Housing options

The reduction in Council owned properties available for rent and the increase in applicants seeking either their first home or alternative accommodation in Harlow has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of applicants registered for housing. This situation mirrors the national and regional trends where demand for social housing now outstrips supply. This means that for those that qualify to apply to join the Housing Needs Register, it may take a considerable number of years to be housed and for many households they may never be able to obtain an offer of social housing from the Housing Needs Register.

For those that do not qualify to join the Housing Needs Register and for those applicants for whom it may take a considerable number of years to be offered social housing, will need to consider other options to address their housing needs such as private accommodation or home ownership.

Private rented accommodation

In order to secure accommodation in the private rented sector you will normally be expected to pay a deposit and rent in advance and a reference fee to an agent before being able to move into the accommodation. Private rented accommodation can be for a room in a shared house or for a self-contained home for example a house.

There are a range of options in the private rented sector and a good place to look for accommodation is the Harlow Star property section, via a local estate agency or a property website such as www.rightmove.co.uk and www.propertywide.co.uk. Please note: Harlow Council is not responsible or endorse the content of these websites.

For information on the private rented sector, including your rights and responsibilities, the landlords responsibilities, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and securing accommodation in a House of Multiple Occupancy visit www.gov.uk/private-renting and unlawful eviction and harassment of private tenants

If you need assistance in meeting the cost of your rent you may qualify for Housing Benefit.

Home ownership

There are a number of schemes available to help people buy or part buy a home they can afford and is an excellent way to source affordable housing.

  • Help to Buy is a government-funded initiative helping people take steps to buy their own home, whether this is to get onto the housing ladder or move up it. For more information please visit the Help to Buy website
  • Right to Buy is a scheme allowing some secure tenants of the Council to purchase the property that they rent from the Council. Eligible tenants can receive a discount off the market value. More information on the Right to Buy Scheme

Homelessness prevention

There are many reasons why somebody may be threatened with homelessness, this may include: relationship breakdown, debt or loss of income, medical reasons, disrepair, domestic abuse, notice, unemployment and/or antisocial behaviour. The most important thing that you can do if you are threatened with homelessness is to seek advice as soon as possible, as with the correct advice and assistance, it is possible in many cases to prevent homelessness. You should seek advice as soon as possible from:

Wherever possible, we will work with you to try to prevent you from becoming homeless. On the 3 April 2018 there are changes to legislation: the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. These changes mean if you are threatened with homelessness, within 56 days the Council has a duty to assess your needs and work with you to develop a Personal Housing Plan to prevent your homelessness. You will be making a homeless application to initiate this assistance. If you are experiencing problems which put you at risk of homelessness it is important that you contact the Housing Options & Advice Team.  For more information on the Homelessness Reduction Act, please read the Frequently Asked Questions.

You should make every effort to try to solve the housing difficulties you may be facing and ask for advice from the Council's Housing Options Team as soon as possible. A Housing Options Officer will work with you to try to prevent you losing your current home and advise you on the other options available to you to prevent you from becoming homeless.

Private Rented Sector - notice to leave

If you are renting in the private rented sector you may be issued with notice to leave. Your legal rights will depend on whether you have a resident Landlord (one who lives in the property where you reside) for further information on you rights and what you may be able to do to avoid being threatened with homelessness visit: www.gov.uk/private-renting-evictions

Home owners

If you own your own home and run into difficulty in paying your mortgage, speak to you lender in the first instance to let them know, as they will have to consider how they can help you to stay in your own home. For further information visit: www.gov.uk/repossession

Domestic Abuse

If you are a victim of Domestic Abuse you should seek safe accommodation either using the Sanctuary Scheme or through a Refuge, whilst you consider what housing options may be available to you. Safer Places can also provide out-reach support to victims of Domestic Abuse. More information on Domestic Abuse

Money advice

If you find that you are not able to pay your rent or mortgage you may find that either your Landlord or mortgage company may seek to repossess your accommodation. It is important that you seek money advice as soon as possible as you may be able to reduce the amount of money that you are paying on other debts to ensure that you can pay your housing costs. More information on contact details for money and debt advice

Support to stay in your home

Family Mosaic provides a floating support service and can help with; Housing Benefit advice and claims, finding employment and training opportunities, support for drug and alcohol problems, support with managing rent arrears, support for mental health and financial advice. For more information visit: www.familymosaic.co.uk or call: 0800 2888883 or text 88020FMSUPPORT(space) then message.

Family Solutions is a government organisation that can assist families with a range of issues on a voluntary basis. They work with families for up to 12 months by helping them identify their own solutions to their problems. Family Solutions will work with families who have two or more difficulties For more information visit: http://www.essexpartnershipportal.org/node/140 or call Family Solutions on 01279 691108

Young people

If you are 16 or 17 years old and you have nowhere to live, both the Council and Children Services may be able to help you with your housing options and in making the right choice to receive the support that you may need. For more advice download the Housing Advice for Homeless 16 and 17 year olds (pdf) leaflet.

Nacro Harlow Resettlement provides supported housing and resettlement support for young single homeless people and those with a history of offending, to enable them to develop the skills and confidence to live independently. For more information visit: www.nacro.org.uk/services/essex/harlow-resettlement

Social housing

Social housing in Harlow is available for people on Harlow Council’s Housing Needs Register. Those on the register can bid for properties suitable for their needs and in an area in Harlow of their choice. Not all people will qualify to join and due to the demand for social housing this is not always a realistic option for everyone.

If you are downsizing from a Harlow Council property to a smaller property via the Housing Needs Register or Mutual Exchange, you may qualify for practical and financial assistance under the Tenant Moves Incentive Scheme. More information on the Tenant Moves Incentive Scheme

Supported housing

Harlow Council has Supported Housing Schemes (sheltered) accommodation, for older people who want to live independently, whilst having the added security of knowing that emergency assistance is available. More information on Supported Housing for older people.