Family moving home

Empty homes and lettings policy

This policy outlines how we will let homes, what the eligibility criteria is, how we will advertise available homes, and other information relating to how we deal with lettings and empty homes.


We're a customer centred business, passionate about our vision 'creating great homes together'. We're committed to meeting local housing need and to providing safe, secure and high-quality homes for customers. This policy covers the work we do to prepare empty homes for occupation and our approach to letting them.

Scope of this policy

This policy applies to new and existing rented homes and rented garages. It doesn't cover sales, resales or staircasing of shared ownership homes or other leasehold sales.

Policy statement

We'll let our homes in a fair, transparent and efficient way. We'll comply with the relevant requirements and standards of the social housing regulator, relevant legislation including (where relevant) the right to rent regulations 2016, relevant charity law, section 106 agreements, our tenancy agreements and the requirements of commissioners of care and support services.

In some circumstances we may implement local lettings plans (LLPs) which allow us to set positive criteria for letting certain homes in order to address issues or concerns in a defined area, estate or scheme for a limited period of time.

We'll co-operate with local authorities in the areas where we have homes. This includes assisting with their homelessness duties and meeting our obligations in nominations agreements. We'll participate in the common allocation policies, common housing registers, choice-based lettings (CBL) schemes and extra care nominations routes operating in the local authority areas where we have homes, as long as candidates meet our eligibility criteria and as long as it's in our interests to do so. We'll keep our participation in CBL schemes under review to ensure that we can let our homes efficiently and continue to house people in need.

We'll sometimes advertise homes through other means including on the open market. Examples of when we might do this include when a home proves difficult to let through local CBL schemes. Where a home is likely to be hard to let we'll advertise through CBL and other avenues simultaneously. We also use these other means where we have homes which we're required to let at market rents.

In accordance with our charitable objectives to provide social housing and associated facilities, services and amenities, we give priority to rent garages to our customers. Where there's no demand from our customers, we'll let garages to non-Magna customers in order to avoid rent loss.


We'll let homes in accordance with our charitable objectives. To be eligible, applicants must be in housing need due to:

  • Their financial circumstances, which mean they can't obtain suitable housing on the open market; and / or
  • Their age, disability, mental illness or chronic sickness, which mean they need accommodation which is specially adapted or otherwise suitable for them

In certain circumstances, we'll let homes to existing customers or members of their household who don't meet the criteria set out in the bullet points above. Examples include customers who are required to move in order for us to demolish or undertake improvements to their home and people who are entitled to a new tenancy following the death of a customer in accordance with rights set out in our tenancy agreements.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, we won't let homes to:

  • Applicants with a debt to Magna or another social landlord who is a partner in the relevant CBL scheme; and / or
  • Applicants who have materially breached the terms of a current or previous tenancy, for example through anti-social behaviour, within the last two years; and / or
  • Applicants, whose behaviour is such that they'd pose an unmanageable risk to Magna colleagues and / or within the community. Exclusion for this reason will normally require the authorisation of the head of customer and community support and advice or guidance from other organisations eg the police, probation service, health professional; and / or
  • Applicants who are unable to afford to pay the rent and any other charges or otherwise maintain a tenancy without the need for support at a level we're unable to provide either directly or indirectly

We expect applicants to pay rent in advance in accordance with their tenancy agreement, unless there's a good reason why they can't.

We'll fully participate in relevant protocols dealing with dangerous or potentially dangerous offenders and use these when considering applicants who pose an actual or potential public protection risk.

Where an applicant is aged 16 or over but not yet 18, we require and appropriate guarantor (aged over 18) and may also require appropriate support to be in place before offering a tenancy.

Other eligibility criteria

We'll let our homes in accordance with specific eligibility criteria where this applies in certain areas or to certain homes. This includes:

  • Where we've adopted a local lettings plan (LLP) (see the section titled Local Lettings Plans (LLPs) below)
  • Where section 106 agreements, other planning conditions or other binding agreements specify conditions such as a local connection or minimum age criteria
  • Where homes are reserved for specific applicants such as key workers

Local Lettings Plans (LLPs)

LLPs allow us to set positive criteria for letting certain homes in order to address issues or concerns in a defined area, estate or scheme for a limited period of time. For example this could be an area where there has been a high concentration of anti-social behaviour.

LLPs will:

  • Vary in content, processes and outcomes according to the issue that they're intended to address
  • Not conflict with our charitable objectives
  • Comply with all relevant legislation
  • Not discriminate either directly or indirectly unless Magna is able to show there is good reason for doing so
  • Be used as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
  • Have clear aims and objectives
  • Be time-limited and evidence-based
  • State clearly the area or homes to which they relate
  • Be discussed with the local authority and be agreed with them where the LLP will be applied to section 106 sites; new developments where the LLP applies to 100% of new lets; and for situations where the local authority has nomination rights and we propose to apply the LLP to homes covered by those rights
  • Contain measures against which the success or otherwise of the plan can be assessed

Advertising Empty Homes

We'll normally advertise empty homes through the CBL scheme operating in the area in which the home is situated. However, we reserve the right to let homes without advertising them through CBL, for example where we have been unable to let a home through CBL or where we identify an eligible charitable beneficiary who is in housing need but isn't eligible to register with the relevant local authority scheme or who has an urgent need to move and needs a 'direct match' to an empty home.

Applicants who are registered in the relevant CBL scheme can express interest in our advertised homes for which they're eligible in accordance with the common allocation policy operating in that area.

We'll let all homes in accordance with our own eligibility guidelines and, where appropriate, the relevant local authority CBL policy. If there's conflict between these, our eligibility guidelines will take priority. We'll state any eligibility guidelines on our adverts.

Where there's more than one eligible applicant for a general needs or sheltered home through CBL, we'll prioritise the applicant with the highest banding. Where there's more than one eligible applicant in the relevant banding, we'll prioritise the applicant with the oldest application date in that band.

Where we advertise homes through routes other than CBL, we'll prioritise applications on a 'first come first served' basis.

Making best use of homes

We aim to make best use of our housing and will normally ensure our homes are fully occupied when we let them. To calculate bedroom eligibility, we'll allow a single or double bedroom as appropriate for a single applicant or a couple. For children to be allocated a bedroom, the applicant must be in receipt of child element of UC or child benefit for that child. We'll allow one additional single or double bedroom as appropriate for each of the following:

  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children under 10 irrespective of sex
  • Any other person aged 16 or over
  • Any other child (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • A carer who doesn't live in the household and who provides a household member with regular long term overnight care where the person / child who needs the care is in receipt of one of the following benefits:
    • Middle or high-rate component of Disability Living Allowance
    • Daily living component or Personal Independence Payment standard or enhanced rate
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment
    • Constant Attendance Allowance
    • Attendance Allowance
  • A disabled child who receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component at the middle or higher rate, who would otherwise be expected to share a bedroom but due to their disability wouldn't be able to do so, will be allocated a bedroom to themselves
  • A member of a couple who is unable to share a bedroom with their partner because of either partner's disabilities, and the disabled member of the couple is in receipt of:
    • Middle or high-rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, or
    • Daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or
    • Attendance Allowance at the higher rate, or
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment

We may allow homes to be under-occupied in certain circumstances, which include but aren't limited to:

  • In order to help improve an applicant's financial situation
  • Where a home has low demand or is otherwise difficult to let
  • In certain sheltered housing homes
  • To help those who may wish to remain in a specific rural community where there's limited stock available

Before under-occupying homes, we'll take reasonable steps to ensure that the home is affordable and the tenancy is sustainable.

We'll let sheltered housing to people aged 55 years and over or to younger vulnerable people if the environment and communal facilities offered helps to support their need. We'll let extra care homes to people with the relevant care and support needs.

We'll let purpose-built or adapted homes to applicants who will make use of the existing adaptations wherever possible.

We'll let homes that have been designed or designated as supported housing to those with relevant support needs unless there are good reasons not to.

Fairness and accessibility

We'll have a clear application, decision-making and appeals process. The appeals process is via Magna's customer complaints policy except where applicants wish to refuse a reasonable offer of housing and have been awarded a homeless duty by the local authority. These appeals would be made directly to the local authority in line with the local authority's allocation policy.

We'll give no preferential treatment to Magna Board members, colleagues, existing and new customers, and those with whom such persons are closely connected, in our lettings processes.

We aim to ensure that our lettings processes can be used by all applicants and we'll let our homes in accordance with our equality, diversity and inclusion policy.

Verification of circumstances

We'll aim to ensure that each homes is let to the person(s) entitled. We'll verify the identity and circumstances of customers.

We may take steps to recover possession of any home that was let on the basis of false information supplied by an applicant.

Preparing homes for letting

We aim to visit all homes prior to the outgoing customer(s) leaving, to identify any repairs and remedial works that are the customer's responsibility and identify any authorised improvements that the customer has carried out for which they may be entitled to claim compensation.

We'll advise customers of remedial work they're responsible for and of the recharges if these aren't completed. Our aim is to give clear advice and ensure customers have maximum opportunity to put anything right before they move out to minimise recharges for the customer and costs for Magna.

If we have to clean or clear out the home, repair any damage the former customer or members of their household or visitors have caused or put right any alterations that they may have made which don't meet our standards, we'll recharge reasonable costs and an administration fee for doing so and we'll pursue any outstanding debts.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, we won't allow a customer transferring from one Magna home to another to move until they've carried out all repairs or remedial works that are their responsibility in the home they're leaving. Examples of what we might consider exceptional circumstances include but isn't limited to:

  • Where a management transfer application has been approved
  • Households that need to move to avoid further hardship if current home is unaffordable
  • Households that are unable to return to their current home for medical / welfare reasons, for example if they're in hospital

We aim to carry out all works to empty homes before the in-going customer moves in. From time to time, we may carry out post-occupation repairs. Where possible, we offer a choice of fittings and fixtures to in-going customers if we're carrying out improvement works in the period between lettings.

Adapted homes

We aim to make the best use of our housing stock and aim to let adapted homes to applicants who will benefit from the adaptations. If we can't let an adapted home because of the specialist adaptations, we may remove the adaptations.

Our standards

We'll repair, clean and decorate all homes in accordance with the current Magna Lettable Standard.

We'll inspect all empty homes following works and prior to letting to a new customer, to ensure the work carried out meets quality and cleanliness standards and our lettable standard.

Always safe

We'll ensure that a landlord's safety check (LGSR) is carried out during the period the home is empty in all homes with gas, oil, or solid fuel heating appliances. All work identified as a result of this will be completed before the home is re-let. A copy of the relevant certificates will be provided to the new customer.

We'll ensure that an electrical check is carried out in empty homes before they're re-let. High priority work identified will be completed before the home is re-let. A copy of the test certificate will be provided to the new customer.


The Director of Customer Operations is the accountable person in relation to all aspects of empty homes and lettings planning delivery at Magna and is responsible for the development and review of the policy, ensuring that this meets all relevant legal, contractual and regulator requirements and guidance.

The Head of Customer and Community Support is responsible for ensuring that the policy is adhered to and for ensuring the policy is reviewed and updated in accordance with the policy review timetable.

The Operations Manager (income and lettings) and their team are responsible for the delivery of Magna's operating procedures relating to this policy, for maintaining accurate data on Magna's housing management systems and also for reporting on empty homes and lettings in line with governance arrangements.

Governance, Performance Management and Review

This policy will be reviewed by the Director of Customer Operations and approved by the Executive Board in line with the timescales set out in Magna's policy delegation framework.

Tier 1 and 2 PIs will be set and monitored in line with the performance management framework.