»

Finding a home

Private rented housing

Private rented accommodation is usually more expensive than social housing, but can offer a flexible housing option because there is a greater amount of choice. Due to the shortage of social housing, most people needing to rent a home will need to rely on renting from a private landlord to resolve their housing needs.  Private renting can include renting a room in a landlord's home, renting a room in a shared house or renting a self contained property.

You can look for private rented accommodation in:

  • Newspapers
  • Shop windows
  • Local letting agents
  • The internet (social media and sites such as right move, spareroom.com, zoopla, onthemarket.com, primelocation.com, property24 and openrent)

For useful information on securing private rented accommodation, please visit Citizens Advice or GOV.UK.
 

Deposit and Rent in Advance

A private landlord will usually ask for at least one months' rent to be paid in advance; sometimes more, and a deposit of between one and two months' rent.

The purpose of a deposit is to cover any rent arrears and damage during the tenancy. A deposit should be returned to you at the end of the tenancy providing that you have not caused any damage to the property and your rent account is up to date.

It is important that you are given a tenancy agreement, and that you read the tenancy agreement carefully before signing or giving any money to the landlord.

You should be asked to sign an inventory at the start of the tenancy, and it is important that you check the inventory carefully before signing because you may be charged for anything which the landlord states has gone missing or been damaged during the tenancy.

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness and require financial assistance with a deposit and rent in advance, the Council may be able to help. For more information, please visit Homeless or threatened with homelessness?

If you are choosing to move and are in receipt of housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and you would like financial assistance with a deposit and rent in advance you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. For more information on how Torridge District Council administers Discretionary Housing Payments please visit Discretionary Payment Scheme.
 

Tenancy Deposit Protection

Any tenancy starting after the 6th April 2007 where you have paid a deposit must have the deposit money registered with a Government backed tenancy deposit protection scheme. This is a legal requirement.  Rent in advance is different to a deposit and does not need to be registered with a scheme.

There are 3 tenancy deposit schemes:

The landlord must register a deposit with a scheme within 30 days of receiving it and once your deposit is protected you will receive a letter confirming that the deposit has been lodged. If you do not receive a confirmation letter, you can check online with each service to see if your deposit has been protected.  If you think that your deposit has not been protected, you should contact the Housing Options Team for advice.

The deposit scheme will hold your deposit until the tenancy has ended, and will make sure that your deposit is returned to you if you:

  • meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • don't damage the property
  • pay your rent and bills

At the end of your tenancy, your landlord must return your deposit to you within 10 days of you both agreeing how much should be returned to you. If you are in a dispute with your landlord, then then the scheme your deposit is registered with can help resolve the dispute and your deposit will be protected until the issue is resolved.
 

The Council's Deposit Bond Scheme

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness and working with the Council, and you are offered a tenancy by a private landlord the Council may offer you a deposit bond if the landlord is agreeable. A deposit bond is an agreement between you, the landlord and the Council, whereby the Council guarantees to the landlord that they will be paid up to the value of the bond if a claim for damage or rent arrears is substantiated at the end of the tenancy.  You will usually be expected to make regular payments to the Council until you have paid enough money to cover the bond. If the tenancy ends with no claim being made, the money you have paid to the Council is returned to you.
 

Affording your rent

You will need to make sure that you can afford the rent when looking for private rented accommodation. If you are on a low income you may be entitled to help through housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

There are certain restrictions on the help available to people under the age of 35.

Housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit will not cover any bills, such as water rates.

To find out whether you will be eligible for housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, please visit Work out and claim benefits.
 

Help with accessing funds

Turn 2 Us is a free, accessible website offering a range of tools to help people access the money available to them through benefits, grants and other financial help.  The site has been designed to help people find appropriate sources of financial support, quickly and easily, based on their particular needs and circumstances.
 

Social housing to rent

Torridge District Council does not own or manage any social housing. All social housing in Torridge is managed by Housing Associations, also known as registered providers.  Nearly all social housing in Torridge is allocated through Devon Home Choice, which is a choice-based lettings allocation scheme operating throughout Devon.  The properties allocated through Devon Home Choice are let at either a social rent or an affordable rent, which means that they are considered to be affordable to local people on local incomes.

For more information and to register online please visit Devon Home Choice website

Demand for properties advertised through Devon Home Choice is high and far exceeds supply, so even if you are a high priority it may take a long time for you to receive an offer of social housing. If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, you should pursue all housing options available to you, including private rented housing.

For more information about social housing please visit GOV.UK Housing association homes.

Routes to Affordable Home Ownership

Shared ownership

Shared ownership schemes allow home buyers to secure a mortgage to buy a stake (usually between 25 per cent to 75 per cent) in a property, while paying rent on the remaining share to the housing association or private developer that own the property. Buyers have the options to increase their ownership in the property by buying extra shares until they own the property outright.

To be eligible for shared ownership you have to meet the following criteria:

  • Have a household income of less than £80,000

  • Don't currently own your own home or you're not named on the legal deeds of any property

  • Can raise sufficient money to cover fees and understand mortgage lenders may require a deposit

Contact Help to Buy South West for more information and to register an interest for Shared Ownership Housing.

Discount Market Housing

This is where you buy a home at a discount below the open market cost. You will own this home freehold.  If you sell it, you will have to sell at a discounted rate as per your purchase.  For example if the property was purchased for 65% of the open market value then it would have to be sold for 65% of the open market value at the time of re-sale.  The initial level of discount is determined by average local incomes and is usually set around 3.5 times the average local income.

Help to Buy South West may be involved in the marketing of Discounted Market Homes when they become available, although it is more usual for these units to be advertised through Local Estate Agents. Sales offices of development sites currently under construction may also be able to provide advice if they are required as part of their planning permission to provide units of this type.

Shared Equity

This is similar to shared ownership housing although no rent is charged on the proportion that is not owned by the purchaser. This type of Affordable Housing is not common in the District of Torridge, but when such units do become available they tend to be advertised through local estate agents.

Help to Buy

Some developers may also offer assistance with purchasing one of their homes through a scheme known as Help to Buy. This is a Government backed equity loan scheme where up to 20 percent of the cost of a newly built home is lent to home buyers.  Only five per cent cash deposit is needed with a 75 per cent mortgage making up the rest.  This product is not strictly classified as Affordable Housing but may provide a route into Home Ownership that may otherwise be un-afforded.

Further information can be found on the Help to Buy website which includes details on how to apply.

Sales offices of development sites currently under construction may also be able to provide advice if they participate in this scheme.