Highlands Choice Based Lettings scheme extended to Thurso

Councillor Roger Saxon
Councillor Roger Saxon

Anyone who wants to rent a council or housing association house in Thurso now has greater choice as homes are now being allocated through ‘Choice Based Lettings’.

Already in use across most of Caithness, the scheme is being extended to homes in Thurso by the Highland Housing Register (HHR) partners due to its success.

‘Choice Based Lettings’ gives people a greater say over where they live and the houses they are offered. Available houses and flats are advertised each week and people have to ‘bid’ for the ones that they want to live in. When the advertising period ends, the HHR landlord offers the property to the bidder with the greatest housing need and who requires that size of property.

Housing need is determined by the Highland Housing Register Allocation Policy. To be able to register an interest (or ‘bid’) for advertised homes, people need to have an active HHR application.

Everyone can see available properties on the websites of the HHR landlords. Applicants can also bid online or do this in each of the HHR landlord’s offices. Information on the available properties is also available in the Wick and Thurso Council Service Points and Citizen Advice Bureaux.

People without computers or tablets can get free internet access at any library.

HHR landlords include Albyn Housing Society, Cairn Housing Association, The Highland Council and Pentland Housing Association.

Councillor Roger Saxon said: “Caithness led the way in introducing choice-based lettings. It’s great that we are extending it throughout the county and our social landlord partners are also joining the scheme.

“As well as giving people more choice about where they stay, this process benefits The Highland Council and other HHR landlords by making sure that offers are only made to people who are interested in that property. This cuts down the time that homes sit empty. As people are choosing where they want to stay, it also helps to develop stronger and more committed communities.”

He added: “Because we want to make our processes simpler, we are also encouraging more people to apply for housing online. The new on-line form allows people to apply online anytime, anywhere and on any device. This cuts down the time it takes to complete the form and sends it to be processed straight away.”

Sheltered housing is not included in choice based lettings and will continue to be allocated as before.

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