Fundamental Review of Allocations

What is the Fundamental Review of Allocations Implementation Project?

The Department for Communities led a review to improve how social homes are allocated in Northern Ireland.

This included looking at the Housing Selection Scheme and the allocation processes.

This is called the Fundamental Review of Allocations (FRA).

As part of this review, the Department:

  • commissioned independent research
  • consulted on the recommendations
  • worked with us (and others including Housing Associations) to identify proposals for change

Twenty proposals to improve the social housing allocation system were identified. 

Public consultation on the proposed changes was carried out in 2017. A consultation outcome report was published in December 2020.

You can read the consultation documents and find out more about each of the 20 proposals at the Department for Communities' website: 

The Minister for Communities decided that:

  • eighteen proposals would be taken forward and
  • two proposals would need more investigation 
    • these related to the removal of Intimidation Points and Interim Accommodation Points

The Housing Executive is responsible for implementing the proposals in place.

We established the FRA Implementation Project to deliver the eighteen agreed changes and develop options for alternative proposals for the remaining two.

The Project will also:

  • consider the issues raised by respondents and
  • take forward targeted consultation with stakeholders throughout implementation of the changes

What this means for you

The current Housing Selection Scheme and Common Waiting List has been in place for more than 20 years.

It governs the allocation of all permanent social housing in Northern Ireland. 

Customers currently: 

  • complete a single application for social housing
  • are assessed under the rules of the Housing Selection Scheme and
  • if eligible, are then added to the Common Waiting List

Social housing includes both Housing Executive and Housing Association homes. These homes are allocated to the applicant on the waiting list with the highest number of points.

Changes will now be made to the Housing Selection Scheme. These will ensure that those in the greatest housing need receive priority and that their time in need is recognised.

This will mean a better, more efficient service for people in housing need.

Every household on the waiting list will be informed of changes at key stages of the Project.

All households will receive a letter and information leaflet. These will explain the first group of changes. 

You can download these documents:

We will also inform political representatives and external stakeholders about these changes. 

You can access regular updates about the progress of the Project, at any time, on this webpage.

Overview of the Project

The Project began in 2022 and will close in 2025.

The changes will be implemented within four key delivery stages over three years.

Summary of changes within the key delivery stages

Proposal 1 
Independent, tenure neutral housing advice service for NI.

Proposal 5
Greater choice of areas (removal of the Greater Housing Area imposition). 

Proposal 15
Reduction from three to two reasonable offers.

Proposal 16
Social landlords may withdraw an offer in specified circumstances.

Proposal 6 
Greater use of mutual exchange service.

Proposal 12 and 14 
Social landlords should be able to make multiple offers directly and to as many applicants as they think necessary.

Proposal 17 and 18
Social landlord may withhold consent for policy assignments/successions to general needs and adapted accommodation.

Proposal 2 and 3
Measures to clarify ineligibility around unacceptable bahaviour for social housing and homelessness.

Proposal 19
Update Housing Selection Scheme to bring it in line with developments in Public Protection Arrangements Northern Ireland (PPANI).

Reassessment Exercise
All Applicants and Transfers on the Waiting List will be reassessed to ensure their points reflect their current housing circumstances (Proposals 8 and 11).

Proposal 4
The Housing Executive can meet their homelessness duty on a tenure neutral basis.

Proposal 7
Investigate how to strengthen the verification process and address inconsistencies in the award of intimidation points.

Proposal 8
Points should reflect current circumstances.

Proposal 9
Investigate alternative approaches for the award of points to applicants in any form of temporary accommodation.

Proposal 10
The Housing Selection Scheme should place Applicants into bands based on similar levels of need to meet longstanding housing need more effectively.
Proposal 11
The Housing Selection Scheme will be amended to generally align the number of bedrooms a household is assessed to need with the size criteria used in the Housing Cost element of Universal Credit / Housing Benefit.

Proposal 13
For difficult to let properties social landlords should be able to use choice-based lettings.

Proposal 20
The Housing Executive will lead a review to determine how specialised properties should be allocated.

The diagram below outlines an indicative time frame of when each proposal for change will be delivered.

Text and graphics outlining the timeframe for the Fundamental Review of Allocations project.

Stage one delivery

The FRA implementation project will deliver the first of the changes to the Housing Selection Scheme in early 2023.

Stage 1 will see implementation of proposals 1, 5, 15 and 16.

The Housing Executive has established a Housing Solutions Support Service which provides customers with independent tenure-neutral housing advice throughout their housing journey.

Customers are allocated a dedicated housing advisor who will be able to discuss housing options and provide tailored advice and assistance.

Further information on the Housing Executive’s Housing Solutions and Support Service is available in our section on:

Implementation of Proposal 5 of the Review introduces greater choice of areas for applicants for a social home. 

From 30 January 2023 applicants  be able to choose as many or as few areas of choice as they wish to indicate where they would like to live.

The General Housing Area (GHA) has been removed from the rules of the Housing Selection Scheme and new and existing homeless applicants (Full Duty Applicants (FDAs)) will no longer have a wider area (GHA) applied to their areas of choice.

Applicants who had the wider GHA applied to their housing application will still be on the waiting list for all those areas within that GHA.

Applicants who did not have the GHA applied will remain on the waiting list for housing in the areas of choice they have already selected and may also choose to add further areas.

Customers may wish to contact the person dealing with their housing application at any time to review their areas of choice.

Implementation of Proposal 15 of the Review introduces a reduction from three reasonable offers to two reasonable offers.

From 30 January 2023 applicants will be entitled to receive two reasonable offers of accommodation. 

Applicants who have already received one or two reasonable offers will be entitled to one further reasonable offer.

Customers can speak to the person dealing with their housing application if they are unsure about how many offers they are entitled to.
What is a reasonable Offer of Accommodation? 
The Housing Executive and all Housing Associations will make offers which are reasonable under the Rules of the Selection Scheme. An offer of accommodation is reasonable if it is:

  • a suitable size for an applicant and their household (as outlined in the Rules of the Selection Scheme);

  • within the applicant’s chosen areas of choice; 

  • in a reasonable condition of repair, and;

  • suitable to meet the needs of the applicant and their household.

Refusing an Offer of Accommodation 
If an applicant refuses an offer of accommodation, or does not reply to the offer, it will be counted as one of their two reasonable offers under the Rules Housing Selection Scheme.

We will asked them why they are refusing the offer. In certain limited circumstances we may consider the refusal reasonable, and where appropriate, we will review their areas of choice and update their housing application with further details about their household, housing needs and areas of choice for re-housing.

If the refusal is deemed reasonable the offer will not count under the Rules of the Scheme.
From the 30th January 2023 offer letters will provide clear guidance as to what to do if the applicant feels that the accommodation offered is not suitable and that the offer is not reasonable.

If the applicant is owed the full housing duty then they have a right to request a review if they disagree that an offer of accommodation is suitable.

They will need to contact the relevant Housing Executive Regional Review Officer, contact details for which will be provided in the offer letter.

They will have 40 days from the date of the offer letter to request a review. 

If the applicant is not owed the full duty they can make a complaint if they consider that the offer is not reasonable. They will need to contact the social landlord who made you the offer.

They will also have 40 days from the date of the offer letter to make a complaint. 

From more information on how social housing is allocated read our section on:

From 30 January 2023 social landlords will be able to withdraw an offer of accommodation in specified circumstances.

A new rule has been introduced in the Housing Selection Scheme which sets out the limited circumstances where the Housing Executive or a Housing Association can withdraw an offer of accommodation before the tenancy agreement is signed.

This change will help to ensure that homes are allocated correctly in accordance with the rules to eligible applicants in greatest housing need. 

You can read more about this in our section on:

For more information on any of the proposed changes please contact the Project team at:  

Watch our short video about the first group of changes

Housing Solutions and Support