Step On Grant To Help South Hams Step Out Of Housing Crisis
An innovative new pilot scheme to help local people to get on the housing ladder and boost the number of homes available at an affordable rent will launch on 1 April 2022.
With house prices rocketing and the number of rental properties hitting rock bottom, South Hams District Council has looked beyond traditional solutions to pull the district out of the current housing crisis.
Now, with the launch of the Step On grant, up to £5,000 will be given to anyone who is currently renting a social housing property to help them purchase a shared ownership home. As well as giving practical support to help more local people step on the housing ladder, it will also free up more homes for rent at an affordable price. It's believed this pioneering grant scheme is the first of its kind in the UK and it is part of a suite of initiatives planned by the Council to tackle the housing situation.
The Step On scheme has been specifically designed to help local people who aspire to own their own home but struggle to save the deposit necessary. It will give an extra helping hand towards the purchase of a shared ownership home, funding up to 100% of the deposit required to purchase up to 30% of a shared ownership home (to a maximum value of £5,000).
Initially £60,000 has been allocated to the scheme, funded through the government's New Homes Bonus Grant. It sits as a sister scheme to the downsizing Tenant Incentive Scheme, which is for anyone who is currently over occupying a Housing Association property and who moves to a smaller home. Earlier this year, the Council made changes to this scheme to increase the cash payment to maximum of £5,000 and has since received a positive amount of interest.
There are currently over 170 new shared ownership homes of various sizes in the pipeline for communities across the South Hams. This includes new homes in Dartmouth, Woolwell and Chillington, offering choice for local people who want to remain in the area they love, close to friends, family and support networks.
Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council said: "We all know that steep house prices and a shortage of homes for rent mean many local people are struggling to find a home. We have shared ownership homes being built around the district to meet local needs. However, with house prices and the cost of living going up, we know that finding the money for a deposit is keeping this just out of reach for some.
"We need bold, innovative solutions if we are going to make a positive difference. With this scheme we're looking to give practical help to those people who would like to buy their own home but have not been able to save the deposit. By providing up to £5,000, which will not need to be paid back, we can give local residents a helping hand to step on the housing ladder. This in turn, would allow their homes to become available for re-let to a household on the housing register, helping us to help even more people."
The new pilot Step On scheme is part of a comprehensive strategy to address the housing crisis, which the Council declared in September 2021. 12 action points have been identified as key to tackle the problem which sees more and more local people and families facing homelessness or having to leave the district.
It will launch at the same time as a number of national changes that aim to make shared ownership more affordable for more people. From April 1, the new Homes England shared ownership funding scheme will allow buyers to start purchasing shares from 10% (currently 25-30%). There will also be a change to responsibility for repairs and maintenance of the home. From April 1, these costs will be covered by the Housing Provider for the first 10 years, so new owners won't need to worry about finding additional funds if something needs repairing.
However, it is worth noting all sites with shared ownership elements currently under construction in the South Hams have been funded by the previous funding mechanism. This means that people purchasing a shared ownership home will not benefit from these national changes in the immediate future.
How does shared ownership work?
Shared ownership is a scheme that enables households to buy a share in a property (currently usually between 20% and 75% of the home's value). A subsidised rent is payable on the remaining share, which held by the Registered Provider (normally a housing association). You'll also have the ability to purchase additional shares in the future if you want.
Is it affordable?
The combined monthly cost of your mortgage and rent will normally be less that if purchasing a property outright. Shared ownership also gives you the chance to get on the property ladder with a lower mortgage.
Am I eligible for shared ownership?
To be eligible for a shared ownership property, the annual household income can be no more than £80,000.
For more information, take a look at www.helptobuyagent3.org.uk/help-to-buy-schemes/shared-ownership/
Read these frequently asked questions about shared ownership www.helptobuyagent3.org.uk/help-to-buy-schemes/shared-ownership-faqs/
How much could you borrow? Take a look at this shared ownership mortgage calculator www.helptobuyagent3.org.uk/help-to-buy-schemes/mortgage-calculator/
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You can find out more about shared ownership, and other affordable housing options, at the Council's new dedicated website at www.seamoorhomes.co.uk