To be declare to School Admissions Dept that we are renting temporarily in catchment?

(136 Posts)
Broderieanglaise Mon 11-Nov-13 16:32:40

We are renting in catchment because we genuinely can't find a house to buy. We have the intention and funds to buy within catchment, there just isn't anything coming onto the market and there hasn't been since the beginning of the summer holidays. Literally not a single 3-4 bedroom house within the admittedly very tiny catchment area of the school.

The school admissions brochure states if we own a house elsewhere, then any other address will be considered as temporary. But if we sell our other house (which is 45 mins away and next to some excellent state schools already), then we'll lose out on capital appreciation. In other words if we're out of the property game for 12 months or more we're likely to find we can't get back on at the same level in our new area. House prices went up 15% in our area last year and the same is predicted this year.

So am I being unreasonable in asking the admissions dept to allow our application? Am I likely to get a clear answer from them before putting in my application?

TheDoctrineOfWho Thu 14-Nov-13 09:23:14

I think it's more if a parent owns two houses, that would be OK.

Anyway, it isn't that useful to OP as the council will almost certainly use her old address then she'll be taking them to court on the meaning of temporary - meantime, she doesn't have a school place.

intitgrand Thu 14-Nov-13 09:18:12

Yes and I bet a lot of other people read it like that too.But that isn't what it actually says.
I suspect the word 'temporary' is included because they cannot lawfully say that they will not an accept an apllication from an adress where the parents own another house.

TheDoctrineOfWho Thu 14-Nov-13 09:12:24

Intit, I would read that as "we can't accept a rental address if you still possess..." Ie a rental or temporary address is find if you don't own another home.

What do you think is meant by temporary in that sentence, then?

intitgrand Thu 14-Nov-13 09:03:14

We can’t accept a temporary address if you still possess a property that was previously used as a home address

But read what that actually says! All it says we will not accept an application from a temporary address
It does not say a rental address where parents retain a previopus house will be treated as a temporary address!

TheDoctrineOfWho Wed 13-Nov-13 16:54:22

Me too, Creamy...

CreamyCooler Wed 13-Nov-13 13:23:45

I have read the whole thread but couldn't see if the OP mentioned what school years her DC are in, I'm just curious to know.

fufulina Wed 13-Nov-13 13:11:46

But it is fraudulent. If you're not willing to take the financial hit to sell now, why are you willing to take the financial hit to rent? You can house hunt from 45 minutes away; you don't have to be living in an area to house hunt there. Rightmove is a wonderful thing. You've moved precisely because you want a place at the school.

tiggytape Wed 13-Nov-13 12:56:15

In your scenario, the children have 2 homes but each parent has just 1 home.
It isn't the same as the OP's case where the parents jointly claim to have 2 homes simultaneously.

In the case of a split, the council would ask the parents to declare which house the children sleep at for most weekday nights. That is the address they would use. If the split is genuinely 50:50 (alternating weeks for example) the council would use the address that Child benefit is registered at as the tie breaker.

This is also all covered in Hackney's brochure (and all other council brochures). I only quoted a tiny exert earlier - the council brochures ocver pages of this stuff.

The council aren't trying to be unfair. They are trying to make sure that school places go to the children who genuinely live locally and whose parents aren't manoeuvring to gain an advantage. This isn’t a court of law where the council needs definite proof to act. They can make a judgement call based on the parents situation, extra enquiries and following its own rules. This is a good thing. There are a thousand scenarios you could come up with whereby someone is renting for a perfectly innocent reason and these people will be treated fairly. Only when there is no obvious reason to suddenly rent in catchment and keep the family home nearby will the council clamp down on the application. OP finds herself in this bracket.

And the fact is that whilst it was just a few people cheating once upon a time, school place shortages and the panic this causes has made cheating a much bigger problem in the last 2 years or so. Councils are being fair to those with genuine reasons but must act in the cases of suspicious applicants because it just isn't fair to do otherwise. There are 4 year olds being sent to school 3 miles away or more by bus because all their local schools are full. If those schools are genuinely full then that is annoying but bad luck. If however, it is caused by people edging them out by renting closer than them, that is just not on and is the reason councils want to be sure.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 13-Nov-13 12:50:27

sparechange it wasn't a few people abusing the system, when I was applying to a popular school 15 years ago, that my road had always been in catchment for, but found myself first on the waiting list having missed the last place by 1.5 metres, the catchment having shrunk to 400m, the Education Department provided me with the names and addresses of siblings who had got in on sibling priority after parents had maintained a local address for 6 months to get a first child a place. In a two form entry school there were 10 of them, and they were travelling up to 10 miles, a journey which would frequently take more than an hour, they were delivered by a people carrier taxi arranged by wealthy parents. Of course because they didn't at that time carry out checks they could not tell us how many parents were doing the same for their first children that year, but it was known that you could command high rentals for properties near the school. They wanted us to contact MPs Councillors etc so that they could implement more stringent regulations. The incident in Camden also involved a significant proportion of the year.

In our borough the pressure on places is now such that parents regularly don't get places at their 6 local schools and the Council can only offer them places at the two undersubscribed schools situated away from the main bus routes at the other end of the borough (and even then often not until other parents have turned down their initial offers there). In those circumstances the pressure on parents to play the system are huge.

Ironically the Councillor Tiggy mentioned has indeed rented temporarily near the school I applied for, and actually lives near the second unpopular school I mentioned. To say parents are hmm is an understatement.

Budgiegirlbob Wed 13-Nov-13 12:43:44

Sparechange, I don't think anyone is suggesting that your example is not justifiable. In fact, Tiggy did say

The booklets normally cover lots of common possibilities. Renting on its own (with no other house) is fine. Divorced parents and split custody is fine and there's an explanation to work out which address is the one that should be used even in a 50:50 split

But the fact remains that many, many parents do rent purely to obtain a place at a particular school, and IMO it is entirley appropriate that there are measures in place to stop this from happening. Unfortunately this does mean that a few genuine people such as the OP will fall fowl of this rule.

It might seem unfair for the OP, but how would you feel if your child narrowly missed out on a school place because cheaters were allowed to play the system? Would that be fair?

sparechange Wed 13-Nov-13 12:18:26

So Tiggy, explain how Hackney allocates places to children where a couple split up and the resident parents moves into rented accomodation on the other side of the borough with the children, while the NRP stays in the former marital home and either can't or won't sell it?

Are you actually suggesting it would be totally reasonable for a parent to have to make a 1.5 hour round trip to do the school run, just so the council can make sure a few parents don't try and cheat the system.

It is absurd that you can think this is a justifiable position because it might weed out a few people trying to abuse the system

tiggytape Wed 13-Nov-13 11:28:21

happy - the council booklets will be very deatils on the subject. It is designed to close loopholes - the ones that used to enable people to cheat. The council booklet won't just say renting is disallowed because that's nonsense.
The booklets normally cover lots of common possibilities. Renting on its own (with no other house) is fine. Divorced parents and split custody is fine and there's an explanation to work out which address is the one that should be used even in a 50:50 split. Owning other properties can be fine eg if it is student accomodation or 600 miles away.

An example here is just one council's explantion (and this is an extract not the whole thing) to make it clear to people where they stand. As I said, they definitely do enforce it whether you think they should or not. If parents don't agree with any decision, they are free to appeal or go to court but they cannot get around the rules to get a school initially. Tis is an extract from Hackney:

We can’t accept a temporary address if you still possess a property that was previously used as a home address; nor will we accept a temporary address if it is used solely or mainly to obtain a school place.

We will also ask the new school to check the child’s home address at the time of admission. If it is different from the address on the application form, we will check whether the previous address was a temporary address, used for the purposes described above.

We carry out random checks on a number of applications. We also investigate a sample of applications where there has been a change of address in the last 12 months, or where a parent moves after 17 April 2013, up to the end of the child’s first term in the reception class.

We will investigate all applications:
• where there are any doubts about the information provided;
• where information has been received from a member of the public to suggest a fraudulent application has been made;
• where the council tax account number is in a different name from the applicant’s.
Any applicant who provides false information will have their offer of a school place withdrawn.

tiggytape Wed 13-Nov-13 11:09:14

It is both enforceable and often enforced. Most people follow these rules because they understand school places are in short supply and the council has a duty to allocate them fairly.

And in return the council is reasonable so - if a family has circumstances (divorce etc) that accounts for a certain 'suspicious' address - then the council will listen to that. It is only people renting an extra house for no obvious reason that fall foul of the rules.

If a parent feels their case is special and they shouldn't be subject to those rules for some reason then they can appeal (or go to court). There is a similar case in the papers at the moment where a parent plans to do just that.

It is a lot of hassle though. The cost of a judicial review is not to be taken lightly. And, even if this parent wins, her child has already missed so much school, she has lost her position and the hearing hasn't even been scheduled yet. In the meantime, many other parents who had their places taken from them accepted it and did not go to court. Appeal panels sometimes hear such cases and don’t have much sympathy with people who basically say they wanted to circumvent the rules to get a place that suited them.

It is much better to know the admissions rules in advance and comply with them than to rely on suing the council at a later date. This is why people have told the OP that her council have made their position pretty clear - and it is very clear she breaches their rules.

She is welcome to legal challenges and all the rest about the legality of those rules but that would be at a later date. Some posters may advise her she will have a good chance of winning (I disagree - these rules are common and often enforced especially over the last 2 years) but what's the good of that? It isn't going to get her a school place for next September which is probably more her concern right now.

happymummythesedays Wed 13-Nov-13 10:58:27

tiggy that doesn't say rented - who are they to say a rented property is a temp address?

If you are in negative equity, financial difficulties, have lost your job or a million other reasons you may rent out yours and move to rented.

It's unenforceable and the whole point of the schools admissions criteria is there are no loopholes.

shewhowines Wed 13-Nov-13 10:43:42

tiggy

Our council was trying to enforce it. It was already part of their written criteria (clearly stated as in your example) and to cut a long story short, at various council meetings in which it was in their interest to enforce it, legal advice said it was unlawful. This was 3 or 4 years ago.

happymummythesedays Wed 13-Nov-13 10:35:32

I dont get how they can enforce this, what of a man whose Ex Wife is living in the FMH and is still on the mortgage but has resident children from that marriage (dh had one of his living with us for years while on exes mortgage - divorce took over 3 years to come through because of complications with finances).

What about a woman who cannot get her exh husband to take her from mortgage.

tiggytape Wed 13-Nov-13 09:26:26

It is enforced all the time - it is a common rule nowadays.

It is normally enforced at application stage i.e. the parents apply from the rented address and the council (having found out they still own a family home elsewhere) simply cross out the rented address and use the 'real' address for the allocations process. If the families want to challenge that they must appeal. Much more rarely, a place will be removed after April if the 'additional renting' is discovered at a later date. The council even have the right to remove places after the child has started the school.

Most councils now have an anti 'renting for places' clause and explain this very clearly in the admissions booklet.
It has become a big problem in recent years. Camden for example was late to adopt this clause and it caused huge problems. Until this year, they weren't explicit enough in saying it wasn't an acceptable practice and there was outrage when short term renters got school places. So after lots of upset, new wording was introduced inline with most other councils who, like the OP's, ban this:

Embarrassed by the the perception of what one parent calls “gross unfairness” in its admissions process and local bad feeling, Camden has rewritten its rule book. A draft of next year’s admissions code seen by the Standard includes the line: “We will not accept a temporary address if you still possess a property that was previously used as a home address, nor will we accept a temporary address used solely or mainly to obtain a school place.”

intitgrand Wed 13-Nov-13 09:19:59

'they will waive that rule where there is clear need for them to do so'

..and who decides what a 'clear need' is
parents divorced, parents separated, trial separation, mother fleeing from DV?
Parents transfered to another office, parents seconded to another office, shorter commute?
Parents renting out the previous house on a 6 month let, as a holiday let, having work done on the house in preparation for sale/let?
Too many grey areas for this rule to be objectively applied.

shewhowines Wed 13-Nov-13 09:14:19

Our local council tried to enforce this rule a few years ago and found they couldn't legally do it, so unless legally, things have changed...

tiggytape Wed 13-Nov-13 09:08:09

This council has a unambiguous rule that says a rented address cannot be used if the family still own the home they lived in before they moved. That's pretty clear to everyone.

As said before, they will waive that rule where there is clear need for them to do so (the family house is wrecked by flood or 6 hours drive away) but otherwise they won't. Why should they?
If the OP wants to take that to appeal she can but they will side with the council unless she has sold her home. If she wants to go to Judicial Review she can but it would cost her more than any capital appreciation lost by the early sale of the house.

The flip side of this is being fair to everyone. In most areas councils have really cracked down on renting whilst owning elsewhere because it was abused to the detriment of local people excluded from their local schools. If someone wants to move (properly) for a good school then that's their choice. They become a local person wanting a local school. If however they rent locally just to get in then this isn't fair on the dozens of children displaced and losing out on the school nearest their only home. OP may be falling foul of this clamp down but she knows the rules and has made a choice not to comply with them.

intitgrand Wed 13-Nov-13 08:56:56

We were in the catchment of a good comp, but waited til I knew DS has passed the 11+ to move nearer to the grammar school to be sure of a place.WE rented a house for 6 months but moved in their lock stock and barrel, leaving the old house empty but up for rental
The council checked the electoral roll, fuel bills and NHS card.
The rule is that councils have to have admission rules which are transparent and objective, and instances where they are having to weigh up probabilities and try to assess peoples motivations and intentions is not objective and would be unlikely to stand up at a tribunal or judicial review

Joysmum Wed 13-Nov-13 08:51:19

Lots have people have mentioned about having bills registered to your rental address, actually when we did some digging the most common thing checked by the council was which address you are registered with at the doctors.

TheDoctrineOfWho Wed 13-Nov-13 08:41:26

I don't think the OP is denying that's why she moved - lots of people do move for that reason and that's fine, the issue is whether the move is permanent. Right now, the appearance is that it's not.

tiggytape Wed 13-Nov-13 08:39:24

The council will think the only possible motive here is cheating for a school place.

I think the OP is genuine when she says they do plan to move to the new area properly. However their timing doesn't match with the school application deadline and that's a problem.

Reading between the lines, OP would prefer more time to sell her house to get a better price and more time for a nice house to come up for sale in the new area.

Unfortunately time is the one thing families don't have when it comes to school places. If she applies for the desirable school in the new area from her real house, she won't stand a hope of getting a place, which she must know.
But if she waits until her house commands a good price and they find a decent home in the new area, she will have missed the boat and probably be allocated a less desirable school once they actually move. The desirable school by that time will be full.

School admissions system doesn't allow you to hedge your bets.
If you want to move to a new area, you either have to do it well in advance of school applications. Or, if you want to wait for house prices to change, you have to accept that when you move you will probably get allocated a school you wouldn't have chosen since all the good ones will be full. You can't have your cake and eat it.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 13-Nov-13 08:37:41

Or, more to the point, to the LEA it may look as if she has pretended to move into catchment!

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