Applying for a council or housing association home
We let around 500 council and housing association properties each year. Vacant properties are advertised and let through the HomeOption choice based lettings scheme. If you are already registered and want to express your interest in a vacant property (sometimes known as 'bidding') please go to the HomeOption website.
To apply for housing you need to join our Housing Register. The register is for new applicants, and for existing council tenants who want to move. From 10th June 2013 all applications must be registered online with HomeOption. If you don't want to wait until 10th June, phone our Housing Options team on 01992 564107 and ask for an application pack.
If you have any queries, or need help completing the online form, please phone us on our Housing Register Hotline 01992 564946. We have an information sheet which explains who can and cannot join the Housing Register (our eligibility criteria), and gives details of our priority bandings.
For more detailed information, you can download the Council's current Housing Allocations Scheme.
A revised Housing Allocations Scheme will come into force on 01 September 2013.
Are you at risk of losing your home?
Our homelessness prevention team works with other council services to give advice and support. If you have a housing difficulty the following housing options may help you.
Use the link below if you have problems with your landlord, or the condition of privately owned accommodation.
Living with parents
If you are experiencing problems in your family home, the Relate service could help you.
If you are suffering due to serious domestic violence our Sanctuary Scheme could help you.
Contact the Homelessness Prevention Team for further advice on these housing options
What you can do to avoid repossession
You can find information on the Government's website about how to get help and keep your home, if you are struggling with your mortgage or facing repossession.
The council has a legal duty to provide assistance to homeless people, or people at risk of homelessness. The level of assistance we offer will depend on individual circumstances but we will look at all the housing options available to you. If homelessness cannot be prevented we have a legal duty to provide 'interim' accommodation while we carry out enquiries to find out whether or not you are homeless, and have a local connection. We also need to know if you are intentionally homeless and whether you are in priority need.
If we accept an applicant under the homelessness duty, our next stage is to make temporary accommodation available to the family. This will often be in our hostel. The family stays there until permanent accommodation can be offered.
You should get advice as soon as possible from our Homelessness Prevention Team if you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness.
Download our leaflet “Homelessness”
Click to download our "Homelessness Strategy 2012/13 - 2014/15"
Choice based lettings (HomeOption)
What is HomeOption?
HomeOption is a 'choice based lettings scheme'. Homeseekers on our Housing Register can search for available council properties (and housing association properties where the Council has 'nomination rights'). They choose suitable properties from a list of all the vacant homes and 'express an interest' in them (commonly known as bidding or making a bid).
How does it work?
All our vacant homes are advertised on the HomeOption website and in printed property lists. Homeseekers can express their interest in up to three properties in any two weekly cycle. Vacant homes will be offered to the homeseekers who have the highest priority bandings and have been waiting longest.
I'm on the Housing Register, what do I need to do?
You need to look at the HomeOption website, find a suitable property, and put in an "expression of interest". You can post in a coupon or express an interest by telephone, text, or online.
Epping Forest ReUse (furniture recycling)
Do you need furniture?
Have you got furniture to donate?
Epping Forest ReUse (EFR) supports those in need, and protects the environment from unnecessary waste. EFR is working with Lighthouse Furniture Project - a not-for-profit social enterprise and a charity. This means that any operating surplus is reinvested back into the organisation, to expand its reach, enabling it to help more people and to help protect the environment.
Visit the Re-Use Centre in Epping to choose from a quality range of used furniture, appliances, nursery and household goods. Their prices compare favourably with local charity shops, and the warehouse premises enable EFR to offer a wide selection. The prices are lower for those who receive benefits. You will be charged for the cost of any deliveries.
The Epping Forest Re-Use Centre
Bower Hill Industrial Estate
Bower Hill, Epping
Open to everyone for viewing and buying - Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4pm. Saturday 9:30am to 12:30pm.
Download the Epping Forest ReUse leaflet:
Contact Epping Forest ReUse for more information on collections, deliveries and volunteering opportunities.
Phone: 01992 578222
Hostel for homeless people
If we accept an applicant under our homelessness duty, the next stage is to make temporary accommodation available to the family. This will often be in our hostel. The family stays there until permanent accommodation can be offered.
Our homeless persons hostel comprises around 40 rooms with shared kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities. A further 10 "chalets" with shared facilities are located in the grounds. The Hostel is supervised by a management team.
Contact the Council's Homelessness Prevention Team for advice on your housing options as soon as possible if you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness.
Mutual exchange with HomeSwapper
Under certain circumstances, council and housing association tenants can 'swap' their properties. Mutual exchanges can take place within Epping Forest District, or with tenants in other parts of the country, but all the landlords involved must have given their written permission first. You must meet a number of requirements, and anyone considering a mutual exchange should seek advice from their local council. More than two properties can be involved in a Mutual Exchange. You and your exchange partners must have secure tenancies.
The rules on mutual exchange are explained in our leaflet 'Moving home with the council'
The Council has linked up with the HomeSwapper mutual exchange service to make it easier for tenants to find exchange partners. HomeSwapper is one of the UK's largest mutual exchange services. It offers:
- Easy registration
- Alerts by email and text when the type of property you want is registered
- A forum to share more information
- Powerful searching on the internet
After registering with HomeSwapper you simply need to supply your property details, and a photo if you wish. There is no charge if you are a tenant of Epping Forest District Council because we have subscribed on behalf of all our tenants.
We have lists of tenants looking for exchanges through HomeSwapper - for people who don't have internet access. You can see the lists at: The Civic Offices, High Street, Epping; The Broadway Housing Office, Loughton; Traps Hill Information Centre, Loughton; The Town Hall, Waltham Abbey; and the Limes Farm Estate Housing Office, Chigwell. The lists are for reference only - you cannot copy them or take them home.
If you have found an exchange partner you will need to apply for permission to effect a mutual exchange. Download the 'Mutual Exchange Application for Permission' form here.
The completed form should be posted to: Housing Options Section, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ
Contact the Housing Options Section for further information
Housing Aid Scheme (EFHAS)
Finding a place to live
... with a little help from the Epping Forest Housing Aid Scheme
Some people wait for a very long time to get an offer of council or housing association accommodation. Privately rented accommodation is an option that many home seekers have to consider, although it can be expensive. Housing Benefit may be available to make the rent payments affordable, but finding enough money for a deposit can be very difficult.
The Epping Forest Housing Aid Scheme (EFHAS) is a charity which helps by giving 'Deposit Guarantees' which take the place of deposits. A Guarantee will cover an amount of up to a maximum of four weeks rent. If there is any loss or damage (beyond fair wear and tear) the landlord can make a claim at the end of the tenancy. EFHAS will then recover the money from the tenant. Applicants must be aged 18 or over and have a housing need (because they have nowhere to live for example). EFHAS has worked with us to help many people who can afford a private rent, but not the deposit.
If you want to know more about the scheme, or if you have a property to rent, please phone 01992 564165 or contact the Housing Options Team.
Ask for information on the EFHAS Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme
EFHAS is an excellent charity staffed entirely by volunteers. They have worked with us to assist many people, but they need more assistance. Could you spare some time to help them? You won’t have to handle money, your expenses and any mileage will be covered and you will be supported by the trustees.
Let us know if you would like more information on ways you can help EFHAS.
Rental loan scheme
Do you want to rent accommodation privately? If you do, but you are finding it difficult to afford, our homeless prevention team may be able to help through the Epping Forest rental loan scheme.
This scheme has been set up to help local people access private rented accommodation within the Epping Forest District.
How do I apply to the rental loan scheme?
To qualify for the rental loan scheme you must at first be seen by one of our homeless prevention officers. The officer will decide if you are in urgent housing need and would become ‘statutorily homeless’, if we did not give you a referral to the scheme.
What will I get if my referral is accepted?
If you are accepted onto the scheme you will be entitled to an interest-free rent loan advance of £670 as a single person, or £1,000 as a family.
What would I need to do to get accommodation?
If your referral is accepted, you will need to find a property that is suitable for your needs within our district. The accommodation must be affordable, and the landlord willing to accept the payment terms under the scheme. If you need help in finding accommodation then the homeless prevention officer will try to help you. When you are referred, you will be expected to sign a form agreeing the amount of the loan over a 24 month period.
How do I find out more about the rental loan scheme?
If you want to find out more about the rental loan scheme in the Epping Forest District please contact our Homelessness Prevention Team.
Transfers for council tenants
Existing council tenants living in the district may need to move to another property. This could be due to overcrowding, under-occupation or medical problems. Tenants can apply to join the council’s Housing Register. Following application they are ‘banded’ according to their circumstances. We have a detailed Housing Allocations Scheme that explains all of the policies.
Contact the Housing Options Team for further information.
Downsizing Incentive Scheme
Are you a council tenant? Would you like smaller home that is cheaper to run and more manageable?
Move to a smaller home - and you could receive up to £2,000
If you are living on your own in a large property, you may want to move to a smaller home that is cheaper to run and more manageable. The cash you get from us could help you buy furnishings for your new home, or pay a removal company. Maybe you could consider our sheltered housing, if you are an older person and you would like the support of a Scheme Manager.
We need to make the best possible use of our council properties because demand is extremely high. Homes freed up through our downsizing incentive scheme can be let to families in real need of larger accommodation.
If you wish to downsize you'll need to join our Housing Register. Tenants wanting to transfer to smaller accommodation are placed in Band 1 (the highest priority banding). You'll get £500 for each room "released", plus £500 for removal expenses - so you could receive as much as £2,000.
To enquire about the downsizing incentive scheme please contact our Housing Options Section.
Appeals and Reviews
Any tenant, applicant or other Housing client can appeal against a decision made by housing officers, or ask for a review of a homelessness decision.
In most cases, apart from reviews of certain homelessness decisions*, appeals are considered by the appropriate Assistant Director of Housing. Appeals should be made in writing to: Assistant Director of Housing, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ
In certain circumstances, Housing clients may have a further right of appeal to the Housing Appeals and Review Panel (HARP), if they disagree with the decision of the Assistant Director of Housing. The Housing Appeals and Review Panel comprises five district councillors and will consider decisions made on the following issues:
- Council tenants who have been refused discretionary home improvement grants
- Council tenants who have been refused disabled adaptations
- The Council's refusal to sell an area of Council-owned land under 50 square metres for garden use
- The Council's refusal to a housing applicant's request for a priority move
- Council tenants disagreeing with the Council about their level of liability for current or former rent arrears
Reviews of homelessness decisions must be requested within 21 days of the decision being made. All other appeals must be made within 3 months.
* There is a statutory right of appeal in homelessness cases. Certain cases will be dealt with by the Housing Appeals and Review Panel, not the Assistant Director of Housing.
Download our leaflet Housing appeals, homelessness reviews and complaints
Phone: 01992 564281