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Renting in the catchment area of a good school - would you do it?

(71 Posts)
Thomasina76 Tue 06-Sep-16 23:14:35

Very sensitive topic, I know, but curious to see who has or would do this. The school in question has an admissions policy that doesn't prohibit this (just says the address must be your permanent address and you need a child benefit letter with that address and letter from a professional confirming the same but no rules about having to live there for X number of years in advance). IF we did do this, we would rent for at least 2 years in the area and may move there eventually anyway but just seems massively risky to me that someone will query it. I know quite a few people who have done this or intend to do it though so clearly some people think it's ok!

mathsmum314 Wed 07-Sep-16 00:55:44

Yes I would do it. Almost did but another solution presented.
In this country we have a school system based on your house price, (or rented house price). Go for it.

blinkowl Wed 07-Sep-16 01:01:41

Do you mean renting and actually living there for 2 years? If you do that it's your main home, isn't it?

bibbitybobbityyhat Wed 07-Sep-16 01:13:04

Yes, if it is your only home. I dont see how any school could refuse a place in those circumstances.

VimFuego101 Wed 07-Sep-16 01:54:47

If you actually plan to live there, I don't see the issue.

merlottime Wed 07-Sep-16 07:15:54

How far away would this be from your current home, and do you plan to sell that when you move into rented? If it is within a few miles and you don't sell it, I think there could be a risk that the LA argue the rental is not your permanent address, and you risk having the school place withdrawn. I am not sure I would take the risk.

meditrina Wed 07-Sep-16 07:24:29

If you retain two addresses in commutable distance from the school, then the LA can decide that your address for admissions purposes is the house you actually own. Council tax records are routinely checked. A rented address is simply not classed as permanent if you also own a property in the same area.

This is irrespective of the school's requirements for paperwork.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Wed 07-Sep-16 07:26:01

DS has a friend at his school who lives outside catchment... they rented in catchment and put their house on the market. Took their house off the market once their DS had been there a full term, then moved back that house this summer - so he'd been at the school for a full school year. Now I thought that was both sneaky and smart, but I don't think I'd have the nerve to do it myself!

SquirmOfEels Wed 07-Sep-16 07:30:07

If you want to be safe, you need to ask for the underpinning definition of "permanent" and how it is applied in your circumstances. If you are moving from one rental to another, then there shouldn't be a problem - people do move, and choose their new address for all sorts of factors including proximity to schools, transport etc.

If you also own a house, then you need to establish clearly and in writing that they will accept the rental address for admissions purposes.

prh47bridge Wed 07-Sep-16 08:09:11

If you don't own a property and will genuinely live in the rented address there is no problem with this. However, your comment that you may move there eventually suggests that this is not the case.

For the normal point of entry your application will go through the LA. Most LAs that know they have a problem with people renting to get into their preferred school have tightened up their checks. If you rent whilst owning a home in the area the LA may insist on using the address of the home you own for admissions purposes. Many LAs also have lists of properties they know are regularly rented by people trying to cheat the system and automatically investigate applications giving those addresses. If the LA concludes that you have made a false or misleading statement on your application they can take away any place that has been offered to your child even after your child has started at the school. And yes, LAs really do this.

Some people who think that they got a place by using a rented address are wrong. The LA used their real address and they still qualified for a place. But, of course, LAs don't catch everyone so some people get away with giving a false address. If that is your intention you might be lucky but personally I wouldn't risk it.

Thomasina76 Wed 07-Sep-16 09:58:01

Thanks all very helpful. I think the point is definitely to get the defintion of "permanent". If I rent somewhere for 2 years then arguably that is my permanent home, even if I own another property close by. I have read on mumsnet stories about the LA checking up but the admission policy doesn't state anything about them checking land registry records etc. I would not be comfortable doing this but am well aware that many many others do and have spoken to at least three other parents in my daughter's class who intend to do exactly this.

bibbitybobbityyhat Wed 07-Sep-16 09:58:40

I wish some of you posters "in the know" would come and comment on my thread in AIBU!

Floggingmolly Wed 07-Sep-16 10:07:41

Dd's secondary insisted on seeing copies of council tax bills for the previous two years. This would presumably flag up the fact that you'd recently moved into to the area, which should might prompt a check on whether you can legitimately call the recent rental "permanent".

prh47bridge Wed 07-Sep-16 10:21:41

the admission policy doesn't state anything about them checking land registry records

They can get what they need from Council Tax records.

MumTryingHerBest Wed 07-Sep-16 10:37:13

Thomasina76 Thanks all very helpful. I think the point is definitely to get the defintion of "permanent". If I rent somewhere for 2 years then arguably that is my permanent home, even if I own another property close by.

Are you saying you will rent for two years before you apply for the school place? If not I think you need to consider if you will be able to get a 2 year rental agreement or if the LEA will take your word for you planning on being in your rental proptery for that length of time. After all, there is nothing stopping you from telling them you intend to stay there and then moving shortly after gaining the school place. Many LEAs will not give you the benefit of the doubt and more and more schools are introducing minimum terms of residence or rental properties.

A number of schools in my area state in the admissions policy that you need to have already been living in the property for 12 months - 2 years prior to applying for the school place. Is it possible that the admissions policy for the school you are looking to apply for could change before you make the applications, if so be aware that specific terms may be added.

the admission policy doesn't state anything about them checking land registry records etc. Of course not, it will simply stipulate what they consider to be classed as a perminent residence.

I would not be comfortable doing this then don't do it. It is your DCs education you are gambling with. What is your fall back plan if the gamble doesn't pay off.

many many others do and have spoken to at least three other parents in my daughter's class who intend to do exactly this. If there are many, many others doing it in your area then I suspect the LEA will be on the ball and likely to act on those trying to cheat the system.

As for the three other parents who intend on doing the same, I think you would be better off speaking to those parents who have cheated the system in the last year or so and managed to keep the school place. Just because they plan on doing it doesn't mean it will work out well for them.

Something you may also wish to consider is what will happen if you rent the property and it falls outside the distance cut off for that particular year. With so many parents renting properties to get a school place in your area surely the distance cut off must be getting smaller and smaller every year?

Moosa Wed 07-Sep-16 10:39:55

Yes I would do it if there was no other choice of school I was happy with.

willconcern Wed 07-Sep-16 10:47:34

No. I wouldn't do this. I think it's dishonest. I'd actually move properly.

Finola1step Wed 07-Sep-16 10:51:00

Do you plan to keep the house you own and rent closer? Then possibly move back?

tiggytape Wed 07-Sep-16 10:59:59

The general rule (legally and morally) is that you are not allowed to rent an additional house just to get a school place - even if you genuinely live in that rented house for a time.

Most councils have really specific wording that prevents this. Some don't have such precise wording but will still would not allow a rented address to be be defined as the child's usual home if the family still own a home nearby that they have not disposed of.

The big risk is that even though your council's wording isn't so detailed, the council could say they don't accept your rented house as your permanent home address.
However much you argue over the definition with them, they're the ones who have the final say. If you disagree with their decision about your address, you basically have to go to appeal and argue your case (and appeal panels also tend to be less sympathetic about people renting just for a place whilst retaining a proper home elsewhere for the obvious reason that they see a lot of cases of genuine hardship and distress due over school admissions).

Thomasina76 Wed 07-Sep-16 16:20:48

Crikey, read the relevant council's admission policy and it does state quite explicitly that you cannot rent and own another house nearby and if you do then they deem the house you own as your main residence plus a very scary warning in red about obtaining places by deception! Well at least I know and can plan accordingly. Worked out it will cost around 90k to move (stamp duty plus agency fees) which is private school fees for 6 years so looks like we will stay put and go private. You pay either way.

tiggytape Wed 07-Sep-16 17:02:36

It's good that you checked in advance. A lot of councils are wording their criteria like that - they have to really
There has been absolute chaos in the past with councils trying to find places for children blocked from their local schools by vast numbers of other people parachuting in and renting just to claim a school space.

In terms of weighing up your options, it probably depends on how many children you have. £90k for example would not cover school fees up to Year 6 for two children. It also depends on the admissions criteria for the state school you want. If you spend £90k moving house you want to be absolutely certain that your new house is way way closer to the school than the catchment has ever shrunk to in any previous year (and of course that distance is a major criteria - no point moving close to a faith school for example that selects on church attendance as home address might not help).

MumTryingHerBest Wed 07-Sep-16 17:25:14

Thomasina76 Worked out it will cost around 90k ... which is private school fees for 6 years so looks like we will stay put and go private. You pay either way.

I'm assuming you've factored in the annual fee increases, uniform and added kit costs, school trips and any other added extras. I'd be hard pushed to get 6 years of private education for less than £120,000. Mind you, I would still need to get my DCs through the entrance exams and pass the interviews.

Thomasina76 Wed 07-Sep-16 17:25:31

Yes, I can imagine that if it has been that easy (as it has in the past) then lots of people have done it and they need to crack down otherwise everyone will swamp the good schools. I had actually resigned myself to going private but then saw that this school got excellent results again this year, 5% off what most private schools get. I don't really want to send them to private school and it will be a massive stretch financially but looks like we don't have any other options. I have two kids so yes, in the long run it would be a bit cheaper to move but if I am going to fork out 90k then I would rather pay that towards private school than moving. Really don't want to move as love our house and we will get a worse/smaller place due to moving costs and houses in the catchment area being ridiculously overpriced. And, as you say, there is no guarantee that even if you move they will get in unless you get a house literally next door. Plus, DC2 is quite bright and may have a shot at selective/grammar schools so we may not need to pay for private school for two. Another idea I had was to apply to this school, knowing we won't get it, but go on the waiting list in case a place comes up. I know someone who got into a super selective school this way. It took 18 months for a place to free up but still!

Thomasina76 Wed 07-Sep-16 17:29:17

Yes, factored all those things in. I was doing a rough equation of 6 years at 15k per year for one child. Another 1-2k per year isn't going to break the bank.

Floggingmolly Wed 07-Sep-16 17:53:21

Don't superselectives admit from the list of those who've already passed the tests, but just didn't make the final cutoff? I doubt you could just ask to be randomly put on a list without qualifying first.

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