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Which Borough To Apply for School Place? Falling Between Stools!

(18 Posts)
PicnicAtHangingRock Wed 01-Aug-18 22:52:28

Hello Wise Folk of Mumsnet,

I have a bit of a conundrum regarding where I should apply for a primary school place for my DC who is due to start school in September 2019.

For various reasons (which I’m happy to elaborate on if need be but don’t want to frighten you all off with an excessively long OP!) we have found ourselves living in the house of a relative for a much longer time than was originally anticipated. I don’t want to be specific but let’s say we’ve been here over 18 months. I don’t have a tenancy agreement as it is just an informal arrangement.

I am also lucky enough to own two properties elsewhere in London. Property One is undergoing major renovations by which I mean it is currently back to bare brick. We’re talking no internal walls, floors/ceilings all gone. It is nowhere near habitable but the work is scheduled to be finished in January 2019. My plan has always been to rent this out to provide an income while I am at home minding two small children and possibly remortgage to pay for renovating Property 2 or to fund our own home elsewhere.

Property Two is tiny but lovely and totally habitable in normal circumstances but because of certain architectural features it is basically a death trap for small children. It has an extremely dangerous staircase. I have had plans drawn up and planning passed to alter the house but the cost of actually doing this work is a massive outlay that I’m not at all confident I could take on in the near future. The best case scenario would be that I could do those building works next year, late Spring/Summer so theoretically it is possible I could get it done in time to start school in September.

I am paying Council Tax for both these properties. They are very close to each other but they are in different boroughs. Property One is in Westminster and Property Two is Kensington and Chelsea.

The address I am currently living at is in the Borough of Southwark. There are several sought after schools on the doorstep in all these places so this is not about trying to do something dodgy to get into a particular school. I am just afraid of falling between several stools and not qualifying for a place anywhere. I basically don’t yet have a proper long term fixed address and I fear that no matter where I apply they are going to find some grounds to say that I don’t qualify and we will end up without a place.

I have also looked at private schools and we are due to attend a few assessments but who knows if DC will deliver the right performance on the day. So there is always a risk that we may not get a place at a private school either. I think it would be unlucky but everything you read on here suggests such competition that I wouldn’t like to count on it. I’m also concerned that even at the schools that are less competitive to get into they put the children under a lot of pressure to boost their results. But that’s another thread.

What I am concerned about here is which borough do you think I should apply for a School place. Do I qualify in all of them or none of them? Of course I can only pick one so what would you do?

I hope that isn’t too confusing. I haven’t included every detail as it will get too long but I hope you see my dilemma. What would you do?

Thank you in advance!

foldingtable Wed 01-Aug-18 23:10:06

Have you ever lived in property one or property two, have the children?

Redteapot67 Wed 01-Aug-18 23:12:36

I would apply on where you are now, or where you will be in by this winter.

PicnicAtHangingRock Wed 01-Aug-18 23:34:21

I lived in Property Two when DC1 was born and we started the process of trying to get Property One ship shape to move into but Property One got massively held up for reasons beyond my control and then we had to leave Property Two before DC could start moving and crawling because it wasn’t safe. The massive basement being dug out next door didn’t help either.

So in short, I have lived in both. DC1 has lived in Property 2 but we were aiming to live in Property 1. Thing is now that we have got used to living further out of London and having access to our own outside space I’d rather not move back although I’ll do whatever is needed to get a place legitimately.

To complicate things further, Relative put the house in Southwark on the market a few months ago because we thought we might buy something further out of town together.

I feel like this sounds like a wind up but my head is actually totally done in trying to figure it all out. As I’m not totally sure where we are going to be in the future and where we should put in the application. I feel like the best thing I can do is at least get a place somewhere and if we have to apply for a transfer or something later then we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

Let’s assume this house doesn’t get sold though as that just introduces too many permutations, do you think I should apply here? But then the authorities might say “Hold on a minute, Picnic, you own property elsewhere so you’re committing fraud by applying here. No place for you.”

PicnicAtHangingRock Wed 01-Aug-18 23:37:55

Just to be clear, I have lived in both Property One and Two but the DC have only lived in Property Two.

Hersetta427 Thu 02-Aug-18 09:20:17

You apply from the address that you are living at on 15 th January when the applications close which is most likely going to be where you currently live. You cannot apply from property 1 or 2 if you don't actually live there.

If you intend to move back into property 1 (although you did say you intend to rent this out to provide an income) and the renovations will be complete before 15/1 you could apply from there but you need to decide really what are your plans as judging from your post, it seems like even you are uncertain.

prh47bridge Thu 02-Aug-18 09:39:28

As Hersetta427 says, you need to apply from the address where you are actually living. Be completely open with the local authority about your situation if you are not living in one of the properties you own. Make sure you get whatever they say in writing. If you have a telephone conversation with them, send an email immediately after the conversation setting out your understanding of what was discussed. That way you will have evidence if they do something different to what they say.

PicnicAtHangingRock Thu 02-Aug-18 11:22:07

I’m going to come back to this thread properly this evening when I have more time but in the meantime I just want to thank those of you who have replied. I do appreciate it.

It’s true though, I don’t know myself whether I’m coming or going so it’s very difficult to make a case for any of them. It sounds like the most reasonable thing is to apply from where I am even though it isn’t my own home.

PicnicAtHangingRock Thu 02-Aug-18 11:44:48

I agree that being open is the best policy I’m just afraid that each of them will try to palm me off on to the other and we’ll end up with nothing as no doubt all the London boroughs are struggling with a lack of School places. All of the local schools in each of these areas are already oversubscribed and in this part of Southwark particularly they are also the sort of places parents are inclined to play the system to get into and that’s why I’m worried it will be a red flag. I never thought we would be here so long!

Thank you again, all of you for being so helpful.

BubblesBuddy Thu 02-Aug-18 13:26:46

Are you paying the council tax where you are currently living and are you on the electoral roll? If yes to both of these and you pay the bills, you are a resident at your current property as far as the council is concerned. It’s far better to apply from there and at least get a school allocation. Anything else will be a lot more problematic if you don’t move to property 1 before 15 Jan and that becomes your main residence. With building and renovation uncertainties, I would apply from where you are and make sure you have bills, electoral roll and council tax to back it up.

PicnicAtHangingRock Thu 02-Aug-18 17:19:06

No, I’m not paying Council Tax or named on it in Southwark, nor am I on any utilities. This is all under my relative’s domain. I know they would have no problem in allowing me to be named on things if I explained it. I am named on and paying Council Tax for the Westminster and Kensington Property. I’m not even sure where I’m on the Electoral Register. I’m pretty sure it’s Kensington. Gosh, what a mess. I’m too embarrassed to even mention it to anyone in real life because it’s such a shambles.

Having said that I do recognise that I am very fortunate in many ways and there are far worse problems one could have so I’m definitely not complaining. Just confused.

admission Thu 02-Aug-18 17:23:33

I am going to put a slightly different perspective on this mess. The rule as far as most LA' s are concerned is that the application for places should be on the basis of the child's current place of residence (ie where the child wakes up between Monday and Friday). The key date is the last date for an on-time application, which was 15th January 2018 for Southwark this last year.

As you explain the situation as it stands at present and as it will probably be on the last date for on time applications, you should be applying to Southwark using the Southwark address.

The problem is that because many LAs have been duped by people trying to get their children into schools using short-term rents, LAs now tend to be asking questions about where you are paying rates. Clearly you say you are paying rates in both Kensington and Westminster but I assume not where you are living. That scenario will immediately raise all sorts of "red-flags" with Southwark if they become aware that you are paying rates elsewhere and somebody else is paying rates where you are currently living.

You might assume they will not find out but in my experience of LA workings, they will. Southwark will check who is paying the rates - not you, which immediately is warning signs to the LA. You are also applying on what is a Pan-London application form and I suspect that different LAs swap data on who is paying rates where, which is then another warning sign for Southwark. The other consideration is that if you look at the Southwark LA school admission information it says "Please note that the offer of a school place is conditional until proof of address has been confirmed by the school. Original copies of the following will be required:
– Child benefit documentation or if you are no longer eligible to receive child benefit, a letter from HMRC confirming that you were
previously in receipt of child benefit.
– Council tax bill
– One other proof of address, for example bank statement, TV licence, credit card or store card statement.
I am guessing that you may well have a problem being able to make this set of criteria and this is certainly not what you need next Summer trying to sort out whether you have a place or not.

Given the complexity of your current and expected situation I cannot stress to much that you need to talk this through with Southwark Council now and get them to commit in writing to you that your child's residence in respect of school place applications is the address in Southwark.

I would not give the Council any leeway to question the situation. You need to put down in bullet points where you live now and why, the two other properties you own but cannot and will not have access to for living purposes and most importantly that you say that you believe that you need under these circumstances to apply from the Southwark address and can they confirm it. If you say more about the other building etc you will find yourself in extended conversations with the Council and no definitive statement by them.

PicnicAtHangingRock Thu 02-Aug-18 17:24:34

Does it make any difference if you put in the application on the first day or the last day, that is in September or January? Things may be clearer in a few months and I may have less to worry about than I fear but I don’t want my appliacation to be prejudiced because I put it in close to the deadline. I’m being silly now aren’t I? My rational brain is saying it won’t make any difference when I put it in and it’s probably best to leave it as long as possible in the hope that I might finally know where I’m going.

PatriciaHolm Thu 02-Aug-18 18:06:11

Nope, no difference whether you do it on the first or last day. Just don't miss the deadline!

PicnicAtHangingRock Thu 02-Aug-18 21:42:16

Thank you to everyone. You’ve really helped me to understand the process more clearly. A special thank you to Admission for such a thoughtful and informative post.

It sounds like the way things stand right now I am right to be worried as technically I may not qualify anywhere unless I formalise my living situation in Southwark and get my name registered here and take care to record all correspondence. I will need to do a lot of explaining and I can provide evidence but messy as it is I’ll have the truth on my side.

The alternative is that I move back to one of the other addresses before January and apply from there. Even in that scenario though would I have trouble over the fact I have a second property nearby?

Thank you all for being so helpful. To be honest I was expecting to get a lot more flak but you’ve all been very kind.

foldingtable Thu 02-Aug-18 22:33:24

Sorry Picnic, I was trying to be helpful, but failed!

My thinking was that if you owned a house that you had previously lived in as a family home, then that would be the property that the various London Boroughs would expect you to apply for a school place from. In this case that would be property two. The experts don't think this is the issue so I think I have gone all red herring on you!

Good luck!

PicnicAtHangingRock Thu 02-Aug-18 22:49:29

Au contaire, Folding, you’ve been very helpful! I totally see where you were coming from and it was a sensible question. Besides, if you hadn’t posted my thread would have fallen off the radar unanswered so many thanks to you too ;)

You have all helped me immensely.

egdehsdrawkcab Sat 11-Aug-18 22:30:55

I think as long as they are are all in different boroughs, it doesn't matter how many you own. Best to apply from where you are residing on Jan 15th. The issues arise where you own more than one or rent and own in the same borough.

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