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Apply For Housing - Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to a number of frequently asked questions about Gateway to Homechoice
What is Gateway to Homechoice?

Gateway to Homechoice a choice-based lettings scheme where available social properties are advertised on a weekly basis.

Who can join Gateway to Homechoice?
  • The eligibility criteria for joining the Gateway scheme are as follows:
  • The main applicant must not be subject to immigration control or be a person from abroad, unless they are a ‘qualifying person’. They must pass the habitual residence test (as defined in section 161 of the Housing Act 1996 and meet the criteria in SI 2006/1294 – Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) Regulations).
  • The main applicant and their household must be resident in the UK or the Common Travel Area (The Common Travel Area includes the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man).
  • If an applicant is 16 or 17 they will not be offered a tenancy unless they have a guarantor. This could include an applicant whose partner is 18 or older.
How do I join?

You will need to complete the online application form which can be found here

What information will I need to provide to join the housing register?
  • You will need to provide the following information for you and each member of your household:
  • National Insurance number
  • Email address
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Date of Birth
  • Details about your local connection to the Gateway area
  • Information about medical conditions if relevant to your housing application
What happens after I have completed the application form?

The relevant local authority will assess your housing needs and will ask you to provide supporting evidence for your application, including proof of identity for all household members, proof of your address, a reference from your current landlord, proof of your income and other financial details and any other supporting information requested by the local authority.

Once you have provided the local authority with all of the relevant information requested, your application will be activated and you will receive an email or letter informing you which Band you have been placed in, what your effective date is and what size property you are eligible for.

What happens if I don’t provide the required documents?

If you do not provide the required documents within 28 days of the local authority requesting them then your application will be closed. If you have a problem getting the requested information within 28 days because you are waiting for a new birth certificate or passport to be sent please discuss this with the relevant local authority.

Do I need to renew my application each year?

Yes, once a year you will be asked to renew your application to check that all of the information we hold about you is accurate. If you do not renew your application within 28 days, we will close your application.

How long will it take for me to get housed?

This depends on where you want to live and what type of property you need. In some areas, there is very high demand for certain types of properties so in these circumstances, you are likely to wait a long time for a property. In other areas, there may be more properties available. For more information on the length of waiting times, please see our annual report.

I am going to be homeless soon – what should I do?

If you are threatened with homelessness, you should contact the Housing Advice or Housing Options team based in the Council where you live. They have a legal responsibility to assess your needs and will advise you in more detail about your housing options. You can find out more about housing options in the Colchester area and book a housing advice appointment here.

I live in a social housing property which is too big for me. What can I do?

You can apply to join the housing register and ask to move to a smaller property; you may be awarded further priority if releasing a property in need.

I am a council or housing association tenant who wants to move. What Band will I be in?

Tenants living in council or housing association homes are assessed in the same way as other tenants. Your current housing circumstances will be assessed, and you will be given the Band which reflects how urgently you need to move. For example, if your home is overcrowded or you have an urgent need to move, you will usually be given a higher Band. However, if your current home is suitable for your needs, you will be given a lower Band and it might be quicker to find another council or housing association tenant to swap homes with. This is called a mutual exchange.

How often are properties advertised?

Properties which are available for rent are advertised each week on Thursday mornings until just before midnight on Wednesdays. You can bid for properties at any time during the bidding cycle; there is no advantage to bidding earlier in the cycle.

Where are properties advertised?

They are advertised here – properties which are suitable for you will also be displayed when you log into your Gateway account. You can also bid for the properties that you are interested in when you log in to your Gateway account.

How many properties can I bid for each week?

You can bid for up to two properties each week.

Why won’t the system let me bid for certain properties?

You can only bid on properties for which you meet the qualifying criteria – the size of property for which you qualify for will be on your joining email/letter and when you log into your account. If you try to apply for, for example, a bigger property than you are entitled to, the system will not let you do this.

How will I know if it is worth bidding on a property?

When you select a property to bid on, the website will tell you what position you are in for that property, at that moment in time. Your position on the shortlist is likely to change throughout the bidding cycle for that property. So, for example, if you can see that you are 100th on the shortlist for a property you will know that there is little chance of being offered that property and you may wish to select another.

After each letting cycle, we will show information about properties which were recently let and we will show the Band and effective date of the successful applicant for each property.

My bids keep being unsuccessful. Is there any point in me carrying on bidding?

The lower your housing Band, the longer it will take for you to be housed. If you are in Band E, it is unlikely that you will be housed through the Gateway To Homechoice register. If you are in the lower Bands, you may want to consider other housing options such as private rented accommodation or low-cost home ownership.

Why does my bidding position keep changing?

The Gateway To Homechoice register is not a first come first serve system. Applicants are shortlisted based on the band and how long they have been waiting in that band. If somebody in a higher band, or in the same band who has been waiting longer in that band, bids on the same property, they will go above you. You will not know your final position until after the bidding cycle has closed. If you bid first thing Thursday morning, as soon as new properties are advertised it is likely that your position will change throughout the week.

Do I get any preference for serving in the armed forces?

Serving members, former serving members, reserve forces personnel and bereaved spouses or civil partners of armed forces personnel can be assessed for additional preference on the Gateway To Homechoice. If eligible the preference will give them priority over applicants in the same band who do not have the required connections to the armed forces.