Apply for housing with HomeOption
To apply for council housing in Epping Forest you need to join our Housing Register. Enter the HomeOption website and apply on line.
The Council is revising its Housing Allocations Scheme and Tenancy Policy. The new Scheme and Policy will come into force on 27 July this year. As a result, home seekers already on the Housing Register must complete an on-line re-registration form with HomeOption before Monday 13 July, so we can re-assess each application.
Read more about our Review of the Council’s Housing Allocation Scheme and Tenancy Policy
After you have submitted your on-line form, you will be given a HomeOption number. You must supply us with photocopies of relevant documents to support your application (see the 'How to apply for housing' information below). If you don't provide the documents within 14 days we will not process your application. We will check your identification documents using an ID verification system called IDCSAN.
Our Housing Register is for new applicants, and for existing council tenants who want to move. Each year we let around 500 council properties or housing association accommodation (where we have nomination rights) to home seekers on the register. You should note that we own very few 4 and 5 bedroom properties, and there are very few houses in some areas. Flats and maisonettes are more likely to become available.
The following information sheet for home seekers explains how to apply for housing:
If you have any queries, or need help completing the online form, please phone us on 01992 564716. We have another information sheet which explains who can and cannot join the Housing Register (our eligibility criteria), and gives details of our priority bandings.
You can find more information on ways to move home in this leaflet:
For more detailed information on how we let council housing, or nominate applicants to housing associations, you can download the Council's current Housing Allocations Scheme.
Our Tenancy Policy outlines our approach to tenancy management, including discretionary succession rights. It sets out the types of tenancies granted and the circumstances where a tenancy of a particular type will be granted, and the length of the term. In relation to flexible (fixed-term) tenancies it also sets out the circumstances where a term of less than 5 years will be granted, and:
- Circumstances where another tenancy will be granted on expiry on the same or another property
- How applicants and tenants can appeal against the length or type of tenancy or the decision not to grant a further tenancy
- How the council takes account of the needs of vulnerable people
- Provision of advice and assistance if another tenancy is not granted at the end of the term
Are you at risk of losing your home?
Our homelessness prevention team gives advice and support to people who risk losing their homes. If you have a housing difficulty the following housing options may help you:
- Contact the Private Sector Housing team if you have problems with your landlord, or the condition of privately owned accommodation.
- 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.
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.
Office hours 01992 564165 Emergencies out of hours 01992 564000
Advice for Non UK residents
Choice based lettings - 'bidding' with HomeOption
What is HomeOption?
HomeOption is a service for residents in Epping Forest and several other local authority areas. You can use the service to:
- apply for council or housing association accommodation in the Epping Forest district
- express an interest or 'bid' for vacant properties
If you have applied for housing, and have been accepted onto our Housing Register, you can search for available council properties using the HomeOption website. You can also search for housing association properties where the Council has 'nomination rights'. You 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.
For further information contact the Housing Options Section, Epping Forest District Council
Telephone: 01992 564716
Downsizing and transferring
Council tenants living in the district may want to move to another property. This could be due to overcrowding, under-occupation or medical problems. To do this you need to apply to join the council’s Housing Register.
Would you like to move to a smaller home that's cheaper to run and more manageable?
You could receive up to £2,000!
If you are a council tenant, you could get cash from us if you downsize - to 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. To make your move less stressful, our Re-housing Support Officer can help you sort out all the arrangements such as:
- Assisting you with your application
- Arranging viewings at sheltered schemes
- Helping you organise the packing and removal, and
- Informing other organisations about your change of address
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. Existing council tenants wanting to transfer to smaller accommodation within the district 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 moving home, or the downsizing incentive scheme, please contact our Housing Options Section.
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.
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.
Office hours 01992 564165 Emergencies out of hours 01992 564000
Help to Buy
What is Help to Buy?
The Government created the Help to Buy scheme to help hard-working people like you take steps to buy your own home. Whether you are looking to get onto the housing ladder or move up it, there are a number of Help to Buy products designed to make buying a home more affordable, including:
Shared ownership - New build and Re-sales
Depending on how much you can afford, shared ownership allows you to buy a percentage share of a property while a local housing association retains the other share.
It is sometimes known as “part-buy part-rent” because you will then be charged a rental payment on the remaining share owned by the housing association. In most cases shared owners can choose to buy additional shares later on to increase their equity.
The Help to Buy equity loan is designed to help you purchase specific new-build properties priced up to £600,000 from participating registered developers with as little as a 5% deposit.
The Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your new-build home, so you’ll only need to provide a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. You also won’t be charged loan fees on the 20% loan for the first five years of owning your home:
Essex - Help to Buy New Homes Show
Find out more about existing and upcoming developments in and around Essex at Hylands House, Chelmsford, on Saturday 13 June, 2015 10.30am – 4pm
Want to find out more?
bpha are delivering this service on behalf of the Homes and Communities Agency in the East and South East of England. For more information please visit www.helptobuyeastandsoutheast.uk.com or call 03333 214044
If you interested in buying in another area please visit www.helptobuy.org.uk to find details of the local Help to Buy agent for that region.
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.
Medical self assessment
- Have you applied for housing through HomeOption?
- Do you have a health problem?
- Are you being housed with a family member who suffers from ill-health?
You will need to complete a 'Self Assessment Medical Form' if you would like us to take any health problems into account, when assessing or reviewing your housing application. We need you to give full information about the person who has health problems, and their current housing situation. Preference will only be given if the health problems will have a direct effect on your future housing needs. There is more information on the form, which you can download below:
Please check you have filled in all parts of the form and return it to:
Epping Forest District Council
Civic Offices, High Street
You can phone us on 01992 564716 to ask for a form to be sent to you.
You can scan the downloaded form and email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mutual exchange with HomeSwapper
A mutual exchange is a 'swap' between two or more tenants who have secure or flexible (fixed-term) tenancies.
You could move to another council or housing association property anywhere in the country. The exchange is arranged by the tenants but you must get the permission of your landlord, and make sure your exchange partners have done the same.
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 CM16 4BZ; The Broadway Housing Office, Loughton IG10 3SP; and the Limes Farm Estate Housing Office, The Limes Centre, Chigwell IG7 5LP. 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 below.
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
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.
Office hours 01992 564165 Emergencies out of hours 01992 564000
Reviews and appeals
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 (see below), appeals are considered by the appropriate Assistant Director of Communities. Appeals should be made in writing to: Communities Directorate, 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. The HARP 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 certain homelessness cases which will be dealt with by the Housing Appeals and Review Panel, not the Assistant Director of Communities.
Phone: 01992 564281
There is a separate process if you want to give us a compliment or make a complaint because something has gone wrong.