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Admission issue for owned v rented house - any experts about?

(8 Posts)
EssentialHummus Mon 11-Apr-16 11:09:38

This is going to sound like Fraud 101, but it's actually the situation we find ourselves in. Any ideas?

We live in Lewisham, which is trying to cut down on admissions fraud by people renting houses near good schools, then moving back out after they gain a place. If I understand correctly, if you own and rent in the borough, they'll take your owned address to calculate catchment, ignoring the address you rent in.

I own a flat in the borough, which we don't live in. It's rented out and has been for a while, though I lived there for years before. It is not owned under my name, but in the name of a company. I own that company. (The flat is held in that way as it's an easier, cheaper way to own a BTL.) That flat is in a kind of "black hole" for schools - if our catchment were calculated from there we'd be allocated something OK but not great, quite far away. We rent a larger home in the same borough, which is better located for schools.

So - I understand that if I owned my flat in my own name, the borough would calculate catchment from there, not from where we rent. But does the fact that the flat is owned by a separate entity change things? "I" don't own it, Company X does. We'd prefer to keep arrangements as is, but I don't want to risk a school place over it.

MiniMover Mon 11-Apr-16 11:17:42

How long have you been renting your current home and how long since you last lived in the flat. I'm not an expert but surely it cannot be legal for them to disregard your 'home' simply because you own a btl somewhere else. Unless you all lived in the flat until this year and only took out the rental in time for school applications.

If I was you, I'd just put your address as is. If they come back to you, admit owning the other property but explain you haven't lived there in years, your tenancy is longstanding and categorically state you haven't made s fraudulent application and if they refuse to accept your family home as your family home then you will appeal. It's a ridiculous policy if it only covers btls Aldo in Lewisham. So if you had a btl in Bromley or Southwark that would be ok?

EssentialHummus Mon 11-Apr-16 12:12:23

How long have you been renting your current home and how long since you last lived in the flat.

Renting for 2.5 years now, haven't lived in the flat for 4 years. It does seem like a ridiculous policy - I'm wondering/hoping I've misunderstood or that there's a sensible human reviewing these things.

tiggytape Mon 11-Apr-16 12:23:00

There is a sensible human reviewing of these situations otherwise more fraud not less would occur

For example if the council specified "families must live in any rented flat for 8 months and 5 days to have it used as their admissions address" all the potential fraudsters would comply with that exact wording by renting for 8 months and 6 days and then returning to their real home elsewhere.

So instead the council make it clear that house-flipping is what they don't allow i.e. owning 2 homes and conveniently switching between addresses at the crucial school application time regardless of exact timings and the council have discretion to decide who they think is guilty of this and who isn't.
They will not suspect that this applies in your case because it clearly doesn't but having such discretion allows them to prevent people cleverly complying with a set of minimum requirements to cheat the system.

If a family is house-flipping and gets prevented by the council from using the address that benefits them, they can explain any genuine reasons to the council (eg the other house is student digs or uninhabitable or not the family home for years). The council will allow that and at the same time spot genuine cheats. If those defined as cheats disagree, they are free to appeal the decision and explain to an independent panel why their short term rental address trumps their longtime family home address.

MiniMover Mon 11-Apr-16 12:36:17

If you haven't lived in the flat for 4yrs then I really wouldn't worry as that's almost as long as you've had the child! grin moving out of a flat into a family home 4yrs ago when you suddenly needed extra space is s perfectly reasonable thing to do.

EssentialHummus Mon 11-Apr-16 13:02:40

Thanks both. I am really tying myself up in knots about this and wondering whether we need to sell the flat, or get the tenant to confirm they live there... I'll talk myself down now.

CodyKing Mon 11-Apr-16 13:11:29

In reality your property is a business -

Rather than you "just renting it out for a year " for the purpose of school application -

I wouldn't worry - you have a secure tenancy - council tax bills etc - just apply where you are.

NynaevesSister Mon 11-Apr-16 13:24:26

What TiggyTape says. I am not in Lewisham but I do know that in a neighbouring borough they take into account the size of the owned property. So if you are renting a three bed, and you are the landlord of a one bed, they know that the rental is your correct address. The simple fact is it is the only way many people can get onto the property ladder in London as buying a three bed is out of the price range of most.

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