Renting a home

The demand for social housing in Sunderland is greater than its supply. We let properties in an open and transparent way to meet people’s housing needs.

Apply to join our housing register

To join our housing register you must be aged 16 years or older. You can apply to live:

  • on your own
  • with a partner
  • with family
  • with another adult who wants to live with you, like a friend

We accept applications from people who:

How to apply

Register for HomeHunt and apply to join our housing register online.

If you need help to complete the application form, we will give you advice and support. We will visit you if needed or you can visit your local office.

If you are eligible for social housing, we put you in one of four allocation bands based on your needs. We may ask you for evidence to help put you in the correct band.

If you are an existing Gentoo tenant

You must be 2 or more years into your current tenancy before you can reapply to join our housing register. If we assess that you have a priority need for housing within the first 2 years, you can reapply to join our housing register.

A priority housing need includes:

  • antisocial behaviour
  • exceptional circumstances, like a fire or flood in your current home
  • financial difficulties
  • mobility needs
  • overcrowding
  • under occupying, where one person lives in a home with 3 bedrooms

Nominated by your local council

You can also join our housing register if your local council nominates you.

We have agreements with local councils, so they nominate people who:

  • are on their waiting list
  • are homeless
  • have a legal or urgent need of housing and need to move at once

The local councils we have agreements with are:

  • Durham County Council
  • Middlesbrough Council
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Sunderland City Council
  • South Tyneside Council

Bidding for a property

We advertise available properties every Wednesday at 2pm. Each advert runs for 7 days until midday the following Wednesday.

You can bid for up to 5 properties a week. Each week starts when we advertise our available properties. You must bid for or get help to bid for properties on HomeHunt.

Withdrawing your bid

If you are no longer interested in a property that you have bid on, you must withdraw your bid before the advert closes.

You can use HomeHunt to withdraw a bid or call 0191 525 5000 and select option 3.

Ranking and shortlisting

We rank everyone who bids and create shortlists for each property. We rank bids by:

  • allocation band
  • how well you match the property labels in the advert
  • the date and time we put you in your allocation band if you are in band 1+, 1 or 2
  • the date and time we got your application

New build properties that have never had a tenant are open to all applicants. For these properties, we rank bids by:

  • how well you match the property labels in the advert
  • the date and time we got your application

Your rank on a property shortlist is in your HomeHunt account.

Viewing the property

We invite the people on the shortlist to view the property. The viewing could be an individual or a group viewing. If your viewing is a group viewing, we will let you know.

We will make reasonable attempts to arrange a viewing that suits you.

If you do not come to a viewing, we will move on to the next person in the shortlist.

If you are not a current Gentoo tenant, you must bring the following items to your viewing to help speed up the process:

  • photographic ID
  • proof of residency

If you do not give us these documents within 24 hours of the viewing, we will move on to the next person in the shortlist.

Offering the property

We offer the property to the highest ranked person on the shortlist. You have 48 hours to decide if you want to accept the offer.

Refusing the offer

If you refuse or do not respond to the initial offer, we will offer it to the next highest-ranked person from the shortlist.

If you refuse or do not respond to the initial offer and it is for a new build property, you will no longer be eligible to bid for any other new build properties. A new build property is any home that has never had a tenant. You can continue to bid on all our other available properties.

Accepting the offer

When you accept our initial offer, we complete checks to make sure you can afford the property and would be a suitable tenant. We check:

  • you are still eligible for social housing
  • your financial situation to make sure you can afford to pay the rent, including your income, savings and the value of any assets you own, like properties and shares in a business
  • landlord or mortgage references
  • your police record, if needed you are still eligible for social housing
  • if you owe us any money, including rent arrears, former tenant arrears, repairs we charge for, or court costs
  • your application form again
  • your current home, where suitable

If you are a Gentoo tenant, we may also use what we know about your:

  • payment history
  • housekeeping
  • behaviour

When we complete the checks, we will either:

  • formally offer you the property
  • withdraw our initial offer

If you refuse or do not respond to the formal offer, we will offer it to the next highest-ranked person from the shortlist.

If you refuse or do not respond to the formal offer and it is for a new build property, you will no longer be eligible to bid for any other new build properties. A new build property is any home that has never had a tenant. You can continue to bid on all our other available properties.

If we find that you can afford to buy or privately rent similar properties in the area, we may withdraw our initial offer.

Signing your tenancy agreement

When you sign your tenancy agreement, you must pay at least 1 week’s rent and give us:

We give you a welcome pack and go through the Tenant Handbook with you.

You will meet and get the details of your Neighbourhood Co-ordinator who will:

  • help you manage your tenancy
  • give you advice and support to meet your needs
  • refer you to colleagues and partner organisations where needed for things like advice on how to manage your money and Universal Credit

If you are moving into a sheltered housing or extra care scheme, you will meet and get the details of your Scheme Manager. Find out more about scheme managers and what they do.

Get your keys and move in

You will work with your Neighbourhood Co-ordinator or Scheme Manager to agree a date you will move in and start your tenancy.

We will give you 2 sets of keys. We recommend you give the second set to a trusted friend or family member and let us know who they are so we can contact them in an emergency. We do not keep copies of your keys.

If you move into a flat in a building with a communal entrance, you will also get a key or fob for the building’s secure door entry system.

If you lose or damage your keys, we may charge you.

Welcome visit

Your Neighbourhood Co-ordinator will visit you within the first 3 weeks of you moving in, to make sure you have settled in. They will give you details of our products and services and answer any questions you have about your tenancy.

Further information

Allocations Policy (PDF, 587KB)