate housing and good health, education or training and employment prospects. This is why our goal is to help you as much as we can. But remember, we can only do so much, part of the journey you have to take for yourself.

We will try to help you in a number of different ways:

• By helping you find the homes that are appropriate to your needs, your priority for housing and your resources

• By providing you with the tools and knowledge to maximise your income or benefits, so that you may afford the housing you need.

• By helping you find the necessary and correct advice about training, benefits and employment opportunities.

• If you have a home or tenancy, by assisting you with help to secure your mortgage or tenancy

• By helping you find and get the support needed to tackle issues like debt, disabilities or mental health.

We will be working with statutory, voluntary and local community groups to offer this help and support.