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Seeking Private Rented Accommodation

There are various types of private rented accommodation in Poole, but if you are looking for somewhere you will generally need enough money for a deposit, one months rent in advance and possibly letting agent fees. You may also be required to provide references from a previous landlord, your bank, or employer. In addition, enquiries may need to be made with a credit reference agency. If you have any concerns regarding a credit check, you should contact the credit reference agency directly. Some landlords may also want a 'guarantor' to ensure that if you do default on rental payments, the guarantor will be responsible for paying any arrears. You should never put down a holding deposit on a property unless you are sure that you can raise all the monies required by the landlord/agent, and you should always get a receipt.

Finding Private Rented Accommodation

The following sources may assist you in your search for accommodation.

  • Shop windows/notice boards. Try supermarkets, newsagents, corner shops, libraries and community centres.
  • Local press (The Echo, The Advertiser).
  • Letting agents, estate agents or accommodation agencies or try looking in the Yellow Pages or the Internet.
  • Personal contacts, such as friends, family or colleagues.
  • Advertising. You could place a 'seeking accommodation' advert in a shop, newspaper or notice board at work.

Before taking up accommodation try to get as much information as possible

Deposits

A deposit is a sum of money that your landlord/agent requests at the beginning of the tenancy in order to safeguard you and them against any damage you may cause or any bills left unpaid etc. From the 06 April 2007, landlords/agents granting assured shorthold tenancies are required by law to protect your deposit in a government approved scheme. Your landlord/agent must notify you within 14 days of receiving your deposit as to which scheme they are using. If there is a dispute over the amount to be refunded at the end of a tenancy, the sum in dispute will be set aside until the matter is resolved by independent arbitration. The money should be returned to you in full when you leave, unless the arbitration service agrees that the landlord has good reason to keep all or part of it. Generally, a deposit will not be returned to you until after you have left the property and the landlord has conducted a thorough inspection of the premises. It may be advisable to take photographs if you have any particular concerns.

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Rent in Advance

Landlords/agents usually ask for the equivalent of one month's rent in advance. If you are on income support you may be able to get money from the Social Fund by applying to Jobcentre Plus for a Crisis Loan, although they will need definite confirmation that you have the deposit covered. However, you should realise that these loans are often hard to obtain. Housing & Community Services operates a Deposit Loan Scheme to assist people who are in priority need to secure accommodation. However, the scheme is not available to everyone and you should check with Housing & Community Services to see if you are eligible.

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Other Fees

Some agents may also require fees for referencing, to draft a tenancy agreement and general administration. These fees can only be charged if the agents have found accommodation for you. It is illegal for agencies to charge for registration only.

Housing Benefit & the Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Housing Benefit is help given to people to pay their rent. It is a means tested benefit so the more income or savings that you have, the less benefit you will be entitled to receive. If you are working, but in receipt of a low income, you can still claim housing benefit and your claim will be assessed on your total income. You need to be aware, however, that even the maximum amount of benefit may not be the same as the rent you pay to your landlord. In these cases and in those where you are not entitled to the maximum amount due to your income, you will need to ensure that you "top up" your housing benefit payments from your own money or else you will fall into rent arrears and face eviction.

Those in receipt of means tested benefits (Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance) are generally entitled to the maximum amount of housing benefit. You need to be aware, however, that even the maximum amount of benefit may not be the same as the rent you pay to your landlord. In these cases and in those where you are not entitled to the maximum amount due to your income, you will need to ensure that you "top up" your housing benefit payments from your own money or else you will fall into rent arrears and face eviction.

From April 2008, the Government changed the way that it assessed the maximum amount of any housing benefit entitlement. From this date, the maximum amount of benefit will be based strictly on your family size and not on the property that you rent. You will need to work out your own family's Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and use this to find a property with a similar rental figure on the open market. The LHA figures are advertised on the Council's website and in both the Housing Benefit Department and also Housing & Community Services own reception and are updated monthly to take account of market trends. The amount you will receive will be based on the date that you claim.

To work out your individual LHA, you need to calculate how many bedrooms you and your family need under the housing benefit rules. One bedroom is required for each of the following:

        • A couple.
        • Someone who is 16 or over.
        • Two children of the same sex until they are 16.
        • Two children, regardless of their gender, if they are under 10.
        • A child (someone under 16).

Each person is only counted once, in the first group that they would come into.

If you live in one room and share some facilities (eg. Kitchen or Bathroom) with other people, there is a special LHA rate. If you are under 25 and live on your own, you will also receive this rate. (From January 2012, this age will go up to those under 35 years old)

If you are unsure about which rate applies to you, please ask as it is vitally important that you understand how much your LHA rate is so that you can assess whether a tenancy is affordable for you. Remember - before you take on a tenancy you need to be sure that you can meet your rent commitment.

When viewing, check that it is secure and that heating, lighting and plumbing are all working. Check the terms of the tenancy agreement and read it carefully before signing. You may want to get advice before taking up accommodation try to get as much information as possible before viewing it. When viewing, check that it is secure and that heating, lighting and plumbing are all working.

Check the terms of the tenancy agreement and read it carefully before signing. You may want to get advice before signing it. Depending on the accommodation, verbal agreements may be as legally binding as written ones. Housing and Community Services can provide you with a leaflet on tenancy rights in the private sector. Get an inventory of the contents and condition of the property both landlord/agent and tenant should sign this. Check who is responsible for paying the bills and repairs.

Housing advice number 01202 633804

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Useful lettings agent details

Those who will help people claiming housing benefit:

  • DWP Housing Partnership - 01202 301244
    25a St Clements Road, Bournemouth, Dorset. BH1 4DU
    Often have single person accommodation

Those who will help people claiming housing benefit in certain circumstances:

  • Baker and Baker - 01202 300030
    809 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth
  • NMC Properties - 01202 897979
    495a Ringwood Road, Ferndown 
  • Scott Castle - 01202 397321
    743 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth
  • SLCA - 01202 548400

    209 Redhill Drive, Bournemouth
  • RS Properties - 01202 737340
    215 Ashley Road, Parkstone, Poole

  • Thacker and Revitt - 01202 748999
    482 Ashley Road, Poole 

  • Thomas and Rawson - 01202 721131
    461 Ashley Road, Poole

  • WPJ Millers - 01202 740008
    65-67 commercial Road, Lower Parkstone, Poole

Useful Websites

All of these websites advertise accommodation available:

www.spareroom.co.uk
www.rightmove.co.uk
www.gumtree.co.uk
www.flatshare.co.uk

Dorset Reclaim offer low cost furniture for those on benefits:

www.dorsetreclaim.org.uk

Freecycle matches people needing items to those giving them away:

www.freecycle.org.uk

To find out what benefits you may be entitled to:

www.entitledto.co.uk
www.turn2us.org.uk

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Contact us

Email
housingadvice@poole.gov.u
k

Telephone
01202 633804
Text Relay
18001 01202 633805

Address
Housing and Community Services
Civic Centre
Poole,
BH15 2RU