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Thread: Moving area on ESA, CTS and housing benefit - please help?

  1. #1
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    Moving area on ESA, CTS and housing benefit - please help?

    Hi,

    I'm halfway through the assessment stage of my ESA application and have successfully applied for both housing benefit and council tax support in my local area. I'm currently living in York - however, at Christmas I discovered that my letting agency do not accept housing benefit as a blanket rule, and I know that my landlord may well have problems with their insurance policy or mortgage. I haven't said anything so far, as I'm terrified of being thrown out before I can find anywhere else to live and left homeless, but I have been looking desperately for a more suitable place to move to; as soon as I have managed that, I plan to explain my situation and give a month's notice. I can also barely afford to stay here - rent in York is massively high compared with the surrounding areas, my housing benefit doesn't cover all of it, and council tax is still a big struggle, too. But I haven't been able to find anything at all in York itself. My flatmate (my best friend and unofficial carer) and I have been looking for just over a month now, but there has only been one property in York in all of that time (we have contacted more than a dozen different lettings agencies, trawled Zoopla, Rightmove, and a number of specialist DSS lettings sites, and various 'find a roommate'/free ads sites like Gumtree, re-checking them every day) where my benefits weren't a problem; it was a two bedroom flat, for £700 pcm, which would just be impossible. All the properties here have also been at least band B for council tax and I'm exhausting my savings already - I really need a Band A.

    Yesterday afternoon, he went to look at a place in the outskirts of Leeds with me. On the train it's about equidistant from Leeds and York. Financially it's perfect, and it's even in a quiet area in the countryside, with a small garden - which sound like silly considerations, and they are, except my mental health problems mean I find it really, really hard to go out a lot of the time, or to cope with noise or crowds, so it would be a huge thing for me. The landlady seems amazing, and has been very understanding and accepting of my situation.

    The problem now - the thing that is worrying me sick on top of weeks of stress which have already started to take their toll - is that it's in the Leeds area, not York. I know I have to ring Leeds council on Monday to check that they would allow me to move into the area, and open a new claim for the cts and housing benefit that I'm eligible for, from them. As I understand it, they have a right to say no and to tell me to stay where I are - I have much stronger connections to York than Leeds. But in practice, how often does this actually happen? How often will one area turn someone away? I need to stay as close to York as possible because that is where my support network is, and where I am getting help at the moment (I need the continuity of care even if I ultimately have to switch to another GP and CMHT), but will this count against me moving even though it just isn't possible for me to live *in* the city any more? I've been through so much already, trying to get the help I need. I was in hospital before Christmas and I'm scared I'm starting to slide back again - I feel like getting down on my knees and begging them just to let something be easy for once.

    I'm sorry this is such a long post too, but please, if anyone has been in my position before, or knows how it all works, I'd love to hear from you. Thank you.
    Last edited by freija; 26-01-14 at 15:33.

  2. #2
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    Hello Freija,

    I have moved home a few times in the past to areas under a different local authority and have never been aware of there being some rules in place that could disallow someone entitlement to housing benefit moving from one area to another. Either you are entitled to housing benefit or you are not.

    In the past we obtained a grant to move from Redcar and Cleveland area to Suffolk where we are now because my partner would be nearer her family that she had lost contact with totally many years ago and found again through social networking. I don't think you can or will get any help nowadays with the costs of moving home regardless of circumstances and these costs will have to be borne by you.

    I recall years ago to enlist on a councils housing waiting list you were required to prove that you had ties to the area either through family or work and i may be wrong but i think those restraints were lifted since then so anybody can apply to any council for housing but it is still up to the council to determine those most needy of the housing stock they have available. Council housing availability is or was available online and people that wanted to become tenants were asked to put in a bid/notification to state they were interested in certain houses and winners were determined by a points system based on circumstances and needs.

    As far as private renting is concerned i am certain that if you are able to meet the financial requirements (deposit/advance rent etc) and moved to another area you WILL get the LHA rate as befits your circumstances for that property. LHA is paid in arrears every 4 weeks and may not meet the total cost of the privately rented property.

    When we last moved we applied for housing benefit before moving stating the date we would be moved into the property from so our LHA counted from that date. We moved on a Monday and got a home visit on Wednesday from a lady from the council who collected the tenancy agreement so they could copy it and got us to sign the Housing Benefit/Council Tax application forms.
    Last edited by mjp1z; 30-01-14 at 01:19.

  3. #3
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    The situation with private landlords refusing to accept potential tenants on benefits is unfortunate but understandable. With rented property in some areas in strong demand, landlords often have little difficulty letting to people who aren't on benefits. In these areas, many agencies set a blanket policy of not accepting tenants on benefits, because they know that few if any of their landlords will be interested.

    Many landlords insure against tenants not paying the rent and the costs of getting possession through the courts. This cover often imposes minimum financial standards on the tenant - something like the tenant must be in permanent employment (or on a contract where at least a certain period remains) on a salary of at least 2.5 times the rent.

    Ultimately, this state of affairs is a consequence of there being too little housing overall, and especially too little social housing.


    I'm struggling to see how a council could refuse to let you move to their area. Whilst the strength of local connections is a factor used in allocating social housing, you appear to have found housing in the private rented sector that you believe you can afford. Unless mjp1z and I have both missed something, you do not need permission from a local council to claim CTS and Housing Benefit in their area.

    Before agreeing to take the property in Leeds, you should check your position with respect to Local Housing Allowance, as it is by no means certain it will cover all the rent.

    Almost all help for one-off costs was eliminated when the Social Fund was abolished, so you should expect to have to fund all the costs of moving and getting yourself established in the new property (including any deposit and advance rent) yourself.

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