Why have Birmingham Choice started advertising properties again?
New Government advice has been provided confirming that people can now move home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This guidance provides important public health information to ensure that moving home and key activities around this, such as viewing property, can happen safely.
You are strongly encouraged to read the guidance if you are considering moving home during this time.
One of the simplest steps you can take when moving home is to wash your hands frequently and wherever possible, stay at least 2 metres apart from people who are not members of your household.
When can I place bids?
You can bid for accommodation when the next property advert cycle opens on Thursday 21st May 2020. The usual advert cycles will continue to operate, from Thursdays to Mondays.
A message has been sent to all applicants with a live application to advise of this.
Will my previous offers still count?
Yes, all offers made prior to this allocation scheme being suspended, on Wednesday 8 April 2020 will still count.
Will you be advertising all properties that became empty whilst Birmingham Choice was suspended?
No, some properties were let, either temporarily or permanently, in line with Government advice at that time. We focused on essential activity which included:
Supporting victims of domestic abuse and people fleeing other forms of violence
Facilitating move-on from temporary accommodation
Facilitating discharge from hospital to free-up bed space for others requiring care
Supporting those living in unsafe accommodation, or without settled accommodation, which posed a risk to their health
Why aren’t there many properties advertised?
There have been over 50% fewer properties become empty and fewer moves occurred during the lockdown period in which the Government advised against moving home.
Has the Birmingham Choice procedure changed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak?
For the safety of customers and staff we’ve reviewed and adapted our processes to ensure that the risk of spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible.
Registered providers have also done the same.
For example, whenever possible, we are completing virtual viewing and lettings. If you are offered a property, we will contact you to discuss your circumstances and make appropriate arrangements.
What if I am too ill to move or shielding now?
Landlords have been advised to avoid moving residents who are shielding because they have been notified they are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group.
Before bidding for a property, please consider carefully if you need to and can move now.
What if I am offered a property but I am unable to move due to self-isolation?
We will discuss with you the state of you and your households health, level of vulnerability and your arrangements for moving.
We cannot leave properties empty indefinitely however the offer may be held for you for a limited time.
If you cannot move within a reasonable time due to the coronavirus, you will not be penalised and your offer will not be counted as a reasonable refusal.
I’ve been made an offer, what happens next?
We will contact you once all the repairs to the property have been completed. (We are not conducting viewings whilst the property is being checked, repaired and cleaned).
We will ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
You will be asked to upload all your documents, for example, a copy of identification and income, to your Birmingham Choice account.
If possible and with your agreement, we will arrange a virtual viewing. This will involve an officer showing you the property remotely and via video phone or WhatsApp.
If you attend the property to view it, only you and one other person should attend the property with you. We will seek to maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from others wherever possible. You should consider wearing a face covering in line with government guidance.
We will not conduct viewings in properties with customers who are symptomatic or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are clinically extremely vulnerable and are shielding.
I’m in bid position 2 or 3 and I haven’t been contacted.
For the safety of customers and staff, we have stopped multiple viewings.
We are contacting customers in bid position 1 only and arranging virtual viewings, whenever possible.
This means that you will only be contacted and offered a viewing if the person in the higher bid position than you declines the offer.
I’ve accepted an offer; how do I arrange to move?
Removal firms can operate, although they may need to adjust usual procedures in order to ensure moves happen as safely as possible.
We encourage you to contact removal firms as early as possible in advance of your move.
You and your household should also try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible. However, where this is not possible, you should speak to your removal firm in advance.
How will I sign for/accept an offer of a tenancy?
If possible, we will arrange a virtual letting and plan for the keys to be provided to you safely. This will be arranged by telephone and email.