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Homeless - offered a dump of a house...am I being stupid?

(43 Posts)
spagblog Wed 08-Jun-05 07:12:53

I need some straight answers here.
We are being made homeless on Monday and with our current financial problems we cannot afford to re rent privately.
Yesterday we were offered a house. On the phone the lady explained that it was a bit further out that we wanted, but time being short it was the best they could do. She described it as a three bed ex privately owned house.
I got all excited and persuaded DH to track it down and do a sneaky drive past.

It was horrible.
The location was really bad. I couldn't have walked to DD's school. It would have taken about 20mins to drive if I had the use of our car, which I won't. It would have been a trek to the nearest bus stop too.
The house itself was a midterrace in a tiny close. It looked dark and claustrophobic, you had to climb steps to get to the front door. There was a dumped bath in the scrub of grass out the front - why?????
The whole area looked really creepy.

Now, this is my first experience with council accomodation and I will admit that I am a bit ladidah, but is this what I have to expect?

My DH is flatly refusing to accept the house.
I am getting panicky and am scared to decline the house. They will only offer you one alternative house and then kick you off the register.
What if they offer us something even worse?

Elf1981 Wed 08-Jun-05 07:21:03

Don't have personal experience myself, but lots of my friends are in council houses. Explain to the council that you really do need to be as close as possible to your DD school etc, see if they can at least come up trumps in that area. Hopefully they'll find a more decent house in a closer location.

Kelly1978 Wed 08-Jun-05 07:22:46

TBH I think you are very lucky to have been offered accomodation so quickly. I have been in a homeless situation and had to wait 6 mnths living in refuge before I got offered a flat. My flat needed a lot of work, but eventually I got there, and I was just glad to have a place. I wouldn't accept a place on a rough estate but other than that I don't think you can afford to be too fussy. What are your alternatives at the end of the day? The council could rehouse you in bed and breakfast if nothing else can be found.
If it is council owned, you could always look for a swap/transfer if it's not exactly what you want.

Magscat Wed 08-Jun-05 07:29:39

Hi There. I'm not sure about Councils & the Statutory Homeless rules but I know that at the HA I work for they note down whether a refusal is 'reasonable' or 'unreasonable'. I.e. we know perfectly well that some of our housing is in crap areas & if someone turns it down because they really couldn't live there then it goes down as a reasonable refusal and they get offered something else. I think the Council's '2 offers rule' means you get the classification 'Statutory Homeless' removed if you turn down 2 offers , which means you get less priority but doesn't mean that you never get offered anything again.

I would just be straight with the Council and state all the reasons why you really couldn't stand to live there (being lahdidah doesn't count ) but the others seem really genuine & valid) and ask them straight if there is anything else coming up that might suit you better. THey should have an idea of what will become available soon (i.e. where they have vacancies they are getting ready for letting).

What area are you in ? Is it worth approaching HAs separately ? (Lots work via the Council homeless list but plenty don't).

Good luck

Magscat Wed 08-Jun-05 07:31:55

Kelly has a point about transfers. SOme HAs (& poss Councils) give extra points to their own tenants who want a move - again ask the Council to tell you honestly if you would be likely ot get a move if you accept the house.

spagblog Wed 08-Jun-05 07:36:20

They said that if we moved in and didn't like it, we would have to wait a year before requesting to be moved. Does that sound right to you?

I know that I ought to be grateful, and beggars can't be choosers and all that...But it was so depressing.

Kelly1978 Wed 08-Jun-05 07:45:04

It might be a year before a transfer, but if you can find your own swap it may not apply. There are loads of websites around for ppl looking for exchanges and the councils usually keep books of ppl looking too. It might be worth looking into. You really need to speak to the council and find out what realistic choices you have.

Magscat Wed 08-Jun-05 07:45:08

It could be. It could be a particular rule for that area or that Council. No reason to think they'd mislead you so I guess it must be right.

Hopefully though they're not trying to make you take the crap house just to get it occupied. THey should be interested in long term lets - i.e. finding the right people for the right houses. I know they will want to fill their empty houses but filling them with people who want to move out straight away is really short-sighted cos the cost of doing up the property between lets is usually quite high and that sort of policy does nothing for the HA/Council's reputation.

Having said that, where I work there's quite a lot of competition for HA houses so my organisation tries to be the best it can at customer satisfaction. It's not the same in all areas.

Magscat Wed 08-Jun-05 08:10:05

Have to go to work now but will look to see if you've posted more tonight.

expatinscotland Wed 08-Jun-05 09:13:26

Detached house. No annoying neighbours blasting music every evening, stomping around, fighting or doing DIY at 11PM.

No rough estate with gangs of roving teens (and younger kids), assaulting people just minding their own business and setting fire to everything in sight. No shouting in the wee hours of the morning, drunken singing, dog crap everywhere and broken glass everywhere else.

In our council, you could spend months in a shelter waiting for a place to come free, and then it will likely be a damp-ridden flat in a tower in the most wretched places in town. There's next to no stock and property is too valuable to be given over to social housing.

Also, priority is given to lone mothers fleeing violent relationships rather than couples with financial problems. Swaps are pretty unheard of, b/c everyone with a decent place in a semi-decent area is going nowhere fast.

I think I'd go for a detached house any day. Think: no neighbours all around.

That's my idea of bliss.

spagblog Wed 08-Jun-05 09:18:54

Unfortunately our current house (that has been sold) is perfect.
It is detached, huge garden, walking distance to town and DD's school, polite elderly neighbours..etc etc.
I think that the hard part mentally, is knowing that we have to leave this for that.
I suppose I just feel sorry for myself and didn't realise how "out of touch" I am

Tissy Wed 08-Jun-05 09:24:59

can you not look at the inside of the house?

The dumped bath might mean that it has a brand new bathroom, and the workmen couldn't be bothered to take away the old bath...

A mid-terrace in a tiny close doesn't sound too bad either, unless the neighbours are intolerable for some reason. Doubt if you can specify a detached house in a "nice" area.

What are the alternatives- B+B for a while till another one comes up- do the council store all your belongings in the mean time?

expatinscotland Wed 08-Jun-05 09:28:57

It's nigh on impossible to get a house here, especially a social landlord house. Even the disabled they put in tower flights that are lift-accessible.

assumedname Wed 08-Jun-05 09:34:37

If it's too far to walk to school, then it's not for you, regardless of any other factors. Imagine doing the journey in winter.

Can you ask to see the alternative offer before totally declining this first house?

assumedname Wed 08-Jun-05 10:32:31

.

charliecat Wed 08-Jun-05 10:43:05

Your lucky to be offered a house as a few here say. They might offer you a grotty flat 10 floors up and 3 miles out next time and then you would have to take it.
The bath would surely be moved before you moved in, any grottyness in your garden could be sorted and a trip over there in the evening would possibliy tell you if theres any gangs hanging around.
Think carefully before you turn it down!

assumedname Wed 08-Jun-05 10:47:03

Ask the Council how long the property has been vacant. Maybe they're desperate to fill it and they're trying it on with you because you're desperate for housing.

Have you had a chance to look round inside yet?

dot1 Wed 08-Jun-05 10:48:59

spag - no advice or experience I'm afraid but just to say I really feel for you - I'd be devastated... The thought of leaving your current house must be awful, no matter where you were going to. So sorry you're in this situation and good luck with whatever happens - whether you take up this house or not.

aaliyahsmum Wed 08-Jun-05 10:53:52

i was homeless with a newborn and i was offered b+b with in turn was damp and horrid and ended up with dd being in hospital because of the damp. i was offered a house with was privatly rented to the HA but the landlord decided he wanted to sell and i was offered a womens refuge and had to store my belonging myself, but with a week to go they offered me a house it was a complete mess but it was a house and i was told i wouldnt get anything else with a lot of help i turned the house in to a home, it was an hour walk to my dd nursery and my college but it was a home. i would take the house because b+b are crap and very inpersonal

vickiyumyum Wed 08-Jun-05 10:53:59

it sounds like an awful situation to be in. i'm assuming that as you don't want move and are upset about the situation that you are having to move for finacial reasons! i feel for you, had been in a similar situation and luckily at the last minute a relative bailed us out, for which i will be eternally grateful.
i would speak to the council and go and visit the house before you turn it down, as charliecat and others have said the garden may be a tip, because the council are refitting the house after previous tennats etc.
i would say don't do anything rash, most things are going to feel like a disappointment after what you have been used to, but it could be a good move, the neighbours could be really nice and as its a small close there maybe a really nice community feel about the place.

Kelly1978 Wed 08-Jun-05 11:11:20

I hjsut thought of one other thing, here the council we give a decorating grant for their properties to be done up to a reasonable standard when new tennants move in. I got £200 to redo the kitchen in mine, so that might help too. Here, they assess what they think needs doing and allocate grants accordingly.

expatinscotland Wed 08-Jun-05 11:23:32

TBH if your council is anything like ours I'd be afraid of being offered something far worse.

handlemecarefully Wed 08-Jun-05 13:48:22

I really feel for you spagblog, but I think you would be wise to take it given that you've no home from Monday.

Is there a bus route to the school

misdee Wed 08-Jun-05 13:54:03

can you chnage the school?

or are they really bad in that area.

if your gonna be homeless on monday then take the house. a house is only bricks and mortor, a home is what you make of it. it has agrden for your kids to play in, a kitchen to cook in, a longue, hot anmd cold running water, a bathroom (probably new if dumped bath is outside).

dont turn it down before you go inside.

expatinscotland Wed 08-Jun-05 13:58:03

Good points, misdee! B&Bs and shelters can't offer you all those things for your own personal use.

I'd be thrilled to have a garden at all, but no such luck.

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