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Housing guide for single people under 55
Affordable housing in Hackney is at a premium and it is often very difficult for young people to secure somewhere suitable to stay.
This guide is intended to point you towards the best place to get the help and advice that will help you access suitable housing, based on your circumstances.
Finding the best people to talk to will vary depending on the sort of advice you need.
Options and advice
Looking for emergency housing?
If you do not have a place to stay or do not know for sure that you will have somewhere to stay, you should apply to the Council for emergency housing. This is best done by calling the council’s helpline on 020 8356 2929 or 020 8510 4490 from 9.00am – 5.00pm or the emergency out of hours service on 020 8356 2300 from 6.00pm or by dropping into the Greenhouse centre.
The Greenhouse can be found at 19 Tudor Road, London, E9 7SN just off Mare Street.
The Greenhouse provides free healthcare, housing and welfare support advice for homeless people in Hackney or those who are simply struggling to keep a roof over their head.
At the Greenhouse you may need to complete a homeless application. You will be asked questions related to your circumstances and be asked to provide proof of your identity and other supporting documents as part of the application process, and you will receive an intensive personalised plan that not only look at your housing but also your health and wellbeing. This includes:
- in depth assessments of your circumstances including medical and support needs
- information and assistance in finding your own accommodation
- action to prevent homelessness through mediation with families and / or landlords
- access to employment, training and debt advice
- link into health professionals which includes dentistry and eye care
- links into drug and alcohol support provided by the Hackney Recovery Service which is based close to the Greenhouse.
What the Council and the Greenhouse can’t do is guarantee that they will place you in emergency accommodation; this will depend on your circumstances.
They will provide you with a range of alternative options, including putting you in touch with other services and accommodation providers.
StreetLink aims to offer the public a means to act when they see someone sleeping rough, and is the first step someone can take to ensure rough sleepers are connected to the local services and support available to them.
How does it work?
If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, send an alert to StreetLink. You can also do this using the mobile app, available for and , or by calling 0300 500 0914.
If you’re sleeping rough you can also make a referral through Street Link. StreetLink will pass the information you provide onto local services working in the area where you are sleeping rough.
Street Outreach teams will usually go out to find people who are sleeping rough at night or in the early hours of the morning.
We don’t advise you to contact StreetLink and wait on the streets when a faster route to support may be available.
Some hostels allow you to refer yourself, but please note that each hostel has a specific application process that needs to be followed and a place is not guaranteed.
Please be aware that demand is very high for the few self-referral hostels that provide accommodation for people who are homeless.
Priority may be given to rough sleepers or have specific conditions, and there may be a long waiting list. Vacancies go very quickly.
Spitalfield Crypt Trust, 116-118 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JN
- Houses sngle homeless men aged 25+ with alcohol / drug problems.
- email Gary and Marzia or call 07572 290 655
Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest
121-131 East India Dock Road, London, E14 6DF
Home of Peace – Missionaries of Charity
179 Bravington Road,London, W9 3AR
- single homeless women with no support needs who do not have access to any other means of support. Usually require proof of ID
- call 020 8969 2631 or 020 8960 2644 between 3pm and 5:30pm to check for vacancies. No referrals on Thursdays
Bethany House (Sapphire Independent Housing)
13 Lloyd Square, London WC1X 9AR
- female only short term accommodation catering for women over the age of 21
- call 0207 837 3420 or email
Shelter From The Storm
Unit 11, Acorn Production Centre, 105 Blundell Street Islington N7 9BN.
- any low risk homeless persons without mobility issues. Overnight accommodation only
- only accept referrals from housing teams, please speak to a housing advice officer
- emergency overnight accommodation for young homeless people who are facing the night on the streets or sleeping in unsafe places.
- call 020 7939 126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you currently have housing, try what you can to keep it. If you’re at risk of losing your home, seek help where possible.
Talk to the Council, the Citizen’s Advice or other organisations, such as your bank or creditors, to see what can be done to ease your situation.
If you already have a relationship with them, most organisations like banks or councils have an obligation – a “duty of care” – to help people in vulnerable positions. Any extra help, whether it’s through extra benefits or debt repayment plans, could help make your situation more manageable.
If you’re struggling to pay your rent, or can’t keep up with your mortgage payments, you should contact the Council or an advice organisation as soon as possible.
The earlier you make contact the more chance we have of saving your tenancy, even if your landlord is the council’s housing department.
Call the Council’s helpline on 020 8356 2929 or 020 8356 2300 or 020 8510 4490 to discuss your options and arrange an appointment with a housing officer if required.
Universal credit and help with rent
If the problems are related to you not being able to pay your rent, the first thing to do is claim universal credit if you have not already done so.
These are means tested benefits that provide additional financial support in respect of both your living and housing costs.
If you’re already getting universal credit, check with the DWP that they are paying you for your housing costs. If you’re not claiming any help, you should do so as soon as possible.
If you’re liable to pay council tax you should claim council tax reduction from the Council, which can help those on a low income towards their council tax liability.
Because these are means tested benefits the amount you qualify for will depend on your current income and circumstances.
Support for mortgage interest
If you’re a homeowner and your problems are related to you not being able to keep up with your mortgage payments, you should apply for support for mortgage interest (SMI).
To qualify you usually need to be getting either income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) or universal credit
You might still be able to get SMI if you apply for one of the qualifying benefits but can’t get it because your income is too high.
If you qualify you will get help with the mortgage interest only in the form of a loan which you will need to repay if you sell or transfer ownership of your home.
If you qualify for SMI you’ll get help paying the interest on up to £200,000 of your loan or mortgage.
For more information you should contact either your local Jobcentre Plus or the universal credit helpline.
- universal credit full service: 0800 328 5644
For many people private rented accommodation is a more realistic option for securing a place to stay.
Help with the rental costs can be provided either through local housing allowance or through applying for universal credit. The Council can potentially also help with regard to rent in advance, rent deposits and removal costs in exceptional circumstances.
However, you should be aware that any amount of financial help you can get towards your rent is highly unlikely to cover the full rent charge.
Local housing allowance is the benefit paid to help meet the costs of renting in the private sector. However, the amount you can get will vary according to where you are renting. To find out the maximum amount of support you can get you should see local housing allowance or visit the Valuation Office for the national picture.
If your benefit does not cover the full amount of your rent and you’re unable to make up the shortfall, you may, in exceptional circumstances, be able to receive a discretionary housing payment to help prevent you being evicted.
Under 35? Finding affordable accommodation
If you’re under 35 with a low income / living on state benefits, finding affordable accommodation is even more restricted as any financial support you can get from the Government, such as housing benefit or housing costs within a universal credit payment will be based on rents for shared accommodation rather than self-contained.
Unless you’re working and getting a regular reasonable pay packet, it would be advisable to focus on finding shared accommodation and / or bedsits.
Examples of providers of “affordable” accommodation for young people:
- Causeway Irish Housing Association: provides Shared houses and bedsits across London but mostly in Haringey and Hackney.
- Mace Housing Co–operative : provides shared and self contained properties within the co-operative.
- Phoenix Community Housing Co-operative: provides shared and self-contained properties within the co-operative.
- London Hostel Association: Studio flats, Bedsits and shared accommodation.
Affordability – have you considered looking beyond Hackney?
Affordability is the key issue when looking for suitable accommodation in the private sector, and it is a matter of fact that rent charges in Hackney are amongst the highest in the UK and at the moment the market is continuing to rise; the cost of renting in Hackney has risen 63 per cent over the last 10 years, making it the area with the steepest increase in asking rents across Britain.
If you’re on a low income it is highly unlikely that any financial support will meet the actual rent charge and you will be required to top up the amount you get from other resources. In Hackney, this is likely to be a considerable sum and a significant commitment.
You should therefore think carefully about looking to rent in more affordable areas.
These websites can help you find more affordable accommodation outside of Hackney:
Renting in the private rented sector
There are many advantages to renting in the private sector. You get a degree of choice over where you live, and there are a variety of accommodation and tenancy options.
When looking for properties you should:
- speak to friends and family – it’s possible that friends and family may have something available
- look in local shops and newspapers – adverts are often found in shop windows or local newspapers (copies of which are available to read in local libraries)
- contact local agents directly – going through local agents can give you more protection than a private arrangement. Remember to check that any managing agent is a member of a redress scheme
- search online – many room and property are advertised online. If you are looking for a room a number of appropriate sites are listed below
Renting a room – helpful sites to find lettings
There are a number of sites that may help in the search for a room rental. Some of the main ones are listed below. These sites are not endorsed by the Council and others are available.
- Find a Property
What to consider
You’ll l need to dedicate time and effort to finding a room or studio flat. In the current housing market, you’ll need to be realistic about what you can afford to rent.
- think about how much rent you can afford to pay. Draw up a budget of all your other outgoing each month, to ensure the property is affordable. If in doubt over estimate your spending rather than underestimate, and allow a surplice for non-essentials
This may mean having to rent a room in a shared property, and / or search in cheaper areas. The larger an area you are prepared to look in, the better the chance of finding the right property for you.
When renting a room, please:
- make sure you are aware of what is included in the rent, so you don’t have any unexpected surprises. Make sure you know whether utilities (gas, eectricity, water) are include in the rent, who is liable to pay the council tax, and details of any service charges or additional expenses
- make sure you are clear on all upfront costs such as a deposit and agency fees. If the landlord asks for a deposit, check that it will be protected in a government approved scheme
- make sure you have the necessary documentation. Landlords and agentswill want to confirm your identity, immigration status, credit history and possibly employment status
- make sure that the property exists. Don’t hand over money until you have viewed the property and are happy it exists. And make sure that the landlord is genuine – check the person showing you the property has the right to rent the property. Feel free to ask to see their ID. If you’re unsure you can check that they own the address by looking on land registry
- remain safe – when viewing a room / property make sure that you are accompanied or that someone knows where you are, and if you feel uncomfortable during a viewing leave immediately
- get to know your potential housemates. If you’re renting a room in a multiple occupancy, remember you have to share the property with others – and it is important that you get on. Speak to other housemates to ensure they seem compatible, and ask them if they know of any problems with the property
- check condition of the property. Make sure it’s safe, take photos of any pre-existing damage. Remember any gas equipment must be safely installed and maintained by a registered gas engineer, and inspected on a 12 monthly basis. As a tenant you should get a copy of the annual gas safety check before you move into the property. Your landlord is required to fit a functioning smoke alarm on each floor. And a Carbon Monoxide detector is required for all living accommodation with a solid fuel burning combustion appliance
- make an inventory of any furniture in the room / property and agree it with your landlord. Get a written tenancy agreement. Make sure you have a written tenancy agreement and read it carefully to understand your rights and responsibilities. If you have any concerns about the agreement, seek advice before you sign. Don’t hand money over without seeing an agreement
- get contact details. Make sure that you have the correct contact details for the landlord or agent, including a telephone number you can use in case of an emergency. You’re legally entitled to know the name and address of your landlord
- make sure you receive all necessary paperwork this may include:
- details of the tenancy deposit protection scheme your deposit is lodged with
- a copy of the government’s How to Rent guide, in writing or emailed as a pdf
- a gas safety certificate covering all gas appliances. This needs to be renewed annually
- an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). New tenancies require a minimum band E rating
- a record of any electrical inspections
- evidence that smoke and any carbon monoxide alarms are working
- if the property is a House of Multiple Occupancy make sure it has been licensed. All properties rented to 5 or more people who form more than one household, with shared toilet bathroom and kitchen facilities are required to be licensed. Many areas now also license smaller properties rented to fewer people, and you should check this with the Council. If you have any queries or concerns please seek advice
Becoming a property guardian can be an affordable way of living in London.
As a property guardian you will live in an empty building to protect the property from intruders, vandalism, and criminal behaviour. Guardians are responsible for looking after the property by living in it, and reporting any maintenance issues such as burst pipes or pest infestations.
Buildings can be domestic residential properties like flats and houses, but are more often commercial spaces such as offices or retail units, or empty public buildings. Most are shared spaces, but should have functioning kitchens, showers, and wash facilities.
Placements can vary in length from weeks to several years, however you trade the security of a tenancy for an affordable rent, and can be asked to move at short notice. Most placements are through a license agreement, without the rights given to renters under an Assured Shorthold tenancy, and can be asked to leave at any time with often 28 days notice.
There are an increasing number of companies who run guardian schemes – with most aimed at working professionals. A few of the main Property Guardian companies are listed below.
Hackney Council doesn’t endorse these companies, or encourage the use of Guardian schemes if other affordable housing options are available. It’s important that anyone becoming a property guardian should fully understand their rights and responsibilities.
- 020 7859 4213
- 0203 818 9100
- 0044 7921 255451
- 0207 856 0171
- 020 8450 2620
- 020 8236 7688
Social housing, sometimes referred to as ‘council housing’, is housing managed by the Council, or a housing association, which is let at low rent for people who cannot afford to rent or buy in the private market. It is not a solution for short term housing issues or those seeking urgent accommodation.
We are building more social housing than any other council in London. We get no money from the Government to pay for it, but we are always looking for creative ways to fund and build homes for people in need.
Despite building more homes than anyone else, there is a huge shortage of social housing in Hackney. Demand grows each year, with more people moving to live in the borough, increasingly expensive house prices and private rent, and Government benefit changes.
We currently have over 13,000 households on our housing waiting list, with up to 500 new people every month asking to be added. About 2,900 of the people on our list are homeless applicants living in temporary accommodation, many of them outside the borough.
It’s a similar situation across London. All councils are facing an unprecedented demand for social housing and temporary accommodation, both of which are in very short supply.
Most people who apply for social housing will, depending on need, wait for many years before they are offered a property. Many will never be get an offer.
To go onto our housing register you will first need to sign up to the Hackney One Account. Through the One Account you can apply to join the Housing Register, as well as apply for a number of other benefits.
Here are a list of agencies and advisors who can provide you with additional independent advice and guidance:
- East End Citizens Advice, Hackney Citizens Advice: 300 Mare Street, London, E8 1HE, – 020 8525 6350
- Shelter, 4 Tyssen Street, London, E8 2FJ. If you’re under 25 years old: 0330 053 6091. If you’re over 25 years old: 0344 515 1540
- Crisis Skylight London, 66 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT. 0300 636 1967,
- Single Homeless Project (SHP), 245 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8QY. 020 7520 8660 – 020 7837 7498
- St Mungos, 146 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 3SG. 020 3856 6000,
- Hackney Community Law Centre, 8 Lower Clapton Road, London E5 0PD. Main Number: 020 8985 5236 – 10am to 5pm (Mon to Fri). Advice Line: 020 8985 8364, 10am to 1pm (Mon and Wed)
- Off Centre, Unit 7, The Textile Building, 2a Belsham Street, E9 6NG. 020 8986 4016
- New Horizon Youth Centre, 68 Chalton St, London, NW1 1JR. 0207 388 5580, email@example.com
- Hackney Works: A free employment support service for Hackney residents. Whether you’re looking for your first job, you want to progress further, or you’ve been out of work for a while, our advisors can assist. If you have any questions or you’d like to find out more, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 8356 5700
- Homeless Link: A full directory of Support Services for homeless individuals can be found on the homeless link website. This will list local sources of accommodation, advice, day centres, homeless health services, housing departments and outreach services
- The Greenhouse: If you need any advice please visit the Greenhouse, our single homeless hub and advice centre. 19 Tudor Road, E9 7SN just off Mare Street. It is at the top of the road closest to Mare Street, behind the Texaco Garage and next to City Inn Hotel. You need to go down the Alleyway next to 23 Tudor Road