Applying For A Home - FAQ's

The application process
How do I apply for a Livin home?

We advertise all of our available homes on our Find A Home page, simply visit this page for more information.

Before you can place a bid on one of our homes, you must first have an active account with the relevant Choice Based Lettings Scheme. Almost all our homes are located in County Durham and therefore are allocated through the Durham Key Options scheme. Durham Key Options (DKO) is a partnership between Durham County Council and landlords across County Durham.

Once your application is approved, you will then be able to bid on homes that meet your needs. You can access the application form directly by visiting Durham Key Options. If you’re still unsure how to do this, you can watch our helpful video which talks you through the process.

We have a small number of homes which are located outside Durham, these are all advertised through the Compass Choice Based Lettings scheme in Teesside; Compass is similar to Durham Key Options but we do not process applications registered for this scheme. If you wish to register an application for homes advertised in this area, please apply directly with Compass.

What information will I need to apply?

If you are already an existing applicant and have already registered to join the scheme, you should be able to access your Durham Key Options portal by logging in using your housing reference number and memorable date. If you’re still unsure how to do this, you can watch our helpful video which talks you through the process.

If you are a new applicant you need to register with Durham Key Options to begin your application for social housing. You will be asked for some basic information about yourself and you also need to provide your National Insurance Number. Make a note of the memorable date you set as you will need this later when logging in.

Once you have submitted your details and they have been checked by our Housing Support Team you will be provided with your housing reference number, which you can then use to access the Durham Key Options portal.

Once you have been provided with your housing reference number you can then complete your full housing application for social housing by selecting "Apply for Social Housing". By giving us as much information as possible upfront this will prevent delays, without specific documents and evidence we cannot process your application meaning you won’t be able to bid on our homes.

You will need;

  • An accessible email address
  • Information about all the members in your household
  • Information and evidence of any medical problems in your household that could mean you need a certain kind of property or adaptations
  • Details of any previous addresses in the last 2 years
  • An idea of where you’d like to live

You will always be required to provide two forms of identification (to confirm your date of birth and your current address). You should upload this into your online portal as soon as you can.

My circumstances have changed since I applied, how do I let you know?

You can submit any updates to your application by logging into the Durham Key Options portal and selecting "view or edit your social housing application".

Your updates will then be reviewed by our Housing Support Team and we will contact you if we need further information, your banding may also change inside the portal.

How long will my application take to be processed?

The application process has two main stages.

  1. Registering your application - This usually takes around five days. If we need further information we will contact you. This can take around two weeks in total.
  2. Receiving our decision - Once you have uploaded all the necessary information and evidence, you should receive a decision from us within 20 working days.

All applications are different and these timescales can vary depending on the type of additional evidence that is needed to process your application. You can track the progress of your application through the Durham Key Options portal and you can also contact us through the portal if needed.

How do I upload requested documents or further information?

Log in to the Durham Key Options portal and select “upload/review documents”. Once you have uploaded your documents they will then be verified and processed by our Housing Support Team. We also have a helpful video you can watch on uploading your documents if you're still unsure.

I have forgotten my log in details, how can I access my account?

When you are on the Durham Key Options website, select "Login" followed by "I have forgotten my login reference". Enter the email address you used to register and an email will automatically be sent to you with your reference number.

If you need to reset your memorable date, you can do this by selecting "Login" and "I have forgotten my memorable date". You will be asked to verify your details before you can set another memorable date.

I am homeless, can you help urgently?

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, please contact Housing Solutions at Durham Council on 03000 268 000 as soon as possible. If you require additional information or support, please visit the Housing Solutions website. If you do not currently live within County Durham, we recommend that you try contacting your own local council.

Bidding on a home
When can I start bidding on homes?

If your application has been successful and your status within DKO has changed to "Active". You will be provided with your housing reference number, where you can start bidding on homes that you are eligible to apply for.

All of our homes are advertised on our Find A Home page and we also have a helpful video which talks you through the process.

What does my banding priority mean?

When your application is approved you will be awarded a “Band”. This is determined by our assessment of your housing needs and is based on what you have told us on your application for social housing. Your band can be reassessed if your circumstances (and housing need) changes. The bands we award and the criteria for this can be found within Durham Key Option's Lettings Policy.

What is a bidding cycle?

Our newly available homes are added on a daily basis and are advertised for 6 days. During that time if you are eligible you can place a "bid".

If no bids are received or if the home becomes available again, it will then be re-advertised.

Our homes are advertised on our Find A Home page, but to place a bid you must log in to the Durham Key Options portal.

We have a small number of homes which are located outside Durham, these are all advertised through the Compass Choice Based Lettings scheme in Teesside; Compass is similar to Durham Key Options but we do not process applications registered for this scheme. If you wish to register an application for homes advertised in this area, please apply directly with Compass.

What happens after I have placed a bid?

Once the home you applied for finishes it’s advertising cycle, the system automatically creates a shortlist of all applicants who have applied (in banding priority order).

We aim to contact winning bidders by telephone or email within one working day of bids closing on our homes. You can also monitor your bidding status through the Durham Key Options portal. If you are not a successful bidder on the home you will not be contacted.

How do I check the status of my housing bid?

You can check the status of your housing bids through your Durham Key Options portal.

Log into your account and go to “My Bids” on the homepage. There you can see a history of all the bids you have placed and what position you came on each shortlist.

Your bidding position may change if you are checking your position while the home is still actively being advertised.

The system places “auto-bids” for applicants who are unable to place bids themselves, this happens once the cycle is complete. These bids are based on need, but it does mean that shortlists are not final until the next working day and positions can and do change until then.

How many times can I bid for a home?

You can place as many bids as you like on homes you are eligible for, but you should only bid for homes you genuinely would want to move into.

If you turn down three homes you have placed a bid on, your application may be closed and it could be six months before you are able to reapply to join the housing register.

How do I appeal if I do not agree with a decision?

If you do not agree with our decision (such as your application status or band) you have the right to submit an appeal. You may be asked to provide further evidence to support your appeal and you will be notified within six weeks with the outcome.

More information about the appeals process can be found in Section 8 of Durham Key Option's Lettings Policy.

I have been bidding for a while but I have not been successful, what can I do?

We have a large number of customers looking for homes in similar areas, some of which will have higher levels of housing need. There are also some homes where we have more availability than others.

You should make sure you have told us and continue to tell us everything we may need to know about your housing need so that your banding priority remains correct. You may also wish to consider which areas you are looking to be rehoused in if you have not had much success in the area you initially hoped for. We can only let homes what are currently available and you must always consider your own circumstances. If we do not have the home available for you in the timeframe you need it, you may need to also consider other housing options to meet your individual needs.

Moving in
I have been offered a home, what happens next?

We will contact you and check your housing application to make sure your circumstances remain the same, and once that’s confirmed we will offer you the home. You will be “matched” to the home in the Durham Key Options portal, which means that you will no longer be able to bid on other homes.

If you accept the offer, you can then arrange a home viewing with us and subsequently sign up for your new tenancy.

If you choose to refuse the offer, we will move onto the next eligible applicant on the shortlist and you can then continue to bid on other available homes.

What is a pre-tenancy assessment?

You may be asked to complete a pre-tenancy assessment. This is to make sure that you can afford the property before we proceed with the offer.

If you complete this assessment and the home is not affordable for you, we may give you advice on the type of home you qualify for (such as a smaller property) or provided with advice on how to maximise your income before being offered another home with us.

When can I move in?

All of our homes have repairs and maintenance checks to make sure they’re in fantastic condition ready for you moving in. This can take time depending on the repairs needed, but we will keep in regular contact with you about timescales so you know when it’s ready to move into.

Sometimes our homes are ready for you to move into straight away. If this is the case, we will talk to you when you are offered the home but you may be expected to move quickly.

Is there anything I need to do once I've moved in?

There are a few things that you need to do once you have moved into your new home.

Our handy Moving In page talks you through everything you need to know from getting your gas and electricity switched on to paying your rent.