Looking for a home
Finding a home and help with housing costs.
There are private rented flats and houses throughout Wiltshire. Our find a property page is a great place to start. It lists local lettings agents, websites and other places where properties are advertised. It's always worth asking family and friends if they know of anywhere too.
When viewing, check that the property is secure and the heating, lighting and plumbing are working. Check the tenancy agreement before signing it. Citizens Advice has information about the main points to look for in tenancy agreements.
A landlord should not charge you for setting up a tenancy.
A landlord may wish to run a credit check on you and should not charge for this. If you have concerns about your record, you could check it's correct yourself. You may be able to add information if that helps, such as a note against debts that have been paid off.
Some landlords ask for a reference.
Some landlords ask for a guarantor to give them greater security against rent arrears.
Right to rent
Private landlords are required to carry out right to rent checks on anyone aged 18 or over who plans to use their property as a main home. A person has no right to rent if they do not have valid leave to enter or remain in the UK or have not been granted discretionary permission to rent by the Home Office. The most common way to show you have the right to rent is by a UK passport or a residence document. If your documents are with the Home Office the landlord can check directly with them. For more information go to GOV.UK: Private renting document checks.
Some landlords ask for a holding deposit to reserve a property for you. This cannot be more than a week's rent and is returnable when you move in. Or, you can agree to put it towards your damage deposit or rent. The landlord may not return the deposit if you don't move in, gave misleading information or fail a right to rent check.
Most landlords also ask for a deposit as a condition of renting a property. This is a safeguard against damage and unpaid bills. If you are letting under an assured shorthold tenancy your deposit must be protected in a government approved scheme. The landlord or agent must tell you within 14 days of receiving your deposit which scheme they are using.
A landlord or agent may also ask for rent in advance. This could be a month's rent or for a longer period.
If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness WiltsLet may help. It can provide a deposit bond and rent in advance. For more information go to WiltsLet.
If you are renting in the private sector the Local Housing Allowance applies to claims for housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit. The allowance takes in where you live and the number of bedrooms you can claim for. You can claim a bedroom for each of the following:
- a couple who live together
- someone else in the household who is 16 or over
- two children of the same sex (a child is someone under 16)
- two children of any sex who are younger than 10.
Check the Local Housing Allowance rates to see how much you can claim. Look for somewhere at a similar rent or lower to avoid a shortfall. If there is a shortfall and you choose to proceed, make sure you can afford to make up the difference.
Single people claiming housing benefit or universal credit
Many single people under 35 years can only claim the shared accommodation rate under housing benefit and universal credit rules. There are exceptions such as if you are living with a partner or dependent children, or have lived in hostel for three months and are over 25 years. See all the exceptions at shared housing exceptions.
Single people over 35 years and sharing will get the one bed self-contained rate if claiming universal credit or the shared accommodation rate if claiming housing benefit.
The council's choice-based lettings is called Homes4Wiltshire. The council only admits people in housing need as defined by its Allocation Policy to the register.
Demand for social rented housing significantly outstrips supply. The key facts are that -
- many houses and one bedroom flats advertised by the council and the housing associations in popular areas attract over 100 bids
- the number of households on the council's Housing Register has grown by 227% in the last 5 years
- at present, there are about 4125 households in housing need on the Housing Register.
Only about 350 council homes become available to let annually and the council relies heavily upon homes advertised by its partner housing associations to meet housing need. The number of households registered for re-housing is three times the number of homes advertised and the numbers seeking to join the Housing Register continues to rise.
The Allocation Policy may be viewed on Homes4Wiltshire: Wiltshire Council Allocations Policy. You will need to fall into one of the housing needs categories otherwise the council cannot admit you to the Housing Register -
- homeless or sleeping rough or
- statutorily overcrowded or
- lacking sufficient space for children or a disabled person or
- suffering domestic abuse or harassment or
- having a welfare or medical need to move eg home physically unsuitable or
- unable to meet one's own essential living costs eg food, heating or
- home presently unsuitable for another reason.
If you believe you have a housing need as defined in the policy, please call us on 0300 456 0106. Should you qualify, following a housing needs assessment, you can bid to rent homes from the council and partner housing associations, as well as low-cost home ownership properties.
Properties advertised on the Homes4Wiltshire website include:
Social and affordable rented housing such as low cost rented flats and houses for single people and families. Some of these are adapted to meet the needs of people with limited mobility.
Sheltered housing for older people. It offers self-contained accommodation, usually in a scheme, with some shared facilities such as gardens and TV lounge. Some sheltered housing includes low level support to help maintain independence. For more information visit sheltered housing.
Extra care housing for people who need practical help for health reasons. For more information visit extra care housing.
Specialist housing for people with learning difficulties, mental health needs or other conditions. Some of this also includes support.
Low cost home ownership properties are also advertised. There are several government schemes to help people into home ownership. For more information visit How to access housing.
Wiltshire has women's refuges and places of safety for those fleeing domestic abuse. Domestic abuse includes physical, mental, emotional and financial abuse, as well as honour based violence and forced marriage.
The places of safety can house people for whom a refuge may not be suitable such as those needing accessible accommodation or with older male children, male victims and couples fleeing honour based violence.
If you are facing domestic abuse Housing Solutions can advise on your housing situation and help you to find somewhere safe to live. Contact Housing Options.
National Domestic Abuse helpline
The National Domestic Abuse helpline offers a free and confidential 24 hour helpline on 0808 2000 247. It also takes calls from children and young people.
Staff can help find a refuge place for you and your children and they can advise on support services in your area, whether or not you have left your partner. There is lots of information available at Refuge: National helpline.
Supported housing is a good choice if you are facing homelessness and need support with independent living skills. It can help if you are moving out of home for the first time, or are vulnerable or have had problems with a tenancy before. Staff provide support and housing on a short term basis and help you find move on accommodation when you are ready.
Wiltshire has supported housing for young people16 to 25 years, young parents, single homeless and people with drug and alcohol issues. This may be in shared houses, flats or larger hostels. Each person has their own room and sometimes shower room, and shares other facilities such as kitchen, common room and garden. Staff support residents to manage their tenancy and develop their independence. Support is very individual and could include any or all of the following, and more:
- managing money and claiming benefits
- taking up education and training opportunities
- improving wellbeing and health
- developing employability skills and moving into work
- managing a tenancy and finding somewhere to live
- accessing specialist support such as counselling
If you think supported housing might be for you, contact Housing Options.
Alabare Christian Care & Support offers short term housing and support to single ex-service personnel who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. All residents must have served in the British Armed Forces. Their home in Salisbury is close to amenities and services, and houses 14 veterans. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01722 323227.
Entrain Space offers housing and support to ex-Service personnel and their families to help with the transition to civilian life. Residents can stay up to 3 years at Erskine House, Wilton, Salisbury. Website www.entrainspace.co.uk. For information, email email@example.com or call 01722 743372.
If you are on a low income you may be able to claim Housing Benefit or the Housing element of Universal Credit. These are means tested benefits, so income and savings are taken into account. There is information about this and benefit calculators at GOV.UK: Benefits advice.
Discretionary housing payments may help if your housing benefit or housing element of universal credit does not cover your rent. They can sometimes cover other costs too. For more information visit extra help with rent.
The council tax reduction scheme may help with council tax costs. For more information visit council tax reduction.
Help claiming benefits
If you need help to claim benefits try Citizens Advice Wiltshire. It's a free, confidential service.
The Government website has benefits calculators to help you find out what you could claim.