The Housing Allocation Policy Explained

How Allocations are made

When you apply for housing with us, your application is assessed according to Northampton Borough Council’s Allocation Policy.

The policy explains the full criteria for applying for housing with us.  

Below is helpful information on the key terms within the policy.

Unacceptable behaviour

You or a member of your family in your application can be refused an offer of accommodation on the grounds of unacceptable behaviour.

Unacceptable behaviour includes:

  • housing related debt. This includes when your or a family member has not kept to the terms of an agreed repayment plan
  • a conviction for illegal or immoral purposes
  • caused nuisance or annoyance to neighbours or visitors
  • being found guilty of committing certain criminal offences in or near the home
  • posing a threat to neighbours or the community
  • past violence towards a partner or members of your family
  • not looking after your property
  • falsifying information to obtain a tenancy
  • paying money illegally to obtain a tenancy
  • committing housing or welfare benefit fraud
  • being a perpetrator of domestic abuse
  • committing acts of violence or aggression towards staff.

Housing related debt

Housing related debt is money owed to a current or former landlord.

This can include:

  • rent arrears, including from temporary accommodation  
  • repair damage debt
  • Housing Benefit overpayment
  • damage to a former social housing property
  • legal costs arising from court action in connection with a current or former tenancy. 

Making regular payments

If you owe 2 or more weeks’ worth of housing rent you will be refused an offer of accommodation. You will need to show that you are paying off the debt.

Once the debt has been reduced to 2 weeks or less, and you are making regular payments, you may be offered accommodation. There are some exceptional circumstances explained below.

Having a housing need

When you also have a housing need, you may still be eligible to apply for housing when you are in debt.

You will usually be given less priority on the housing register when being considered for offers of accommodation.

If your debt is from a previous Northampton Borough Council property that you lived in for more than 6 years you will still be eligible to join the Housing Register

The debt will still need to be paid back with us through a repayment plan. 

Significant housing need

If you have significant housing need:

  • You are already homeless
  • you have a home but you are unable to live in it due to fire, flood or another emergency
  • You have somewhere to live but you are threatened with homelessness
  • You have somewhere to live but without your immediate family ( i.e. spouse, partner, children)

Reasonable preference categories

'Reasonable Preference' for housing is given to people who:

  • Are legally defined as homeless or there is a particular statutory duty by any local housing authority under certain provisions of homelessness legislation
  •  occupy unsanitary, overcrowded or otherwise unsatisfactory housing (as defined by the Housing Act 2004
  • need to move on medical or welfare grounds (including grounds relating to a disability)
  • need to move to a particular part of Northampton to avoid hardship to themselves or others.

Determining priority between applicants with Reasonable Preference

Various factors are taken into account to determine the priority between applicants with Reasonable Preference. This includes the financial resources you have available to you to meet your housing costs. It also includes the contribution you can demonstrate to Northampton or your local community, for example through working or volunteering.

Working households

A working household is when at least one adult member of the household is in employment.

That person must have either:

  • a permanent contract of employment
  • working as a temporary member of staff
  • self-employed.

You must have been in work for 16 hours or more for the past 9 months. 

We check these both when you apply and when an offer is made. 

Households actively seeking employment

If you are actively seeking work you will be given additional priority of 1 multiple needs star.

We will ask the Job Centre Plus in Northampton to verify this. 

Please note: if you are actively seeking employment but are not in housing need or a reasonable preference category you will not join the Housing Register

Community contribution

A community contribution is when you play a part in making your neighbourhood a good place to live, work and play. The Council's Community Contribution Priority Scheme gives an applicant increased priority, in addition to any other Reasonable Preference they are entitled to because of housing need. 

If you are already in Band A or B you will receive 1 multiple needs star. 

You can request a Community Contribution award, regardless of which social landlord you originally registered with. This award will also be used to prioritise applicants without Reasonable Preference, who want to move. 

Please note: If you are making a community contribution but have no housing need or are not in a reasonable preference category you will not be able to join the Housing Register. 

Community Contribution Awards – how they work in practice

A Community Contribution award is additional to the applicant’s Reasonable Preference status. If you request a Community Contribution but turn out not to qualify, it won’t disadvantage your application in any way.

To apply you must be over 16, have lived in Northampton for three years continuously, now or in the past and can pass our ‘current positive local residence history’ test (no Anti-Social behaviour, hate crime or convicted criminal activity).

You need to have been volunteering for a continuous period of at least 6 months up to the time when you apply and the same at point of offer. Volunteering must be for a not-for profit organisation or a charity and must be for a minimum of 10 hours per month. 

If you volunteer for a Tenants and Residents Associations, which is constituted and classified as not-for-profit, they must be registered with Northampton Borough Council, or a Registered Provider to qualify.

Evidence required for voluntary work

A letter will be required from the manager of the organisation you volunteer with, confirming your involvement. This person must not be related to you in any way.

Medical and welfare needs

Reasonable preference on the housing register should be given to applicants who have a need to move on medical or welfare grounds (Housing Act 1996). This category includes an applicant, or member of the applicant’s household, whose health is being affected by their current property. It will need to be shown that another move to a suitable property should help their condition or make it easier to manage.

Medical grounds

Where we need to make enquiries into your medical condition, we refer the case to an independent medical advisor. You can provide medical evidence if appropriate along with a medical or welfare assessment form, which will be sent to the independent advisor. If the Independent Medical Advisor tells us that Reasonable Preference should be awarded then we will give you either:

  • A severe medical award where it can be demonstrated that, due to an illness or disability, it is unacceptable for you to remain in your current home, or 
  • A moderate medical award when it can be demonstrated that due to an illness or disability you find living in your current home difficult. Also proven that remaining in your home will contribute to deterioration in your health.

The Medical Advisor may also recommend the type of property most appropriate to your medical needs.

The medical award made will determine the Band you are placed in. Where two or more members of a household qualify for medical priority the highest priority will be awarded with only one priority star applied.

Please note: If your assessment was done over 12 months before you received your offer we will review your medical and welfare priority to make sure the award is still appropriate.

Welfare grounds

This will include situations such as:

  • Frailty due to old age
  • You are a carer or receive care
  • Behavioural difficulties
  • The need to recover from the effects or threats of violence or physical or emotional abuse
  • Young people at risk
  • A mental or physical disorder
  • A physical or learning disability
  • Financial hardship.