Whilst Social Housing may be your preferred choice you need to be aware that there are many more people applying for properties than are available. This means you could end up waiting for social housing for a long time. This is particularly true if you are applying for a larger property (3 bed upwards) or have been allocated a low housing band. It is not untypical for applicants in these situations to wait years before they are successful in finding a property. .
Other options are available which may be more suitable to your situation.
Private Rented Accommodation
If you have little prospect of getting social housing and cannot afford home ownership then renting from a private landlord is the main housing option available to you.
Private renting has some advantages over social housing including flexibility and choice of location and property. There are far more properties available for private rental making it the quickest and easiest housing option available for most people.
Rents can be high and unaffordable for some. However, it is possible to find affordable private rented accommodation in some areas particualrly if you increase the area you are prepared to move to. If you would like to consider this option there may be ways that the councils housing solutions team could help including helping you maximise your income, advising on whether you could apply for a discretionary housing payment and in certain circumstances helping you with a deposit and the first months rent.
Further informaiton on private renting can be found on the councils main housing web pages which can be found here
Watford HomeLet is a free of charge, private renting incentive scheme run by Watford Borough Council. Watford HomeLet matches landlords who have available properties with prospective tenants looking for a new home. Further informaiton can be found on the councils main housing web pages which can be found here
Options for Older People
As we get older our housing needs change and we often need to reconsider where and how we live to ensure a secure retirement.
• Your current house or flat may no longer be suitable because of stairs, layout or location.
• As children and family move away to form their own households, you may no longer be able to cope or want to deal with a property that is too large or expensive.
• You may be interested in sharing companionship and/or social activities with people of a similar age.
• You may wish to have the security of having someone to look out for you and be in a safe and secure environment.
• You may be entitled to a financial incentive from your landlord should you be giving up family sized social housing.
Sheltered Housing Schemes
Sheltered housing schemes are unfurnished properties specially built or adapted to meet the needs of older or disabled people. The schemes often have an on-site or on-call manager who can offer support and assistance to residents during office hours. Some schemes have 24 hour emergency alarm systems.
Sheltered Housing Schemes are not care homes. They are for people who can live independently but who would benefit from having someone around to provide some additional support when needed.
Eligibility for Sheltered Housing Schemes
Most schemes are open to applicants over 60 years of age with a housing support need or couples where one of the joint applicants is at least 60 and the partner is 55 or over. However some schemes currently consider applicants who are younger with a medical or physical issue or a learning difficulty.
Mutual Exchange is where you swap tenancies with another council or housing association tenant. You need to apply to your landlord to join the mutual exchange register and then search for another tenant to exchange homes with. If you find someone to swap with, you will need your landlord’s permission for the exchange to go ahead.
How do I find someone to exchange with?
There are various ways to find someone to exchange with:
• Word of mouth.
• Placing an advert in the window of your newsagents.
• Looking at lists held by your landlord (not all landlords
hold a list).
You can also find exchanges through a scheme called Homeswapper. This scheme is free to use if your landlord is registered with the scheme. By joining the scheme you can add your details and also search for people who may want to swap with you. If your landlord is not a member of Homeswapper you can apply to join the scheme directly for a small charge.
You can find out more information about Homeswapper on their website www.homeswapper.co.uk
Why consider Mutual Exchange?
• Mutual Exchange is a popular option for those with a low housing need. By finding someone to swap with you may be
able to move more quickly than you would by remaining on the Housing Needs Register.
• You can mutually exchange with Council and Housing Association Tenants across the country.
• You can exchange to a property with a spare bedroom, larger than that the Council would offer to you.
Low Cost Home Ownership
Purchasing a home outright can be too expensive for many people. There are number of Government backs schemes to help people onto the 'property ladder' who cannot afford to buy on the open market and want to own their own property.
Shared Ownership allows you to buy a share of a property, initially between 25% and 75% of the full purchase price and pay a subsidised rent to a registered provider (usually a housing association) on the remaining share. You will need to apply for a mortgage on your share of the property.
In the future you can buy further shares in your home. This is called ‘stair-casing’.
You can search for shared ownership properties at BHPA. Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association are the Help To Buy agents for Hertfordshire.
Further informaiton can be found on the councils main housing web pages which can be found here
Help to Buy
Help to Buy is a Government backed scheme to help people onto the ‘property ladder’ who only have a small deposit buy would like to purchase a property.
There are different Help to Buy options, including shared ownership, which you may be eligible for depending on your circumstances.
Further information can be found on the Help to Buy website