Hitting the sweet spot

Whether it is due to lack of government grant, trying to meet the needs of the local population or building a stronger balance sheet, registered providers are building more varied tenures than ever before. We caught up with champions of seven different tenures to see why they have their merits in the mix.

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Social rent

Rob Gershon, Campaigner, SHOUT

In an operating environment where politics and commercial considerations are eroding the ability of our country to provide homes that people on low or no incomes can afford, genuine social housing at rents free from the upward pull of market rates are more important than ever.

In no other tenure is the provision of a safe, decent, affordable home so intrinsic to the lives of tenants and the communities they create.

Enabling families to thrive, provide care, educate children and have a little bit of money left over to support local economies. Long-term profits for landlords and Treasury are beneficial side-effects.

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Shared ownership

Amy Nettleton, Assistant Development Director – Sales & Marketing and Chair of the NHG

Shared ownership could be a secure and affordable housing solution for millions of people – but many don’t yet know it.

It has the potential to transform the way we own and live in our homes because so many people are eligible.

The sector must work together with the government and the increasing number of lenders entering the market to raise awareness, so that more private renters or would-be homebuyers understand there is another option.

It has a crucial part to play in tackling the housing crisis and real social purpose – helping people who no longer want to rent but can’t afford to buy on the open market.

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Market rent

Lizzie Stevens, Director of Folio London, Notting Hill Housing

We at Notting Hill Housing believe it is important to provide a wide range of tenures so we can cater for everyone.

Our private rental housing – through Folio London – is one vital aspect of that work, particularly helping young professionals for whom it can be difficult to find a rental home.

We feel that a dependable and trusted private sector landlord that charges no fees, and offers tenancies from six to 36 months, is a real benefit in a difficult sector, providing homes for renters who are not eligible for social housing.

Any surplus made from Folio London, as with our private sale or shared ownership homes, is invested into providing social housing for Londoners who need it.

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Market sale

Jonathan Layzell, Executive Director, Development, Stonewater

As a housing association we have to be commercial and agile in order to create as much affordable housing as possible. Stonewater has a build programme of approximately 700 new homes per year.

Within this, a small proportion will be delivered for open market sale to create profits to invest in our core affordable home provision that people on lower incomes can afford.

Stonewater has a significant development programme with the HCA for nearly £11m over the next four years to deliver homes for shared ownership, Rent to Buy and Specialist Rent for older people.

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Shared social housing

Katie Howells, Executive Support Officer, Merthyr Valley Homes

The whole sector is desperately searching for a solution to the imposing LHA bombshell. It’s been well documented recently how badly this will affect the under-35’s; even more so in areas where poverty levels are highest.

Shared accommodation provides an opportunity for associations to offer good quality housing that is affordable at LHA rates, which is an option that cannot be ignored in the current circumstances.

However to make this work we must acknowledge that it’s not an option that suits all tenants; it’s just part of the puzzle.

There’s also the need to introduce a flexible, innovative allocation process to ensure housing need is balanced adequately with the tenants’ needs, with relation to choice of who they share their home with.

Pre-consultation and tenant engagement is integral to control management costs to build successful schemes in order to fulfil our social purpose as landlords and continue to house those most in need.

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Build to Rent

Tom Willows, Partner at Bond Dickinson

The mayor of London’s recent SPG points towards the promotion of new build private rented sector units as a fundamental part of addressing the housing crisis.

There is an acknowledgement that BTR offers something different to built for sale units and warrants special treatment: LPAs should recognise the distinct economics of the sector.

BTR should now be treated differently for planning and viability testing purposes, and is increasingly popular with local authorities keen on seeing their land supply deliver the making of professionally managed new places.

This is an opportunity for developers to unlock the for-sale units in mixed tenure developments that previously wouldn’t have been viable.

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Affordable Rent

Mark Haines, Head of Development, Red Kite

Having a range of housing options that cater for as many people as possible is something that all providers should aspire to. In particular, being able to provide affordable rent that gives people an opportunity to have more flexibility than ownership offers.

Affordable rent is so important in being able to respond to individual circumstances, as it comes with the ability to live within ones means but not tie customers down to the long-term commitment of other options.

Some people don’t aim to purchase homes, or consider the cost of homeownership too high (with upkeep and associated costs), instead recognising the flexibility of renting, and relatively hassle-free option, gives more freedom to move or explore alternatives.

As a housing provider, we want to provide secure, affordable homes that support people to access housing that works for them.

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