Moving into rented accommodation in the catchment area-when can I safely move back?

(283 Posts)
enlondon Wed 10-Apr-13 01:00:03

I am thinking of renting a property in the catchment area of a secondary school. Once I have done this and my child is given a place (presuming everything has gone to plan and the catchment area has not all off the sudden become even smaller etc), how much longer do I need to live there before I can move safely back to our house outside the catchment area? As soon as I have filled in the application? As soon as my child is offered the place? As soon as my child has actually started in September? I actually called the LEA to ask this question and they were not sure. I asked a different LEA the same question about another school and they said that I could move out of the catchment area as soon as the application form was received! They seemed puzzled by my question though, understandably, and not sure if I trust their answer.

whokilleddannylatimer Wed 10-Apr-13 10:05:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notcitrus Wed 10-Apr-13 10:09:05

Just to point out that for some people this can be a genuine worry. My SIL lives with just her ds. About 6 months before she had to apply for schools, her landlord put up the rent to affordable levels so she had to look for a new place to rent.
Obviously school places were going to be a huge factor in her decision. Thing was, all local schools would withdraw the place if you were further away in the Sept when the children started school. And while some landlords would agree to a year contract, none wanted sign up for 18 months to an unknown tenant, especially an unemployed single mother with small child!

Eventually we found one who agreed to an 18 month initial term though with break clauses, as at least that signalled her intent to stay. Required DH being a guarantor and 2 months rent in advance though.

Given the crapness of the landlord in doing repairs etc she would have preferred to move again but wouldn't risk her son having to move school.

The school has removed places before. Dn is one of 3 non-siblings in his year of 60.

Tw1nmummy Wed 10-Apr-13 12:26:52

I moved to get my kids into a good school - I went through all the hassle, expense and abuse...and I would do it all again. The way I see it - I wanted the place more than someone else did and if the government can't provide adequate good schools then its up to me to find have to do what's right for your kids - there are no second chances.

OhDearConfused Wed 10-Apr-13 12:57:03

Actually you might not have wanted it more than someone else, you might just have had more money.

prh47bridge Wed 10-Apr-13 13:13:56

If you rent near a popular school and still own another house the LA is likely to regard this as suspicious and may treat your application as if it was from your permanent address. If you return to your permanent address after getting a place at your preferred school (or, indeed, if anything else happens that makes the LA think you gave misleading information on the application form) the LA is entitled to withdraw the offer even if your child has already started at the school.

You may get away with it but the risks if it goes wrong are high. You could find that your child ends up at a much worse school than would have been offered if you had been honest about your address.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 13:58:01

You do realise this isn't allowed don't you? And you've just tipped off the LAs about your plans too! I suspect they'll have a big flag on any application you submit.

You can rent near a good school - of course you can. Lots of people live in rented accommodation. That's fine.

But if you keep hold of your 'real' home at the same time as renting another one just for schools then the rented house isn't your permanent address and cannot be used for admission purposes.
There are rare exceptions to this of course and the LA will check to see if they apply eg your real house is gutted by fire so you are in a rented home for ages whilst it is rebuilt or your real home is 300 miles away and you are selling it and anyway wouldn't be able to commute from it to the allocated school you want.

As prh says, LAs have council tax histories. If they suspect fraud they can also get lots of other evidence about your addresses too from lots of other sources.
If they find out about your 'real' home, they will ignore the rented address you use on the form and allocate you a place near your real home
If they don't find out about it at first but another parent grasses you up after allocation day (don't underestimate the anger this causes), they can take the place away at any time. Even after your child has started at the school.

Lots of peopel ask 'but how can the LA prove I only rented for schools?' The answer is they don't have to. They will investigate anything suspicious but can decide against you just on circumstantial evidence. It then becoems your problem to prove to an appeal panel that you weren't committing fraud (which if you have, you're not going to be able to prove). Apparently most people in these cases go to appeal and try to justify why they lied and why they're a special case but obviously don't get very far!

Badvoc Wed 10-Apr-13 14:01:35

Well, what are suggesting is illegal and the LA will find out eventually (someone will report you)
And then you will have to explain your actions to your dc.
Great parenting there!

SavoyCabbage Wed 10-Apr-13 14:03:08

Did you give them your name?

To the poster who said they will not remove the child from the school. They can and will.

3 children in DS1 year 7 class started school and then had their places withdrawn and had to leave.
2 children in DDs year 7 class had their places withdrawn.

This was due to fraudulent claims ie renting a house in catchment and not actually planning on living there.
Our LA is very strict on this as it happens a lot

They no longer just accept that people live where they say. They investigate any application where the family has moved to the catchment area within 6 months of the application deadline.

If the OPs user name reflects where she lives, it may be the same LA.

prh47bridge Wed 10-Apr-13 14:59:43

CountingClouds - You say, "Despite all the scare stories no one is going to pull your child out of a school".

You are wrong. As other posters have pointed out it happens all the time.

Of course some people manage to cheat the system successfully but many do not. In a typical year LAs in England detect around 1400 fraudulent applications.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 15:07:29

It is true - some people get their Year 7 places taken away from them in every year group. Do not underestimate how angry it makes other parents if a child turns up in September (or to the July induction days) that they know cheated to get a place. People do report it and LAs are a lot wiser to it than they once were.

In most cases though there is no dramatic stripping of a school place. The LA scrutinises applications and realises long before offers are made that some people are using false or temporary addresses. In those cases, the LA simply ignores the address written on the form and uses the genuine one. So when parents get their offer, it represents the school near their 'real' home not the one they want near their rented address. And of course the parents wouldn't have a leg to stand on at appeal if they complained.

FairyJen Wed 10-Apr-13 15:09:00

When we moved from the midlands to London we had to provide our old tenancy and council tax info an the new stuff to prove that it was a genuine relocation not to get into a good school. Dd had to wait another 3 weeks after term restarted before she was allowed to join the school.

During this time I was constantly ringing school an council for updates and we were being checked by the la to assess our application.

If you are in London tread very very carefully.

expatinscotland Wed 10-Apr-13 15:11:32

Why not sell your home and buy another one in the catchment area?

enlondon Wed 10-Apr-13 15:16:04

I did not give them my name, of course not. I may be deprived of any moral compass but I am not stupid! Quite pleased to know that some of you at least think this is not that much different from all the other tricks; religion/private school etc.
Tiggy tape; 'but how can the LA prove I only rented for schools?' So what if I rented for that purpose? As long as I live there what does it matter what my motivation was? People who live in owned property in the area for years and years might have chosen to live there for the school. I am not saying this is not different. Morally it is different but legally it isn't. Or is it? I am not planning to only pay the rent, I am actually going to live there.
I have looked at some other boroughs's school websites. Some state that you have to give evidence that you are no longer attached to the previous property etc. This particular school does not say anything about that.
Having said that, I will most likely not go through with it all. Not for any ethical concerns by the way. Purely because of the risk that she might be chucked out of school after having started!

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 15:21:15

expat - that is entirely allowed.
Anyone who rents or owns a house is perfectly entitled to move as often as they want.
And they are perfectly entitled to move for the sole purpose of getting into a good school.
What you cannot do however is leave your family home (either rented or purchased - it makes no odds) and then live in a rented house close to a good school for a bit before moving back to your original home again. That's why the council checks if you have 'disposed' of your old property i.e. sold it or ended the tenancy on it.

Moving isn't a problem. Renting isn't a problem. It is just renting in catchment whilst still hanging on to your original property elsewhere that's not allowed for very obvious reasons that it is out and out cheating.

No wonder the 2 LAs OP rang up sounded surprised and a bit uncertain. I bet they don't get many people ringing them for advice on how to cheat for a school place!

umbrellahead Wed 10-Apr-13 15:26:57

If you're able to live in the area for up to two years, why don't you just permanently move to the area with the school you want your children to attend?

Booyhoo Wed 10-Apr-13 15:27:17

You sound nice hmm

Wecheated Wed 10-Apr-13 15:58:39

Ok, En we did exactly what you're thinking of and we know several other families that have done the same.

To answer your question - we stayed in our rented property for about a year and a half (from before application to after starting school). Ds had been attending the school for more than half a term before we moved back (as our own tenants had moved out and our landlord wanted to sell up). I don't know how much difference it would have made but I wanted ds to be actually settled at the school before moving back.

We also tried (anonymously) to find out how long we needed to be living there and were told it was only the address on the actual date of school offer that mattered in our area (not London).

I don't disagree with those outraged at how we maniplulated the system but I am clear on some issues:
1. We didn't lie. We only ever told the absolute truth about where we lived and dates etc. (unlike the many many families in our area who lied about their religious beliefs, their main place of residence, or their child's primary carer.)
2. We followed the rules which the system allowed us to do. In our area there were no rules about renting, reasons for moving or dates.
3. Our dcs didn't carry the guilt from our choice. I always made it clear to the dcs that we, their parents, made the choice to rent not them, so they had no moral responsibility for those who didn't get in to the school. We did.

I'm not defending or regretting our decision. I'm just answering the OP's question.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 16:07:42

If it was a while ago and / or not in London, the chances of being able to do it successfully get away with it are very different. There are parts of the country where over 90% of people get their first choice school and such issues aren't even considered whereas London is ridiculously competitive for schools and councils are more switched on. They have to be else it would be carnage - on average about a third of London children don't get the school they want so if you allowed people to rent to overcome this it would be absolute chaos.

I am not denying, even in London people do get away with it but less so. Things like council tax history checks for example show up other recent properties and raise questions on those. The councils don't just take at face value the address you live at when you apply or the one you write on the form, anything suspicious they check.

whokilleddannylatimer Wed 10-Apr-13 16:26:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bakingnovice Wed 10-Apr-13 16:31:07

Where I live this is very common and places are never revoked on the basis that families had effectively falsified their main residence. I've known families who signed tenancy agreements in catchment areas and never even moved. What it means is that my ds is very unlikely to go to
Our local school. Ironically, no one wanted to come here a few years as it was failing. A new head and injection of cash has transformed the school.

It's really really sad as like you all I want the best for my kIds. However, what it has made me do is appreciate that today's failing schools could well be tomorrows sought after ones.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 16:36:11

Deserved doesn't come into it. You cannot possibly expect schools and councils to scrutinise each family and judge their worthiness for each school. Just as no parent can say they want or deserve a place more - they don't know who else is applying and who misses out.

The way it works is strict rules are laid down about the address you must use, the definition of a sibling, the definition of a medical need etc.
And then criteria are drawn up that are applied to every child equally. So if baptism at birth is the number 1 criteria, all baptised at birth get in first.
If church attendance is the criteria, all who go to church get in first.
If distance is the criteria, all who live 400m away get in before those who live 500m away.
Whatever criteria is used, many or most children will be rejected.

If you get into the area of 'deserved' it is impossible. You could equally say:

Child 1 lives 358m from an outstanding school and has millionaire parents who could easily afford to send him to private school

Child 2 lives 457m from an outstanding school and has very poor parents who can't even afford the bus fare to get to their next nearest school.

Child 1 got a place and child 2 didn't. Who deserves the place?

OneMoreMum Wed 10-Apr-13 16:46:27

Well in that case child 2 would be eligible for free transport to the next nearest school...

It's very difficult as all our kids deserve a decent school

OneMoreMum Wed 10-Apr-13 16:49:39

Posted too soon- meant to say all kids deserve a decent school wherever they live, just because you don't live in the right area (often good schools are in well-to-do areas) why is your child less entitled to a decent education?
That said I would try my best to work the system eg actually move if necessary, but wouldn't risk breaking the rules completely.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 16:57:44

No free transport if the school is less than 2 miles away (it is often sod's law that people get allocated one 1.89 miles away - too far to walk with a 4 year old but not far enough for free travel).

I agree with you though about each child should have a decent school option or options. Not everyone can move even if they want to (work reasons or in social housing) and as the numbers applying go up and up, so the competition for places gets worse. More schools and more school expansions are desperately needed in many areas but it all happens far too slowly.

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