Losing our rented home, can we get help from the council?

(21 Posts)

My (new) landlord wants the house back. I've lived in it for nearly 11 years and I have till mid April to move out. It's legal on their part, but hard on mine, I have three children in primary school, two of whom were born in this house. I'm really not sure I'll get something local within the housing allowance, will I be eligible for a council house? Bit freaked out so please go gently on me here for now ok.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 26-Jan-13 21:40:30

It would certainly be worth ringing your local housing department on Monday morning to see if you would be accepted on to Housing Association and Council lists. We went on the list when our landlord defaulted on the mortgage of the house we were in. Have you contacted Shelter?

expatinscotland Sat 26-Jan-13 21:44:47

You can go the homeless route. You need to see your council's homelessness office. This will require your landlord to formally evict you in order for you to be found unintentionally homeless.

In many councils there is a distinct lack of housing available for families of yours' size and if this is the case in your council, you will be placed in some form of temporary accommodation until social housing becomes available, your source a private let or the council finds one for you. The temporary accommodation might be a flat, or a B&B or a hostel.

First step is to visit your council's homelessness office.

RCheshire Sat 26-Jan-13 22:10:01

I'd echo the recommendation to talk to Shelter. They know their stuff. Don't think you can't talk to them now because you still have a roof over your head. Good luck.

specialsubject Sat 26-Jan-13 22:26:41

I know it is hard to find a landlord who will accept tenants on HB but they are out there. You do have other options.

it seems horrific that you have to be evicted before the council will help - costing landlord money, stressing you out, stuffing up your rental record and wasting everyone's time.

good luck.

Sunnyshores Sat 26-Jan-13 22:41:54

In my experience as a Landlord, I have had quite a few tenants try and make the council house them. And yes, you have to wait to be evicted, which happens about 14 days after the landlord has taken you to court (which takes approx 6 months from when your tenancy ends). In all but one case they have not been rehoused. The Councils have used various means to say the tenants have made themselves deliberately homeless which means the Council does not have to help; rent being late, subletting rooms, not being good tenants and being asked to leave.... The only lady who did get rehoused was put into temporary B&B accommodation and I wouldnt recommend this as an option.

What the council may help with is paying a deposit for a new property or a small furnishing grant. They will be very keen to have you rent privately again.

Check postcodes carefully, I think HB varies considerably.

Have the notice to quit that you've been given checked at Citizen's Advice or Shelter. Maybe its not correct, this would buy you time. Ring all Letting Agents, 11 years of renting one house would suggest you're a great tenant and committed to staying long term. For me this would outway the nightmare that is (generally) HB.

Best of Luck at what must be a worrying time.

CajaDeLaMemoria Sat 26-Jan-13 22:51:24

If you have been given notice now, you are unlikely to get help from the council in the form of a council house. There are just not enough.

They will offer deposit schemes but they don't actually pay a deposit - you have to find a landlord who will accept a council bond instead of cash. That can be tough so it tends to be better to get a short term interest free loan from them so you can pay a new deposit and pay it off with the deposit from your current house.

They'll also have a list of landlords who accept benefits and hopefully an updated list of available homes

It's worth joining the list anyway if you can, but I don't want to get your hopes up - I'm in the immediate need band and have been for 2 years, the highest priority, and there's over 100 people ahead of me
I'm nowhere near London either. You will find somewhere, but I wish someone had prepared me for the sheer lack of help and homes. There's simply no houses and no money.

Thanks so much for your replies. Onwards..........

specialsubject Sun 27-Jan-13 10:12:52

oh yes - can you contact the previous landlord for a reference? Also ask the new one for a ref, explaining that you are leaving because of a change in his circumstances, not due to any problems.

a reference from the last landlord but one is always good, especially after you have been there for so long.

shebangsthedrum Sun 27-Jan-13 10:24:45

Due to the bedroom tax being implimented in april, there has begun to be a shift in people downsizing in council properties which are under occupied (check the swap sites) therefore for the first time in years larger family properties are becoming available. In my area, there is a big drive on accomadation for people age 50+, which leaves the bigger homes open for new families requiring rehoming. I don't know if this will be the case countrywide but its worth enquiring to the housing office.

PolterGoose Sun 27-Jan-13 10:31:13

That's a really good point shebangsthedrum it could have quite positive outcomes for many families on waiting lists.

You do need to go and talk to your local housing office ASAP. Put your name on the general waiting list and also approach the homelessness team as they will have a duty to assist based on you having children. Shelter have lots of advice available, read about your legal rights to ensure everything gets done properly, because it often isn't.

Good luck thanks

expatinscotland Sun 27-Jan-13 11:03:51

'Due to the bedroom tax being implimented in april, there has begun to be a shift in people downsizing in council properties which are under occupied (check the swap sites) therefore for the first time in years larger family properties are becoming available. In my area, there is a big drive on accomadation for people age 50+, which leaves the bigger homes open for new families requiring rehoming. I don't know if this will be the case countrywide but its worth enquiring to the housing office.'

No, sadly it is definitely not the case. It's worth investigating, but in most councils, stock is very limited. OAPs are exempted from reduction in housing benefit due to under-occupation, and therefore if the area isn't awash in quality 1 and 2-bed housing, many of them won't be going anywhere. Or the swap with someone who is already a council/HA tenant.

smokinaces Sun 27-Jan-13 11:08:46

We were rehoused by the council after put landlord served a notice to quit. We took the notice to the council, who gave us homeless points for bidding. We then had to bid every fortnight on properities. We were told not to leave when the notice to quit ended, but to wait for a court order. We luckily got a house allocated to us before this point.

nurseneedshelp Sun 27-Jan-13 11:18:11

You've got nothing to lose by trying!

I sold my house after separating from my ex and lived with my parents for 6 months.
I applied to the council thinking I wouldn't get any help, especially as I'm working and earn a decent wage!

I've was offered a lovely 3 bed semi in a really lovely area (much nicer than where we lived before) within 6 weeks and the rent is £360 a month, far cheaper than my mortgage?!

So go for it, you've got nothing to lose!

shebangsthedrum Sun 27-Jan-13 11:37:06

Actually anyone who recieves housing benefit and is under occupied is being encouraged to move house due to the bedroom tax. On my estate their are dozens of people, some in their thirties with dcs who have left home. (Many teen mums from yester year.) There are always 1 bed flats around here, people are starting to bid for these, freeing up larger homes. Eventually we may see larger family homes being used by families for their childrens early years, then these parents moving on to smaller houses as the children grow up. This can only be a step in the right direction for an otherwise stagnent social housing system.I am not suggesting it will have an immeadiate effect on the OP, but surely this is a ray of light for those needing a home in the future?

expatinscotland Sun 27-Jan-13 11:44:06

'Actually anyone who recieves housing benefit and is under occupied is being encouraged to move house due to the bedroom tax. On my estate their are dozens of people, some in their thirties with dcs who have left home. (Many teen mums from yester year.) There are always 1 bed flats around here, people are starting to bid for these, freeing up larger homes. Eventually we may see larger family homes being used by families for their childrens early years, then these parents moving on to smaller houses as the children grow up. This can only be a step in the right direction for an otherwise stagnent social housing system.I am not suggesting it will have an immeadiate effect on the OP, but surely this is a ray of light for those needing a home in the future? '

This is not the case in all areas at all by a long shot! It certainly isn't in ours and if you look at other threads on this reduction in housing benefit NOT a 'bedroom tax' from which OAPs are exempt you will see it is certainly not the case in other areas.

It is not a ray of light because in many, many areas, sucking up the reduction is still cheaper than moving and/or the insecurity of the private sector, which is the only alternative for many currently in HA/council properties. There is nowhere else to go.

And again, OAPs exempt. If there's no place they fancy moving, they don't have to go anywhere.

expatinscotland Sun 27-Jan-13 11:45:28

By all means give it a shot, but things vary vastly.

shebangsthedrum Sun 27-Jan-13 12:06:20

By a "ray of light" I mean that in an otherwise completely stagnent social housing market,anything which encourages movement must be a positive. I really do appreciate that you and many,many others have not seen any kind of change yet,as it has not come into use yet, but surely some areas are putting incentives in place earlier than others. For example, anyone in my borough who wishes to downsize will get a cash lump sum and all expenses paid in relocating. It will probably take a LONG time for most areas to even notice the difference, I appreciate that, but I wanted the OP to know that their may, for the first time in years be a hope for families in her situation in the future where previously there was virtually none. Ime it is not only pensioners occupying the larger houses.

expatinscotland Sun 27-Jan-13 12:34:14

' I really do appreciate that you and many,many others have not seen any kind of change yet,as it has not come into use yet, but surely some areas are putting incentives in place earlier than others. For example, anyone in my borough who wishes to downsize will get a cash lump sum and all expenses paid in relocating. It will probably take a LONG time for most areas to even notice the difference, I appreciate that, but I wanted the OP to know that their may, for the first time in years be a hope for families in her situation in the future where previously there was virtually none. Ime it is not only pensioners occupying the larger houses.'

MANY councils are doing nothing because there is no place for people to downsize to; they are not offering incentives at all. Statistically, OAPS are the greatest majority of under-occupiers. Till they start dying off, which many won't for at least a decade or two, you won't see great change, other than much, much homelessness in many parts of the country due to more and more job loss, triple dip recession, LHA caps, repossession and insecure private sector renting. Most major cities already have thousands, if not tens of thousands, sitting on priority lists and in temporary accommodation.

Sunnyshores Sun 27-Jan-13 14:35:47

Absoleutely, onwards...........

Council aside. I'm sure (if HB finances allow), that you will get another privately rented house.

You seem as if you're educated and self motivated, so many people would be moaning its not fair and expecting help from everyone... You need to give yourself an advantage and stand out from other tenants, be that working tenants or not. You do have huge advantages, your renting history, your stability, your age (sorry, making assumptions based on 3 kids).

I said ringing Agents before, but perhaps it would be better to spend an afternoon going in to see them.

Put together a 'professional' pack to approach Letting Agents with. Such as: your ex Landlord's reference
the current one's reference and the reason you are having to leave
details of what HB you are entitled to and how much top-up you will be paying, 3 months of bank statements,
3 months pay-slips,
maybe an employers reference (if working).
a covering letter which sells you and gives your contact details - take several copies with you and leave this with the Agents.

If you have any CCJs or anything that would mean your credit referencing wouldnt be good, be honest about it. Can you get a rental guarantor, someone who works and owns their own home and agrees to pay rent should you not be able to?

The more you can impress the letting Agents, the more they will sell you to Landlords and believe me what the Agents say matters (you were polite, well spoken, clean, tidy...) probably more than credit referencing. This may all seem obvious, or OTT, but as a Landlord, you dont get tenants like this very often sad

expatinscotland Sun 27-Jan-13 14:59:16

Check with your council's homelessness office first, marmite, because if you can be housed, then it means no more putting up with letting agents or getting moved on by the LL. It might be in your area there is housing and certainly worth a shot before private letting again. If you're truly desperate not to do private renting again (and I can see why) then discuss the proper route for being found unintentionally homeless.

Also check your council's website, some councils do not have 'council' housing anymore, they have transferred all their stock to one or more HAs, some have points systems and some have bidding systems.

It's worth a look into, though.

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