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Help and Advice

Advice on a range of housing related matters is available from the following organisations:

· Shelter; and

· Citizens Advice

Our Housing Options 'Wizard'

For advice tailored to your individual circumstances, please complete our Enhanced Housing Options Wizard here - this will ask you to provide information about your circumstances and will then generate some local advice on a range of matters that might be of interest to you.

If you require an appointment with our Housing Solutions Team, you will need to complete the Enhanced Housing Options Wizard so that you can access the appointment booking page.

Specialist Advice

If you are at risk of abuse or violence at home, please click here

If you are a tenant in private rented accommodation and you are concerned about the physical condition of your home, click here to find out how the Council's Private Sector Housing Team may be able to help you.

If you would like advice about living in a House in Multiple Occupation, please click here..

If you are having difficulties paying your rent or mortgage please click here 

If you are experiencing problems with your neighbours, click here for advice.

For advice following a relationship breakdown, please click here (

If you require adaptations to help you stay in your home, click here to find out about the help that you may be entitled to.

· Council and Housing Association Homes

If you are looking for social housing in Babergh, Braintree, Colchester, Ipswich, Maldon, Mid Suffolk, Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Council you now only have to complete one application form. Gateway to Homechoice offers people on the housing register the chance to look for accommodation to rent across the Council and partner housing association properties in the local authority areas.

Your needs will be assessed against the same clear set of criteria no matter where you live and you will be able to bid for properties that you would like to live in.

Properties are allocated to the person who has the highest priority who has bid for a property and who has waited the longest time.

If you think you need to move for medical reasons or for more information on Gateway to Homechoice including the Policy please click here.

If you are a current social housing tenant often the easiest way to move is to find someone who wishes to swap with you. You can register for a swap or look for exchanges on the following sites

If you would like to know more about Council and/or housing association accommodation and the type of tenancies available click here.

· Buying Your Own Home

Citizens Advice Bureau's Buying Your Home Guide has comprehensive information and advice if you are thinking about owning your home, click here.

Shared ownership

Shared Ownership schemes (part buy/part rent) are provided through housing associations. You buy a share of your home (between 25% and 75% of the home's value) and pay rent on the remaining share. You can buy bigger shares at a later stage when you can afford to. For more information please see the HM Government Website above.

Help to Buy

The Government's Help to Buy Scheme makes it possible to buy a new-build or existing home priced up to £600,000 with a minimum 5% deposit.

Buying your council home

If you are currently a Council tenant you may be able to buy your home at a discounted price. For further information please see our Right to Buy Page.

Hidden costs & repairs

As well as the setting up costs of moving and furnishing your home plus paying your mortgage, you'll be responsible for repairs and keeping the property in good repair.

Council Tax can be a substantial portion of your monthly outgoings. You can find out more at the Council Tax Page.


· Sheltered Housing

We provide specialist housing in a number of schemes for older tenants, all around the borough. To apply for sheltered housing you need to be over 60, or over 55 in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Sheltered housing offers independent living with the added security of having someone to call on in emergencies. This enables older people to keep their privacy, dignity and independence. All our schemes have a 24-hour emergency alarm cover plus the added security of a Visiting Officer who looks after one or more schemes. The Visiting Officer is on site for part of the day Monday to Friday.

The schemes consist of a range of property types: studios, flats and bungalows which have up to two bedrooms. All vacancies in our sheltered schemes are advertised through Gateway to Homechoice so if you wish to be considered for sheltered housing you will need to complete an application form on the Gateway to Homechoice Website Following your Gateway to Homechoice application you will be contacted by one of our Enabling Officers who will arrange to complete an assessment for sheltered housing with you.

For further information about sheltered housing and extra care accommodation, visit the Needs to be located on CBH website or contact the Older Persons Services Team on 01206 506598.

· Mutual Exchange

If you are a Council or housing association tenant the best way of finding a more suitable home or moving from one area to another is to find another tenant to swap homes with. This is called a Mutual Exchange. The law gives Council and housing association tenants the right to do a Mutual Exchange but you must have your landlord's permission. Both sides must sign a 'deed of assignment' before you can move.

Finding a property

There are several ways you can find a suitable property. If you are a Council or housing association tenant who is eligible to exchange, you can now advertise your property and also look for an exchange partner on the Swap and Moveand House Exchange

. These are run by an independent organisation.

There are also other sites - most cover the whole of the UK and are free to join. Some charge a small fee for extra services, like instantly alerting you by text message about new properties that become available. You can search for them online and join as many as you want.

Once you have found a property you are interested in you are responsible for contacting the tenant to ask if they are interested in swapping homes. If they are, arrange to visit each other's homes. You should:

•take a friend with you for your own safety.

•have a good look around - when you swap you accept the property in its current condition.

•ask the tenant why they want to move - it could be because of antisocial behaviour in the area.

How to apply

Once you have found someone who wishes to exchange with you, both of you need to fill in and return a Mutual Exchange form which you obtain from your landlord.

If you are a Colchester Borough Homes tenant (or swapping with one), you can download a form from our Apply for a mutual exchange page . Colchester Borough Homes tenants who are moving to a smaller property may also be eligible for an incentive payment of up to £2,000 - see the Transfer Incentive Scheme pagefor details.

Transferring the tenancy

If permission to swap is given, the other person's tenancy is legally transferred (or 'assigned') to you. You do not sign a tenancy agreement as this would create a new tenancy rather than an exchange. The landlord of your new property sends you a 'Deed of Assignment'. Once signed, you are the legal tenant of your new property and can arrange a moving date. The tenancy you have taken over may differ slightly from your previous one. If needed, get advice from your landlord.