Young People's Zone
CAN I RENT SOMEWHERE PRIVATELY?
Another option is to look for a flat from a private landlord. There are advantages and disadvantages with this option.
The advantages are:
- You don’t have to wait to be given a flat by the housing department
- You can live wherever you choose.
The disadvantages are:
- Rent can be a lot higher than for council flats and landlords can increase the rents with little warning
- Sometimes tenancies are only for a fixed period of time, like a year, which might mean you have to move again fairly soon
- Sometimes landlords want to sell the property or stop renting which means you might have to move at short notice.
It is important to think carefully about whether a private rented flat would be the right thing for you. If you decide that it is, you can talk to your Personal Advisor (PA) (see The Name Game, Become) about whether your Children’s Services does a “Rent-Deposit Scheme”. This is where Children’s Services pay the deposit on the flat and pay your first month’s rent just to get you started.
Other things to remember
Remember, Children’s Services should also give you a “setting up home allowance” (previously called a “Leaving Care Grant”) when you get your own place (Paragraph 8.17, Children Act guidance and regulations; Volume 3 Planning transition to adulthood for care leavers). They must provide this when you move to independent living, whether you move into a council flat or a private rented place.
The Government recommends that the setting up home allowance be at least £2,000 but it is higher in many places (Paragraph 8.19, Children Act guidance and regulations; Volume 3 Planning transition to adulthood for care leavers). This money is designed to help you buy all the essentials you need when moving into your own place, like furniture or electrical equipment like a fridge or TV. Although £2,000 sounds like a lot, it doesn’t go far so think carefully about what you are going to spend it on. Your PA should be able to help you with this.
What can I do?
It is important that you start thinking about and prepare yourself for living in your own place as soon as possible. When you get your own tenancy (this is the contract you will have to sign to have your flat), you will need to:
- Budget your money so you can pay your rent and bills on time
- Keep the place clean and tidy and not cause any damage
- Stick to the rules, like not playing loud music or upsetting your neighbours.
These things are really important because if you can’t do these things, you could get chucked out and this means you would be homeless.
Before helping you get your own place, Children’s Services will assess whether you are ready and they will look at the areas mentioned above. It is important that you have thought about this and can show that you are ready and know what is required of you.
Talk to People
Your Personal Advisor (PA)
The most important person to talk to is your PA. They should be talking to you about where you want to live well before your 18th birthday. If they haven’t, you need to talk to them about it. Don’t leave it to the last minute.
Some important questions are:
- Can I get a council flat?
- What do I need to do and how long will this take?
- If I can’t get a council flat, what are my other options?
It is really important to talk to your PA about getting your own place when your Pathway Plan is reviewed (see Pathway to Success, Become). Your Pathway Plan should be reviewed every 6 months and must look at all different aspects of your life (education, health, family etc.) including where you are going to be living.
It is really, really important that agreements are written down and that you have a copy as Children’s Services must stick to any agreements that are written down in your Pathway Plan.
Your PA’s Manager
If you feel that your PA is not taking your views seriously, or they are not providing the information you have asked for, you can ask to speak to their manager. This is really important the closer you get to 18, or after you have turned 18, as you don’t want to leave it too late to start to get things moving.
Making a Complaint
If you are still unhappy, you have the right to make a complaint. To find out more about making a complaint, please click here.
Complaints do take a while to get sorted out so it is important to start to think about where you are going to be living as soon as possible and to try and get things sorted early.
Get Some Help
If you still feel that no-one is listening, you can contact your local advocacy service or you may want to talk to a housing solicitor for help. The law around housing can get very complicated so a solicitor can help you understand what you are entitled to and how to get things moving. To find your local advocacy service, please click here. If you want to speak to a solicitor, you can call Coram Children’s Legal Centre on 0207 713 0089 for advice.