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Seeking Private Accommodation

It has become increasingly difficult to obtain rented accommodation in the Three Rivers District due to increasing rental prices and therefore you may wish to widen your search area in order to find affordable accommodation to occupy.

The following information gives advice on how and where to look for housing;

Where can I look?

Newspapers

Most local newspapers have a section on "Accommodation to Let".  Advertisements are updated weekly and it is important to check all the advertisements as soon as the paper is published as there are many other people who, like yourself, are seeking accommodation.

Shop Windows

Shop owners, particularly newsagents, often have a noticeboard in the window advertising a variety of services including accommodation.  If you cannot find anything suitable ask the shopkeeper if you can place an advertisement in his window giving details of the accommodation you require.

Accommodation Agencies

Estate Agents obviously help people sell or purchase properties but some also have a section dealing with houses/flats to rent.  An agency can charge you a fee for finding you somewhere to live.  An agency cannot charge you a fee for registering with them or for giving you a list of addresses.  This is an offence under the 1953 Accommodation Agencies Act.  You also cannot be asked to pay for services you have not received.

Family/Friends

If you only need somewhere to stay for a short time you might try asking a relative or friend if they can put you up at least for a little while until you can find somewhere more permanent.

Mobile Homes

There are several mobile home sites in the Three Rivers and Watford districts that can rent a plot to a person who can afford to purchase a mobile home.  These are more suitable for childless couples but a list of all the sites in the area is on an explanatory leaflet available at the Council Offices.  It is not possible to obtain a mortgage to buy a mobile home.

Houseboats

British Waterways may authorise the mooring of a houseboat on a river or canal.  Most occupiers own their own houseboat and rent a mooring.  Further details can be obtained from British Waterways.

Hostels

Hostels are for homeless single persons or couples who are homeless.  There are usually residential hostel staff who offer advice on obtaining permanent accommodation as the maximum length of stay is approximately three months. 

Bed and Breakfast

Every town has hotels and guest houses but the prices are often prohibitive.  If you are desperate for a room for a short time phone around to find the cheapest room.    

If I find somewhere, what type of tenancy could I be offered?

Self-Contained Accommodation

This type of accommodation may be let for a fixed term or periodic term (week-by-week or month-by-month) and will usually be an assured shorthold tenancy.  Before signing an agreement make sure you understand what arrangement you are entering into. If the accommodation is in the private sector you will be given an Assured Shorthold tenancy.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Many landlords let the whole of their property into bedsitting rooms where the tenants have shared use of bathroom and kitchen facilities.

Please note whether you are in self contained or shared facility accommodation if you have sole occupation of a property or room and money is exchanged for rent, a tenancy is created and you have rights under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Resident Landlords

This applies to lettings where the landlord and tenant share accommodation within the same household.  Depending on the circumstances this may be a licence rather than a tenancy.

Is a deposit required?

When you start your tenancy it is usual for landlords to require a deposit before the tenancy commences together with the first rental payment.  The deposit is held throughout the term of the tenancy and is returnable provided there have been no dilapidations, breakages, etc as agreed at the start of the tenancy. The landlord must legally protect this deposit in one of the 3 national tenancy deposit protection schemes and provide you with proof of this.

Can you get help to pay your rent?

If you require assistance to cover your rent charge you can apply to the Housing Benefits team for consideration. Further details of this can be found on our Housing Benefits information page.

When seeking private rented accommodation if you require assistance to cover your rent charge there is a limit to the amount in which Housing Benefit will pay towards a rental price and this is called a Local Housing Allowance "LHA" Rate. Your entitlement is based on your household size requirement, however If your rent is higher than the LHA rate you will be responsible to pay the difference.

The South West Herts LHA rates are as follows (from April 2015);

 

           

WEEKLY

RATE

                  

MONTHLY

RATE

SHARED ROOM RATE

 

£78.50

 

£340.17

1 BED

 

£156.00

 

£676.00

2 BED

 

£196.96

 

£853.49

3 BED

 

£240.00

 

£1,040.00

4 BED

 

£358.80

 

£1,554.80

 

Where else can I get advice?

Three Rivers District Council's Housing Options team can be contacted on  01923 776611 for further information.

Seeking Private Accommodation