Search the Halton Housing Website

Can’t find what you’re 
looking for?

Filter your search results by visiting our help and support page.

Help & Support
My Tenancy
Menu
affordability policy

Affordability Policy

Date of Issue: January 2020

Issue Number: 2

Date of next review: January 2023

This Policy aims to ensure sustainability by evidencing that an applicant’s income is enough to cover their housing costs, and that the decisions made can be duly demonstrated in accordance with clause 6.3.3 outlined in the Property Pool Plus Sub Regional Choice Based Lettings Scheme Policy.

These clauses provide Halton Housing (HH) with the ability to make informed decisions using its own independent assessment criteria when assessing suitability of a property allocation.

  • The aim of this Policy is to allow HH to demonstrate and evidence property allocation decisions using appropriate affordability assessment tools.
  • The Teams who will implement the use of this Policy are Housing Options and the Money Advice and Welfare Benefits Team.

Policy Statement

The aim of this policy is to focus on the customer and what they can afford to pay for their housing to ensure it is sustainable. There is concern that some applicants do not have the financial resources to afford to rent and sustain their tenancies within our homes. Consequently, customers who cannot afford to pay their rent may, in a short period of time:

  • Relinquish their tenancy by voluntarily giving us notice of relinquishment
  • Abandon the property without prior notice period
  • Have their tenancy terminated following legal action being taken against them

The affordability criteria is designed to help prevent HH from enabling a new customer to sign for a tenancy where following a financial assessment, clearly demonstrates they do not have the necessary income to sustain the tenancy. This Policy aims to give clear guidelines for circumstances where we will either defer or refuse to house an applicant because of their current financial situation.

1. Information on applicants’ income/financial circumstances

As part of the process customers are required to confirm their income and, where applicable, their assets, for example any equity in their home. This information is gathered from the applicant as part of a pre-tenancy interview by a member of the Housing Options Team.

On this basis there is a need to assess if the applicant meets the affordability threshold. HH will gather additional evidence e.g. bank statements or obtain a credit report to confirm the customers’ current financial status and undertake a financial assessment with a Starter Tenancy Officer to ascertain affordability and assess if their income can be maximised. The approach taken will depend on the applicant’s individual circumstances as follows: Page 4 of 6

1.1 Customer has no income

In some circumstances it is conceivable that a potential applicant has no income which may exclude the option of housing. Examples include:

  • Not working and not entitled to receive any forms of welfare benefits.
  • Non-EU citizen with no recourse to public funds.
  • On benefit but, this is reduced because it is sanctioned for an extended period.

In these circumstances the application will be bypassed during shortlisting until they can provide evidence they have an income sufficient to sustain the tenancy.

1.2 Insufficient income to meet housing costs including rent and utilities

This would include cases where, because of a low income, an applicant is unable to afford the rental commitment on a specific property. This may be as a result of a reduction of benefits, sanctions or any other welfare reforms that are in force at the time of the financial assessment. Consequently, they may have insufficient income to enable them to live in the property without suffering financial hardship.

An assessment is needed to confirm that any income including benefit entitlement is enough to cover the cost of renting a home and paying utilities. It would be deemed to be not affordable if there is a shortfall of over 10% of the income in comparison to expenditure. For the assessment the actual rental for the specific property will be used. If the specific rental amount is not available, then the average NROSH rents for (HH) homes will be used.

In calculating the financial costs of setting up and running a home (including electricity, gas, water etc.), an average monthly cost will be applied (refer to appendix 1).

1.3 Applicant has expenditure which exceeds their income:

Where an applicant has enough income but, because of their level of expenditure, cannot afford the financial commitments of running a home, and there is no likelihood of this changing in the near future, then the applicant will be bypassed on PPP. In addition, credit checks may identify an applicant who has a low credit rating and is likely to struggle to maintain future contractual rental payments.

If any of the above are identified during the affordability checks, the Housing Options Team will make the applicant aware of affordability concerns, initiating the following actions:

  • Referral to HH Welfare Benefit Money Advice Team to review income and expenditure to identify if there are opportunities to increase income and potentially reduce expenditure
  • Offer a referral to internal and/or external support agencies
  • Offer advice and information on improving the applicant’s credit rating
  • Assess if these financial circumstances can be resolved immediately (within 7 days) or medium term (within 6 months) or if longer term (within 12 months).
  • If following a re-assessment there are changes that can be undertaken within 7 days, the applicant needs to provide evidence of the changes before further consideration of an offer of accommodation can be made.
  • If the changes require medium term improvement, these will be set out to the applicant with the action required and the timescale with which to meet the requirements for improvements.
  • If there does not appear to be any likelihood of an improvement in the financial position the customer will be bypassed for accommodation with HH until evidence is provided of an improvement in the financial situation.
  • For any future offers of accommodation on PPP, they will be subject to further financial assessments of the applicant at that time.

All actions will be confirmed in writing to the applicant, including details of how to appeal against our decision in accordance with the Property Pool Plus Choice Based Lettings Policy.

Regulatory and/or Legal Compliance

This Policy links into the following legislation:

  • Welfare Reform Act 2012
  • Rent Act 1977
  • Protection from Eviction Act 1977
  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1987
  • Housing Act 1988 (as amended by the Housing Act 1996)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

Diversity Considerations

A Stage 1 Equality Impact Assessment has been completed. This confirmed that a Stage 2 EIA is not required.

Links to Strategies, Policies and Associated Documents

This Policy is linked to one of the 6 main priorities within Our Direction 3.0 and focusses on our:

  • Customer Focus

Policies and procedures associated with this include:

  • Affordable Rent Policy
  • • Property Pool Plus Choice Based Lettings Policy
  • • Diversity Policy
  • • Rent Collection Payment & Debt Recovery Policy
  • • Affordability Procedure

Related Help & Support Articles

Find helpful articles on finding your next home with Halton Housing, and how to apply for a home here.

Help & Support Categories

We have 6 Help and Support categories to help make finding the help and advice you’re looking for that little bit easier, the categories include: Your Home, Health and Wellbeing, Help with Halton, Online Accessibility, Payments and Money and Your Career.

Looking to Move?

To apply to live in any of our properties you must have an active Property Pool Plus account. To register for an account, simply follow all of the Property Pool Plus registration steps.

Manage Your Tenancy 24 Hours a Day, at the Click of a Button by Downloading Our Customer App.

Our Customer App allows you to manage your Halton Housing tenancy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can now pay your rent, raise a query, report a repair, report anti-social behaviour and do so much more via the Customer App, download it today!

Latest News

Stay up to date with all the latest Halton Housing news here

Read More News
halton Housing maitenance technican carrying out a gas safety check
Halton News

Successful gas injunction obtained despite Co...

14th May 2020

Halton Housing has been granted an injunction to gain access to a property in Widnes to carry out important gas safety checks. Gas regulations mean Halton Housing has to check all homes once a year. An injunction is a Court order which orders a company or person to do (a “mandatory injunction”) a particular act […]

find out more
food on shelves in food bank
Halton News

Halton Housing donates £5,000 to Halton food...

14th May 2020

Halton Housing has proudly made a £5,000 donation to food banks in Halton, with the money being split equally between Widnes and Runcorn. The donation is part of Halton Housing’s backing of the national housing sector’s food bank campaign, ‘More than homes’. The #HousingUK #SocialHousing sector is working together to give something back to the […]

find out more
Halton News

Improving people’s lives during Coronavirus

24th April 2020

Colleagues from across Halton Housing are working hard to maintain essential services and support our customers who need us most during the Coronavirus crisis, bringing our vision of improving people’s lives to life. We are undertaking activities to ensure local people are getting the help, support, and advice they need. Over the past few weeks, […]

find out more
Halton News

We’re looking for new members to join our i...

22nd April 2020

We’re looking for new members to join our independent customer Scrutiny Panel. Sitting underneath our Board, the panel are responsible for picking service areas of Halton Housing they wish to scrutinise, with the view to making recommendations for improvement – helping ensure we are offering the best services we can to our customers. Alongside meeting […]

find out more
Halton News

Govern our future: Could you be our new Board...

30th March 2020

We’re looking for a new Board Member to help oversee the delivery of our ambitious plans. To complement our existing high performing team to support delivery of our future plans, in line with our commitment to refresh our Board on a regular basis, an opportunity has arisen for a new Board member to join us. […]

find out more
Halton News

Social Distancing – Are you doing it?

30th March 2020

We know that many of our customers are already actively following the government’s guidelines around social distancing during the Coronavirus outbreak.  However, as a responsible landlord, we must reinforce the message and urge all our customers to stay at home and away from others, as per the government’s rules on social distancing. We have received a significant number of calls from customers informing us that they are seeing people breaking social distancing rules. We consider that a […]

find out more

Sign Up For Regular Updates

Would you like to receive news and updates straight to your inbox? Tell us your email address and areas you are interested in, and we will send you relevant updates

accessibilityalert align-leftanti_socialinfo-Asset 3 arrow_down_thicker_no_fillarrow_down_white arrow_down_whitearrow_downarrow_leftarrow_rightarrow_up_accordion arrow_up_tail article Untitled-1info-Asset 4 tenancycalendar calendarcameracard clockcollaborationcomment computerAsset 4 cross_arrows crosscurves document down_arrowdownload-2duohouseAsset 2emote_1 emote_2 emote_3 emote_4 emote_5 figured_arrowsUntitled-2flaggradient_briefcase info-Asset 5 helphh Untitled-2Untitled-3house_helpicon_additional_incomeicon_alcoholicon_benefitsicon_bettingicon_car_insuranceicon_child_benefitsicon_childcareAsset 1 icon_clothingicon_council_taxAsset 4 icon_electricityicon_gasicon_groceryicon_gymAsset 5 icon_home_insuranceicon_iAsset 3 icon_petrolAsset 1 icon_renticon_takeawaysicon_total_incomeicon_travel_feesicon_tvWage after Taxicon_waterinnovative_stacked innovative key_features keyholderleft_arrowinfo-Asset 5 Group 2Created with Sketch. ShapeCreated with Sketch. LineCreated with Sketch. live_chatUntitled-3 megaphonemessagemouse new_homes partnership_stacked partnership pause Page 1Created with Sketch. pen info-Asset 9 percentagepersontickpet_iconinfo-Asset 6 pin plant_iconplay Asset 2 info-Asset 7 promises_stacked promises property_overview qualrespect_stacked respect right_arrow_whiteright_arrowsearch Untitled-3slider_next slider_prev smileyFacebook Google Plus Instagram social_linkedin Pinterest Twitter YouTube socialUntitled-3square_triangle Untitled-3info-Asset 8 triangle-left Untitled-2 wifi-glyph-24