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Renting a property

Types of rental properties

Social housing

Social housing is when you rent from the council or a Housing Association. This is a safe and low cost way of renting a home.

Almost all social housing is self-contained, not shared. When you rent a property, you become the tenant. You would usually get given an introductory tenancy of around a year. If they feel you are a good tenant, they would then give you a fixed term tenancy for 2 to 10 years. The landlord or Housing Association will be responsible for carrying out most repairs.

Paying for social housing


Housing benefit is available to help pay for rent if you have a low income. It is limited for some single people under 35.

Apply for social housing

You need to go onto the council's housing register. In Dorset this is through, Dorset Home Choice. You will usually have to have a link with the area before you can register.

Social housing is popular so you may have to wait a long time for a house or flat. You can bid for vacant properties that you would like to rent. You can only bid for properties suited to your needs, such as a one bed flat for a single person.

Private Renting

You can do this through an estate agent, lettings agent or find a property online. Any estate or lettings agent can give you more information.

Benefits of private renting are that:

  • there is plenty of choice
  • you can live on your own or with others
  • it can be quicker than waiting for social housing

You normally have to stay for a minimum period of time, but most lets are not long term.

Paying for rent


Rent can be costly and whilst you may qualify for housing benefit it may not cover the full cost. You will also have to pay the landlord a deposit and usually the first months rent in advance.

Shared housing

This is when you live in a property with other people. This could be a house or a flat. This is a form of private renting. You will have a landlord who may be one of the people you share with.

Most often, 2 to 5 people share. Each person has their own bedroom. The rest of the property is shared this will include lounge, kitchen and dining area. You will pay rent and will usually share bills. Sharing a house or flat is cheaper than renting on your own.

Like private renting you may not be able to stay for a long time.

Who would I live with?


You could live with other people you know, find people to live with or move into a house already occupied. You can find people to share a house with online.

Shared Lives

The Shared Lives Scheme allows you to live with a carer who can support you in their own home. It allows you to live independently from your parents or carer but in a safe, homely environment. You will have support 24 hours a day.

The scheme may be available if you are 18 and over and have either a:

  • learning disability
  • physical or sensory disability
  • mental health need

Some of the support your carer can provide include helping you:

  • manage your money
  • learn new skills
  • plan and prepare food
  • get involved with activities
  • clean, wash and get dressed
  • shop

You would have your own room in the family home. You pay rent for the room and pay towards food and household expenses. You share all communal rooms, such as the lounge, kitchen, toilet and bathroom.

Supported housing


Supported housing is for people who want to live independently and need support from a 'care and support' provider. You could get daily visits from support staff or 24 hour support. They will help you live independently and safely, this could include support with:
  • personal care
  • cooking and cleaning
  • shopping
  • managing money and medication
  • accessing employment, sports and social activities

You would usually have a tenancy and reasonable security of tenure whereas in a care home there is no security of tenure.

What will the property be like?

The property could be an ordinary or purpose built house, flat or bungalow. You could live on your own or share it with a small number of people.

In a shared house, each person would have their own bedroom. You would share the rest of the property, this could include:

  • a lounge
  • kitchen
  • dining area
  • a shared bathroom

Some schemes will have ensuite bathrooms.

It is possible for residents to collectively have some say over:

  • who provides care
  • how the building is run
  • who is offered a room when rooms are free

How would I pay for supported housing?

You can use your personal budget to help/cover the cost of care and support. You can pay for it using a commissioned service, using a direct payment, or an Individual Service Fund.

You may be able to get housing benefit if you have a low income. It is limited for some single people under 35.

How can I apply?

Supported housing is for people with particular needs so speak to your social worker.

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