Housing

Housing

Housing can be a big issue for people who have caring responsibilities. We have covered some common issues below.

Shelter http://england.shelter.org.uk/home provide a range of advice on their website about housing and also provide an advice line 0808 800 4444 .

The Money Advice Service can also provide information online and via telephone debt advice services https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/debt-advice-locator

HELP WITH RENT & MORTGAGE PAYMENTS

You may be eligible for housing benefit to pay for all or part of your rent if you are on a low income and live in a rented property.

Social Housing

If your landlord is the Council or a Housing Association, the amount of benefit you are entitled to depends on:

  • Your eligible rent. This includes service charges for things like lift maintenance or a communal laundry but not things like heating
  • If you have more bedrooms than the government say you need – there’s more information on this below.
  • Your household income – including benefits, pensions and savings (over £6,000)

Bedroom entitlement when you live in social housing

The basic rule is that one bedroom is allowed for each of the following

  • A couple
  • A single adult
  • A child over the age of 16
  • 2 children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • 2 children of either sex under the age of 10

The number of bedrooms you need can be increased in certain circumstances. The rules for this can be complicated and you should obtain advice on your personal situation. Special rules affect the following groups:

  • Disabled adults who need overnight care
  • Households with disabled children who cannot share a bedroom because of their disability
  • Foster carers
  • Households with adult children in the armed forces who are away from home

The rules in relation to people who need overnight care specify that you must have a non-resident carer to qualify and you must already have an extra bedroom in your home available for your carer.

If you have a severely disabled child in your household who is unable to share a room because of their disability, they are always entitled to their own room in the bedroom calculation.

Approved foster carers are entitled to an extra bedroom between placements if they have fostered a child, or became a foster parent within the last 12 months.

Households with adult children in the armed services will be treated as if those children are living at home, even if they are deployed on operations. Their bedroom allowance will be worked out as if they were living at home in the normal way.

The bedroom entitlement rules do not affect:

  • Pensioners living in social housing accommodation such as council or housing association properties
  • People who live in supported exempt accommodation
  • People who live in certain types of accommodation, such as houseboats or caravans
  • People who have been temporarily housed by their council
  • People who rent their property under a shared ownership scheme

The reduction is 14% of the eligible rent for 1 spare bedroom and 25% of the eligible rent for 2 or more spare bedrooms.

If your landlord is Southampton City Council and you are looking to downsize you will be entitled to more points on the register.

Private Rented Accommodation

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is used to work out Housing Benefit for tenants who rent privately. How much you get is usually based on:

  • where you live
  • your household size
  • your income
  • your circumstances

The Local Housing Allowance changes each year, you can find out how much it is HERE

Help with mortgage costs

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage it is wise to take action quickly to stop yourself from falling into debt. If you get into debt and your lender thinks you are not dealing with the problem, they will take action through the courts. This could lead to you losing your home. If you are not working, you may be able to get certain benefits which give help towards your mortgage costs.

You should always contact your lender. They will be keen to help and talk you through your options and must make reasonable attempts to reach an agreement with you, including considering whether to change the way you make your payments and when you make them.

Depending on your circumstances your lender may also make suggestions for you, for example extending your mortgage term. You might be surprised how simple it is to come to an arrangement to reduce your monthly repayments.

Offer to pay back what you can afford when you discuss your options with your lender; continuing to pay back some money is better than paying nothing and will help reduce your arrears.

Check if you have insurance cover. Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance, also called Accident, Sickness and Unemployment insurance, can help with your mortgage repayments if your income has fallen because of redundancy, accident or sickness. You may have taken it out when you got your mortgage – look through your mortgage paperwork and double check with your lender or the broker who you used when you took out the mortgage.

If you’re having serious difficulties paying your mortgage, for example, if you’ve started getting letters from your mortgage lender threatening court action, you should get help from an experienced debt adviser.

The Citizens Advice Bureau http://citizensadvicesouthampton.org.uk/  and Southampton City Council Welfare Rights & Money Advice service can help https://www.southampton.gov.uk/benefits-welfare/money-advice/

If you claim the following benefits you may get some help towards your mortgage costs:

  • Income Support. This is help for lone parents or carers.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). This is help for people who are looking for work.
  • Pension Credit. This is help for people who are over 60 and on a low income.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This is help for people who are too sick or disabled to work.

When you make a claim for one of these benefits, you will be told whether you can get help towards your mortgage costs. This help is known as housing costs payments.

Housing costs payments contribute towards the cost of the interest payments on your mortgage. They may also contribute towards the interest payments on loans taken out to pay for repairs or home improvements. Housing costs payments cannot be used to pay off any of the capital of your mortgage.

Housing costs are paid at a standard rate of interest, regardless of the rate of interest you are actually paying.

This means that although there can be cases where housing costs payments are higher than the interest you have to pay, in many cases, the payments will be lower. You will have to make up any difference between the interest due to the lender and the amount of interest covered by the housing costs payments. However, if you can’t afford to make up the difference, it might be worth asking your lender if they will just accept the housing costs payments for the time being until you can make up the full amount at a later date. You might want to get an experienced debt adviser to help you deal with your mortgage lender. You can get help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Will the payment start immediately?

When you make a claim for benefits, you will usually have to wait 39 weeks before housing costs are paid. This is a change to the previous waiting period of 13 weeks and applies to claims made from 1 April 2016.

If you’re entitled to Guarantee Pension Credit, there is no waiting period and you can get housing costs payments straight away.

More options

If you aren’t entitled to any of the benefits which give help towards your mortgage costs, other help might be available. For more information about your other options visit the Citizens Advice Website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/mortgage-problems/how-to-sort-out-your-mortgage-problems/

Selling your home as a last resort

If you know that your situation won’t change in the long term, think about selling your home yourself and renting or moving to a cheaper property. If considering this option, ask your lender if you can stay in your property until you sell it and check if it offers help through an Assisted Voluntary Sale scheme. But make sure you have a place to live before you move out. If you keep your lender up to date and do everything you can to sell it, they should give you good time to sell. Depending on your property, you might also want to check whether you can sell your home to your council or a social landlord and stay there as tenant.

MY HOME IS NO LONGER SUITABLE FOR ME

You may find that due to changes in your circumstances your home is no longer suitable for your households needs. It may be too big, too small, difficult for you and the people you live with to enter, move around or use the bathroom.

Overcrowding & Under occupation

Overcrowding occurs when you don’t have enough bedrooms for the number of people who live in your home. Under-occupation occurs when you have too many bedrooms.

If you live in rented accommodation and have either of these situations you can make an application to Southampton City Council to join the Housing Register.

You can do this on-line here
http://www.southampton.gov.uk/housing-council-tax/council-tenants/moving-home/apply-for-housing.aspx

They will assess your application and allocate points to you based upon your circumstances. The more points you have the more likely you are to win your bid. It is important to know that there are thousands of people on the register and a limited number of homes that become available to rent from a Registered Social Landlord so there may be a long wait and you should consider if moving to private rented property would meet your needs.

If you are already a tenant of a Council or Housing Association, then a mutual exchange may be a quicker solution.  Council and most Housing Association tenants can join HOMESWAPPER for free. You can also place adverts locally e.g. newsagents, as well as on social networking sites such as Facebook – there are a number of local and national mutual exchange groups you could join on-line. It’s important that you contact your landlord if you find someone to do a mutual exchange with. If you don’t follow the proper procedure you could find yourself homeless.

I need adaptations to enable me to remain in my home

Support and assistance can be arranged by Southampton City Council and NHS Solent Healthcare to help you continue to manage independently. This includes:

  • offering advice and information
  • managing an assessment of your needs and if it is felt you would benefit arranging rehabilitation services to help you continue to manage day to day tasks

Adaptations to your home

There are different ways adaptations may be provided to help you manage day to day tasks in your home. This is dependent on whether you are an owner occupier, a tenant of a private landlord or a registered social landlord or a tenant of Southampton City Council.

You own your own home:

  • For help with simple changes to your home contact the Handyperson Service on 0800 085 4802. There may be a small charge for this service
  • If you require advice about equipment or changes to your home:
  • If you are over 18, contact the Adult Contact team on 023 8083 3003 or minicom 023 8083 3808. There is no charge for this service.
  • If the person who requires advice is under 18 contact the Jigsaw Service at the Civic Centre on 023 8091 5702. There is no charge for this service
  • The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can also assess whether you are eligible for a service and if so work with you to agree the type of equipment or change needed to your home. There is no charge for this service
  • The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can provide equipment and arrange simple changes to your home they assess you are eligible to receive. There is no charge for this service
  • A Disabled Facilities grant may be available to help with more complex changes to your home. The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can explain this to you and can work with you to agree the type of changes you will need. This grant is means tested and you may be asked to make a contribution towards the cost of the work
  • if you do not wish to apply for a grant, The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can give advice on options to meet your needs

You are a tenant of a Registered Social Landlord or private landlord:

  • Discuss your problem with your landlord as a first step. Your landlord has a responsibility to make simple changes to your home to help you with day to day activities. There is no charge for this service
  • If your landlord is unable to help or you require advice about equipment or more complex changes to your home:
  • If you are over 18 contact the Adult Contact team on 023 8083 3003 or minicom 023 8083 3808. There is no charge for this service
  • If the person is under 18 contact the Jigsaw Service at the Civic Centre on 023 8091 5702. There is no charge for this service
  • The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can also assess whether you are eligible for a service and if so work with you to agree the type of equipment or change needed to your home. There is no charge for this service
  • The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can provide equipment they assess you as eligible to receive. There is no charge for this service
  • A Disabled Facilities grant may be available to help with more complex changes to your home. The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can explain this to you and can work with you to agree the type of changes you will need. Your landlord will need to agree to these changes. This grant is means tested and you may be asked to make a contribution towards the cost of the work
  • If you do not wish to apply for a grant, the Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can give advice on options to meet your needs

You are a tenant of Southampton City Council:

Contact Actionline on 0800 5 19 19 19 as a first step. They will arrange simple changes to your home to help you with day to day activities. There is no charge for this service

  • If Actionline cannot help or you require advice about equipment or more complex changes to your home:
  • If you are over 18 contact the Adult Contact team on 023 8083 3003 or minicom 023 8083 3808. There is no charge for this service
  • If the person is under 18 contact the Jigsaw Service at the Civic Centre on 023 8091 5702. There is no charge for this service
  • The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can also assess whether you are eligible for a service and if so work with you to agree the type of equipment or change needed to your home. There is no charge for this service
  • The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can provide equipment they assess you as eligible to receive. There is no charge for this service
  • The Adult Contact team and the Jigsaw Service can work with you to agree more complex changes required to your home. This information will then be given to the housing service who will arrange that the adaptation is carried out
  • If you are on the housing transfer list only simple adaptations to help with day to day activities will be carried out in your present home
  • In some cases you may be asked to consider transferring to another tenancy if it is felt that it is not appropriate to undertake complex changes to your home

For further advice, please contact the Adult Contact Team on 023 8083 3003.

Moving home

For initial advice and information contact the Housing Advice Service on 023 8083 2254. In some cases, it may be better for you to consider moving home rather than adapting the home you live in. If you are a tenant your housing landlord may ask you to consider this in more depth if you require more complex adaptations.

I AM NO LONGER ABLE TO MANAGE MY HOME

The Handy Person Service

The Handy Person Service provides a maintenance and repair service for older vulnerable and other vulnerable people living in the city in their own privately owned/rented accommodation. The service is generally available free of charge to people in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits but also provides the service at very low cost to those not receiving these benefits. The aim of HP+ is to enable older people to stay living independently in their own homes by offering an easy to access service that responds quickly to day to day property maintenance issues, therefore reducing the stress and anxiety that these issues can often cause. HP+ also works in close partnership with other services to ensure that other support needs of individuals that are not being met can be addressed appropriately.

The key objectives of the service are to:

  • Prevent and reduce the number of home accidents by making homes as safe as possible
  • Identify current or likely support needs and making appropriate referrals
  • Enable people to remain in their homes for as long as possible consequently reducing/preventing the need for expensive care packages or residential care later in life. Improve quality of life
  • Promote independence, safety and wellbeing
  • Ensure contact with other appropriate service providers
  • HP+ undertakes minor repairs, maintenance and adaptations that would not normally be eligible for financial assistance from the City Council or other providers. The service is available to residents living within the Southampton local authority boundary.

 

To contact HP+ telephone: 0800 085 4802

Monday – Thursday 9am-5pm; Friday 9am-4.30pm

Eligible Clients:

  • People over 60 (key priority group)
  • Vulnerable households with children under 5 in receipt of one of the eligible benefits
  • Disabled people
  • People awaiting hospital discharge needing minor work to enable them to return home
  • Other individuals receiving care or Supporting People services or defined as vulnerable by the local authority
    • Eligible Benefits:
      • Income Support
      • Guaranteed Pension Credit
      • Council Tax Benefit
      • Housing Benefit
      • Accommodation:

If you are not in receipt of one of the eligible benefits you may still be able to access the service at low-cost. You will pay £10 per hour for the labour and the cost of any materials provided – please telephone the service for further information.

Eligible Works:

Securing internal & external doors, fitting grab rails and stair rails, fitting key safes, Draught proofing, Installing/fitting batteries in smoke alarms, Changing light bulbs, replacing plugs, Bleeding radiators, Re-pressuring boilers, Fixing trip hazards (e.g loose tiles, carpets etc), Minor guttering repairs/clearance, Minor plumbing repairs – tap washers, replacing taps, leaky pipes, Improving security by fitting window locks, spyholes, door chain.

HP+ now offers some garden work to improve safety and security and is offered on a one-off basis only – we do not provide a regular garden maintenance service. Please telephone for further information.

The service does not provide the following:

Major electrical, Gas / Boiler, Major plumbing, Window/door installation

Gifted Housing Service

We all want to stay in our own homes for as long as possible, but dealing with the responsibilities of home ownership can become daunting. Our successful Gifted Housing scheme has been running for nearly 40 years, and is one way to make things easier for you.

What is Gifted Housing?

Under the Gifted Housing scheme, as an older homeowner, you can donate your property to Age UK. In return, they will take responsibility for maintenance of your property and give you help and support to stay living independently in your home.

As a donor, you will receive other benefits from Age UK:

  • they will pay your Council Tax, water rates and building insurance
  • they will take responsibility for repairs and maintenance to your property, this may include adaptations
  • you receive support and advocacy from a care co-ordinator
  • they will help you to arrange care and support at home if you need it and may make contributions to the cost
  • if you need to move into residential care, they will help you find a suitable home and may contribute to your care costs.

Why use the Gifted Housing Service?

It’s a flexible service tailored to people’s individual needs, not a ‘one size fits all’ scheme, and people join the service for many different reasons. Signing up to the service and donating your property to Age UK is a major decision. They will ask you to take professional advice on the advantages and disadvantages before making a final decision. They will pay for you to get independent legal advice if you decide to join the service.

How can I find out more?

How can I find out more?

For more information read the answers to common questions  http://www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/gifted-housing-service/gifted-housing-other-questions/ about the service or talk to one of the Gifted Housing team on 01225 447 800.

Sheltered Housing

There are now lots of properties designed for people who want to live independently but have the reassurance of knowing that help is at hand if there is an emergency.

There are many different types of sheltered housing, both to rent or to buy. They range from luxury apartments and bungalows to self-contained flats, bedsits and rooms with shared facilities.

What is sheltered housing?

Sheltered housing is specially designed accommodation, mainly for older people, which you can buy or rent. It can also be called retirement housing. Sheltered housing which is called ‘extra care sheltered housing’, ‘very sheltered housing’, ‘assisted living housing’ or ‘close care’ provides care and support from a care team located on site. While different schemes vary, most will provide:

  • self-contained flats with their own kitchen and bathroom
  • a laundry
  • a communal lounge
  • optional social activities
  • communal gardens
  • a guest room for overnight visitors
  • security and safety features
  • a warden or scheme manager
  • 24-hour emergency assistance through an alarm scheme.

Service charges

To cover the cost of running the sheltered housing scheme, all residents pay a service charge, whether they own their home or are renting. This service charge includes the cost of the scheme manager and the alarm system, as well as building repairs, maintenance, gardening and most of the other services provided. The amount residents have to pay will vary, so always ask how much the service charge will be if you are interested in a scheme. Find out how it is calculated and how you can pay it. It is also essential to check what the service charge does not include: for example, heating, lighting, telephone or ground rent. If you are an owner-occupier you may also be asked to pay one-off sums of money to cover, for example, the cost of unexpected repairs to the building. If you are entitled to Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, you may be able to include some of the service charge you pay in your claim.

Which? Have produced a guide on the benefits and drawbacks of sheltered housing which should be read if you are considering this option
http://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care/housing-options/sheltered-housing/343018-the-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-sheltered-housing

You can find information on properties available to rent privately or buy http://www.housingcare.org/index.aspx Information on renting sheltered housing from a social landlord can be found on the City Councils website http://www.southampton.gov.uk/housing-council-tax/council-tenants/moving-home/supported-housing.aspx

MY LANDLORD HAS ASKED ME TO LEAVE

Most tenants are entitled to a written notice to leave even if your landlord did not give you a written agreement to live there in the first place. After the notice expires your landlord must apply to the court for a possession order. You do not have to leave your home until the court tells you to do so.

The main exception to this is if you share living accommodation such as a kitchen or bathroom with your landlord. This means you are an excluded occupier. In this situation the landlord only has to give you reasonable notice to leave.

Restrictions on when a landlord can give notice

When you can be given the notice depends on the reason your landlord is evicting you and the type of tenancy you have.

If you have a fixed-term tenancy (for a set period, such as six months) the landlord can give you notice any time but it cannot take effect until the end of that fixed period unless:

  • they can prove a legal reason (or ‘ground for possession’) to evict you, or
  • there is a ‘break clause’ in your tenancy agreement that allows this

Your landlord can give you notice any time if you have a periodic tenancy (one which runs from week to week, or month to month).

When you have to leave

The notice must set out a date. This can be a date after which your landlord can apply to the court for a possession order. Or it can be a date after which your landlord wants you to leave. There are rules about the earliest this can be depending on the type of tenancy you have and the reason why your landlord is evicting you. You do not have to leave after the notice period runs out unless you are an excluded occupier.

You should seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau if you receive a notice from your landlord 02380 221406  02380 333868 Their telephone lines are open 9.30am till 12pm and 1.30pm – 4.00pm Monday to Thursday 9.30am till 12pm on Friday or drop in at their Library Outreach http://citizensadvicesouthampton.org.uk/

if you are threatened with homelessness and have children or vulnerable members in your household, seek specialist advice and assistance from the homelessness advice service. During office hours you can contact them on telephone number 023 8083 2327 or by email at homelessness.advice@southampton.gov.uk.

If you are threatened with homelessness in the following 28 days the council will treat you as if you are homeless. You are homeless if you are without any accommodation, but you can also be considered as homeless even if you are not literally without a roof over your head, if you are unable to remain where you are living, or you live somewhere which is totally unsuitable for your needs. If it is not reasonable for you to stay in your home because of violence, or the threat of violence, from any other person, you may be treated as homeless. This could include domestic violence or threats from a neighbour.

The council have a duty to assist people who are classed as having a ‘priority need’ You will be considered to be in priority need if you:

  • have dependent children living with you
  • are pregnant or live with someone who is pregnant
  • are homeless as a result of a flood, fire or other disaster
  • are classified as “vulnerable” or are living with someone who is vulnerable due to such things as old age, ill-health or a disability, leaving the armed forces, coming out of prison, fleeing violence or having been in care or fostered
  • if you are 16 or 17
  • if you are aged 18-21 and were in care until you were 16

The council might decide that you are “intentionally homeless” (contributed to your homelessness) if:

  • you had somewhere else that was reasonable for you to live, but you chose to leave or to give up the property
  • you have to leave somewhere, where you can continue to live, and you are only leaving to get some help from the council
  • you were helped to find suitable and available accommodation by the council as a result of a previous homeless application but you failed to take this up
  • you have contrived your eviction by arranging with your landlord that they tell you to leave

You should not be normally found to be intentionally homeless if:

  • you left home because you felt threatened with violence
  • your home was repossessed due to arrears which arose because you could not afford to pay your rent or mortgage. You need to show you were in financial hardship and there was no way your income could cover your rent or mortgage payment
  • the conditions in your home were so bad that you could not remain and it would have been unreasonable to expect you to stay
  • you lost your home through someone else’s actions which you did not know about or had no control over

The council will look at whether you have a connection to the Southampton area. If you have no local connection with Southampton, then you can be referred to an area where you do have a local connection. You will have a local connection if you:

  • have lived in Southampton for 6 months out of the last year or 3 out of the last 5 years
  • work in Southampton
  • want to live near a close relative who has lived in Southampton for more than 5 years
  • need to live in Southampton for a particular reason such as you or your family needing to go to a hospital here

The council will give consideration to whether you are eligible for assistance. This means that we will have to make enquiries into your immigration status, or the arrangements you made before entering the country.

What help will you receive from the council if you meet the criteria?

If the council decides that you are homeless, eligible for assistance, in priority need and did not become homeless intentionally, then you will either be housed in temporary accommodation until permanent accommodation becomes available, or you will be offered assistance with a private let. If you do not meet the criteria then you will still be offered advice and assistance, but the council might not be able to offer you housing.

If you are homeless as a result of an emergency outside of normal office hours, you can contact the council’s out of hours service on 023 8023 3344.

You may be entitled to legal aid if you are at risk of losing your home. Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4345.

My cared for is moving into a care home

When moving into, or helping a loved one into a care home, fully understanding what the State provides and being certain about costs and affordability is essential for all involved. Seeking specialist advice is important.

You can find good information on this subject on both the Age UK website http://www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/care-homes/the-means-test-and-your-property/ and Carehome.co.uk http://www.carehome.co.uk/fees/feesadvice.cfm

My cared for has passed away. Can I inherit their tenancy?

There are different rules on succeeding a property depending on who your landlord is and what your tenancy agreement says. You should contact them to ask if you are entitled to do this.

You can find more information on this here http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/social_housing/transfers_and_exchanges/can_you_inherit_a_council_tenancy

HOME SAFETY from The Blue Lamp Trust

The Blue Lamp Trust is a charity which operates the Hampshire Bobby Scheme. The Bobby Scheme is a practical service providing FREE home security, long-life smoke alarms and peace of mind for the vulnerable and elderly within Hampshire.

Over the last 12 months, theirtrained fitters have helped to improve safety at over 2290 homes.

The Bobby Scheme operates throughout Hampshire (including Southampton and Portsmouth) and takes client referrals from a wide range of agencies and members of the public.

At the earliest opportunity, a visit from one of their trained fitters is arranged. They carry out a full crime-prevention survey, fitting as appropriate:

  • Locks
  • Spy-Holes
  • Door Chains
  • Smoke Alarms

The Bobby Fitters are uniformed, police vetted and carry ID cards to reassure clients.

Referrals can be made on behalf of anyone who meets our criteria, including people who are:

  • Vulnerable due to age (over 60)
  • Vulnerable due to circumstance
  • Disabled
  • Victim of burglary
  • Repeat victim of crime
  • Victim of domestic abuse

 

The Blue Lamp Trust, C/o Hampshire Police & Fire and Rescue Service HQ Leigh Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 9SJ

Telephone 0300 777 0157

Website: www.bluelamptrust.org.uk