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1. Working, homeless and looking for a room?

Make sure you have a realistic budget for how much rent you can afford to pay (this would depend on whether rent in ads includes or excludes bills). When looking for rooms obviously be cautious and show common sense; not all ads are legitimate. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is - see point 3 below.

Landlords normally require rent-in-advance or deposit – or both! In the initial conversation with the landlord, before you set up a time to go and view:

1. Find out how much they want up front (in rent-in-advance and deposit)

2. Check that you will you be able to afford this amount

Before handing over any money you can check that they are really the owner of the property by searching the land register for £3 at https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry

Several of our clients have been defrauded by somebody claiming to be the landlord of a property that they did not own. Just because they have keys does not mean that they own the property. Ask to see ID.

Newsagents

One of the best places to look for a room is in newsagents. Newsagents around stations often have a good turnover of rooms. Areas where rents are affordable are best, e.g. Wood Green, Turnpike Lane and Manor House - boroughs such as Westminster, Camden, Islington and Kensington and Chelsea are usually too expensive.

As you know, rooms in flat-share are hard to come by, so we would advise you to keep a look-out every day, and phone up as soon as you see something- rooms often go hours from being posted!

Online

These are just some of the websites you should take a look at regularly.

Spareroom.co.uk

Gumtree.com

Zoopla.co.uk

Loot.co.uk

Flatmaterooms.co.uk

Rightmove.co.uk

Aroomtolet.co.uk

Moveflat.com

It is also a good idea to post an ad in the “rooms wanted” part of the sites introducing yourself.

If you have a certain faith there are sites that specialise in bringing people of the same faith together to share accommodation. (i.e. Christian flat-share: kingdomhouses.co.uk or christianflatshare.org. For Muslim flat-share: muslimroommates.co.uk or search on Gumtree under “muslim flatshare” etc.)

Being a property guardian

Property guardianship is a cheap alternative to renting a flat in London: for a below average cost you get a licence to occupy a vacant building. One of the downsides is that usually the notice period for moving out is quite short.

These are a few websites you could have a look at if you’re interested, again as mentioned earlier, be cautious and use common sense:

Dotdotdotproperty.com/guardians

Guardiansoflondon.com

Uk.cameloteurope.com

Liveinguardians.com

Propertyguardians.com

Brokeinlondon.com

Newbouldguardians.co.uk

Adhoc.eu/great-britain/property-guardian/

Going on a viewing

In order to stay safe, we would normally suggest you bring a friend or relative along on a viewing. Prepare in your head how you will introduce yourself to the landlord so he/she will get a good impression of who you are. Most landlords will ask how much you earn to establish that you can afford to pay the rent, and want to find out if you are able to pay the money they require upfront for rent-in-advance or deposit.

2. Information if you are homeless and on benefits

Looking for own accommodation

A range of benefits* also entitles you to Housing Benefit. Housing benefit acts as a payment for rent. If you are under 35 years of age, single and with no dependent children, you are only entitled to a room under the rules for Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefit). This is shared accommodation where you have your own room, but share facilities such as kitchen and bathroom. If you are over 35 years of age you are entitled to the studio/one bedroom rate.

The way to go about looking for accommodation when you are on benefits is very similar to when you are in employment (see above), but it will be probably be harder to find a landlord who will accept housing benefit as rent.

What level of rent can you afford?

Housing benefit pays different amounts depending on what postcode you are moving to, not where you are from.

Before you contact the landlord, check if local housing allowance will cover the cost of a place in that particular postcode.

1) Find out the postcode for the property you are considering.

2) Go to http://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx for Local Housing Allowance Calculator

3) “Bedrooms you are entitled to under LHA” enter: “Shared Accommodation” If you are under the age of 35. If you are 35 or over, enter “One bedroom”

4) Put in postcode of property you are enquiring about and submit. This will be the amount you will be able to afford.

Online

A lot of websites advertise accommodation. Dssmove.co.uk move is a website especially for landlords that accept housing benefit.

Be prepared some adds will state “no DSS or LHA” (benefit claimants) – You can still try to contact them.

If it is affordable, arrange to see the property as soon as possible as there will very likely be others going to view it as well.

3. Information if you are referred to Two Step

Two Step works with single, 'non-priority' homeless people and houses them with private landlords. If you have higher support needs, or have dependent children, you should contact your local authority for help. Unfortunately due to the high demand for our services and limited resources we are only taking referrals from our partner organisations in North London and Westminster. If you have a connection to Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington or Westminster you should go to your local authority for help. They may refer you to HOPE worldwide if you are single, claiming benefit and have not drug and alcohol free for six months.

Two Step will need you to provide up to date proof of benefit and ID – if you do not have these, or are not eligible for local housing allowance (also often referred to as housing benefit), we will be unable to house you.

The properties we are usually offered by landlords are compact self-contained studio flats in North, East or South East London. Landlords that we work with do not usually require any deposit or rent in advance. The properties typically have a small en-suite shower room with a toilet and small washbasin. There is an area for food preparation equipped with a small fridge, sink and simple cooking facilities.

Once you have viewed a property and wish to take it, we will speak to the landlord and help you with the paperwork so that Housing Benefit will cover the rent. If you want to move back into work, it might be better for you to find a room in shared accomodation (see section 2 above) so that the rent will be at a level you can afford once you start working.

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