Council website transforms way of finding homes
A website that offers estate agent-style information on all council homes available in Leicester has been launched by the city council.
The Leicester HomeChoice website is available to all of the 8,000 people on the council's housing register, and allows people to bid for new homes.
The site has photographs and details of all of the council homes available as well as some housing association properties.
On its first day of operation about 1,350 users successfully logged on to the website.
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One of the first successful bidders was 38-year-old mother-of-two Nicola Holland, who said: "This has transformed the way people can bid for homes, and it made it so easy for me to find a suitable property."
Traditionally, applicants were given points according to need, placed on the register, and then had to wait until the council offered them properties.
With Leicester HomeChoice, all empty properties will be advertised online, and people on the register can apply to be considered for up to three properties each week that meet their eligibility criteria.
Each person on the council house waiting list has a certain number of points based on their need. Each home will be offered to the applicant with the most number of points at the end of the bidding week.
The period for applying each week will be from 6am on a Wednesday, until midnight the following Monday.
The system is designed to make the process of bidding for houses easier and fairer.
Mrs Holland was left homeless in March, after a dispute with her previous landlady over the qualifications of a gas engineer sent to her home.
Along with her six-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son she spent weeks relying on friends and family for accommodation until she found a new home in Braunstone.
She said: "The first couple of offers from the council weren't suitable. But when they brought this new system in it was really simple to bid for the home I wanted."
Homes will also be advertised in a weekly vacancy list that will be available on request at city council neighbourhood housing offices, customer service centres, libraries, and community centres. They are being displayed at the property shop in Phoenix House, at 1 King Street, Leicester.
People can also apply for properties by text, telephone and via the council's digi-tv system.
The council's cabinet member for housing, Councillor Paul Westley said: "The old allocation system was fair but didn't provide tenants with a great deal of choice.
"I'm absolutely delighted that we can offer this new system."