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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?

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Me too, Creamy...

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 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 09:18:12

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 09:23:14

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.

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