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Housing Options Service

You can contact the Housing Options Centre for advice on all housing related matters:

 

  • In person at Phoenix House, 1 King Street, Leicester, LE1 6RN
  • By telephone on 0116 454 1008
  • By e-mail:housingoptions@leicester.gov.uk

  

If you are a current Leicester City Council tenant, and experiencing difficulties at your property, you should contact your Housing Officer at your local Neighbourhood Housing Office Tel: 0116 454 1007 for further information.

 

Phoenix House Housing Options Centre opening hours:

 

  • 9.00 am - 4.00 pm ((Monday and Wednesday to Friday)
  • 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm (Tuesday)

 

Housing Options Advice lines open:

 

  • 9.00 am - 5.00 pm ( Monday, Wednesday and Thursday)
  • 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm (Tuesday)
  • 9.00 am - 4.30 pm (Friday)

  

Our Services:

 

Leicester City Council’s Housing Options Service offers a wide range of housing services to the people of Leicester City:

 

  • The Housing Register: We operate the Leicester HomeChoice Housing Register.
  • Private renting: We may be able to offer assistance in securing private rented accommodation.
  • Advice and assistance: We can offer a wide range of housing advice to Leicester City Residents.

 

Advice for private tenants

 

If you privately rent and your landlord has served you with a notice, please contact us to arrange an appointment with a Housing Options Officer. In some cases, landlords serve notices which are invalid. This means that you may not need to leave the property by the date they have asked.

 

It is important that you do not ignore letters from your landlord. The matter will not go away by ignoring it and the later you leave it, the less likely it is that we can help you.

 

Even if the landlord has served you with a valid notice, you do not need to leave the property by the date they have said on the notice. You have a right to stay in the property until the Courts issue a Bailiff’s Warrant of Eviction. Please note that this may result in you incurring court costs. There is a process that the landlord will need to follow. The landlord will need to go to court to apply for an Order of Possession, followed by a Bailiff’s Warrant to evict you from the property.

 

Landlords should allow you quiet enjoyment of the property. If you feel your landlord is attempting to force you out of the property through harassment, threatening behaviour or changing the locks then please contact us urgently as the landlord may be acting illegally.

 

If your landlord should arrive at the property to attempt to forcibly remove you from your home without a Bailiff’s Warrant you should call Leicestershire Constabulary on (0116) 222 2222 as this is a criminal matter. You should also contact us immediately.

 

To do this please telephone the Housing Options Advice Line on 0116 454 1008 and ask to speak to an Options Officer (select option 2).

 

Tenancy Relations

  

Tenants involved in a dispute with their landlord or housing association can seek help and advice from Leicester City Council on 0116 454 1008, Option 2.

 

The Leicester Community Legal Advice Centre may also be able to give you free independent tenancy advice if you fall below a certain income threshold.

 

LEICESTER COMMUNITY LEGAL ADVICE CENTRE
60 Charles Street, Leicester, LE1 1FB
Office: 0845 456 0074
Fax: 0116 251 8411

 

Repairs

 

The rent the landlord charges can include a sum to cover the cost of repairs – but the landlord cannot pass this cost on to you in the form of a separate service charge.

 

The landlord is not responsible for repairing damage you have caused but if there are repairs that need to be done, the landlord has a responsibility to repair the fault. Repairs include leaking roofs, dangerous wiring, mould/dampness and improvements to kitchen and bathroom facilities.

 

If the landlord refuses to do repairs, or has not carried out the work despite several requests, you may wish to speak with Environmental Health on 0116 454 1001.

Deposit

 

For all tenancies that began after 6th April 2007, all landlords must, by law, protect deposits in one of the three government moderated protection schemes. The three schemes they can use are:

 

THE DEPOSIT PROTECTION SERVICE (THE DPS)
Office: 0844 4727 000
Website: http://www.depositprotection.com/

 

MY DEPOSITS
Office: 0844 980 0290
Website: http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/

 

THE TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME (TDS)
Office: 0845 226 7837
Website: http://www.thedisputeservice.co.uk/

 

Within 14 days, the landlord or agent is required to give the tenant details about how the deposit is protected.

 

If you do not get this information, ask your landlord or agent the simple question – ‘how is my deposit protected?’

 

What if the landlord isn’t protecting the deposit?

 

If a landlord or agent has not protected the deposit, you can take legal action against them. The court will order them to repay three times the amount of the deposit to you.

Moving Out

 

Check whether you are leaving the property and its contents in the condition in which it was let to you and that you have paid your rent and any other expenses. Then agree with your landlord or agent how much of the deposit should be returned to you.
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Advice for home owners

 

If you are falling behind with your mortgage repayments, or you're worried you might fall behind, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss what options they can offer to help you, and also seek independent money advice. The following agencies may be able to give you free independent money advice if you fall below a certain income threshold:

  

LEICESTER COMMUNITY LEGAL ADVICE CENTRE
60 Charles Street, Leicester, LE1 1FB
Office: 0845 4560074
Fax: 0116 2518411

 

LEICESTER MONEY ADVICE

1st Floor, Epic House, Charles St, Leicester, LE1 3SH

Office: 0116 242 1120

Fax: 0116 253 9305

 

You can also get free advice by calling Leicester City Council’s Housing Options Advice Line on 0116 454 1008 (Option 2) and booking an appointment with a Housing Options Officer. At the appointment you can discuss your situation with an experienced advisor and explore what options are available to you. If you meet certain criteria you may be able to get help with your mortgage from new schemes which started in 2009:

  

  • Mortgage Rescue scheme The Mortgage Rescue scheme may help if you are having serious difficulties making your mortgage repayments and are in danger of becoming homeless if repossessed.

  

  • Homeowners Mortgage Support Homeowners Mortgage Support (HMS) could help if your household has had a temporary, unexpected drop in income.

  

  • Getting help to make your mortgage interest payments Homeowners on certain benefits may be able to get help towards mortgage interest payments called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). To learn more about the schemes that may be available please visit http://www.direct.gov.uk

 

Other organisations that can give free independent advice to people with mortgage problems:

 

NATIONAL DEBTLINE
The National Debtline provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. You can visit their website at http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/ or call their helpline on 0808 808 4000 (9.00 am to 9.00 pm Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 1.00 pm Saturday).

 

CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELLING SERVICE (CCCS)
The CCCS is a registered charity that offers free counselling and advice about budgeting and credit. You can visit their website at http://www.cccs.co.uk/ or call their helpline free on 0800 138 1111 (8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Monday to Friday).
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Advice for people living with friends and/or family members

 

If you are currently living with friends or family and you have been asked to leave it is important that you contact us as soon as possible.

 

To do this please telephone the Housing Options Advice Line on 0116 454 1008 and ask to speak to an Options Officer (select option 2).

 

We offer a mediation service. This means that we can try to resolve disputes between both parties and prevent you from becoming homeless.

 

The officer will book you an interview at the Housing Options Centre or will arrange for someone to visit you in your home. At the appointment you will be given time to discuss your circumstances in full. You will also be given help in exploring the housing options that are available to you.

 

Please remember that the earlier that you let us know about the threat of homelessness the sooner we can arrange the interview or visit. This means we will have more time to help you.
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Homelessness

 

If you currently have no permanent address or you are ‘sofa surfing’ then please contact the Housing Options Service for advice as soon as possible.

 

To do this please telephone the Housing Options Advice Line on 0116 454 1008 and ask to speak to an Options Officer (select option 2).

 

The officer may be able to offer an appointment. At this appointment you will be given time to discuss your circumstances in full. You will also be given help in exploring the housing options that are available to you.

 

If you are homeless today and have nowhere to sleep tonight then please attend the Housing Options Centre at Phoenix House urgently. An Options Officer will need to assess your situation in full.

 

Emergency accommodation may in certain circumstances be provided at weekends and outside office hours. To find out if you are eligible you will need to call one of the following numbers:

Families: 0116 221 1407
Singles and couples: 0116 221 2770
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Advice for landlords

 

Landlords and agents of rented accommodation play a vital role in providing housing for the residents of Leicester. The information below is designed to help you to know how to conduct a tenancy in the correct way. For further information you can contact us directly.

  

To do this please telephone the Housing Options Advice Line on 0116 454 1008 and ask to speak to an Options Officer (select option 2).

   

You can also visit the following website: http://www.direct.gov.uk/

  

Tenancy Agreements

 

It is good practice to have a written tenancy agreement but this is not essential to create a tenancy. If the tenant pays rent weekly the landlord must supply a rent book. If a tenant pays rent in cash, the landlord must provide the tenant with receipts.

 

When creating a tenancy, take care to ensure it is of the correct type to suit your plans for the property in the future. The most common type of tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. If you are unsure about which type of tenancy to create then you should seek detailed legal advice from a solicitor before doing so.

 

Whatever terms are agreed, if the agreed tenancy period is for less than seven years, there will always be repairing obligations upon the landlord under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to maintain:

 

  • The structure and exterior of the property
  • Baths, sinks, basins, toilets and other sanitary installations
  • Heating, water, gas and electricity supplies

 

Obtaining legal possession

 

A Notice to Quit must be served to end any tenancy. If you are unsure how to serve a valid notice to quit then you should seek legal advice.

 

For all possession actions, it is important to remember that if the tenant does not leave the dwelling, the landlord must get an order for possession from a county court before the tenant can be lawfully evicted. The landlord cannot apply for such an order before the relevant notice has run out.

 

When obtained, the court order for possession will specify a timescale by which the tenant must vacate. If this does not happen, the landlord must request the court to appoint a bailiff for the purpose, who must execute the eviction legally on behalf of the landlord.

  

Rent Deposit Protection Schemes

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme came into force on the 6th April 2007. If you are not protecting a tenant’s deposit you will be ordered to repay three times the amount to the tenant so find out how you can protect deposits and resolve disputes.

 

When a landlord or letting agent takes a deposit from a tenant, the deposit must be protected in a government-authorised tenancy deposit scheme. Within 14 days of the start of the tenancy the landlord or agent is required to give the tenant details about how the deposit is protected. These details must include:

 

  • The contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme selected
  • The landlord or agent’s contact details
  • How to apply for the release of the deposit
  • Information explaining the purpose of the deposit
  • What to do if there is a dispute about the deposit

 

At the end of the tenancy:

 

  • If an agreement is reached about how the deposit should be divided, the landlord or agent returns all or some of the deposit
  • If there is a dispute, the landlord must hand over the disputed amount to the scheme for safekeeping until the dispute is resolved
  • If for any reason the landlord fails to comply, the insurance arrangements will ensure the return of the deposit to the tenant if they are entitled to it

 

Who runs the tenancy deposit protection schemes?

 

The government has awarded contracts to three companies to run tenancy deposit protection schemes:

 

THE DEPOSIT PROTECTION SERVICE (THE DPS)
Office: 0844 4727 000
Website:http://www.depositprotection.com/

 

MY DEPOSITS
Office: 0844 980 0290
Website: http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/

 

THE TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME (TDS)
Office: 0845 226 7837
Website: http://www.thedisputeservice.co.uk/

 

It is important to know that if you do not protect the deposit then tenant can apply to the local county court. The court can order the landlord or agent to either repay the deposit or protect it in a scheme. If the landlord or agent has not protected the deposit, they will be ordered to repay three times the amount of the deposit to the tenant.

[Source: www.direct.gov.uk]

 

Landlord’s duties

 

Landlords have a responsibility to make sure the property or accommodation being rented from them is maintained to a certain standard.

 

Safety of gas and electrical appliances

 

Every year about 30 people in the United Kingdom die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances that have not been properly installed or maintained. When gas does not burn properly, excess carbon monoxide is produced, which is toxic.

 

Landlords are required by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to ensure that all gas appliances are maintained in good order and that an annual safety check is carried out by a tradesman who is registered with CORGI (Council for Registered Gas Installers).

 

The landlord must keep a record of the safety checks and issue it to the tenant within 28 days of each annual check. The landlord is not responsible for maintaining any gas appliances the tenant is entitled to take with them at the end of the letting.

Landlords should also ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances that they supply (such as cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters) are safe to use.

 

Fire safety of furniture and furnishings

 

Landlords must ensure that any furniture and furnishings they supply meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 - unless they are letting to you on a temporary basis whilst, for example, working away from home.

 

The regulations set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. All new and second hand furniture provided in accommodation that is let for the first time, or replacement furniture in existing let accommodation, must meet the fire resistance requirements unless it was made before 1950.

 

Most furniture will have a manufacturer's label on it saying if it meets the requirements.

[Source: www.direct.gov.uk]

 

Access

 

The landlord, or his or her agent, has a legal right to enter the property at reasonable times of the day to carry out the repairs for which they are responsible.

The landlord, or their agent, must give a tenant 24 hours' notice in writing to enter the property to carry out repairs. Terms for access and procedures for getting repairs done are often included in the tenancy agreement to avoid any confusion at a later date.

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The Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme

 

Did you know Leicester City Councils Housing Options Service operates two private rented schemes?

 

The Scheme that is available to some single people and some childless couples is The Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

 

The Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme is aimed at assisting in securing private rented accommodation. This is done by offering a guarantee for the deposit to landlords. The scheme provides people on low income that are at threat of homelessness with the opportunity to move into a home of their choice and to avoid homelessness.

 

The scheme is only available to certain applicants. To use the scheme you must:

 

  • Be living within the Leicester City boundary.
  • Have a Leicester HomeChoice Housing Application that is NOT on reduced points.
  • Have an established housing need.
  • Be single or a childless couple.
  • Be on a low income, or in receipt of, or entitled to claim income support, job seekers’ allowance or housing benefit.
  • Be capable of keeping a tenancy and must understand the responsibilities of being a tenant.

 

Renting accommodation within the private sector does not have to be for a short term. Initially tenancies are created for 12 months. However you could remain in the property for a number of years. There are tenancies still in place since 2005.

 

Checks are completed on the property before it becomes available under a scheme.

 

We have a portfolio of properties available under the schemes. All properties are advertised in reception at the Housing Options Service.

 

The properties will shortly be advertised through Leicester HomeChoice. Therefore you will be able to apply for private rented properties in the same way.

 

For more information on The Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme please click here

 

To discuss this scheme with an Options Officer then please contact us on 0116 454 1008 (Pick option 2).

The LeicesterLet Finders’ Fee Scheme

 

Did you know Leicester City Councils Housing Options Service operates two private rented schemes?

 

The Scheme that is available to some expectant parents-to-be and some families is the LeicesterLet Finders’ Fee Scheme.

 

The LeicesterLet Finders’ Fee Scheme is aimed at assisting in securing private rented accommodation. This is done by offering a Rent Bond for the first month’s rent to landlords. We cannot offer a guarantee for the deposit. The scheme provides people on low income that are at threat of homelessness or overcrowded with the opportunity to move into a home of their choice and to avoid homelessness.

 

The scheme is only available to certain applicants. To use the scheme you must:

 

  • Have a local connection with the Leicester City area.
  • Have a Leicester HomeChoice Housing Application that is NOT on reduced points.
  • Be overcrowded, threatened with homelessness or homeless (through no fault of your own).
  • Be a family with at least one dependant child.
  • Be on a low income, or in receipt of, or entitled to claim income support, job seekers’ allowance or housing benefit.
  • Be capable of keeping a tenancy and must understand the responsibilities of being a tenant.

 

Renting accommodation within the private sector does not have to be for a short term. Initially tenancies are created for 12 months. However you could remain in the property for a number of years. There are tenancies still in place since 2005.

 

Checks are completed on the property before it becomes available under a scheme.

We have a portfolio of properties available under the schemes. All properties are advertised in reception at the Housing Options Service.

 

The properties will shortly be advertised through Leicester HomeChoice. Therefore you will be able to apply for private rented properties in the same way.

 

For more information on the LeicesterLet Finders’ Fee Scheme pleaseclick here

 

To discuss this scheme with an Options Officer then please contact us on 0116 454 1008 (Pick option 2).

Additional advice for people wanting to privately rent:

 

Local Housing Allowance:

 

If you will need to claim Housing Benefit then the amount of Housing Benefit you will receive is based on your income, any savings you have and any non-dependents living with you.

 

If you do make a claim for Housing Benefit you would also need to consider the Local Housing Allowance. This is a flat rate based on the number of people who will be living with you and the amount of rooms that your household needs.

 

For the current rates please click on the following link: http://www.leicester.gov.uk/

 

For more information regarding Housing Benefit then please contact them directly on 0116 454 1006.