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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 900 council properties vacant per year (approximately 18 per week) and receive around 5,000 new applications per year (approximately 400 per month).

There is significantly more demand for housing than homes available.

In 2023, 91% of our lettings went to people in Band 1 and Band 2.

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

Homeseeker Scheme (Lettings Policy) FAQs

New Policy FAQs

Over the last year, we’ve contacted everyone on the housing register with a new banding decision for the upcoming policy. We included the details for your right to review this decision on the letter we sent you. You had 21 days to request a review from the date of this letter, if this is out of time, you no longer have the right to a review. Please refer to the original banding decision letter sent to you for more information.  

Yes, we’ll honour all offers we have made under the current policy. If you’ve any questions regarding this, please contact the Lettings Coordinator who made you the offer on 01226 787600. If you refuse this offer, we’ll then complete a full reassessment of your circumstances under the new Lettings Policy at this point if we have not already done so.  

Things to think about before you apply

Under the new policy all vacancies will be let on a priority basis meaning that properties will be offered in order of priority banding. This means we’ll attempt to have our applicants in the higher bands housed as soon as possible, as they’ve been assessed as having the highest need.

To lessen your waiting time, we recommend you are flexible with your property and location preferences. Our Assessment Officers will discuss this with you when your application is reviewed.

We want to be honest – if you are in Band 4 you are very unlikely to be housed.

We have an Interactive Homeseeker Checker tool that can provide more information on waiting times, which you can access here.

Certain applicants are not eligible to join the housing register, as stated in section 3.2.1 of the 2024 Lettings Policy. You’ll not qualify to join the housing register for the following reasons:

  • You are a non-eligible applicant from abroad (Please see section 3.1.2 of the Lettings Policy for further information).
  • You have held your current social housing tenancy for less than 12 months.
  • You or a member of your household has the independent financial means to purchase another home which meets your needs.
  • You are from outside of Barnsley without a local connection.
  • You are under 18, not in priority need, do not have a guarantor and cannot show you will be supported in a tenancy.
  • You, or a member of your household, has been evicted for rent or mortgage arrears and have not had a settled period of a minimum of six months nor met the criteria for reassessment.
  • You, or a member of your household cannot demonstrate that you have a rent or mortgage account which is less than 4 months in arrears.
  • You or a member of your household has made a fraudulent claim for housing and/or housing benefit or committed social housing fraud in the last 5 years or longer where you have not repaid the fraudulently obtained funds or have any related unspent convictions.
  • You or a member of your household, has caused damage to a property and been charged for damages and/or recharges and/or court costs of over £1000.
  • You or a member of your household, have been evicted for anti-social behaviour or unacceptable behaviour and there has been no demonstrable evidence of behaviour change in settled accommodation.
  • You or a member of your household or visitors have caused anti-social behaviour in your home or neighbourhood and are subject to breach of tenancy action by your landlord or where you are not tenants and are subject to other forms of legal action by the Council or police because of that behaviour.
  • You or a member of your household, has unspent criminal convictions which makes you unsuitable to be a tenant.
  • You are currently in the process of exercising your Right to Buy of your existing social housing property.
  • Your application has been cancelled in the last 2 years as a result of:
    • Not bidding.
    • Unreasonably refusing more than the allowed number of reasonable offers.
    • Failing to take the necessary action to become an active applicant.

Demand for social housing significantly exceeds available supply and it is likely that most applicants will never be rehoused through the Homeseeker Scheme. With this in mind, it is a good idea to explore all options available to you.

Some Housing Associations who advertise vacancies through the Homeseeker Scheme also keep their own waiting lists or advertise through other means such as Rightmove. We would recommend you contact Housing Associations to discuss your housing needs.

Private renting is also a good alternative option to social housing. You’ll have more freedom to select your preferred areas and set your budget. Barnsley Council has a webpage offering advice to those considering private accommodation, which you can access here.

There are lots of things to think about before deciding you are ready to maintain a tenancy. We have dedicated Housing Coaches to support you if required, you can contact them here.

Below is a list of things to think about when deciding if you are tenancy ready:

  • Do you require support with managing money (I.e., bills, rent, unsecured debt)?
  • Do you require advice relating to benefits?
  • Do you require support for managing a property (I.e., cooking, cleaning)?
  • Do you require support relating to drug use?
  • Do you require support relating to alcohol use?
  • Do you require support relating to mental health?

If any of the above apply to you, please tell us as part of your application and we can discuss this with you as part of the assessment process.

If you’re currently homeless or threatened with homelessness, you should contact Barnsley Council as soon as possible. They will provide appropriate advice and support based on your circumstances and assess if homeless priority should be awarded. You can visit their website here.

Please read further Lettings Policy FAQs on the 'how to make an application' page here and 'bidding for vacancies' page 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

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