Find out how to answer section 3.6 of the application form
Questions in section 3.6 of the application will ask you about accommodation for the resettled family, however, you do not need to secure accommodation to be approved in principle. Many Groups find applying for approval in principle makes the process faster, so that you can approach potential landlords knowing that every other thing you need to do has already been done.
If you are applying for approval in principle with no accommodation, you should tick ‘no’ at question 3.6a and move to section 4. It is worth familiarising yourself with the answers you will need to give in the future as this may help you to approach your housing search.
We strongly suggest that you do not sign tenancy agreements or secure property for a specific date until you have received full approval for your application from the Home Office. No-one wants to pay void property costs and it’s not the reason you have fundraised. The maximum available for void property costs is for an 8 week period at Local Housing Allowance rates for 1-3 bedroomed properties, and 12 weeks for a 4 bedroomed property.
Even if your Group is applying for approval in principle, once you find a home you will need to complete section 3.6 of the application form before you can be fully approved as a Community Sponsorship Group by the Home Office. This page will give an overview as well as some specifics of how to answer the questions in section 3.6. We’d recommend that you read our Housing and Empowerment resource to ensure that you adopt an empowerment approach to helping a resettled family take ownership for their own home.
3.6b The Home Office is going to match the size of the family to the size of the property available. Having exact number of rooms available will help them with that process.
3.6c Provide full address of the property including the postcode
3.6d You may not have a specific date on which the property will be ready, but it’s helpful for the Home Office to have an approximate date which it will be available. Writing something like ‘Spring 2022’ is completely acceptable.
Questions 3.6e to 3.6j ask you to confirm that the property meets the different requirements laid out in the Statement of Requirements for Sponsors, which is on page 19 of the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship Guidance Document. These questions also reference the security of tenure that the family will be entitled to. 3.6e As part of your Sponsor Obligations, you must source accommodation which is available for a minimum of 24 months from the date of the arrival of the family.
3.6f This question asks you about the security of the tenure of the property for the family. You may have an assured shorthold tenancy or private residential tenancy. If there is a break clause in the tenancy, make sure this is included here, and if there is the potential for the family to remain after 2 years, mention this too. You can find out more about tenancy agreements on our Providing a Tenancy Agreement page.
3.6g Asks you to confirm that the property is independent, with its own front door and offers sufficient privacy to the refugee family
Questions 3.6h 3.6i There may be a difference between the amount of rent the family will be asked to pay, and the Local Housing Allowance they will be entitled to. You can find the local housing allowance rate for the property you have sourced here.
3.6j. This gives you an opportunity to address any top-ups your Group has agreed to pay if the rent is above the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate for the size of property you’ve secured. You can search for LHA rates using Directgov’s online calculator. Don’t forget to consider the benefit cap for your area, which you can find on the government’s website.
It’s important to keep in mind that although now that you have the property and therefore a better idea of the size of family you’ll be welcoming, you still don’t know the exact family size or if they have any special needs that will allow them to claim more benefits so these calculations will need to be redone once you are allocated a family. You can read more on supporting families affected by the benefit cap in our guide.
3.6k. As soon as your Group finds a property, we recommend getting in contact with your Local Authority/Authorities to invite them to view the property. They will be able to determine if the property is suitable for a refugee family and if there are any changes that need to be made before a family can move in. Remember that Local Authorities have multiple roles in the community so it’s important to be cooperative and start this process as soon as you have the property. Some Local Authorities may charge for the property check to take place, ensure that you budget for this if required.
Although you are required to invite the Local Authority to view the property, if they agree that they do not need to see it or if you do not get a response, you can still tick YES and give details about the Local Authority’s involvement or lack of involvement regarding the property. You can submit a description of your correspondence with the Local Authority as evidence.
3.6l. If your local authority declines to inspect the property, you will need to confirm that the property conforms to their standards. You can find these on page 19 of the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship Guidance Document. If the Local Authority is unable to inspect the accommodation, your Group should arrange for an independent inspection by a qualified professional. Some Groups have paid a local surveyor to inspect the house and write a report, but the key is that this is done by someone unaffiliated with the Group.
The evidence to support that the property meets the standards should be provided at 3.6m. You might need to attach a report to your application email but do confirm this here.
3.6m. You can find the Home’s Office’s requirements concerning furnishings on page 19 of the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship Guidance Document. Check out our Food Furniture and Household Items resource to help you plan. It’s really important that the family have the household items and furnishings they need to get them started, but the family will have their own preferences and you may want to give the family the choice where possible. Some Groups buy the minimum number of items for the home, such as bed linens and towels and then go shopping with the family once they arrive, with a clearly stated budget, so that they can choose which sheets suit them best.
3.6n. The Safer Neighbourhoods Team (or equivalent) in your area will need to complete a form about the property’s neighbourhood, which they will send to the Home Office in order for your property to be approved. To find the Safer Neighbourhood Policing team in the area in which the refugees will be living, visit https://www.police.uk/. You can find out more about this process and download the form to send to your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team on our Carrying out Police Board Consultation page. The Home Office can assist you with gaining Police Board consent, so once you have a property, consider emailing [email protected] for assistance.
3.6o. Think about how you will empower the family to raise issues through your Group members at first, and how you will help them to be able to raise issues on their own by the end of your year of support. Many Groups appoint an accommodation lead to help the family liaise with the landlord at first and then direct their informal ESOL lessons to helping the family learn necessary vocabulary to communicate certain issues.
We have more resources to help your Group and the refugees you support to work with landlords as well as advice on empowering refugees to understand their rights and responsibilities as renters.
3.6q. At this point in the process, you should be considering what information the family will need to know about their new home, their neighbourhood, your Group, and local services. But it’s perfectly fine to not have the Welcome Booklet ready to go at this point. And what’s more, at the time you submit your application or if you are submitting this section after you’ve been approved in principle, you will not know what language the family speaks or if they are literate in their native language. To answer this question, you can say that the Group is compiling information to include in the Welcome Booklet, and you will translate it when the language of the family is known.
If you do not feel a welcome pack is necessary, explain why here.
3.6q. This is your opportunity to give more details about your planning to help the family move on should they choose or wish to do when the Group is no longer responsible for securing their housing. In your answer, you can mention if the property will likely be available after the two-year commitment. For example, if your Group owns the property or if the landlord has stated they will commit to renting at LHA rates for a longer period. You should also consider that housing after the two-year commitment will be an ongoing discussion between the Group and the resettled family from the beginning of your support. Our resource on an empowerment approach to housing will assist you to start thinking through this.
It’s possible that the family will want to move to another area, away from your Group and your support. Remember that part of an empowerment approach is supporting the family to make decisions, even if you do not agree with them. It’s your role to explain how moving to another area may affect the benefits they receive, and to help them to cultivate the skills to find a new home, a new GP surgery, enrol their children in new schools. However, it will be up to the resettled family to do these things themselves without the support of a Group such as yours.
Other points to consider in your answer:
- As above, how the rental system in the UK works will be a part of ongoing discussions with the family early on in your support.
- Explain the deposit system in the UK and help the family to budget to save for or access a deposit early on in your support.
- You’ll help to cultivate skills for looking for new housing including property websites (such as Zoopla and Right Move) or contacting letting agents and the potential fees that are involved in going through an agency.
- If the housing you have sourced will no longer be available after two years, outline here the steps you will take such as talking to your Local Authority, Housing Associations, or helping the family to find alternative accommodation