Housing allocation

Housing photo

Harlow’s social housing shortage, together with changes in Government legislation, led to Harlow Council reviewing the way in which it decides who can join its Housing Register and how Council housing is allocated.

Since 30 September 2013 and following public consultation, Harlow Council allocates housing based on need rather than the length of time applicants have been waiting. The Housing Needs Register also uses new conditions to determine who qualifies to join the register. Greater priority for housing is being given to people with a connection to Harlow.

Who does Harlow Council allocate housing to?

The Council’s Housing Allocations Scheme (Allocations Policy) (pdf) clearly makes sure that Harlow people in the worst housing circumstances get the highest priority. Most people that Harlow Council house come from Harlow.

Between April 2015 and March 2016 the Council housed a total of 468 households:

  • 270 of applicants were home seekers, 143 were transfers and 55 were homeless
  • 329 in general needs properties, 61 in supported housing and 78 in housing association

The breakdown of households in each band who were allocated housing:

Band Number Percentage
Band 1 171 37%
Band 2 242 52%
Band 3 48 10%
Band 4 7 1%
Total 468 100%

Apply to join the Housing Needs Register

To join Harlow Council's Housing Needs Register you will need to complete an initial assessment and if you meet the qualifying conditions you will be able to apply to join the Housing Needs Register. We will then carry out a Housing Needs Assessment to confirm your priority band to enable you to bid for vacant properties.

More information on how to join and the Housing Needs Register Assessment

Qualifying Conditions

Qualifying conditions on local connection, financial resources and behaviour apply to both people joining the Housing Needs Register and also existing applicants.

Local connection

To qualify under local connection, you will need to:

  • have continuously lived in Harlow for at least five years; or
  • have a parent/parents, siblings and/or nondependent children who have continuously lived in Harlow for at least five years; or
  • have been in permanent full time employment in Harlow continuously for 12 months, working a minimum of 24 hours per week

There are other special circumstances under which you may qualify for inclusion on the Housing Needs Register; for example, if you have no safe connection in another area or a need to be near specific medical or support services. The above conditions will not apply to existing social housing tenants resident in Harlow or current or former members of the Armed Forces.

'Right to move' - Since April 2015 new government guidance is in place to ensure that Council and housing association tenants wishing to move to another Local Authority area for work related reasons can do so. This means that existing social tenants in other Local Authority areas in England who need to move to Harlow because the tenant works or has been offered work in the town do not need to demonstrate a local connection in order to join the Housing Register. We have amended our policy and procedures to reflect this change. If you are moving to the town to take up an offer of work or you already work in the town and wish to move here you can discuss this with the Housing Options Team. More information on Move to Work Scheme

Financial resources

You will be excluded from the Housing Needs Register if you or your partner has:

  • housing-related debt totalling £1,000 or more (from current or former tenancy), unless you have evidence to show repayment plans have been made to clear all of the arrears and repayments kept up over a 12-month period. Mortgage arrears are not included. Please note: all housing debts need to be cleared before an offer of accommodation will be made.
  • financial resources available which total more than £50,000 from savings, equity or income (does not apply to existing Harlow social housing tenants or applicants who require sheltered accommodation as a result of a medical or social need.

If you, or a member of your household, is currently involved in committing, or has committed, antisocial behaviour or criminal activity, you will be removed altogether from the Housing Needs Register

You will be excluded from the Housing Needs Register if:

  • you are sanctioned with a current Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO)
  • you have an outstanding injunction
  • you have a recent conviction related to domestic abuse
  • you lost your previous home due to antisocial behaviour
  • a current or previous address of yours was closed by the Police due to direct involvement with drugs or drug abuse

If your behaviour has shown significant improvement and you can show evidence to support this, you are free to apply to join the Housing Needs Register at any time.

Housing allocation priority

Multiple needs are no longer considered when assessing housing need. For example a previous two awards for Band 3 for different needs, would have place the applicant into Band 2. The Allocations Policy places the applicant into Band 3.

Bedroom entitlement

The number of bedrooms you will be allowed to bid for will be based on a room for:

  • Each adult couple
  • Any other person aged 16 and over
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children under the age of 10 regardless of their sex
  • Any other child
  • A full-time carer if you or your partner need overnight care


Priority for overcrowding is allocated in the following way:

Band Overcrowding priority
Band 4 no deficiency
Band 3 where there is a deficiency of one bedroom
Band 2 where there is a deficiency of two or more bedrooms
Band 1 where a household is statutorily overcrowded (in self contained accommodation only)

There are some exceptions to this:

  • If you reside in a one bedroom flat on any floor level with a dependent child aged three years or over, you will be placed in Band 2
  • If you occupy a studio flat (bedsit) on any floor level with a dependent child you will be considered as having a bedroom deficiency of two bedrooms, you will be placed in Band 2.
  • If you and your children share facilities with another family and have no secure tenancy, you will be placed in Band 2.

The priority awarded for overcrowding is based on the bedroom deficiency of the applicant according to your bedroom entitlement.

Other priorities

  • Existing Harlow social housing tenants
    • Band 1 priority will be given to all existing social housing tenants in Harlow who require smaller accommodation and are prepared to give up all surplus bedrooms.
    • Band 2 priority will be given to all existing social housing tenants in Harlow who require smaller and still under-occupy by one bedroom.
  • Priority for adopters and foster carers
    • Where a recommendation from Social Services (Children Services) has been accepted, prospective adopters and foster carers will be offered one extra bedroom to accommodate additional children and awarded a Band 2 priority. A maximum of five nominations will be accepted per year.
  • Moving from supported housing
    • Band 1 priority will be given to applicants who need to move from Supported Housing by way of the agreed ‘Move On’ scheme.
  • Members of the British Armed Forces
    • Definition: Members of the British Armed Forces and former service personnel, who have been discharged from service within the last five years, may qualify to join the Housing Needs Register. This includes bereaved spouses and civil partners who are leaving service family accommodation following the death of their spouse or partner.
    • In addition serving or former members of the Reserve Forces (e.g. Territorial Army) who need to move because of serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service, may also qualify to join the Housing Needs Register.
    • Applicants who meet the Members of the British Armed Forces definition may be exempt from the local connection criteria. Additional priority will be awarded where the applicant does meet the local connection criteria and will be awarded one band above their housing need priority.

Move to Work scheme

New scheme to help social housing tenants move closer to their workplace

Harlow Council’s Housing Options and Advice Team is offering a tailored service to help social housing tenants who need to move to be closer to the workplace, or who need to move house to take up a job offer. This initiative is called Move to Work.

You could be eligible for help if:

  • You need to move closer to your place of work outside of Harlow.
  • You need to move to a different part of Harlow because transport links make it difficult for you to get to work.
  • You need to move to a different part of Harlow because you cannot travel to work, due to exceptional circumstances.
  • You need to move because you’ve had a new offer of work somewhere else that is difficult for you to travel to.
  • We know that sometimes people find it difficult to work because of poor transport links or because ​travelling to work can take too long or costs too much to make it possible.

For more information or to talk to an Housing Options and Advice Advisor call Contact Harlow

What we can do:

  • Give advice on the options for moving, including the Housing Needs Register and home swap options.
  • Help you complete all the relevant forms and paperwork to register for a move.
  • Identify suitable properties for you and help you to place bids online.
  • Work with you to identify possible home swap partners.
  • Offer a lump sum if you move to a smaller home – up to £1,000.
  • Help with some of the small costs of moving, where these are a real problem.

Help you to access schools and services in the area that you need to move to. We work closely with Job Centre Plus and housing associations in Harlow, and can liaise with these agencies on your behalf.