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Affordable housing

The information below sets out the different types of affordable housing in St Helens. There are two types of rent: social and affordable rent.

Social rent

Homes are let at below market rent by a registered provider. The rent level is calculated according to a formula based on property values and local earnings (target rent). In St Helens there are no longer any homes owned by the council. All social housing is managed and owned by registered providers.

Affordable rent

A more recent form of rented affordable housing. Homes are let at below market rent by a registered provider. The rent (including service charge) is set at up to 80% of the local market rent for an equivalent home.

Routes into home ownership

Shared ownership

Shared ownership allows a customer to purchase a share of a home ranging from 10% to 75% and pay rent on the remaining share. The new Shared Ownership Model sets the minimum share for purchase at 10% and places the repair and maintenance liability with the provider for the first 10 years.

The benefits of this scheme are that you would need to get a smaller mortgage to buy the property, and will also need a smaller deposit. You can increase your share of ownership as and when you can afford to; this is often called 'staircasing'. As your share increases, you will pay less rent. You can eventually own 100% of the property if you want to, at which point you will pay no rent at all.

On the majority of new rented homes built through the Affordable Homes Programme 2021-26, tenants will have the Right to Shared Ownership if they meet the eligibility criteria

Rent to buy

Homes are let to working households at a lower cost to give them the opportunity to save for a deposit to buy their first home. The rent (including service charge) is set at or below 80% of the market rent for an equivalent home for at least five years to allow a tenant to save for a deposit or purchase sooner via shared ownership.

First Homes

First Homes are a specific kind of discounted market sale housing that are classed as a form of affordable housing. First Homes are discounted market sale units which:

a) must be discounted by a minimum of 30% against the market value;

b) are sold to a person or persons meeting the First Homes eligibility criteria;

c) on their first sale, will have a restriction registered on the title at HM Land Registry to ensure this discount (as a percentage of current market value) and certain other restrictions are passed on at each subsequent title transfer; and,

d) after the discount has been applied, the first sale must be at a price no higher than £250,000.

Help to Buy

Help to Buy is a government scheme to assist people to own their own home. There are several options available, including buying a new-build home with an equity loan, buying a home with a mortgage guarantee and assistance with saving for a deposit.

Equity loan

With the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, the government lends you up to 20% of the cost of a new-build home, so you'll only need a minimum 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. Help to Buy North West is the agent for our region and they can help you.

Lifetime ISA

The government operates a lifetime ISA, which you can use to save for a deposit for your first home. You must be 18 or over but under 40 to open a lifetime ISA.

You can put in up to £4,000 each year, until you're 50. You must make your first payment into your ISA before you're 40. The government will add a 25% bonus to your savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 per year.