Innovative Kirklees housing scheme is national first

Release Date: 27-Jan-2012
A new scheme to make homeownership affordable for first time buyers is being launched in Kirklees.
Alex Walmsley & Charlotte Middleton with KNH's Sanele Mhlanga & Paul Hardisty, Chief Executive of QSH (Courtesy Dewsbury Reporter)

Alex Walmsley & Charlotte Middleton with KNH's Sanele Mhlanga & Paul Hardisty, Chief Executive of QSH (Courtesy Dewsbury Reporter)

The rent-to-buy scheme, which is the first of its kind in the country, is being managed by KNH. It involves a private company – Quality Social Housing (QSH) – buying new homes from housebuilder Bovis Homes and renting them out to tenants at an affordable rent, without any government subsidy. Fifty percent of the rent paid goes towards a deposit, up to a maximum of £15,000 or 10% of the property’s value, and the tenants agree to buy the homes outright within three to twenty years. If they move out without buying, the deposit remains with the property.

The first four QSH homes in Mirfield were advertised through the Kirklees Choose ‘n’ move property adverts in November and attracted interest from dozens of local people. The 3-bed homes are built to Bovis Homes’ traditional high standards with the latest materials and technologies aimed at boosting the efficiency of the building and helping residents save on bills.

One of the first to apply was Charlotte Middleton and her partner Alex Walmsley who had been living with family.

Dental nurse Charlotte said: “I was so nervous waiting to find out if our application had been accepted, I couldn’t sleep!

“Getting the keys to our new home and being able to plan how we’re going to decorate it and where we’re going to put our furniture has been fantastic, What’s really exciting though is knowing that this is going to be OUR home.

“We’ve got the peace of mind knowing that any problems will be taken care of while we’re renting but also know that our rent is not just dead money – it’s helping build our deposit and we’ll also be able to save the difference between our rent and what we would have to have paid in private rent, which means we’ll have a really good down payment when we’re ready to buy.

“I think it’s a great scheme. With the way things are, I never thought we’d be able to afford to buy our own house, so this is just brilliant.”

Cllr David Sheard, Deputy Leader of Kirklees Council and Cabinet Member for Investment and Housing, said: “It’s a real coup that Kirklees is the first area in the country to test out this new approach to affordable housing.

“The QSH project is a great example of how organisations from different sectors can work together to develop innovative solutions to local housing need. The council is fully committed to delivering affordable housing for Kirklees residents and this partnership plays a key role in helping us achieve that aim.

“We look forward to seeing the QSH scheme grow so that even more people like Charlotte & Alex can benefit.”

KNH Chief Executive Simon Rogers, said: “The QSH scheme is a brilliant idea. It makes homeownership affordable for those who have been priced out of the market and also has the potential to free up social housing for those who can’t afford other options.

“I’m very proud that KNH was chosen to manage the first developments. I’m confident that with our skills and experience managing homes and neighbourhoods, we will deliver excellent services to QSH and their new tenants.”

In order to qualify for the scheme, prospective tenants have to be first time buyers or leaving a home because of marital break-up; have a household income of between £15,000 and £60,000 per year, depending on the property value; and be unable to afford to buy a home outright on the open market.

They cannot have debts of more than £15,000 or £20,000 with a student loan, and applicants have to undergo credit checks and sessions with KNH money advisors to make sure they are fully aware of the implications of home ownership. They are then signposted to independent financial advisors who can advise them on mortgage options.

Further QSH developments are planned in other areas of Kirklees and will be available to anyone who meets these criteria, though first preference will be given to social housing tenants.

To be considered for future new homes, please email or call 01484 416439