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Things to know before you apply (Step 1)

It can be difficult to know if applying for council housing is the right decision for you. Please read the information on this page and try our Homeseeker Checker tool to get an idea of recent lets and waiting times.

You can read our Lettings Policy below.

We currently get around 1,000 council properties vacant per year (approximately 20 per week) and we receive around 5,000 new applications per year (approximately 400 per month) so there is significantly more demand for housing than homes available.

Under the current Lettings Policy available homes are advertised as follows:

Priority - 90% of all vacancies will be allocated on a priority basis. This means offers are made based on the priority band of the applicant, then the time the applicant has been waiting in that band.

For example, on a priority let, an applicant who had been in band 1 on the waiting list for a month would be made an offer ahead of an applicant in band 2.

Of these lets, approximately 80% go to applicants in Band 1 and Band 2 and approximately 20% to Bands 3-5.

Waiting time – 10% of vacancies will be allocated on a waiting time basis. This means offers will be made based on the original application date regardless of the current or any previous priority band the application has been in.

90% Of Vacancies Are Allocated On A Priority Basis

Our interactive Homeseeker Checker tool

Our interactive tool gives details on properties that have been let by area and property type, what priority band the let was made to, and the waiting time of the applicant.

If you’re a potential applicant - use this tool before completing an application to help you understand where we have housing stock, how often it becomes available, and the likely waiting time to be rehoused.

Try our interactive Homeseeker Checker tool

Mutual exchange

If you’re a current council or housing association tenant, mutual exchange (where you swap your property with another council or housing association tenant) is often the quickest way to move home.

If you’re a Berneslai Homes tenant, you have access to House Exchange an online system which allows you to list your property and search for suitable swaps. If you find a suitable swap, you can apply for permission to exchange using the online form below.

Visit the House Exchange website Apply for permission to exchange homes

Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service

If you are at risk of losing your home or are unsure about your options then you can access free legal support through the Ministry of Justice Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service can help you. Accessing this support as soon as possible to help you resolve your situation.

If you have received a written notice that someone is seeking possession of your home, you are entitled to free legal advice. A housing expert will talk to you to understand why you might be at risk of losing your home and will explain your options. Housing experts may be able to provide legal advice on:

  • illegal eviction
  • rent arrears
  • mortgage arrears
  • issues with welfare benefits payments
  • debt concerns
  • disrepair and other problems with housing conditions

And if you are required to attend a court hearing, they may be able to represent you. You can find out more and search for your nearest housing expert on the Gov.uk website here. 

Homeless or threatened with homelessness

If you’re currently homeless or threatened with homelessness, you should contact Barnsley Council. They will give appropriate advice and support based on your circumstances.

Visit Barnsley Council’s ‘Homeless and housing advice’ page

New Lettings Policy - coming April 2024

On 30 March 2023, Barnsley Council approved a new Lettings Policy which will become live in April 2024 and will affect all applicants. We’ve answered some ‘frequently asked questions’ below with information on how the changes will affect you. 

We estimate that the changes will become live in April 2024, and we’ll be working under the current policy until this time. We’ll write to all applicants closer to the time informing them when the new policy is active.  

Homeseeker Scheme (Lettings Policy) FAQs

The new policy (Homeseeker Scheme) sets out the vision for the lettings and allocations processes to improve the way in which we currently operate. A summary of our current situation is as follows:

  • Demand is increasing from those in need
  • Supply is decreasing
  • We're not making the best use of housing stock
  • Current rules present unfairness towards those in most need
  • Expectations are not being managed
  • Increasing administration – reduced ability for teams to offer support and advice

As of February 2023 we have 9,300 applicants on the waiting list and only around 1,000 homes becoming available each year. This presents a huge imbalance in demand and supply so we must adapt our current policy to tackle this issue and prioritise those most in need.

We’ll tighten rules around awarding the highest priority Band 1 and we’ll allocate priority based on the highest needs an applicant has. It's quite likely that a lot of people in Band 1 now will not qualify for Band 1 under the new Homeseeker Scheme. Other bands may also be affected by these changes.

We’ll end the letting of 10% of homes on waiting time only. This means we’ll let homes to those in most need first. This will mean there is less chance for those applicants in Band 4 to be offered a home.  

We’ll close the Homeseeker register to applicants from outside of Barnsley who don’t have a connection to the borough and who the council has no other duties towards.

We’ll change the bedroom matching rules so that all bedrooms in family homes are filled. For example, a couple with one child will only match for a 2 bedroom home and a single person with 2 children will match for either a 2 bedroom or a 3 bedroom home.

We’ll allow a spare bedroom in most 2 bedroom flats and bungalows, subject to an applicant’s ability to afford any spare room charge and also subject to age or disability needs.   

We’ll complete an affordability assessment to understand if an applicant can resolve their housing needs themselves. For example, if someone owns a home or has a high income this could either restrict their access to the Homeseeker Scheme or reduce their priority. We’ll also actively consider whether there are other actions an applicant can reasonably take to resolve their housing needs themselves. For example, if an applicant could adapt their current home to meet their needs or private rented accommodation.

We’ll expect applicants on the register to actively apply for vacancies and we’ll take action to cancel applications or remove priority where applicants are not reasonably applying for vacancies or who are refusing reasonable offers.

We anticipate it will be April 2024, but we’ll keep applicants up to date should this date be altered and confirm this two weeks before the changes happen. Until the Homeseeker Scheme goes live we’ll still be making decisions about applications and letting homes under the current scheme. 

Throughout the summer we'll be contacting all applicants to ask whether you want to remain on the housing register and if you do, we’ll ask for some more information to assess how the changes will affect you. This may alter whether you will still qualify to be on the register and if you are in the right priority band. The type of information we’ll need is mainly around your financial ability to resolve your own housing needs.   

Once we have this information, we’ll be able to tell you what your priority band will be under the new Homeseeker Scheme and whether this also affects your priority under the current policy. 

No, the new rules will take effect when the new scheme goes live. If an applicant is going down a band we'll protect the waiting time they've already spent in either the higher band or previous time spent in the same priority need band. For example, an applicant going from Band 1 to Band 3 will take their Band 1 waiting date, unless they have previously been in Band 3. In this instance they will take the original Band 3 date.  

No, you don’t need to do anything now. We’ll contact you when we need more information about your circumstances. Please continue to bid on suitable homes as the current rules are still active.

We've introduced an interactive Homeseeker Checker tool to see how long you may be waiting for a home.

If you'd like to cancel your application, please click here.

Please read all three steps before making a new application:

If you’d like to discuss your options before completing an application, or you have a question about a current application, have a chat with our Homeseeker team by phoning 01226 787878 or emailing homeseeker@berneslaihomes.co.uk

Registered address:

10th floor, Gateway Plaza, off Sackville St, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2RD

Berneslai Homes Limited is a company controlled by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales, number 4548803