Moving home If you want to move home, the council may be able to help you. Listed below are some of the options for renting or buying a new home. Transfers Transfers and choice-based lettings (Choice Homes Scheme) Waltham Forest is a member of a partnership approach to rehousing called the East London Lettings Agency. This partnership, which includes the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge, together with a number of housing associations and tenant management organisations, makes a number of properties available each year to allow people to move from one area to another. It may be possible for you to move to Newham or one of the other partnership areas. Tenants with secure tenancies who would like to transfer to alternative accommodation within Waltham Forest can apply to go on the council's housing register. Once the council have assessed your application, you will be placed in one of three priority bands. I I I Additional preference – assessed as having a high level of housing need for alternative accommodation Reasonable preference – assessed as having a medium level of need for alternative accommodation No preference – assessed as having no housing need for alternative accommodation and who already have suitable housing Every two weeks the council advertises its empty properties through the ‘Choice Homes’ magazine (available free of charge to everyone applying for rehousing) and housing associations also advertise empty homes in the magazine. Or visit their website at www.ellcchoicehomes.org.uk 12009 AH119 • August 2005 People placed in the ‘additional preference’ and ‘reasonable preference’ bands are eligible to apply for empty properties advertised through the council’s Choice Homes Scheme. Every two weeks you can make a bid for up to two suitably sized properties. People in the ‘no preference’ band are not eligible to bid for empty properties that are advertised. At the end of each fortnight, the council consider the details of everyone who has bid for each empty property. The bids are ranked according to the preference band that they are in, with ‘additional preference’ cases ranked first, then ‘reasonable preference’. The council will consider the ‘additional preference’ band according to the date of their application, with the oldest date first. The council will rank cases within the ‘reasonable preference’ band according to the length of time that each one has been waiting on the housing register, with the longest registered case having priority. The council will generally offer accommodation to bidders with the earliest registration date. However, if they also receive bids from cases in the ‘additional preference’ band, they will generally offer accommodation to the bidders who have been a priority for the longest period. In certain cases, it may not be possible to offer the property to you even though you are ranked in the highest position. It could be that the empty property belongs to another landlord or you do not meet the conditions of the landlord’s housing policy. For example, housing associations may have different policies on the age and sex of children that they will allow to share bedrooms. People in either the ‘additional preference’ or the ‘reasonable preference’ bands may have their preference (priority) band downgraded at any time after we have reassessed their case, if it becomes clear that the band is no longer appropriate. While most people have the chance to bid for the advertised empty properties, there will be times where the council will have to make direct offers of accommodation to homeless people or existing council tenants outside the application process. At any time, to individual or to all cases, the council reserves the right to: I I I make sure they use the available housing effectively effectively reduce the use of temporary accommodation, and provide accommodation in extreme emergencies. Occasionally, the council may need to withdraw advertised properties from the Choice Homes Scheme. This could happen for a variety of reasons and the council has the right to do this at any time, without notice. Rent arrears You may not be eligible to receive an offer of accommodation if you owe more than eight weeks’ rent or £1,000, whichever is the lower amount. Policy information The information in this booklet gives a brief summary only. For full details of the Choice Homes Scheme and how those who owe rent are dealt with, please see the council’s allocation and choice-based lettings policy document. 2 What happens if an offer is refused? If you are a secure tenant and have applied for a property but later decide not to accept it, you can do so. Following a refusal, you will still be eligible to apply for other empty properties advertised in the future. You should note that all cases in the ‘additional preference’ band will only keep their ‘additional preference’ priority for 12 calendar months or until they have successfully applied for and accepted a property, whichever comes first. People who have not successfully bid for and accepted a property during this timescale will automatically lose their priority. Following the loss of ‘additional preference’ priority, the application will be placed in either the ‘reasonable preference’ or ‘no preference’ bands, depending on the level of their housing need. For more information about the Choice Homes Scheme, please call the council’s Housing Options Group on 020 8496 6513, 020 8496 6514 or 020 8496 6515. Can I move to a housing association property? Most housing associations have closed waiting lists due to the extremely high demand from their own tenants waiting for transfers to alternative accommodation. However, most housing associations must give the council a certain number of empty properties. These are normally advertised with the council’s own empty properties through the Choice Homes Scheme. Moving on up (New Start Scheme) Moving on up (New Start Scheme) helps people move from one part of the UK to another. It works by linking councils and housing associations that have long waiting lists with those that may have empty homes or much shorter waiting lists. Council and housing association homes are available for families in a wide choice of places in the Midlands and the north of the UK. You may be able to move to the following areas. Scotland – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Stirling North East – Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland North West – Bradford, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester Yorkshire and Huddersfield – Hull, Leeds, Sheffield, York Humberside Midlands – Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Stafford, Stoke on Trent, Warwick, Wolverhampton Wales – Bangor, Aberystwyth, Swansea Please note that you cannot move to any areas in London and the southeast of England. Together with landlords who take part in the scheme, the council may be able to offer: I I I I I self-contained, good-quality houses, flats and retirement homes affordable rents help and advice to find local jobs help with settling into your new area, and help with removal costs. 3 The households that have moved through this scheme have had the chance to make a fresh start in a new home of the size they need. Please contact the council’s Allocation, Choice and Mobility team on 020 8496 6459, 020 8496 6517, 020 8496 6494 or 020 8496 6500. Or e-mail email@example.com for more information. Mutual exchange All secure tenants have a legal right to swap homes with another secure or assured tenant, either in Waltham Forest or elsewhere in the UK. If you do want to exchange your property with another tenant, you must have approval from the council and any other landlord involved before you make any arrangements to move. In most cases, the council will give approval. However, the council can refuse to approve the move if: I I I I I I you owe the council rent we have served you with a notice seeking possession of your home we have a court order against you the property is larger than you currently need (we will normally allow one bedroom more than your assessed housing need) the property is smaller than you need (we will normally agree a small degree of overcrowding), or the property it has been specially adapted for a person with disabilities and it is not suitable for your needs. It is illegal for you to offer or to receive money or gifts to swap homes. If this happens, the council will refuse to allow you to exchange your home and may take court action against you. You can register on the national Homeswap Scheme to find someone to exchange your home with. Lists of all Homeswap applicants registered for a move (both within and into the borough) are available for public viewing at most local housing offices. For more information, please call the council’s Allocation, Choice and Mobility team on 020 8496 6517, 020 8496 6494, 020 8496 6500 or 020 8496 6459. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Sheltered housing If you are an older person, or you are aged 50 or over, and due to ill health you want to receive more support, sheltered housing may be an option for you. Your independence will be guaranteed, and you will be able to use shared areas and an electronic alarm system, if you want help. You will also have the support of a scheme manager. For more information, please call the council’s Housing Options Group on 020 8496 6513, 020 8496 6514 or 020 8496 6515. Seaside and Country Homes Scheme If you are aged 60 or over, you may apply for accommodation through the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme. This covers many coastal and rural areas around the UK. There are a limited number of properties available through this scheme and some places are more popular than others. Once you have been assessed and accepted onto the scheme, you will be placed on a waiting list for an offer of accommodation. Waiting times will depend on your priority for housing through the scheme and also the demand for available empty properties in individual areas. For more information, please call the council's Allocations, Choice and Mobility team on 020 8496 6494 4 020 8496 6517, 020 8496 6500 or 020 8496 6459, or e-mail email@example.com Other services There may be other services available for older people and people with disabilities. Please contact Ascham Direct on 020 8496 4197 for details. Buying your own home There are several ways you can buy your own home through us. I I I Buy your present home under the right-to-buy scheme. Use the Portable Discount Scheme – also known as the Cash Incentive Scheme – to buy a new home somewhere else. Consider shared ownership. Portable Discount Scheme The scheme is designed to help you if you want to leave your council home to buy a property on the open market. The grant is targeted at families on low incomes. The scheme is restricted to Waltham Forest council tenants who live in family-size accommodation (two or more bedrooms). To qualify, you should not have had more than five weeks of rent owing on your rent account during the six months you apply. Also, you should not owe the council any money on any other account (for example, Council Tax or Housing Benefit). The amount of the grant depends on the length of your tenancy and the area you want to buy. Using the financial information you give us, we will work out your minimum and maximum purchase price and mortgage. The maximum grant level for the current financial year is £37,000 (conditions apply). Depending on your personal finance, you may buy a property with a market value of up to £250,000. Shared ownership Shared ownership and Homebuy opportunities are restricted to council tenants, families living in temporary accommodation provided by the council and tenants of registered social landlords (housing associations). As a general guide, you should have a household income of at least £26,000 a year to apply. Conventional shared ownership This term is used to describe homes built for sale by housing associations in Waltham Forest to buy. You can buy a share of a property – usually 50% – and pay a reduced rent on the rest. You can then buy further shares until you own all of the property. Homebuy This scheme is aimed at council and housing association tenants who cannot afford to buy a home outright. If you find a home on the open market, you may raise a mortgage for 75% of the purchase price and the housing association 5 will give you a 25% equity loan, which will be repaid from the value of the property when it’s sold. Key worker schemes There are a variety of schemes that aim to keep the skills of key workers in the areas where they are most needed. For more details and an on-line application form, contact the Zone Manager on 0845 300 2820 or visit www.keyworkerliving.co.uk Waltham Forest Council key worker scheme If you are currently employed as a social worker or social-work manager (in children’s services), a local health worker or front-line firefighter, please phone Home Ownership on 020 8496 6456. Moving-home checklist When you leave your home you must: I I I I I I I I I I I I I give us four weeks’ notice and apply for compensation for any agreed improvements that you are leaving behind (if the council transferred you, you do not have to give four weeks’ notice, but you must leave your existing property by the start date of your new tenancy) give us and the council your new address return keys to Ascham Homes’ reception at 1 Wood Street, Walthamstow, London E17 3JU by 12 noon on the Monday your tenancy begins (except in the cases of portable discounts where different rules apply) remove all furniture and belongings from your home, garden and any sheds leave the property clean and tidy for the next tenant tell us about any repairs that you believe need doing make sure that the central heating and the water supply at the mains stopcock is turned off (if you are not sure where your mains stopcock is, contact us for advice) if you remove your washing machine, make sure that the pipe is capped off make sure your rent is paid up to date tell the gas, electricity and phone companies when you are moving and take your own meter readings contact your local post office to make sure that your post is redirected if you want to transfer your phone number to your new address, contact your phone company, and tell your bank, doctor, children’s school, workplace, dentist, television licencing office and family and friends your new address. Viewing, accepting and moving into your new home Once you have been offered a home owned by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, you will want to view it. You will be given an appointment and we will normally accompany you on the visit to show you around, and tell you about local services. There will be an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns that you might have. You should decide on the same day whether to accept or refuse the property. 6 Homes that we offer are of a ‘lettable’ standard. Your new home will: I I I I be clear of rubbish, debris and old floor coverings be clean enough to prepare and cook a meal safely with facilities suitable for storing food be decorated to a reasonable standard with no loose paper or flaking paint, and have certified gas and electrical supplies. If you decide to accept the property your tenancy will normally begin on the Monday after the repair work has been completed. After you have signed the tenancy agreement, you will be given a welcome pack containing guidance and information on a range of issues, including: I I I I I I I how to get translations of our publications property information Housing Benefit where and how to pay your rent what to do if your neighbour causes a nuisance details of power and water suppliers, and details of local schools and doctors. We will ask you for feedback on your new home and the service we have provided. If you decide to refuse the offer, you must fill in a refusal form on the same day. We will pass the form onto the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Ascham Homes 1 Wood Street Walthamstow London E17 3JU Phone our contact centre, Ascham Direct, on 020 8496 4197. Website: www.aschamhomes.org.uk London Borough of Waltham Forest Town Hall Forest Road Walthamstow London E17 4JF Phone the council’s Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000. 7 Crystal Mark does not apply to this translation page.