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Housing Application and Allocations: FAQs

Listed below are questions our Housing Management Section are frequently asked about the allocation of Council houses and applying for Council housing.

Further Information

If you require further information, please contact our Housing Management Section on telephone 01856873535.

Housing allocations: Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for a Council Property?

Every applicant must complete the standard Housing Application Form. These are available from the Council Offices, Kirkwall or the Warehouse Building, Stromness and available through the Related Downloads section of this web page.

Orkney Islands Council and Orkney Housing Association Limited (OHAL), a Registered Social Landlord, operate a Common Housing Register. This means that you can apply to join the waiting list with both organisations by completing a single form. If you do not wish to apply to both organisations you must indicate this on your form.

If you wish to apply to both organisations, simply complete one form and return it to either the Council or OHAL. The form will then be copied to the other organisation. If you only wish to be considered by one housing provider, please indicate this on the form and no information will be shared between organisations.

The completed form, duly signed, must be returned to our Housing Management Section at the Council Offices in Kirkwall or the Warehouse Building in Stromness. It can also be returned to OHAL at 39a Victoria Street, Kirkwall. Should you need assistance with filling in the form staff within either of the organisations will be happy to assist.

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Who can apply?

Following the introduction of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 anyone over the age of 16 is entitled to be admitted to our housing waiting list.

However, it is important to note that admission to the waiting list is no guarantee of an offer of accommodation.

The Council operates a housing needs based lettings system where each application is assessed according to the household's circumstances. Offers of accommodation will be made to those with the highest level of priority pass for that size of property in that area.

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What happens when I apply?

Your completed form will be recorded by each relevant organisation in whose properties you have expressed an interest based on whether you have chosen OIC, OHAL or both. For the Council the date the form is received will determine the date of application.

You will be sent an acknowledgement card advising that your application has been processed and the date of application. Keep this card safe as it is your record that you have applied for housing.

Your application will be processed in accordance with our Lettings Policy and if you are assessed as being in housing need, a Priority Pass will be issued.

OHAL operate a choice based lettings policy where your application is assessed according to housing need. Once your points have been assessed, you can bid on properties of the relevant size and type in your area of choice. For further information on the way in which points are awarded please contact OHAL direct on telephone: 01856875253.

In relation to Council housing, once your application has been assessed, we will send you a registration letter detailing your unique registration number and the level of Priority Pass you have been awarded. Your application will be placed on the waiting list for the areas you selected. Each area waiting list is ranked by level of Priority Pass in order of Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and thereafter by date order of receipt of the application.

A copy of our Lettings Policy is available for download in the Related Downloads section of this web page.

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What are the categories of priority passes?

There are 4 levels of Priority Pass:

  • Platinum.
  • Gold.
  • Silver.
  • Bronze.

There are 11 categories where a Priority Pass can be awarded. For further information regarding the different categories please refer to the Lettings Policy leaflet in the related downloads section of this page. 

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What size of property am I entitled to?

The Council's rules governing the match between property and household size are as follows:

  • Single Person - 1 / 2 apartment dwelling (bedsit / 1 bedroom dwelling).
  • Single Persons wishing to share - 3 apartment (2 bedroom dwelling).
  • Couple - 2 / 3 apartment (not with boxroom as well) (1 - 2 bedroom dwelling).
  • Applicant(s) with one child - 3 apartment (2 bedroom dwelling).
  • Applicant(s) with 2 children - 3 / 4 apartment (2 - 3 bedroom dwelling)
  • Applicant(s) with 3 or more children - 4 / 5 apartment (3 - 4 bedroom dwelling).

Apartments taken into consideration are the lounge and bedrooms but not the kitchen and bathroom. For example a 3 apartment house has a lounge and 2 bedrooms.

The Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing may grant a suspension of the normal property size rules in special circumstances. For example, if an applicant has an established need to live in a particular area but no suitable size of property is available in that area.

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When will I receive an offer?

When a Council property is available to let, a shortlist for that area will be considered by our Housing Management section. The applicant with the highest priority pass for that area with a need for the relevant size of property will be sent an offer letter.

When you receive an offer of accommodation, you should contact our Housing Management section immediately to arrange a viewing. Failure to respond within one week of dispatch of the offer letter will lead to the offer of accommodation being withdrawn.

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Existing Tenants

Tenants of Orkney Islands Council may apply to transfer to alternative Council accommodation. These applications will be assessed as per new applicants and a Priority Pass will be awarded if there is a demonstrated housing need.

If you are an existing tenant and you have rent arrears, you may still apply for a transfer. However, an offer of accommodation may be withheld until such time as a suitable repayment plan has been set up and adhered to for at least 3 months in line with the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001. Please contact us to discuss this as personal circumstances are taken into consideration.

Council tenants, wishing to transfer, are reminded that a pre-tenancy termination inspection (PTTI), will be undertaken of their existing home. This will be done at the offer stage and any outstanding repairs required to be undertaken by the tenant must be completed. Failure to do so may lead to the offer being withdrawn.

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Can I choose where I want to live?

Those applying for Council accommodation may select up to four areas and a separate leaflet indicating letting areas and property availability is issued with the Housing Application Form. Both files are available through the Related Downloads section of this web page. Applicants should only select areas where they would accept an offer of accommodation. There is no requirement to make 4 area choices if you don't wish this, for example you may only wish to live in one area. Applicants who have only one area choice should be aware that they are likely to wait longer for a property, although this does depend on the area that has been selected.

You may alter your area selections, at any time, by writing to our Housing Management team. Forms for this purpose are available from the Council Offices if required.

When selecting your area choices it is important to understand that waiting times vary according to area. For example, areas of high demand such as Kirkwall have significant waiting times and it is anticipated that most properties will be let to applicants with Gold priority passes.

If you have a lower level of priority pass, or no priority at all, then it is unlikely that you will be offered a property in an area of high demand.

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What if my circumstances change?

You must immediately advise our Housing Management section so that your records may be amended. Such changes include changes in family size, for example, the birth of a child or change of address. When notifying us of changes in family size, such as the birth of a child, we require the child's full name and date of birth.

If your address does change you will be required to complete a fresh application form and your application will be reassessed. The application form is based on your current accommodation. Your date of application will remain the same.

Failure to notify changes of circumstances may lead to an offer of accommodation being withdrawn.

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Will I always stay on the housing waiting list?

Orkney Islands Council's Housing Services and Orkney Housing Association Limited (OHAL) carry out a rolling review of the waiting list. All applicants will be contacted on the anniversary of their housing application to check if they still wish to be considered for housing.

Failure to reply will lead to your application being removed from all waiting lists. You can reapply at any time but you will lose your original date of application.

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Can I check to see if my details are correct?

Yes. If you wish to check please contact our Housing Management section who will advise what information has been recorded on your application.

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How can I find out where I am on the list?

We are unable to provide applicants with a number on the waiting list. Your level of priority pass effectively indicates your position on the waiting list.

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What if I have nowhere to stay?

The Council has a legal duty, in certain instances, to secure temporary and/or permanent accommodation to those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Please contact Housing Services by telephone on 01856873535. We also provide a 24 hour emergency service which can be contacted by telephone on 07921582962.

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Former Tenants

If you have previously been a tenant of Orkney Islands Council your application will be accepted on to the housing waiting lists, however any outstanding rent arrears attributable to the former tenancy may lead to an offer of housing being withheld. However, if you set up a suitable repayment plan your application can be considered once you have adhered and arranged for a reasonable period or time that is at least 3 months, in line with the housing (Scotland) Act 2001. If this is your situation, please contact our Housing Management section to discuss this further.

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What happens if I move house?

If you move to another property and wish to stay on the waiting list, you must complete a fresh application form. Your application will be reassessed and your Priority Pass may change or be removed.

Please note that if you have moved house within the last 12 months and your new home is unsuitable for your household’s needs you may be deemed to have deliberately worsened your circumstances. This will depend on how reasonable it was to move and whether your previous home did meet your households needs. This penalty may also apply to applicants who have given up secure accommodation to move to an insecure tenancy.

If you are deemed to have deliberately worsened your circumstances your application will be suspended for 12 months from the date you worsened your circumstances. This means that you will not be considered for any vacant properties during that period. If you are unhappy with our decision you can appeal. If you would like advice before taking a decision which may affect your housing priority, please contact us on 01856873535.

Appeals should be made to the Head of Community Learning, Leisure and Housing and must clearly set out the reasons why you believe our decision is unreasonable. Assistance with appeals is available from Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau. For further information please ask staff for a copy of our Appeals Procedure.

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