Finding a home in the UK

by Stripes Europe Staff
Stripes Europe

TYPES OF HOUSING

Government Leased Housing

  • Homes that are private homes on your base.
  • The government covers the expenses of rent and utilities.
  • You will not receive any Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).
  • Contact the Housing Office to sign up on the waiting list for base housing, as necessary.

Private Housing

  • Private homes assessed by your installation’s Housing Office or found by a realtor.
  • Also check sites such as: www.rightmove.co.uk or www.homes.mil for properties.
  • You pay any associated fees.
  • You will receive OHA.

VIEWING A HOME

  • Check to see if your Housing Office has a free courtesy driver service that will take you to view homes.
  • Verify the available date before viewing the property to ensure the time you will be able to move in aligns within your TLA. Move-in date changes on a property is not justification for extending TLA.
  • Consider key things such as:
    • Will my furniture fit? Take a tape measure with you.
    • Narrow staircases and hallways may prevent large items fitting in.
    • Is it safe for my family?
    • Is it close to a main road?
    • Hand railing available?
    • Total amount of smoke detectors?
    • How far is this from the DODEA bus route or my child’s British school?
    • How will the drive feel in winter when it’s dark, foggy and icy?
  • Expect to pay a £250.00 to £300.00 holding fee for a rental.
  • Ask realtor what the holding fee entails and have them send that in writing.
  • Do not feel obliged to make spur of the moment decisions. Ask your Housing Office and sponsor for a second opinion.

LEASE SIGNING

  • Prior to lease signing, contact your Housing Office in order to have a housing inspector conduct an Adequacy Standards inspection.
  • If the inspector states that the property does not meet adequacy standards and you still want to move forward, you can sign a waiver acknowledging the increased liabilities you’d be responsible for.
  • Ensure the military clause is within the lease and have your Housing Office review it prior to lease signing.
  • Prepare to pay a security deposit (around one month’s rent) in pounds, which can be used by the landlord for any outstanding obligations when your tenancy ends. To avoid disputes over the condition of the property and your security deposit, ensure a condition inventory of the property is conducted at the beginning of your tenancy and signed by both you and the landlord.
  • Your security deposit will be placed in the deposit scheme which is government ran.
  • Ask your realtor for information on where the money is held and a reference number within two weeks of moving in.
  • Confirm with your landlord what is an acceptable way to communicate with them (text or email) and obtain that in writing.

HOUSING ALLOWANCES

Overseas Housing Allowance

Your OHA will start on the date of your lease agreement. Do not use OHA for services outside of rent and utilities.

  • Rent
    • OHA is paid at your maximum rental allowance or the maximum rent of the property (whichever is lower).
    • If the rental payment is over your entitled OHA, that cost is covered by you.
    • Understand that landlords have the right to lower or higher the cost of rent at the end of each term (one year at a time). Keep this in mind as you search for a home within your OHA cap.
  • Utilities
    • Utility allowance will be provided for payments on electricity, heating and water.
    • You will be provided with an Energy Performance Certificate of a property before renting. The rating is from A to G with A being the most efficient and G being the least.
  • Council Tax
    • You are exempt from paying council tax but will need to complete and submit the council tax exemption form. Failure to complete this will result in fines and court appearances and any associated fees.

Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA)

MIHA is a one-time payment to assist with additional costs you may receive while you move into your home off-base.

Advanced Overseas Housing Allowance (AOHA)

AOHA is an interest-free loan from the Finance Office to pay initial expenses associated with the first two months rent and deposit.

  • Interest-free loan.
  • Repayment over 12 months.
  • Forms are available at your installation’s Housing Office.
  • Must have signed approval from Commander.
  • Paid up to three days prior to the tenancy start date.

INTERNET, HOME PHONE AND TELEVISION SERVICE

Internet

Be sure to ask about the Internet speed before moving on base or deciding on a house off base. Different providers offer competitive pricing. However, certain providers may not be able to guarantee fast connection speeds depending on the location of your residence. To check what provider works best in your area and has the best deal, visit a price comparison website such as www.moneysupermarket.com, www.gocompare.com, or www.uswitch.com/broadband/postcode_checker/ and type in your postcode to find out.

  • Most-commonly used providers:
    • British Telecom (BT)
    • Javelin
    • Sky
    • Three

Home Phone

There are several different options in regard to home phones. Many opt to use their cell phones as their primary phone, thus eliminating the need for a landline. If you choose to set up a landline, many companies (such as those listed above) offer bundle packages.

Television

You will need to obtain a television license if you plan to watch live TV or live stream video on any device (TV, cell phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) or any BBC programs on iPlayer. For more info go to www.tvlicensing.co.uk.

  • Most-commonly used providers:
    • AFN
    • Sky
    • BT
    • Virgin Media

HOUSEHOLD GOODS ARRIVAL

Delivery of your property

  • Log into www.move.mil to update your new phone number and personal email address.
  • The local carrier will notify you once your shipment arrives.
  • You may be required to complete customs forms or provide more details on specific items to release your shipment.
  • Coordinate the delivery of your property directly with the carrier.

While waiting for your furniture to arrive, temporary items are available for you to use (whether you live on- or off-base) through your installation’s Furnishings Management Section (FMS). You can also contact your local A&FRC for loan locker items.

  • Duration of tour (DOT) items are also available for off-base residents that include:
    • Dryer
    • Refrigerator
    • Transformers
    • Wardrobes
    • Washer
  • Bring copies of these documents to FMS to utilize services:
    • Copy of orders
    • Form signed by landlord stating that they will not hold FMS property as collateral if you fail to pay rent

Note: Your local A&FRC has fax machines and printers for you to use to obtain copies.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • You may be required to sign a “Right to Rent” letter. If so, it’s vital to keep a copy of this and your lease to prove you have the right to rent the property and be in the U.K. Failure to prove this can result in a £50,000.00 fine.
  • Notify your landlord and Housing Office if your home will be unattended for an extended period of time (deployments, family emergency in another country, etc.).
  • DECT 6 devices are illegal (on- and off-base) and you can face a £5,000.00 fine.
    • These items are most commonly baby monitors and house phones brought from the U.S.

 

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