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Housing options

Medway Council aims to ensure that all residents have access to affordable housing that enables a good quality of life.

The Housing Options Service aims to prevent people from becoming homeless by providing advice and assistance to people experiencing housing problems.

Kent Homechoice is available to people aged 18 years or more who wish to apply for a council or housing association property in Medway. However, there is a shortage of these properties in Medway and a huge demand for accommodation. This means that these properties are not widely available and usually only go to those who are in the most need, so you should not rely on this scheme to sort out your housing problem.

Staying put

Staying where you are

Bearing in mind the shortage of affordable housing in Medway, it is important to consider whether moving is actually going to benefit your circumstances. In some cases it is not possible to stay where you are. You should seek urgent advice if you do not feel safe in your current home. Please contact one of our Contact Points if you need advice.

Adaptations

If you are finding it difficult to move around your property because of a disability, you may be able to get help with adaptations from the council.

Disrepair

If you are renting privately and have problems with any aspect of the safety of your home, you should contact your landlord or letting agent. If this does not resolve the problem, you can phone the Private Sector Housing Team on 01634 333066 for further advice and assistance. If you own your home but are having difficulty in keeping up with repairs and you are on a low income, you may be eligible for assistance through a grant scheme.


Domestic abuse or harassment

Help and support

Find out what to do if you are experiencing domestic abuse, hate crime or harassment and need to leave your home.

Additional security

Some people do not want to move but they feel that their current property does not have adequate locks, alarms or other security measures that would make them feel safe. If you are in immediate danger, then you must contact the police urgently. Do not wait.

For less urgent or longer term security advice and assistance, either contact the council, the Crime Reduction Unit on 01634 792336 or have a look at the Sanctuary Scheme.

Anti-social behaviour

To report any incident of anti-social behaviour, contact Customer First at 01634 333333 or use one of the online forms. These are available for:

  • vandalism
  • dog fouling
  • fly-posting
  • litter
  • fly-tipping
  • racial incidents
  • graffiti
  • anti-social behaviour directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.

You can also call:

  • the Kent Racial Incident Reporting Line on freephone 0800 138 1624
  • the Kent Homophobic Incident Reporting Line on freephone 0800 328 9162.

Affordability

Renting privately can be expensive in Medway but you may be entitled to claim housing benefit if you have a low income. This could cover part or all of your rent, depending on your circumstances. People who receive benefits but still cannot afford the rent may be entitled to further help with a discretionary housing payment.

For further information about housing and council tax benefit, please phone the Housing Benefit Team on 01634 332222. If you own your home but are having difficulty with the mortgage repayments, you must seek urgent advice from your lender. There is also a variety of independent and voluntary agencies able to help.

Debt

If you are experiencing any debt problems, seek advice as soon as possible. Early advice could prevent you from losing your home and will put your mind at rest about how to manage future repayments. Medway Council works in partnership with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) to provide a debt advice service. You can phone this service on 0870 1264095. There are many other agencies, such as Shelter, that can provide independent advice.


Mortgage rescue

Some housing associations and lenders offer mortgage rescue schemes. These allow you to continue living in your home, as a tenant or part-tenant, part-owner, if you are unable to meet the full payments for your mortgage. Mortgage rescue schemes buy your home and rent the property back to you. This allows you to stay in your home while making it more affordable. Think carefully before signing up to a mortgage rescue scheme. Although some schemes are effective and could help you to keep your home, others may simply increase your debts.

Find out more about mortgage rescue schemes from one of the council's dedicated Mortgage Option Officers or contact either the CAB or Shelter.

Disagreements with other people

It can be very difficult to share your home with family, friends or other tenants if you are not on good terms with them. Disputes over rent, sharing facilities or issues about behaviour can easily escalate to the point where you feel you need to leave. Try to talk calmly about the things that are going wrong with the other person and see whether you can reach an agreement about how to solve them.

If you are staying temporarily with friends or family, make sure you have all the information you need about renting privately. It is important to look for alternative accommodation of your own before you have outstayed your welcome. Young people who are considering leaving the family home should also think about getting everyone involved to attend a mediation session if they cannot reach agreement by themselves. This is because there are very limited housing options available for young single people and often they are better off staying at home where possible. Referrals are made through the Housing Team. You can phone the Medway Mediation service on 01634 832285 or arrange an appointment with our Mediation Advisor at the Riverside One. If this is not an option, visit one of our housing advice surgeries to consider alternative supported accommodation.


Support in your own home

You may just need a little extra support to help you live independently in your own home. Medway Council can offer a range of help through its floating support and outreach support services such as:

  • managing debts, budgeting and applying for benefits
  • gaining access to other services and organisations that can provide support and help
  • learning life and social skills
  • finding out about work or college
  • keeping an eye on personal wellbeing
  • alarm systems to enable people to call for help in an emergency
  • dealing with other professionals, family and neighbours and advocating on behalf of people.

Floating support is delivered directly to the service user in their own home for a period of 18 months. Outreach support is long-term and delivered directly to the service user in their own home. You can access these support services through the contact details at the foot of this page.

Renting privately

If you really need to move and there is no opportunity to stay where you are, then renting privately is the most likely option available to you. If you are already renting privately, you should have a returnable deposit on your current home. If you are on a low income, you may be able to ask family or friends to loan you the deposit for the new property until the old deposit is returned. Your existing landlord or agency may have other available properties, which means they could transfer your current deposit to another property within their portfolio.

Shared ownership

Low-cost shared ownership helps people who cannot afford to buy a home outright by allowing them to buy just part of their home. Having bought a part-share in a home, you then pay rent to a housing association for the remainder of the property. If you wish, at a later date, you may buy more of the property, even buying it outright. This is entirely a matter of choice. You would be responsible for paying for a valuation of the property and the legal fees for buying it and would be totally responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the property.

Moat Housing Group operates all local low-cost ownership schemes as the local provider of the Help to homeBuy scheme.

Mutual exchange

This is way to move to another council or housing association property by swapping your home with a tenant from another council or housing association property. A mutual exchange can be agreed anywhere in the country. Medway Council keeps lists of people who are interested in exchanges. To be eligible, tenants must be up-to-date with their rent and their property must be in a good state of repair. They should also make sure that the property they are moving to is in good condition, as they will take on all the responsibilities for damage or alterations to the property caused by previous tenants.

Tenants of properties with built-in adaptations for people with disabilities or tenants of sheltered housing for older people can only exchange with someone who needs this type of property. Tenants will need council permission to exchange. To exchange with the tenant of another landlord, they will need permission from Medway Council and the other landlord, in writing. To find out more, phone the Housing Team on 01634 333601.

Home Swapper is a national service to help tenants move from one area of the country to another. Details about mutual exchange schemes and Home Swapper are available from their website.

Joining the council’s housing register

In most cases this is no longer seen as a realistic housing option, as it takes many years before families can be rehoused into social housing. Unless you have medical, social or welfare grounds for additional priority, it is unlikely that you will be rehoused through this route at all. The exception to this is for applicants who are more than 50 years old who would like to live in sheltered accommodation. This is because more purpose-built elderly and sheltered homes are available in Medway than those built to meet general housing need. If you are interested in joining the housing register, contact Kent Homechoice.

Medway Council operates a number of sheltered schemes for older people, including two extra care schemes for frail elderly people. Each scheme consists of a number of studio flats and some one-bedroom flats and bungalows designed specifically for those at or approaching retirement age. The extra care schemes are specially adapted to allow people with more complex health issues to continue to live independently. The council aims to provide comfortable homes at a low cost for independent living in a secure environment with emergency support if it is needed. Residents in its sheltered accommodation are provided with Medway Lifeline.

This emergency call service means you can contact the council's control centre for help in an emergency at any time. All the council's sheltered homes have door entry systems with cameras so that staff at the control centre can keep an eye on who is coming and going. Staff are available to help residents with problems, including providing advice on local services, working with other agencies, responding to queries on rents or dealing with repairs. Each sheltered housing scheme has a comfortable communal lounge and regular social events and outings. If you are interested in joining the housing register to apply for sheltered housing, contact Kent Homechoice.


Supporting People programme

The Supporting People programme offers vulnerable people the opportunity to improve their quality of life by providing positive services which enable them to have greater independence and control in making choices in their lives.

Download the Prevention Visiting Team referral form (pdf 34KB). To use this document you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have this on your computer, please use our advice page.

Find out more about preventing homelessness arising where possible and promoting housing options in the Visiting Strategy leaflet.

 

For more information contact Housing Services by telephone: 01634 333600 or by email: housing@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Housing Services, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR