Finding a home in the UK

Finding a home in the UK

by Stripes Europe Staff
Stripes Europe

It’s important to be open-minded as you search for your new home. British homes are much different and can be smaller and older than what you may be used to. Although the outside of a British home may be different than what we know, always go in and take a look inside. More often than not, people are surprised with the layout and newer interior of the home.

TYPES OF HOUSING

Government Leased Housing

  • Homes that are private homes on your base.
  • Government covers rent and utilities.
  • No Overseas Housing Allowance.
  • 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 Overseas Housing Allowance.

VIEWING A HOME

  • It’s recommended to view at least two houses within the first ten days of arrival and 5 homes in the subsequent 10 days.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 number 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?

LEASE SIGNING

  • Prior to lease signing, contact your Housing Office to verify the property has been inspected.
  • If the inspector states that the property does not meet adequacy standards, in some cases you can waive the follow-up inspection and accept the liability (check with Housing).
  • 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. It is highly recommended you take photos and provide a copy to the landlord/agent, and keep a record.
  • Your security deposit will be placed in the deposit scheme, which is government-run.
  • 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.

OVERSEAS HOUSING ALLOWANCE

Overseas Housing Allowance covers

Your OHA will start on the date of your lease agreement. Do not use OHA for services outside of rent and utilities. See https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/oha.cfm

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 raise 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. See OHA calculator: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/ohaCalc.cfm

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, A being the most efficient and E being the least you can accept.

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 tenancy, start date.

 

DORMITORIES

  • Availability - Dorms are available for single airmen of grades of senior airmen and below.
  • Furniture - This is dependent on the configuration of the assigned dorm. Almost every dorm will have different furnishings in each building. The basics should include a bed, chest of drawers, desk and chair. Dorms also provide newcomers linens for their bed – pillow, pillowcase, sheets and blanket.
  • Layout - In older dorms, airmen may have to share a bathroom and will not have a kitchen. In somewhat newer dorms, airmen may share a bathroom and a kitchen with a suitemate. In newer dorms, airmen will have their own bathroom but share a common area and kitchen.
  • Getting a room - The gaining unit should assign the inbound personnel a sponsor. To secure a dorm room, the sponsor should follow these steps:
  1. Contact the dorm office as soon as possible
  2. Provide a set of orders and an arrival date
  3. Once the room is reserved, the sponsor is responsible for collecting the key from the dorm office during operating hours
  4. Sponsor gives the newcomer their dorm keys upon their arrival

Note: Failure to reserve a dorm room with ample notice could mean the person will not be assigned a room in their squadron’s dorm.

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 livestream 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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