Admissions - which address will count

(5 Posts)
Helenagrace Mon 19-Aug-13 23:33:04

I have to apply for a middle school for DS next term. We're renting at the moment, having relocated last year with an unsold house 300 miles away.

The house we're renting is in a very sought after catchment but it isn't very nice as houses go. We're locked in to a rental contract until December and we'll extend for a few months and look to buy or move to a nicer rental.

This will mean that we will be in catchment for the application and possibly the notification of a school place but we will probably move between then and DS starting at the school.

I don't know where we will end up - it could be in or out of catchment.

If it's out of catchment will I have to give up DS's place? Basically is it the address at the point of application, decision or start date that counts?

prh47bridge Mon 19-Aug-13 23:56:32

The LA cannot take away a place that has been offered simply because you've moved. They can, however, take it away if they think you rented temporarily to get a place at your preferred school with no intention of staying there permanently. That is the risk you take, especially since you say this is a very sought after school. It would be safest to either move before the deadline for applications or stay in the rented house at least until January 2015.

tiggytape Tue 20-Aug-13 10:26:26

The house 300 miles away is fine - some councils are suspicious of people renting if they have another house but in your case the vast distance proves no ulterior motive. If you were renting a house 2 miles away from your original house, the council could suspect that you were only renting to improve catchment area which isn’t allowed but this doesn’t apply to you.

However, as prh says, it is the dates that might cause an issue for you. If you literally rent a house just for the duration of the application process, hand in your completed form and promptly move somewhere cheaper / out of catchment, the council may decide that you only rented that house to access a certain school. If the school is hugely popular, there are more likely to be checks on anybody renting short term in the catchment area to determine whether they only rented for a school place – and it is the council who gets to decide this. It is a subjective decision but the council looks at things like black listed addresses (ones which people rent every October and move out of after March just to get into the school become blacklisted as this is not allowed) and at the length of your tenancy agreement to see whether, in their opinion, you only lived there short term to gain an advantage with schools.

Of course, their opinion may be unfair and wrong but they’re the ones who get to decide. If they decide against you they will either refuse to accept the rented address as the genuine one on your form or withdraw the offer after March. You can appeal that decision and seek to prove it was a genuine address and a genuine house move but of course that is a huge stress and then it is down to an appeal panel to decide.
As prh says, if you are renting next to a hugely popular school knowing you will be moving straight after applying, your best bet is to ensure the council know you are 100% genuine by not moving out of catchment any time soon or by making your permanent move now and then applying using your new permanent address. It is very tricky for people who are genuine but you can probably also see why the council has to be wary of short term rents next to desirable schools.

Helenagrace Wed 21-Aug-13 09:01:55

Thank you for your posts.

There's no way we can make a permanent move now as we now have tenants in the house we own so the earliest we can sell it is August 2014. We can't move before December as we're locked into our own rental contract until then.

There's a shortage of school places in the town so I am worried that we might end up with no place at all.

Do you think it's worth talking to the LA about our position?

prh47bridge Wed 21-Aug-13 09:22:10

You will get a place somewhere. There is no question of missing out completely. The only question is whether the LA will offer the place based on your current address or some other address.

I don't think it would do any harm to talk to the LA and make them aware of your position. Do it in writing and keep any response they send. If they say one thing now but do something different later you may need their responses as evidence for an appeal.

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