Next Step Lets Scheme and Tenants

The council believes that social housing should be seen as one of a range of option available to applicants to meet their housing needs.  Due to the shortage of council properties, the rehousing of those threatened with homelessness into the private sector has become the most realistic solution.

If you find yourself threatened with Homelessness you must seek the advice of the councils housing advice team. They will be able to give you confidential advice and guidance. Unless there are exception circumstances, the team would direct you to the Next Step Lets Team, so that the team can begin to source private sector accommodation for you.

The Next Step Lets Team work towards securing private sector accommodation and work with local and out of are landlords to provide suitable accommodation to those who are in need. The team visit all properties and landlords before any accommodation will be offered and carry out checks to ensure the property meets the rental sector standards.

Once a suitable property is found, a viewing will be offered, where you will get to meet the landlord and view the property, accompanied by a member of the team. You will NOT be asked to view a property that has not been deemed suitable under the Homeless Legislation or that is unaffordable (as deemed by the housing advice or homeless team).

Affordability

The housing advice team will carry out an affordability assessment, to determine what rent would be affordable for each individual case.  They work this out by taking into account any income (including any benefits) and minus this from the government set living expenses amount and any other priority debts (for example: council tax, gas and electric).

To carry out the affordability check, documents will need to be produced to support the figures, so bank statements, benefit letter, wages slip etc. will be asked for.

Once the team has access the paperwork, and carried out the calculation, the Next Step Lets Team are then able to begin matching clients with potential properties and landlord’s.

Help with Deposits and Rents

You may be eligible for financial assistant with the first months' rent and/or a deposit.  This is a discretionary service offered by the Homeless and Housing Advice Team. Please email them for details of eligibility Housing.Advice@stevenage.gov.uk

Any funds provided for first months rent and/or deposits are a loan and must be paid back in full regardless of the situation or circumstances. This loan will class as housing debt and if I not paid back the loan to Stevenage Borough Council, the debt will be referred to the legal department who may take court proceedings which will incur further costs, also any application for re-housing may be put on hold.

Support and Tenancy Sustainment

Once an offer of suitable accommodation has been made a move in date will be set and the Next Step Lets Team will begin the move in process. This can happen very quickly so be prepared! A team member will be available to you to support and answer any question you will have during this time.

Once you have moved, you will be visited by the team’s sustainment officer. The sustainment officer’s primary role is to ensure that the tenancy runs smooth. They are the point of contact for any concerns the tenants may have during the tenancy. The sustainment officer can signpost/refer to other organisations if needed, will deal with any housing benefit issue that cannot be resolved by the clients themselves and offers general support.

Conducting a Tenancy

It is the responsibility of the tenant to maintain their own tenancy. Support will be offered by the sustainment officer and the Next Step Lets Team to those who require it.

The main keys points for sustainment are below:

  • Pay the rent on time or ensure any claim for housing benefit is updated and kept current. Don’t allow letters or requests for information go undealt with.
  • Keep the property in a clean and tidy manner and make sure any outside space is looked after.
  • Report to the landlord any maintenance issues which occur, don’t let repairs go unreported as this could lead to deductions from your deposit.
  • Allow access for the landlord to deal with repairs or to carry out inspections. Be aware this would usually be by appointment and at both parties convenience.

The tenancy agreement which will be signed at the move in has further details about the terms under which you are letting the property. It is important this is read and understood and any question you have about this, is dealt with before the tenancy commences.

The landlord will be responsible for:

  • all repairs and maintenance, unless the fault is down to something the tenant has done;
  • to issue any notices in accordance with the law

Failure to adhere to the tenancy agreement will result in you being asked to vacate the property. If you are asked to leave the property due to a breach of the agreement then you could be found to be Intentionally Homeless and this will affect your future housing options. To discuss this further please contact the Next Step Lets Team.

For more information

If you are interested in the scheme and require more details please feel free to call or email the Next Step Lets Team on the details provided.

Next Step Lets Team
PRS.Lets@Stevenage.gov.uk
01438 242242

Alternatively, you will find our Tenant Guide in link below, along with the government ‘How to rent’ Guide. There is also more information about budgeting and affordability.

Documents

Useful Links