Looking For A Home

 

The Housing Options team aim to give help and advice to people in two different situations: those who are homeless and those who are looking for a long term property. Finding long term accommodation can be a lengthy process and there is currently a long waiting list for council housing. If you are homeless, or fear that you might be homeless in the near future, please go to our Your housing options page. If you are looking for a new home, please take the time to read the information below.

If you are moving into a new home and need help getting basic furniture and electrical appliances, you can apply for help from the Local Assistance Network (LAN). You will need to fill in the LAN application form [pdf] 590KB which can be taken to the Housing Options team at the Civic Centre in Littlehampton, or the Town Hall in Bognor Regis.

 

Council housing and housing associations

Council and Housing Association accommodation is in extremely short supply and there is not enough to meet the current demand. In order to access social housing you need to be on the housing register and have been allocated a band and a bidding number before you can bid on our I-Housing system. Not everyone is entitled to go on the housing register and you must meet the criteria in our  Allocations_Scheme_2014 amended 2018.docx [docx] 545KB .

 

Low Cost Home Ownership

Low cost home ownership schemes are organised by the Government and usually managed by Housing Associations. Some schemes require that you are on the housing register. Please see our Allocations Scheme to check whether you are eligible to join Arun's housing register.

Help to Buy help people in Essex, Kent and Sussex to get their first foot on the property ladder via the local agent Moat. Moat will assess your application and advise you of all the options for which you may be eligible. Help to Buy agents work with local authorities and other housing associations to provide Help to Buy options to people in housing need. Help to Buy also has a national site covering all of the country. 

Help to Buy helps people, usually first time buyers, who cannot afford to buy a property that suits their household needs on the open market. All first time buyers may apply. Social tenants and serving MoD personnel who wish to buy a property through Help to Buy are given top priority. Help to Buy can also help you if you have previously owned a property but are now unable to buy without assistance, for example in the case of a relationship breakdown, or if you are over-crowded in your current home. The maximum income allowed is £60,000 per annum (single or joint). You will need to have access to (or savings) of £4,000 to cover the initial costs of buying a home.

Moat also help people who wish to rent, but cannot afford to. Eligibility for renting a home through Help to Buy can vary between different schemes. For example, under Rent to Buy you will be assessed in the same way as if you were buying a share in the property (but with no requirement for savings). For discounted rent, you will need to demonstrate that you can afford to pay the monthly rent and service charge payments. Some homes can only be provided to people with a local connection (live, work or family connection) to the local authority area in which the property is located.

Help to Buy produce a newsletter which may be of interest.

 

Private Rented Accommodation

If you are unable to access Council or Housing Association accommodation because you are not eligible or because the waiting time is long and you are unable to buy, renting property in the private sector may be a good option for you. Please look into all of your housing options so you can make decisions that are right for you. 
 
Where do I start looking?
Many landlords will not require a guarantor and will accept housing benefit. We may be able to help you with a rent deposit bond, or the first month's rent in advance. The local newspapers, such as the Littlehampton Gazette, Bognor Regis Observer, Friday Ad, Evening Argus have property sections. Copies of these newspapers are often available in local libraries if cost is an issue. In shop windows and notice boards: often newsagents and local Post Offices will have advertising in their premises. You may want to consider placing an advertisement yourself stating "accommodation wanted". Arun keeps a list of  Letting Agents and Landlords.docx [docx] 180KB  which may be of useThe Ministry of Defence (MOD) offer assistance to ex-armed forces personnel with obtaining rent deposits to rent accommodation in the private rented sector. Details are available on the gov.uk MOD Tenancy Deposit Scheme page
 
What do I do if I find somewhere?
When you find somewhere you might be interested in, phone as soon as possible, affordable properties get taken up quickly. Ask the following questions:
The address and location of the property
Is it a flat/house/room?
Do I have exclusive occupation of the property?
How many bedrooms?
Will any facilities be shared?
Will the landlord share any of the facilities?
Is there a garden?
How much is the rent?
Are any bills included in the rent? (such as water rates, council tax, food, heating etc.)
Arrange to visit the property as soon as possible. For safety and security reasons get someone to go with you to view the property. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Take references with you. Find out from the landlord or the agent how much rent deposit and/or rent in advance you will need to pay for the accommodation. When viewing a property make sure the accommodation is up to date with safety checks. If the property has gas heating or appliances ask whether they have been checked by a Gas safe registered gas fitter or plumber. Ask to see the electrical test certificate. If you want to share accommodation or the landlord is letting a furnished property, find out whether the furniture conforms to current safety standards and is in reasonable condition. Ask to meet the other occupants before deciding to move in.
 
Help from the council with paying the rent
If you are on a low income you may be entitled to Local Housing Allowance or Housing Benefit, to help to pay your rent. If you are in receipt of JSA, ESA or Income support you should be eligible to claim the maximum amount that you are entitled to according to your household size. For single persons under 35 the maximum amount payable is likely to be limited to the shared accommodation rate. Sometimes the maximum amount of housing benefit payable on a property is less than the actual rent charged and the tenant will have to pay the shortfall from their wages or benefits. Please visit our Local Housing Allowance page to establish what the maximum benefit entitlement in the Arun area for your household could be.
 
Paying the rent
If you do find a home to rent it is important to make sure that you pay the rent. If you fall behind with the rent or are struggling to meet your rent payments seek advice as soon as possible and explain your difficulties to your landlord. Don’t stop paying the rent. The landlord will have the right to take action to evict you if you get into arrears. If you get evicted it may be difficult to find other accommodation as most private landlords run credit checks and councils may consider you to have made yourself homeless intentionally and will only be able to offer limited assistance if action is taken to evict you.
 
Housing deposit bonds
Arun District council will consider providing assistance with securing accommodation within the private rented sector in order to prevent impending homelessness. A deposit bond is a guaranteed amount of money, agreed between the landlord and the tenant and approved the Senior Housing Options Officer. The landlord can claim against this guarantee at the end should they need to for repairs or dilapidations.
 
If a claim is made against the bond you will be liable to repay Arun District Council, any costs  paid out on your behalf to the landlord.
Rent Deposit Bonds will only be given to those applicants who qualify for assistance. To qualify for the scheme you must fulfil all the following criteria;
  • Imminently threatened with losing your present accommodation.
  • Locally connected to the Arun area
  • You or the person you normally live with is pregnant or
  • You have dependent children who would normally live with you or
  • You or the person who normally would live with are considered to be vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap, physical disability or other special reason
  • You are homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency e.g flood, fire or other disaster
In addition you will have to demonstrate that you do not have access to any funds to secure alternative accommodation. you may be asked to provide bank or building society statements, savings account statements, etc. Proof of income will be required as well.
 
If you would like to discuss assessment of your eligibility for a deposit bond please call 01903 737552
 
The Tenancy Agreement
Tenancy or licence agreements may be either written or verbal. Verbal agreements are as legally binding as written ones. It is advisable to get a written agreement so each party’s responsibilities are clearly defined. Tenancy agreements cannot take away from tenants the rights granted by Acts of Parliament, even if the agreement states otherwise.
 
Before signing a tenancy agreement, read it carefully and check:
  • The type of letting: for example what does the tenant have sole use of, what facilities are shared with others, is the letting for a fixed term and if so for how long?
  • The amount of rent and whether it includes payments for Council Tax, gas, electricity, water rates, etc.
  • How often the rent is due, and on what date you have to pay it.
  • Whether there are any rent review clauses and how often the landlord can review the rent.
  • The amount of rent deposit required and if / when it is refunded.
  • What the tenant’s obligations are to repair and decorate the property.
  • What happens if the tenant wants to leave the property. Check for a break clause. This is particularly important for fixed term tenancies, because if there is no clause allowing you to give notice, you may have to pay rent for the rest of the fixed term.
  • Who you should contact if there are any problems during your tenancy.
 
Your rights as a tenant
Tenants have the following rights, regardless of the type of tenancy:
  • The right to know the name and address of the landlord.
  • To have a rent book.
  • To get repairs carried out.
  • For the accommodation to be safe.
  • Not to be subjected to harassment or illegal eviction.
 
Private Renting - Checklist
Deposit: have you enough money for rent deposit - have you applied for assistance for one.
Reference/Guarantor: Do you have a previous reference from another landlord - if you have not rented previously do you have a character reference from an employer or someone of good standing within the community.
Type of tenancy: How long is the tenancy? Do you have exclusive occupation of the property? Do you have a tenancy or licence agreement?
Negotiate: Try to negotiate with your landlord if the rent is a little more than you can currently afford.
 
Rent in advance
If you meet the criteria for a deposit bond you may also be eligible for rent in advance. Arun District Council can provide rent in advance to secure alternative, private rented accommodation. This will usually be for the equivalent of one month’s rent.
 
Rent in advance is given as a loan and you will be expected to make regular repayments back to the council, until you have repaid the full amount. The amount you have to repay will be worked out on a weekly or monthly basis, according to your own personal financial circumstances. You will be asked to sign a repayment agreement prior to the funds being transferred to your new landlord to  secure the  accommodation.