Common Housing Register (CHR) - building a register: a practitioner's guide

A practical guide to the development of common housing registers between local authorities and registered social landlords in Scotland. The guide draws on the experience of those areas in Scotland who have successfully implemented a CHR.


The system specification provides a detailed description of how the individual tasks involved in running the CHR will operate, and the ICT requirements to deliver them. Areas that should be covered are:

  • access by partners to the system and the communication between them regarding applications and nominations, including access for enquiries, data transfer and record updates;
  • applicant details required and data entry from the application form;
  • for each partner landlord, as applicable, eligibility criteria and assessment of housing need, number of lists required and whether they operate separate housing need criteria or points schemes;
  • landlord, rent, tenure, and property details to be held and the type of property details to be used for drawing up shortlists of suitable applicants;
  • offers, multiple offers and visits and when they will be recorded;
  • facilities required to cater for transfers and mutual exchanges;
  • facilities to delete, withdraw, cancel, suspend, reinstate and accept applications and offers;
  • facilities to cater for different policies between partner landlords on offers. For example, the acceptable number of refusals of an offer, and the length of time given to an applicant to accept or refuse an offer;
  • customer information requirements;
  • frequency of review of the waiting list;
  • letters and other printed output;
  • management information requirements of the different partner landlords;
  • how the initial collection of information is to be administered and how this data is to be entered onto the system. Volumes of data will need to be estimated;
  • data confidentiality and control;
  • provision for updates and amendments to applicants and properties;
  • the requirements of the partner landlords to undertake modelling. For example, the facility to enable imaginary points systems or eligibility criteria to be entered to analyse the effect on waiting lists and allocations; and
  • the audit requirements.

The system should also allow the user to set up:

  • options that define the scope of the CHR, such as the number of housing providers using the system, the number of needs groups or the type of allocation policy;
  • data items defining preferred properties and geographical areas;
  • data items linked to eligibility criteria;
  • data items linked to points and the points amounts; and
  • options that allow the user to display management information and statistics in the required groupings (such as options for current housing type or reason for seeking accommodation).

If the CHR holds property data, or if the task of matching or recording the offer of accommodation is within the remit of the CHR, then additional features will be required. To carry out the matching and offer process, the IT system will be required to:

  • list all applicants that are suitable tenants for properties taking into account the applicant's preferences and needs;
  • prioritise suitable applicants and generate a list of applicants in priority order;
  • automatically generate and record the offer process;
  • provide simple and easy management information on offers;
  • provide reports to ensure that all offers have been made fairly, and in line with the policies of the housing provider;
  • support and monitor nomination agreements; and
  • support and monitor local policies in respect of priority needs.

In addition to the data requirements and facilities required to administer a CHR, the specification should also include general system requirements that would be needed for all housing systems such as:

  • data back-up facilities;
  • enquiries screens;
  • management information facilities allowing the user to produce their own management reports. The specification should list all the standard management information reports required;
  • maintenance of audit trails;
  • complaints logging and statistics; and
  • general letter production facilities.

From: Charlesworth, Z (1998) Common Housing Registers - an IT Guide, Chartered Institute of Housing.

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