What are my housing options?
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Welcome to our Housing Options service. Here you can find information about other types of housing and how to get help if you’re about to become homeless.
I'm at risk of losing my home
See our homelessness pages for help and advice based on your personal situation.
Expand each tab below to read more.
There are lots of advantages to renting privately. Expand tab for more information.
- you can move quickly and don’t have to join a waiting list
- you can choose any area that meets your work and family needs
- some privately rented properties are fully or partially furnished, which saves on furnishings and associated moving costs
- there are more property types available, from shared accommodation to houses big enough for large families
- repairs and maintenance are usually the responsibility of the landlord
If you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to benefits, which may cover some or all of your rent.
Before you take on a tenancy please check the local housing allowance (LHA) rate for the area that you wish to move to. The LHA rates are different depending on where you live in the UK.
If you’re thinking of renting accommodation from a private landlord (not us or a housing association) and you’re likely to need benefits to help pay your rent, you can now find out what benefits you’re likely to be entitled to before you decide to rent the property.
Remember that when your benefits are worked out it will take into account your income and other circumstances.
Help finding a new home
Finding the right property can take time but it’s worth putting in the research and effort before you start. A common mistake would be waiting until the last moment to find a place to live.
The internet is a great resource for finding affordable homes in the area of your choice. You need to be persistent and keep looking.
Most landlords will advertise their empty properties through a letting agent. Most letting agents are based on the high street, but you can also find contact details on their websites and through search engines.
See below for links to online letting agents:
Rights and responsibilities
As a tenant you have certain rights and responsibilities when you rent from a private landlord.
Your landlord or letting agent is legally required to:
- protect your deposit in one of the government approved deposit protection schemes within 30 days of receiving it
- give you details of the scheme and its dispute resolution service
- check your original documents to make sure you have the right to rent a property in England
- check the documents of all adults living in the property, make copies and keep them until you leave the property
- arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to check gas appliances in the property at least once a year
- provide you with an energy performance certificate
- give you a recent copy of the government's ‘How to rent in England : the checklist leaflet
Click the button below for more information.
Assured shorthold tenancies (AST)
An AST gives a tenant the legal right to live in a property for a period of time such as six months (fixed term tenancy).
It may roll on a week to week or month to month basis (periodic tenancy) following the expiry of the fixed term.
Your landlord can take back their property in certain circumstances without giving any reason, but must follow a legal process.
The landlord or their agents are required to issue you with a two month notice (s21). When this notice ends the landlord must apply to the county court to obtain possession. The possession order will normally be granted if they've served the notice correctly
The eviction process takes approximately three to four months depending how busy the court is.
Section 21 Notice
A Section 21 notice is the form your landlord must give you to start the process to end your AST. This has to be two months’ notice but it’s legal for you to stay in your home after the expiry of the notice.
Your landlord can not give you a section 21 notice during the first four months of your tenancy.
The notice must be on form 6A if your tenancy started or was renewed on or after 1 October 2015.
The landlord must ensure all the following apply:
- they’ve protected your deposit in a government backed deposit protection scheme within 30 days and provided you with information about the scheme used
- they’ve given you at least two months’ written notice that they want the property back and the date you must leave
- the date you must leave is at least six months after your tenancy began
- you haven’t made a complaint to the council about the living conditions in the property that resulted in the council serving a notice to the landlord (for tenancies starting on or after 1 October 2015)
If your tenancy started on or after 1 October 2015 your landlord can’t evict you unless they’ve given you:
- a copy of the leaflet ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’
- an energy performance certificate (EPC)
- a gas safety certificate
Once the section 21 notice expires your landlord will have to apply to the courts to obtain possession in order to evict you. Throughout the process you have the rights of an assured shorthold tenant and you need to pay your rent as usual.
Your landlord must start any court action within six months of the service of the notice. The notice becomes invalid if they wait longer than this.
From 1 June 2019 your landlord or their agent can only charge:
- holding deposit which can’t be more than one week rent
- holding deposit is a payment to a landlord or agent to reserve a property
The landlord or agent can only keep your holding deposit if you:
- fail a right to rent immigration check
- decide not to rent the property
- mislead the landlord or agent
Your landlord or their agent can also charge a fee for the following:
- lost keys or fobs
You can only be charged reasonable costs for a replacement if this is mentioned in your tenancy agreement.
- ending your tenancy early
Your landlord or their agent can charge you if they agree to let you end your fixed term tenancy early or leave without giving notice. The landlord must be able to show that they have suffered reasonable loss.
- late payment of rent
You can only be charged a late payment fee once you’re 14 days late with rent. The late payment fee must be mentioned in your tenancy agreement and your landlord cannot charge you more than 3% APR above the Bank of England base rate.
- changing or assigning your tenancy
Your landlord or their agent can charge you £50 if you want to change a term in your tenancy or assign it to someone else. Your landlord or their agent can only charge above this if they can prove it cost them more.
- renewing your tenancy
You landlord or their agent can only charge for renewing your tenancy if you signed a tenancy agreement before 1 June 2019 which states you have to pay a renewal fee. If your previous tenancy does not state this you cannot be charged.
All other fees are banned. This includes fees for:
- credit and immigration checks
If you’ve paid any fees which are banned, your landlord cannot evict you using a section 21 notice until they have repaid the money back to you.
Notice during the fixed term of the AST
If you are still in the fixed term, your landlord can only ask you to leave if they have a reason or ‘grounds’ for wanting possession.
These grounds are listed in the Housing Act 1988. Examples of the grounds include:
- you’re behind with your rent payments (‘in arrears’)
- you’ve used the property for illegal purposes like selling drugs
- your landlord wants to move back into the property
The notice period they must give varies from two weeks to two months, depending on the grounds they are using.
Once the notice expires your landlord will have to apply to the courts to obtain possession in order to evict you.
Your landlord will need to prove to the courts that they should accept the grounds for possession before they decide whether you have to leave. There will be a court hearing to determine if the landlord has legal grounds to evict you.
Documents for an eviction
Depending on the type of tenancy you have and the circumstances of your eviction, your landlord will need to:
- issue a written notice – section 21 or section 8 notice
- hand the notice to you in person or deliver the notice by post, requiring you to sign to say you have received the notice
- once the notice expires your landlord must then apply to the court for a possession order if you do not leave
The court will send you:
- copies of your landlord’s documentation
- claim form for possession
- related paperwork
- a defence form
Once the courts have granted the possession you will receive a copy of the order with the date you must move out. You can appeal the order if you think the judge has made a mistake about the law.
If you do not move out the landlord will need to apply for a warrant of eviction from the court bailiffs to evict you from the property.
When a landlord is granted a possession order, the court sets a date for you to leave.
If you stay beyond this date, your landlord can ask the court to send a bailiff to evict you. Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home. The court will send you a letter (eviction warrant) to let you know that the bailiffs are coming.
This will give you time to pack your things.
Bailiffs can remove you and your belongings from the property but must not use force.
Excluded tenancies or licences
You may have an excluded tenancy or licence if you:
- live with parents, family and friend
- lodge with your landlord and share rooms with them, like a kitchen or bathroom
You’ll usually have less protection from eviction with this type of agreement.
If you have a tenancy which started between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 then you may have an assured tenancy. You’ll have increased protection from eviction with this type of agreement.
If your tenancy started before 15 January 1989 then it may be a regulated tenancy. You’ll have increased protection from eviction and can apply for a ‘fair rent’.
Houses of multiple occupation (HMO)
Read our HMO pages if you’re thinking of renting or are renting a room occupied by other tenants who are not part of your household.
Your landlord is responsible for structural repairs to your property including gutters, drains and external pipes.
They have to maintain installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation, as well as heating and hot water.
If you have reported any problems to your landlord due to disrepair and they have not remedied the problems, you can ask your local council to inspect your home.
The council can order your landlord to undertake works to put things right.
Most hostels in the area accept referrals from us, and from other support services such as social services and probation. You can also refer yourself.
Affordable home ownership products are available if you can't afford to purchase a property on the open market.
Housing associations, also known as registered provider’s (RPs), are not-for-profit organisations who we work with to develop and manage affordable homes for rent and shared ownership.
These schemes make home ownership an affordable option if you:
- are on a lower income
- need a smaller mortgage and a smaller deposit
There are certain criteria which you must fulfil in order to benefit from a LCHO scheme.
Register with Bedfordshire Homefinder and find shared ownership homes locally.
There are limited options when it comes to council or housing association housing, but depending on your circumstances you may be eligible.
Landlords of privately rented accommodation usually require a deposit and rent in advance before they agree to offer a tenancy.
If you’re struggling to find enough money to pay for a deposit on a rented home we may be able to help.
The rent deposit scheme is part of our homelessness prevention work, and provides a deposit and rent in advance loan as long as you can’t get the money elsewhere.
Am I eligible?
To be considered eligible for the scheme, you must be homeless or threatened with homelessness.
- be in need of housing or at threat of homelessness
- agree to repay any deposit and/or rent in advance that we pay out to the landlord
- agree to undertake a financial statement to verify that the property which has been found is an affordable and reasonable option for you
Who is not eligible?
You will not be eligible if you have already moved into the property. You should not make arrangements to move in until a deposit and or rent in advance has been approved.
You may not be eligible if you owe money to us.
Conditions of loan
You can only be considered for a loan if you are on low income and cannot fund the deposit yourself. Your financial circumstance will be considered fully.
You must be able to manage the tenancy. The conduct of any previous tenancies you have held will be taken into account when making a decision.
There is no list of circumstances that will automatically qualify you for an award of rent deposit and/or rent in advance. Each request will be considered on its own merit.
Prospective tenants must not commit themselves to a tenancy until all rent deposit scheme paper work has been received and completed and a decision has been made.
For further information or to apply for a rent deposit and/or rent in advance loan, please contact the Housing Solutions team (details at bottom of page).
Luton Council, Town Hall, George Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2BQ
Tel: 01582 510371