Housing

Making choices about your future housing can be a difficult and very stressful, whether you are retiring, leaving a job with tied accommodation, or are faced with having to leave your existing accommodation for different reasons as disability or a relationship breakdown.

The type of housing choices available to you will vary depending on your circumstances. Things such as whether you are single or have a family, your current housing situation and whether you have some money you can use to secure a new home will all be key issues. As soon as you know you need to begin looking for a new home you should take steps right away and begin to look at the options. Things to think about:

  • Do you want to rent or buy your next home?
  • How many bedrooms does it need to have?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • Where will you be working?
  • Do you need parking?
  • What local amenities do you need such as schools, shops, supermarkets, and transport links

Housing Costs

Apart from the rent or mortgage you need to consider any other charges that might be linked to your new home. If the landlord (or agent) provides a service like cleaning and maintenance of communal areas (usually with flats or sheltered accommodation), this additional amount can be charged on top of your rent.

Check what services are delivered and what the cost is before taking on a tenancy or buying a new home. If you are taking on self-contained accommodation, you will normally be expected to pay:

  • Council Tax
  • Water Charges
  • Fuel Bills
  • TV Licence Fee etc.

Some landlords may include such charges in with the rent. Find out if any are applied for the property.

Help with housing costs

If you are working on a low income or on welfare benefits you may be entitled to help with your rent.  If you need help with your rent and live-in social housing (Housing Association property) you may be able to get help by claiming Housing Benefit or through Universal Credit. Click here and enter details of where you live. This will take you to your local authority website where you can find out more information and see if you are entitled to receive help. For Universal Credit eligibility click here.

If you intend to rent in the private sector, you will get local housing allowance rather than housing benefit, click here to see the rules for claiming this allowance.

If you own the home, you live in or have a shared ownership property and you are eligible for Universal Credit you may be entitled to a payment to help pay for your mortgage and some service charges. However, you need to have been on benefits for 39 weeks with no breaks to qualify and the support for mortgage interest is a loan which shall need to be repaid with interest when you sell or transfer.

If your current home is at risk because you are having financial problems paying the rent or mortgage you may be able to sort things out by seeking advice from Perennial.  Our Helpline and Casework Team are here to offer you support and advice if you need help or information on housing and welfare benefits, including housing costs. They can provide you with your individual benefit calculation, so you are able to make an informed choice. Contact our Helpline on 0800 093 8543 now. All advice is free and fully confidential.

Help with Council Tax

If you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to help from your council towards paying your council tax. Since 1 April 2013, local authorities in England have taken responsibility for running their own local schemes that assist with council tax. These are called Council Tax Reduction or Council Tax Support schemes. You can no longer make a claim for Council Tax Benefit.

Depending on where you live, Council Tax Reduction (CTR) may be:

  • discount worked out as a percentage of your council tax bill
  • discount of an amount set out in the scheme
  • discount equal to the whole amount of the council tax bill – therefore the amount payable would be nil.

Each local authority has its own local scheme, consequently there will be differences between schemes. It is recommended that you check the rules of your local authority’s scheme to see what your entitlement is. To find out about the scheme in your area click here.

If you are the only adult in the household, you could well be entitled to single person discount, which will reduce your council tax bill by 25%. If there is a full time adult student in your household, you may be entitled to a reduction in your council tax bill. To check if this applies to your household click here.

Our Helpline Team are trained to help people access the state benefits they are entitled to. You can find out more about council tax reduction and other benefits that you may be entitled to by calling us on 0800 0093 8543 All advice is free and fully confidential.

Worried about becoming homeless?

If you find yourself homeless or under threat of being made homeless you should always seek advice straight away.

You may be legally homeless if:

  • you’ve no legal right to live in accommodation anywhere in the world
  • you cannot get into your home, for example your landlord has locked you out
  • it’s not reasonable to stay in your home, for example you’re at risk of violence or abuse
  • you’re forced to live apart from your family or people you normally live with because there’s no suitable accommodation for you
  • you’re living in very poor conditions such as overcrowding

Many organisations as Perennial, Shelter and  Citizens Advice Bureau, can help you but if find yourself without a home then the law places a duty on the local authority to advise you. Taking into account what help is available they will consider whether you fall into a priority group, the circumstances under which you left your previous housing, how vulnerable you may be and whether you have a local connection to the area. This will decide whether and what help the local authority will provide. In some cases, they will only be able to offer temporary accommodation in the first instance while they consider your application further.

  • To find your council in England and Wales to get help and advice click here
  • To find your council in Scotland click here
  • To find your council in Northern Ireland click here

If you are not eligible for social housing most local authorities will provide you with some support in getting other suitable accommodation.

If you have been made homeless or you are worried about being made homeless, do not hesitate to call us on 0800 0093 8543 All advice is free and fully confidential. We know the threat of becoming homeless is very stressful and we understand the impact this can have on you. We can help you to access specialist sources of information and support in many ways.

Service Occupancies

A service occupancy agreement is when the residents are authorised to reside in the property with the landlord’s permission. For most horticulturists this is closely linked to your employment and generally known as tied accommodation, and you are classed as service occupiers.

You are a service occupier if:

  • it is necessary for you to live in the accommodation to do your job
  • your employment contract says it is essential to live in the accommodation to do your job better.
  • when an employer requires an employee to reside in a property owned by the employer for the better performance of the employee’s duties.

If you live in tied accommodation your contract should set out:

  • the rent you must pay, or the amount taken out of your wages for rent
  • how much notice you get if you are dismissed or made redundant
  • the notice you must give if you resign
  • your right to live in your tied accommodation typically ends when your employment finishes.

If it has not been documented in your employment contract, and it is necessary for you to leave your job, check that you are given a clear timescale concerning vacating the property. Your landlord can evict you by giving you reasonable notice (which can be verbal). If you are asked to leave your accommodation and are unsure of your rights, you should get legal advice. If your employer decides to terminate your job and accommodation, you may be able to challenge that decision if you disagree with the reasons for your dismissal. You will need to take your case to an employment tribunal.  Your right to challenge the loss of your accommodation depends on whether you pay any rent towards your accommodation.

Free Legal Helpline 

We have partnered with Irwin Mitchell solicitors who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Code of Conduct.  They have legal experts available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support the horticultural community with their extensive knowledge across all areas of law.  

To find out more about the legal helpline click here.

If you need legal support, please call the Perennial helpline in confidence on 0800 093 8543 or complete our contact form. Our team will be ready to help you or refer you to the legal helpline. All advice is free and fully confidential. 

 

Renting

Council and housing association homes

Both offer similar types of housing, often to people on a low income or who need extra support. For Council housing, each council has its own rules, and you’ll usually have to join a waiting list, ask your council how long you may have to wait. To apply for council housing click here through your local council.

Councils decide who is offered housing based on a points or banding system. These are based on your housing need. For example:

  • are homeless
  • have a medical condition made worse by your current home
  • live in cramped conditions

Housing Association Homes

You can apply:

  • directly to a housing association
  • often through your local council click here to find your local council.

Once you apply, you’ll be placed on a waiting list, they normally offer housing to people most suited to that particular property. You may have to wait a long time for a suitable property to become available.  You can apply to more than one housing association at a time. Housing Associations are also known as Registered Social Landlords or Private Registered Providers of Social Housing.

Almshouse Association

Almshouses are a charitable form of self-sufficient, low-cost community housing that is held in trust for local people in housing need. The majority of almshouse residents today are of retirement age, of limited financial means and living within the vicinity of an almshouse charity or have a family connection to the area in which the charity is located. Residents pay a weekly maintenance contribution which is like rent but different in law, and less than a commercial rate.

Almshouse trusts were generally founded by benefactors in the past to provide for those in need and often to accommodate for a particular group of people. Today there are almshouses for certain occupations and other groups in addition to the elderly. Some almshouse charities have no age restrictions and can accommodate families, the disabled and key workers.

To see what is available in your area click here.  The Priceholme Trust, Haywards Heath, West Sussex is an almshouse for those with local connections and having previously worked in horticulture.  For more information please  click here to contact the Priceholme Trust directly.

Renting  in the Private Sector

Many people will not meet the conditions necessary to acquire social housing and so renting in the private sector will be the only option. For information concerning renting from a private landlord check here:

For England how to guide for people thinking of renting in England click here
For Scotland check the Shelter Scotland guide to renting privately.
For Wales visit Rent Smart Wales.
For Northern Ireland guide to renting check click here

You need to consider the size and type of accommodation you need and how you will pay the rent. Good places to start looking for a new home to rent from a private sector landlord include:

  • popular websites that advertise house shares and homes to rent are: Rightmove, Zoopla, Spareroom, Gumtree
  • How to rent guide for England
  • letting agents – Specialist Property Management
  • estate agents – many have property management departments
  • local newspapers – usually carry advertisements in the classified section
  • local councils – some local authority housing departments and Housing Advice Centres keep lists of landlords in their area

Private sector rents are usually higher than the rent charged for social housing and rents differ around the country.  A landlord will usually expect you to pay a minimum of a month’s rent in advance and a deposit. The deposit will be held in a special account and at the end of the tenancy, provided the accommodation is returned as specified in the rental agreement, the deposit returned to you. If you do not have a deposit, you may be able to get help from the local authority.

For tips to actively save money for a deposit look out our Money Matters information click here

If you have any questions or queries, you can contact us by calling us on 0800 093 8543  All advice is free and fully confidential.

Dealing with Rent Arrears

We understand how quickly you can fall behind with rent payments and slip into arrears. We also know that there are many reasons why this can happen. Most people know that their rent is a top priority and should be paid before any other financial commitments. If you are struggling to pay your rent and have possibly fallen into arrears, then you are not alone.     

If you are having difficulties paying rent the Perennial Debt Team are here to help you find a solution. 

  • even if you have received a letter about eviction, it’s not too late to get advice. There may be options to stay in your home that you have not considered. 
  • don’t be tempted to just borrow money or consider an option like bankruptcy to deal with any rent arrears as this may make things worse.
  • we can help you to understand the implications of any possible solutions and try to find one that best meets your individual needs. 
  • you may have other debts that you are trying to pay instead of your rent, and we can help you look at the options for managing those better too. 

If your current home is at risk because you are having financial problems paying the rent, you may be able to sort things out by seeking advice from Perennial. Ignoring rent arrears and not seeking assistance can have serious consequences like your home being repossessed and you being evicted.  You may then find it difficult to get further accommodation.  This rarely happens if you get the right advice so get in touch and talk to us. 

Our Helpline, Debt Advice and Casework Teams are here to offer you support and advice if you need help or information on rent arrears, debts, housing, and welfare benefits, including housing costs.  They can provide you with your individual support, so you are able to make an informed choice. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 0093 8543. All advice is free and fully confidential, impartial, and non-judgemental.

Perennial’s Debt Advice Service is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Perennial HousingPerennial Housing

Perennial provides 6 bungalows for retired horticulturists in the village of Barton near Cambridge.  The accommodation is of high quality with rent charged in line with local social housing levels.

 

  • 6 bungalows. Built in 1987. Sizes 1 bedroom and 2 bedrooms.
  • Housing is in the village of Barton near Cambridge
  • All with individual gardens and a community garden
  • Access to site reasonably easy. Distances: bus stop 100 yards; shop 100 yards; post office 100 yards; town centre 2 mile(s); social centre 2 mile(s).
  • Scheme for independent living for retired horticulturists and spouses. New residents accepted from 60 years of age.

Barton resident, Nicholas, tells his story – click here.

To apply for Perennial housing or request to be placed on our housing list for a date in the future please complete the form – Perennial Properties Housing Application Form.  Please email the completed form the hwaddington@perennial.org.uk. We will require proof of your career in horticulture, please also attach to the email.  If you are unable to download or email, please call the helpline on 0800 093 8543 and we will arrange for an application form to be posted to you.

You (or your late partner) must be retired from working within the horticultural industry. Perennial assesses all the application forms we receive.  The information provided is how we assess and categorise applicants and place at the appropriate group on our housing list. The rent is charged inline with local social housing levels, and does not include council tax or water charges. The bungalows are council tax bands C for the 1 bed and D for the 2 bed. Each property has its own garden, which is the responsibility of the tenant to maintain. The communal garden is maintained by Perennial. All the properties are electric only with no access to a mainline gas supply.

Home Ownership

Thinking About Buying a New Home

As a minimum you will need to have at least 5% of the price of a house as a deposit. Lenders will then want to be happy that you have the income to pay back any money you borrow.  For tips to actively save money look out our Money Matters information click here

As an initial step you should talk to an independent financial advisor or mortgage broker who will be able to explain how much money you could borrow and the possibilities for paying it.

In the past few years there have been several schemes which give you the possibility to purchase a share of a new home, usually 25 – 75% and pay rent on the remaining share to the landlord, usually a Housing Association.  The schemes are usually called shared ownership properties, they provide the possibility for those that do not currently own a home the opportunity to purchase a share in a new build or resales property.  It means that you need to have a smaller deposit, need to borrow less, and have the option to buy further shares in the property until you own it outright. In some rural areas you may only be able to purchase a maximum of 80% of the property.

Before deciding to buy a new home, you should carefully consider the responsibility this brings. Unlike a rented home you shall be responsible for all the repairs and maintenance and all bills. If you part buy a home, you will need to think about how much your mortgage and rent will add up to and any other charges or contribution.

The Government provides a How to buy a home guide, which provides homeowners and prospective homeowners with a helpful overview of the process of buying a home.

Dealing with Mortgage Arears

We understand how quickly you can fall behind with mortgage payments and slip into arrears. We also know that there are many reasons why this can happen. Most people know that their mortgage is a top priority and should be paid before any other financial commitments.  However, we understand that there are lots of reasons why you could find yourself in financial difficulty and not know where to turn.   

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage and have possibly fallen into arrears, then you are not alone.  Even if you have received a letter about court action it is not too late to get advice and there may be options to stay in your home that you have not considered. Don’t be tempted to just borrow money or consider an option like bankruptcy to deal with any mortgage arrears as this may make things worse. 

First Steps

  • talk to your lender, they shall make reasonable attempts to come to an arrangement with you
  • check if you have Insurance that shall cover your mortgage as Mortgage Payment Protection, Accident, Unemployment or Sickness Insurance
  • look at your budget, can you cut down on any non-essential costs to save money. Use the Perennial Budgeting Tool to help.
  • the Perennial Debt Team are here to help you find a solution. 

You may have other debts that you are trying to pay instead of your rent or mortgage, and we can help you look at the options for managing those better too. 

Ignoring mortgage arrears and not seeking assistance can have serious consequences like your home being repossessed and you being evicted.  You may then find it difficult to get further accommodation.  This rarely happens if you get the right advice so get in touch and talk to us.  Call our Helpline on 0800 093 8543 and make an appointment with one our specialist Debt Advisers.  All advice is free and fully confidential, impartial, and non judgemental. 

Perennial’s Debt Advice Service is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

If you have not worked in the horticultural industry contact a specialist debt counselling service that can provide free impartial advice from a trained money adviser, check your local Citizens Advice Bureau or National Debtline

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