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Renting close to primary school - is this legally (and morally) ok?

(25 Posts)
Mamakata Tue 23-Jun-15 20:47:22

Hoping for some advice...

We moved house about 18 months ago. While we didn't love the house, and knew we would need to do a lot of work to it to make it work for us, it is in a nice area and most importantly near to a good primary school (have 2 dc, 2.5 and 4 months).

So roll on 18 months, and we are not happy with the house. We will have to do way more work to it than originally thought, and as it's not our ideal house, are loathe to spend the cash and have all the disruption to end up with something that is just ok and not our ideal house. We think in hindsight it was probably the wrong house to buy. We really want an older house with character, and to be closer to town ( we are in suburbia with no walkable shop/bar/cafe etc). It is also close to the airport which annoys us more than expected, and the commute is also worse than we thought.

Sorry for the long intro but it's relevant....

We have decided we are going to move, and have identified another area that works for us, and also has a fantastic (and oversubscribed) primary school. Obviously with dc1 being 3 in November, we need to get going as to give ourselves a chance of getting into our preferred school, we need to be living there in plenty of time before application deadlines, and would like dc1 to ideally attend a local preschool before starting school. We will need to live within 0.5miles of the school to be confident of getting a place.

But we really don't want to make another mistake on the house, and the sort of house we want won't come up that often. So while our ideal option is to sell our house and buy our next house in the next 18 months, if in that time a house doesn't come up that we want, I would rather rent a house in our preferred area, rather than compromise on the style of house again. Obviously if we rent a house near the school and our dc1 gets in, we would have more scope to buy slightly further away, which would obviously increase our choice of houses.

Now I am not trying to cheat the system here. While I think the system is broken, the rules are the rules. I want to live near the school so we can walk to it, want to be part of the local community, and be close to the train station for work (which is half a mile from the school). I also really really don't want to move twice, I want to buy our family house and settle.

But obviously if we can't find a house quickly, and we rented and the got the place, we could live a few hundred metres further away and potentially get the right house.

So if we have to do this - is there any risk this would be seen as fraudulent or cheating? Would we potentially lose our place? Or is it just wrong? Feel a bit stuck and stressed as I just want to be in our family house in the right area but feel we haven't got much time, which is so frustrating when I wanted to be sorted 18 months ago.

What do people think?

Earthbound Tue 23-Jun-15 20:54:50

How far away are you moving? Because if it is fairly close to where you live already AND you don't sell your current home, then the LA will conclude that you are renting solely to get a place at a place at a good primary. This is not allowed and they will use the home you own for admissions purposes.

If the distance between the house you own and the one you rent is so large that you couldn't possibly be doing it just to get in a good school (eg you own in Aberdeen and rent in Bedford) that would be fine.

It would also be fine admissions wise to sell your family home and then rent close to your chosen school.

TeenAndTween Tue 23-Jun-15 20:54:53

As far as I understand it:

If you don't sell your current house and rent 3 miles away, that would be cheating and generally wouldn't be accepted.

If you sell, then rent, then move after required deadline (offers or school start) that would work but due to people doing this many places now put siblings out of catchment behind others in catchment so you may find the younger ones don't get in.

keepitsimple0 Tue 23-Jun-15 20:55:09

it's possible you aren't breaking the rules. Morally, you will be renting a place short term specifically for the purposes of getting your child into the school.

Mamakata Tue 23-Jun-15 20:57:29

The new location is 10 miles from current, completely different town. And an impossible commute to the school and then work,it's in the opposite direction. We would definitely sell our current house before renting a new place, can't afford our mortgage and rental.

Mamakata Tue 23-Jun-15 20:58:23

And we should be able to sell our current home fairly easily, it's a very popular location (partly due to the good local schools).

Edna1969 Tue 23-Jun-15 20:59:35

I'm not sure I think its wrong. You want to move to and be part of the community. You are selling your house first and renting until you find something you want to buy. From what you've said buying in the area in which you are planning to rent. All sounds reasonable to me. People do it all the time.

Earthbound Tue 23-Jun-15 21:00:53

The rules were tightened up after parents in one London borough (Camden?) pulling this scam to get DCs into a desirable school. Parents owned a large home in the borough but out of catchment. They moved out of the home they owned and into rented accommodation on the doorstep of the school. Once DCs had been offered a place, they moved back to the family home.

This is now explicitly not allowed. And if the LA suspect you are doing so they will investigate and may either a) use the home you own as your address for admissions purposes or b) withdraw the offer of a place if they think you have acted dishonestly.

Earthbound Tue 23-Jun-15 21:02:27

Sorry cross posted. If you're selling your house before renting near a good school then you're fine admissions wise.

pollyisnotputtingthekettleon Tue 23-Jun-15 21:47:07

Think you`re over thinking. Do the best for your family. Its a shame people have to think they have done something wrong, to follow rules that wouldnt be in place if there were enough good schools.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Tue 23-Jun-15 21:55:53

earthbound those parents moved about about 10 houses away rather than 10miles, they kept the school place, and the subsequent sibling place...Many people have done it before and got away with it and I'm almost certain many more are still. The for sale and for rent signs are interesting.

lougle Tue 23-Jun-15 21:59:30

10 miles is plenty.

Earthbound Tue 23-Jun-15 22:01:35

Yes I know it's not relevant to the OP Green. I did say in my next post that I had cross posted with the OP saying the distance was 10 miles.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Tue 23-Jun-15 22:04:04

Yes Earth. I'm bitter. Sorry.

Morality is subjective OP. make sure what you do is legal and within the admission rules.

admission Tue 23-Jun-15 22:27:50

If you sell your house and then rent then it is not a problem for school admissions as long as you meet the dates necessary. Not sure from your post whether you will need elder child to start in September 2016 or 2017 in school. However assuming 2017, then the last date for an on-time application would be January 16th 2017.By that time I think you need to have sold your house and be living in rented accommodation for at least 3 months, so that would be October 2016. Your rental agreement needs to be longer term, so think in terms of 12 months minimum rental agreement and it must extend past the time of starting school in September 2017. That should satisfy most LAs but please do check very carefully as some LAs have bought in rules around the rental agreement being extended well beyond when the child starts school.

Obviously if you move into a bought house anytime between January 2017 and September 2017 then you will be classed as a late application, so that would be inadvisable as you would go to the end of the applications list. Also buying on 1st September 2017 and moving further away from the school will potentially raise questions and certainly some moans from other parents. If at all possible I would look to move after December 2017.

dixiechick1975 Tue 23-Jun-15 22:58:32

Check for sibling rules as well. Some are not giving priority to out of catchment siblings to stop people renting to get place for dc one then buying further out but still wanting dc 2 to go the same school as dc1.

Mamakata Wed 24-Jun-15 07:45:52

Thanks all. And thanks for those dates admission. Is that 3 month rule the same everywhere or does it depend on the local authority?
And sibling rule is currently before distance, though appreciate that May change.
Conclusion so far is I need to find a house to buy ASAP!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 24-Jun-15 09:46:08

It can depend on the LA and how much of an issue they have had historically. Some are more lax than others. It would probably be better to not second guess the LA and work on the worst possible scenario though. Ideally you want to move before applying but if not then a long term rental contract that covers the application date and school start date is your best bet.

admission Wed 24-Jun-15 23:04:39

It is not a rule as such it is what I think is a reasonable time to be renting a house for when you submit your application, without it immediately throwing up some red flags. LAs do check and the obvious check would be whether you are paying council tax on a house. If you moved to a rented house immediately before the cut off date, the LA would still have council tax data on the other house and that will ring alarm bells within the LA admission office. If you move 3 months before you will have notified the LA of moving and not be paying council tax on the old property, only potentially in the new property.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 25-Jun-15 07:24:00

If you see your house and genuinely moved to new place before application deadline that's fine.

louisejxxx Thu 25-Jun-15 07:32:15

I think so long as you have started renting and sold your house then there isn't a problem as it is your sole residence. The real problem would be if you were renting whilst still owning your current house.

tiggytape Thu 25-Jun-15 08:13:41

The rule (legally and morally) is you are not allowed to rent an additional house just to get a school place.

If you sell your house and then rent near to a good school that is fine.
Even if you then later leave that rented hosue and buy another house further away.

What you cannot do is live in one house, rent another, move to the rented address for a few months, get a school place and then move back to your original home

The general test for whether it is against the rules or not is answering the questionL "Will I eventually move back to a house that was once used as the family home after gaining the school place offer?"
If the answer is yes, chances are, it is not allowed (the exception being if your original family home burnt down and is being rebuilt or something else out of the ordinary like that). In your case though the answer would be "no" so that is fine.

Mopmay Thu 25-Jun-15 14:40:26

It's fine legally if you sell then rent 10 miles away. Rent near your school of choice. Ok. Morally however it's not nice to grab a school place then move away. Other parents will know what you did and will judge you on it. They will know someone who missed out on a place because you did this. People talk. We are in an area where people do this. I know who in our year of 90 has moved 0.5 miles to 5 miles away once they got the place. Do what suits you but yes people may not like you for it

mandy214 Thu 25-Jun-15 14:52:00

We did this. And I support the advice that you have been given already to check the LA's rules as it will vary.

The difference for us that we always knew we'd want the children to attend school in Area B, but bought in Area A well before we had children, thinking it was temporary. 6 years later hmm realised we needed to get organised.

Needed to apply for schools by 31st Jan. We moved in to a rental house on 1st Jan. When we submitted our application, the rules said that if we were in rented accommodation, it had to be at least a 12 month tenancy and we had to demonstrate disposal of our previous house. Also had to have utility bill at rental address.

We were also committed to living in the area, being part of the community but it hasn't been an issue. We stayed in the rental house for about 2 years, then bought a house outside of the catchment area (only just!). DD2 got in on the sibling rule (that we'd obviously checked before buying).

So I don't think we have cheated, and similarly, I don't think you will cheat. At the time we applied, we were committed to the area and would have, if a house we liked had come up, bought in the catchment area. There's no real price difference between where we have bought and catchment - in fact now, our house is in catchment as the school has expanded.

Flomple Thu 25-Jun-15 16:12:17

Yes as long as you've sold your current house you should be fine on all counts, but do check the rules closely.

Morally, I think you need to then stay in-catchment when you buy.

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