With the housing market the way it is, we are not terribly optimistic about being able to find a place to.buy in our target catchment. We could rent and move anyway but we cannot afford to do this indeginitely. What happens if we can't sell our place? In theory the dc could travel but would we have to give up their places? We cant afford to just sell off our place at a low price as the new area is of course more pricey! Any advice?
If you rent but still retain ownership of your current house the LA may well decide that you are renting simply to get a place, in which case they are entitled to use the address of your current house and treat you as out of catchment. If that happens you are unlikely to be offered a place at your preferred school.
If you do get an offer using a rented address you may still have problems. In theory once you have a place it is yours and cannot be removed even if you move away from the area. However, in this situation the LA may decide that your application was deliberately misleading, in which case they are entitled to remove the place even after your child has started at this school.
Some people do get away with this kind of thing but there are no guarantees. You may find yourself worse off than if you had applied using your current address.
Just because you are in the catchment area, doesn't mean you are guaranteed of getting a place, so before any move I'd be sure you want to live in that area. A friend's son who lives in the first catchment area didn't get a place initially. He was placed 7th on the waiting list, but luckily got his place on appeal.
There is nothing illegal about renting a house/flat inside the catchment area a year before the admissions process just to get into the school. As long as you are actually living in it as your main house on the day you fill in the forms. That means moving in getting the utilities and council tax in your name, registering with your GP and putting your 'old' house on the market or renting it out etc After you first child has a place in the school there is nothing wrong with you changing your mind, when your lease runs out, taking your old house off the market and moving back into it. Completely legally and nothing the council can do about it because the rented house was your main residence when you filled in the forms and you will have the paperwork to prove it.
chloe in theory you are correct. In practice those LAs with a big problem around rented accommodation being used as you suggest, have been bitten to many times. They can and do make the rules and they are now tending to take action as PRH describes and assume that the parents involved will not shout too loudly as they know that it is unlikely to go to court. Those that do shout loudly are reconsidered on a one to one basis and this does mean that the LA has to eat humble pie occasionally. You may say that is bullying etc and to some extent I would agree but the LA view is that too many parents are taking liberties and they need to crack down on this to protect the majority of parents who don't bend the rules to extremes.