Choice Based Letting – the way forward?

I thought I’d start off my first blog with Choice Based Lettings. I’ll try to stay impartial but … you know how it is!

Unlike the traditional way of allocating Council and Housing Association properties through the points or banding system, Choice Based Letting allows the tenant to choose which property they would like and to “bid” or “express an interest” on it.
By 2010 the government want all councils to implement Choice Based Letting. All Resident Social Landlords should follow suit. The results up to April 2008 showed 47% of Local Authorities had implemented the system and 49% had plans to do so.

But just how effective and successful is this system? Is it really going to make a difference? The government say “it gives people more choice over where they live and will benefit and build communities”. But will it?

[ad#Google 200×200 right]The truth of the matter is that there is just not enough Social Housing in this country, so quite how Choice Based Letting is going to help totally beats me. The fact is it just passes the buck from the landlord to the applicant. If the applicant misses out on their “perfect” property, it’s not going to be the landlords fault – but the applicants. But in reality, would the bidder have got that property anyway? With Choice Based Letting, only one chance is given to bid -at least with the waiting list, the letter is still on the doormat when you get back off holiday!

There are so many different points of view, I can’t list them all here but I’ll start with a personal concern. Birmingham City Council along with Midland Heart and Family Housing already run Urban Choice which is the Choice Based Letting pilot scheme in Birmingham. They say it has been a great success. Good. However, Urban Choice only offer a few properties per week and the majority are in the inner city areas. When CBL goes citywide, Birmingham City Council will be offering on average 100 properties a week. Great! Or is it? Am I really going to trawl through all 100 properties week after week in search of my ideal property and one that is suitable to my particular needs? Initially, probably yes. But a few weeks down the line, with no bids being accepted, I shall probably lose interest.

So my question to Birmingham city Council is “How are you going to sustain the interest in Choice Based Lettings?” I don’t want to be spammed or have loads of junk post reminding me to bid – I know I can bid, just can’t be bothered.

My question to all Local Authorities and Housing Associations who are currently running Choice Based lettings is “How do you keep your tenants interested in the scheme – how are you sustaining interest?”

It would be nice if an HA or Council replied – either way, I’ll bring up some other issues regarding Choice Based Lettings in later blogs.

Comments are welcome

Author: CCHE Deb

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