Is this school place fraud?

(57 Posts)
Elizabeth22 Thu 10-Apr-14 13:50:48

I live in a town with a very popular over subscribed school. Previous years some of the children from the town didn't get in and had to commute out to other towns.

One mum let it known that she had just moved to the town to a rented house in Dec 2013 that is very close to the school in question. She made her application using that address. All well and good but she is in the process of buying a house that is taking forever in her words. The house is in the next town along (which is out of catchment and has its own school). She was very pleased that school hasn't come back and asked any questions.

Will she get away with it? Or will the school pick up on the change in address and investigate?

Presumably even if the house sale goes through, she could continue renting until dec and that be acceptable?

Pootles2010 Thu 10-Apr-14 13:52:57

Depends on the school. They all have their own policies.

We moved in December and haven't had any questions asked yet.

MrsKCastle Thu 10-Apr-14 13:56:33

Sounds like it is not fraud. If the rented place was her only home at the time of application, then it's ok. After all, when she applied she didn't know for certain where she would be buying.

It would, however, be fraud if she wasn't actually living at the rental property with the child, or if she had another property which she intended to move back to as soon as the place was confirmed.

meditrina Thu 10-Apr-14 13:57:20

If she hasn't actually bought another house, and has no other address, then the rental address where they were actually living at the deadline is the correct address for her to use.

headoverheels Thu 10-Apr-14 13:58:56

My DC's school is over subscribed for reception in Sept. I know of a family that is temporarily renting near the school and planning to move back to their normal home this summer. The general consensus is they will get away with it. Will be v annoying if so.

MrsKCastle Thu 10-Apr-14 14:01:14

Headoverheels that is definitely fraud, and the place can be removed if the LA find out. It can even be removed once the child has started school.

Some LAs are more likely to pick up on such things than others.

Pootles2010 Thu 10-Apr-14 14:05:09

No i don't think it is Mrs, because they aren't lying - they are actually living there. Annoying though!

Elizabeth22 Thu 10-Apr-14 14:16:35

Mrs - I think they can pick up on change of address from one property and then back to the same property from council tax records and that is considered fraud.

The lady definitely said the house sale is underway but not sure what stage they are at. If they complete/move house before Sept will that matter?

headoverheels Thu 10-Apr-14 14:19:47

Mrs, apparently they are renovating their main property so did have a genuine excuse to move out for a couple of months. But they made sure the timing was right for school applications. Is that still fraud?

meditrina Thu 10-Apr-14 14:26:51

headoverheels: yes,it would be. There are rules about how to decide which address to use when a family has more than one, and when it is a temporary move during renovations, the rented property should not count.

prh47bridge Thu 10-Apr-14 14:28:04

If they have rented close to the school in order to get a place while they still owned their former family home it is almost certainly a fraudulent application nowithstanding the fact they were living there at the time of application.

As they own a property many LAs will use that address and ignore the rented address. It is quite possible the mother will be in for a shock when the offers come out. Even if she does get a place at the preferred school the LA can still take the place away later, even after the child has started at the school, if they decide that the application was fraudulent.

Elizabeth22 Thu 10-Apr-14 14:35:13

Is it only at time of application that it matters that they own a house? Does address at time of allocation count? School start date?
I thought there was something about being there a year as well. But not sure now.

tiggytape Thu 10-Apr-14 14:57:32

There is no time limit on how long you have to live somewhere.
There is nothing against people renting.
BUT if someone rents AND also owns another home then this could be fraud:

If she sold her original house (or never owned a house), chose to rent near a good school and intends one day to move away that is not fraud. She is entitled to house hop as much as she wants and it is the address at the time of application that counts.

However, if she owns a house elsewhere but rented an extra house (and lived in it) to get a good school it is fraud.

As prh says, she might not even know until allocation day that the council know about this. The council have the absolute right to make a judgement call about which address is the real one. She may find they simpy allocate ther a school near her real address.
If the parents disagree with this then they are welcome to go to an appeal but they won't win if they are renting an extra home to get into a good school. The council don't have to prove the address was false, they are entitled to assume this where a person rents and owns in the same area.

doodledotmum Thu 10-Apr-14 15:43:55

The op is not fraud as the address was correct at time of application and allocation - she could be there for weeks and months yet. HoH example is definately fraud. They have a house they are doing up which is their permanent home. It is not near enough to desired school. They rented near the school they wanted to get the correct 'postcode' and have no intention of staying there.report

admission Thu 10-Apr-14 15:55:03

As others have said this is all about what is owned and rented and when. Assuming that they applied in December using the rented address then they will have been an on-time application. I also assume that there is no question that they were living in the rented house when the application was made, on the last day of an application being "on time" and will still be there on the 16th April. Under those conditions they have played by the rules and there is nothing wrong with the application according to the school admission regulations unless the admission authority / LA concerned has added something else into their own admission procedures.

If however whilst they were renting the house near the school they owned another property then they will almost for sure have made a false application and are highly likely to be rumbled by the LA through their checking procedures around rates etc. Even if they have the house up for sale etc, it is still a false application. The council will decide which address to use and allocate a place accordingly.

As far as the new house being purchased is concerned as long as they have not completed on the house purchase before the 16th April, they do not own the house and therefore have not made a fraudulent application. They have again complied with the admission code regulations.

The rules are also clear that after the cut-off time for on time applications (Jan 16th) the LA will take the address they were living at then as the address for allocation of the school place. People can change address after that or another close by date but if they ask the LA to change the address on the application from or change school preferences it then becomes a late application and they will go to the bottom of the pile as far as school places are concerned.

I do not see that this person has broken the rules providing that they did not own another house at the point where they made the application.

keepcalm111 Thu 10-Apr-14 19:01:19

How can it be fraud? How could they have applied from a house they neither own nor rent?

Mandy21 Thu 10-Apr-14 19:07:26

I

Mandy21 Thu 10-Apr-14 19:12:07

In my area for my school, if you want the LEA to consider a rental property as your permanent address, you need to provide a copy of the tenancy agreement (which must be for a minimum of 12 months) and you also have to provide evidence of disposal of the previous (out of catchment) property. I imagine, depending on the admissions policy of the school, they can withdraw the place if she has been dishonest. However, if she has met the admission criteria then there is not a lot they can do.

keepcalm111 Thu 10-Apr-14 20:25:42

mandy I can't believe that is true.If you have a 6 m let on a property and no other home then what address are you meant to apply from?

Mandy21 Thu 10-Apr-14 23:50:46

It is true, thats exactly what we had to do for our DD when we applied last year (she started in reception in Sept). I think the schools are so over-subscribed and there has been a certain amount of 'rule bending' to get out of catchment children into catchment just for the application + allocation period, then going back out of catchment.

admission Fri 11-Apr-14 10:53:03

Unfortunately LAs and schools do live in their own little world at times and they think that they can impose their own theoretical ideas on the reality of the situation.
If there is a 6 month tenancy agreement then that is what is in place and it will be renewed or otherwise every 6 months. The LA trying to insist on it being for a minimum of 12 months is both unrealistic and stupid in such a situation.
Whilst the LA can insist on the 12 month agreement I would doubt that any admission appeal panel would accept that it is acceptable to remove a school place simply because the tenancy agreement does not accord with what the LA may like. They will certainly look for some evidence that there is an intention to stay in the property if possible - already been there more than 6 months or letter confirming the wish to extend the tenancy - but these are things that the LA could do as well.

LondonSuperTrooper Fri 11-Apr-14 11:01:53

I own two properties which I rent out (one is too small and the other is too big). My DC & I live in rented accommodation less than 2-3 miles away from my two properties. I need to apply for a school place & I sincerely hope that my application will not be regarded as fraudulent!

I think people jump the gun too soon. You cannot possibly know what is going on in someone home!

tiggytape Fri 11-Apr-14 11:26:36

LondonSuperTrooper - I assume the properties you rent out have never been your family home or haven't been your family home recently? If so that's not a problem. Lots of people own investment properties or rent out a flat they had years ago that won't sell etc

The rules are designed to stop people moving out of their family home for a year, renting a house nextdoor to a good school, getting a place and then moving back to their family home again. You can see why that has to be stopped when it comes to allocating school places.

The council are allowed to make a judgement call about which address is the real one. In your case, it will be obvious neither of the properties you rent out is your home. The council tax history on all 3 properties will show where you live and have lived all along.

The good thing about the council having the last word on the issue is that common sense can prevail. If there were black and white rules about how long parents need to live somewhere etc, it only helps the cheaters break the rules and exploit the loopholes. Giving councils the power to make common sense decisions means people like you won't be penalised but someone else renting and owning just to get a school place can be stopped.

audrey01 Fri 11-Apr-14 19:31:09

Apologies for butting in, but I couldn't help thinking about this particular case as school fraud:
- a family have their permanent family home outside of the catchment of a very oversubscribed school in my area (they have 5 children, 4 of which have attended this school based on sibling priority, but with the fifth one they no longer have sibling priority as too much age gap between the last two)
- they also buy a large flat in the school catchment area in September prior to January deadline which they then start renovating/extending prior to their possible moving in.
- they make school application from this address for the 5th child, 15 Jan (admission deadline), flat is almost done but nobody lives there. They finally move in beginning of Feb.
- 5th child successfully gains a place at the oversubscribed school when the results come out in April.
- starts Reception year in Sep as normal.
- whole family moves back to their original family home a month or so later (mid-Oct). Family home was not rented out during this period but rather used by the family over the summer holidays.

I personally consider this to be school fraud as they clearly applied from an address they didn't live in at the time of application (despite owning it and moving in later) and then the fact that they moved back to their permanent home speaks volumes of their intention all the way. My DH doesn't think it is a good idea to report them as it is none of our business even though their flat now is rented by some of their friends who also want to do the same thing come next year.

prh47bridge Fri 11-Apr-14 20:00:56

I agree that is against the rules. I think you should report them.

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