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Gateshead Home Choice (choice-based lettings)

Who we are and what we do

Gateshead Home Choice is the name of Gateshead Council's choice-based lettings service. Gateshead Council is the Data Controller (register number Z4824725) for the choice-based lettings system.

Our choice-based lettings system allows you to join our housing register and bid for Council homes. You can also bid for properties advertised by registered providers who use the system.

The system is hosted by Civica, with whom the Council has an appropriate data processing agreement.

The service uses your data to assess your housing application and ensure you are allocated the correct category of housing need:

  • critical housing need
  • urgent housing need
  • substantial housing need
  • general housing needs

Allocation to need categories will be made in accordance with the current Lettings Policy.

The system collects and processes your personal data when you apply to be on the housing register, bid for a property or are added to the shortlist, or otherwise use the system to contact us about your application.

Our core data protection obligations and commitments are set out in the Council's corporate privacy notice.

What type of information is collected about you

We will collect the following personal data when you apply to join our housing register:

  • name, address, gender, date of birth, current address, National Insurance number, nationality and contact details (mobile/email address) of the main applicant, joint applicants and other household members
  • previous address history
  • if you are pregnant
  • if you have served in the armed forces and when you were discharged
  • changes to your circumstances
  • employment and financial information - including any state benefits you are receiving, your household income and any assets or savings over £50,000
  • outstanding rent arrears, chargeable repairs or other housing related debt on your current or previous homes

We will ask for the following special category/sensitive personal data:

  • health/disability data - we need this information in order to identify the most appropriate housing options such as an adapted property or additional support needs
  • assessment of medical needs - we will carry out this assessment in conjunction with medical professionals
  • ethnic origin and sexual orientation - we collect this information for equality monitoring purposes only to improve our services and you do not have to provide this information if you would prefer not to

We will also ask for details of any criminal convictions and any other breaches of tenancy conditions.

The choice-based lettings system also stores the following personal data about you:

  • your bidding history
  • all correspondence (emails/letters) between you and the service
  • references from previous landlords

We only ask for personal information that is appropriate to enable us to deliver this service in accordance with the Housing Act 1988, 1996, and 2004, the Homelessness Act 2002, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

In some cases, you can refuse to provide your details if you deem a request to be inappropriate. However, you should note that this may impact on our ability to assess your application and allocate the correct category of housing need.

Processing of your personal information will be undertaken in accordance with the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018. Access to personal information is restricted to authorised individuals on a strictly need-to-know basis. We will treat your personal information fairly and lawfully and we will ensure that information is:

  • processed for limited purposes
  • kept up to date, accurate, relevant and not excessive
  • not kept longer than is necessary
  • kept secure

Our legal basis for processing your information for the above purposes (Article 6 and Article 9 GDPR) are:

1.     Contract: you have or are looking to enter a contract (a tenancy agreement) with us for the provision of appropriate accommodation for you

2.     Consent: You have given clear consent for us to process your personal data for a specific purpose

We are committed to keeping your personal details up to date, and we encourage you to inform us about any changes needed to ensure your details are accurate. To help us to ensure confidentiality of your personal information we will ask you questions including your name, address, and DOB to verify your identity when you call us. This may also be necessary when we call you.

How we collect information about you

Generally, the information we hold will have been provided by you (on application or medical forms or when we communicate with you), but we may also hold information provided by third parties where this is relevant to your housing circumstances (for example from health professionals and other landlords).

We will also collect information about you in the following ways:

  • face to face
  • by email
  • by post 
  • by telephone 

Why we need your information

To enable us to assess your rehousing/medical application and ensure you are allocated the correct category of housing need.

In accordance with the Lettings Policy, in some instances we will use your data to exclude you from the housing register or to have your application demoted. You may also have your application cancelled if there is a change in your circumstances and you do not tell us.

Legislation which sets out many of the tasks the service is required to undertake include:

  • The Housing Act 1988, 1996, and 2004
  • The Homelessness Act 2002
  • Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
  • The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

For special category data which is more sensitive, we process this data to ensure you are properly assessed and that we can match you to the most appropriate property to ensure that your needs are met.

We may also discuss your health needs with occupational therapists in order to identify the most appropriate housing, for example if you require an adapted property.

We collect your ethnic origin and sexual orientation information for equality monitoring purposes only to improve our services. You do not have to provide this information if you would prefer not to.

Who your information can be shared with

When sharing information, we will comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act 2018 / the GDPR.

We may need to share your information within the Council to assist with a homelessness case.

There may be certain circumstances where we would share your personal data externally without your consent, for example, the police may be given your personal information without your consent for the detection and/or prevention of crime.

We will only share your personal information if we are required or allowed to do so by law. Only the minimum information for the purpose will be shared.

Where necessary or required, we may share your personal information as follows:

  • National Fraud Initiative - the Council is under a duty to protect the public funds it administers
  • Northumbria Police - or any Police Force as required
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Health professionals in order to carry out a medical assessment
  • Other Council services including housing options, adult social/children's care and occupational health
  • Other agencies you have consented to completing the application on your behalf, for example Citizens Advice or Shelter
  • Other local authorities - we will only share your data when there is a legal basis to do so, otherwise we will only share your data when we have your consent
  • Previous landlords - to provide information to support your application

This list is not exhaustive as there are other circumstances where we may also be required to share information, for example in order to meet our legal obligations.

To give you more choice when looking for the most appropriate housing, the following housing associations currently advertise their properties on our choice-based lettings system:

  • Keelman Homes*

These housing associations will only access your personal data if you have bid for one of their properties. Data sharing agreements are in place with them to ensure they only use your data for the purpose it was intended, and it is kept no longer than necessary.

*Gateshead Council has an agreement in place to manage Keelman Homes properties on its behalf and these properties are currently let in accordance with the Council's Lettings Policy.

How long we will keep your information

We will only keep your personal data for as long as the law specifies or, where the law does not specify this, for the length of time determined by our business requirements. This would usually be for no longer than six years after you have been rehoused and are no longer on the housing register.

Business intelligence, profiling and automated-decision making

The system is designed to take your details then prioritise in line with Lettings Policy. An additional support feature is provided to enable assistance when placing bids.

It is possible to appeal against a category allocation made by the system. All appeals are dealt with by council officers outside of the automated system.

Please see the relevant section of our Corporate privacy notice.

Marketing and e-newsletters

Please see the relevant section of our Corporate privacy notice.

Protecting your information

Please see the relevant section of our Corporate privacy notice

Your information choice and rights

Please see the relevant section of our Corporate privacy notice.

Information Commissioner's Office

Please see the relevant section of our Corporate privacy notice.