Reasonable preference is based around legislation that was first introduced for local authority housing allocation in 1966.
Legislation requires that all local housing authorities must give 'reasonable preference' to households and individuals seeking affordable rented housing who are within one or more of the following groups:
Some people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness;
People occupying insanitary or overcrowded housing or otherwise living in unsatisfactory housing conditions;
People who need to move on medical or welfare grounds (including any grounds relating to a disability); and
People who need to move to a particular locality in the district of the authority, where failure to meet that need would cause hardship (to themselves or to others).
The 'satisfactory standard' for housing is defined in a 2001 Act and centres on housing being physically habitable and having basic amenities. Overcrowding is legally defined as when a household is living in accommodation that breaches the 'room' standard. 'Homeless persons' and 'persons threatened with homelessness' refers to households that are homeless within the meaning of the homelessness legislation.
Reasonable preference means simply that - preference, not absolute priority. It means giving those in a reasonable preference group a head start above those who do not have a reasonable preference. In Hereford, following the Localism Act 2011, only those within the reasonable preference groups will be included on the housing register. This means that having an illness or a disability is not itself a reason to go on the housing register; there must be a need for housing and an applicant must have a reasonable preference. If either is absent then it is unlikely an individual or household will qualify to join the housing register.
Our allocations policy has more information on reasonable preference categories.