How soon can I get a property?
Once you’ve been accepted for a Bond Guarantee, you can usually start looking for a property straight away. Some people find a property within a few days, for others, it can take a bit longer to find the right property or landlord for you. We will give you as much help as possible to get you housed.
How much rent can I afford?
This depends on your individual circumstances. If you are claiming benefits to pay your rent, we will advise you up-front as to how much money you will be entitled to towards your rent. We will also discuss with everyone what money you have coming in and going out and agree with you what rent would be affordable, before you look for a property.
***Some young people aged 18-21 might not be entitled to any help towards your Housing Costs, even if you aren’t working, as the Government has changed the rules from April 2017. Others aged 18-35 might only be entitled to enough help with housing costs to be able to share a property. It is always essential to get advice about whether you would get Local Housing Allowance and how much it would be before signing for a private rented tenancy***
Can my Housing Benefit/Universal Credit be paid directly to my landlord?
In most cases, we can ask the Council or DWP to pay any benefits you are entitled to towards your rent, directly to your landlord. However, if you are claiming Universal Credit, the DWP will decide this on a case by case basis. They should normally pay your Housing Costs to your landlord at the start of the tenancy if you have been homeless, but they could review this later and pay the benefit to you. The Bond Board helps everyone moving into a property to make a successful claim for Housing Benefits/Housing Costs and at any time if you have benefit problems or difficulties with paying your rent.
Will I have to pay any rent on top of my Housing Benefit/Housing Costs?
Some people decide to move into a property where the rent is more than what Housing Benefit/Universal Credit will pay. If you do this, you will have to pay the extra rent to your landlord so you don’t get into arrears. Before looking for a property, we will discuss with you whether you want to and can afford to pay any extra. If you find a property and we feel the rent is not affordable for you, we will try to negotiate with the landlord to reduce the rent. If this doesn’t work, you would need to find a cheaper property if you still wanted a Bond Guarantee from The Bond Board. If you have a shortfall in your rent, you could apply for Discretionary Housing Payments from your local Council, but you are not guaranteed to get the extra payments and they don’t usually last for more than a few months.
I need an extra bedroom, is this possible?
Unlike social housing, there is no ‘Bedroom Tax’ for private rented properties. However, Housing Benefit/Universal Credit will only pay an amount towards your housing costs based on the number of bedrooms you need and the location of the property. It can be possible to afford an extra bedroom if you find a reasonably priced property.
For example, a single person aged over 35 in Rochdale could get up to £83.91 per week (=£363.61 per month) in Local Housing Allowance in 2016/17. If you found a 2 bedroom property for £375 per month and can afford it, you could move into this property, but you would need to pay the landlord £11.39 per month to cover the full rent.
Can I still apply for social housing at the same time as applying for a Bond Guarantee?
Yes. When you are homeless, it makes sense to apply for as many options as possible to get housed. If you are eligible for social housing, we will encourage you to apply and bid for social housing at the same time as looking for private rented properties. If you accept a social housing tenancy, you will not need a Bond Guarantee from the Bond Board anymore, as you will no longer be homeless and you don’t need a bond for a social housing tenancy. If you move into a private rented tenancy, you can remain on the housing register for social housing, but your priority for housing will go down, as you will lose any homeless priority you had before.
The landlord wants rent in advance and an administration fee as well as bond. Can you pay this for me?
Unfortunately, The Bond Board cannot help towards the costs of rent-in-advance or administration fees. If you find a property where rent-in-advance or administration fees are required, you would need to cover these costs yourself, although you should ask us to try and negotiate with the landlord on your behalf first. Many of the landlords and Letting Agents working with The Bond Board won’t ask for rent-in-advance and will either cancel their usual administration fees or reduce them to a more affordable level.
The landlord will only accept a cash bond, can you pay my bond in cash instead of a Bond Guarantee?
The Bond Board cannot pay a cash bond to a landlord at the start of the tenancy. The Bond Guarantee is a written contract, with a cash value, between the landlord, tenant and The Bond Board. We can only pay cash to a landlord at the end of the tenancy if there are rent arrears, damage of theft from the property.
I’ve had a Bond Guarantee before, can you help me again?
Having a Bond Guarantee before does not stop you from applying again. You would still need to fit the Bond Board criteria (Homeless/threatened with homelessness, low income and have a local connection to the area). We would also consider whether there had been a claim made by a landlord against a previous Bond Guarantee we had provided for you and then give you a decision as to whether we can help you again.
What if my new landlord decides to sell the property or changes their mind once I’ve moved in?
If your landlord decides to sell the property or wants is back for another reason, you will be entitled to a written notice from the landlord. Unless you have rent arrears of over 2 months or more, in most circumstances you should receive at least 2 months’ notice and not within the first four months of the tenancy. There are lots of rules about how and when a landlord can give you notice to leave. The Bond Board can give you advice and support if your landlord wants you out. If you have stuck to the tenancy agreement and there are no rent arrears, damage or theft from the property, we should be able to offer you another Bond Guarantee if you become threatened with homelessness again.
If I have a problem with the landlord not doing repairs or other problems, can you help me?
Yes. Many people applying for a Bond Guarantee have had bad experiences with previous private rented landlords. Some landlords don’t do the repairs that they should, harass their tenants or even evict them illegally. The Bond Board only wants to work with landlords who act legally, fairly and responsibly. If you do have a problem with your landlord or the condition of your home, contact us as soon as possible and we will give you advice and support.
Do I have to pay the bond back if the landlord claims against the Bond Guarantee when I leave?
If there is a claim made against your Bond Guarantee when you leave the tenancy, we will first try to contact you to discuss the claim and get your side of the story. We agree to pay the landlord some or all of the Bond Guarantee’s cash value if they can prove any of the following; that you owe rent arrears, that you have damaged the property, that you have taken items from the property that do not belong to you, that you have left the property without giving the landlord the correct notice, so you owe rent.
If we have to pay your landlord at the end of your tenancy, you do not have to pay us back. However, whilst we take all individual circumstances into account, you might not be able to get another Bond Guarantee from us again or you may be asked to pay back some or all of what we have paid, before we could consider another Bond Guarantee for you in the future.
I need to move out of the area. Can you still give me a Bond Guarantee?
The Bond Board is a local charity. We can only provide Bond Guarantees for tenancies in the local areas where we are based. If you need to move out of the area, there may be other organisations or local councils in that area that provide Bond Guarantees or similar services to The Bond Board. If you’re not looking to live in Rochdale or Bolton, you could contact Shelter’s free 24 hour advice line on 0800 800 4444. They provide free housing advice and can advise you about the services available across the country.