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Meet some Rentplus residents

Nicole Richards

Until May 2019, Nicole Richards had been living in privately rented houses for over five years, finding it impossible to save anything towards the deposit she needed to be able to buy her own home.

When her landlord in Wellingborough decided to raise her rent, she knew that she would have to downsize, and immediately started looking for a new home to rent. She had little idea that just a week later she would be moving in to her brand new home, paying affordable rent and on a trajectory to owning her home. Like so many of those applying for a Rentplus affordable rent to buy home, 27- year-old Nicole works in the public sector as a qualified nurse, helping young people with mental ill health in a local Northampton CAMHS unit.

Nicole had long thought about buying a home. She’d moved to Northampton after renting in Cambridgeshire and looked into Shared Ownership, as her brother had gone this route into homeownership. But, living in expensive private rented accommodation, Nicole found it impossible to save any money, let alone the £32,000+ deposit needed for the average first home in Northampton.

New research shows that the average couple would need to save for 19 years to raise the minimum 5% deposit required for Shared Ownership or the Government’s Rent to Buy. Even the proposed 1% deposit mooted just this month would have been out of reach for Nicole.

“I knew I had to downsize as I could not afford the new rent my landlord was asking, and so when I started looking for a smaller house, I was happy to see the new one bedroomed houses Rentplus was offering in Kingsthorpe, through Greatwell Homes.”

All Rentplus tenants apply through their local housing association. Nicole applied to Greatwell Homes (formerly Wellingborough Housing Association). Just one week after hearing she had been successful, and without the need for any deposit, Nicole moved in to a brand new one bed house, leaving her just enough time to get carpet laid in her new home.

“I’m loving living in my new home. It’s really quiet. The neighbours are lovely and Greatwell Homes was very, very helpful. It’s just ten minutes from work and although the house is smaller than my last house, that’s fine.

“I plan to be in a position to buy the house in five years’ time. I’ve got an ISA set up and I can already see that growing each month, even after just two months. Rentplus is a fantastic opportunity to help people such as myself to save to purchase their first home and I am so grateful to find this opportunity”.

In just under five years, in 2023, at the point of purchase, Rentplus will gift Nicole 10% of the sale price towards her deposit. This gifted deposit is unique to Rentplus and another reason it’s proving successful. Rentplus is an affordable rent to buy proposition, as defined in National Planning Policy Framework, which the government revised last year.

Working closely with the local authority and local housing associations. Rentplus offers those on lower or middle incomes, without savings, the chance to rent a property for between 5 and twenty years. During this time, they can save towards a deposit, and build a good credit rating which will allow them to get a mortgage when they decide to buy. Rentplus is working with Greatwell Homes and local authorities in the region to find new housing developments where affordable rent to buy homes can be built. 

The Rafiq Family

The Rafiq Family

After 7 years in the private rental sector in Stoke in Plymouth, the Rafiq family finally have a Rentplus home they can call their own. Before moving into their new two bedroom Rentplus home, Muhammad Rafiq and his wife Marina found it impossible to save for a deposit.  Muhammad and his family are not alone - saving for a deposit continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to home ownership. Research from Shelter reveals that 86% of people say they would like to own their home, but 75% of renters are unable to save more than £100 a month towards a deposit. 

The Rafiq family have set a goal of purchasing their new home in five years; they plan to save the difference between their private sector rent and their affordable Rentplus rent to ensure they can put more towards the 10% gifted deposit from Rentplus and to cover their other purchase costs. 

Muhammad Rafiq said: “Our dream has long been to own our own home but with the high costs of renting combined with the need to save thousands of pounds for a deposit it’s never been in reach for us. This model is ideal for our needs as we have the certainty of living in the home which we will one day own and the reduction in rent is making a huge difference to our lives. 

“We love living in Plymouth – our daughter attends a local nursery and both the sea and local countryside are on our doorstep. Our quality of life has vastly improved. 

“Owning your own home is one of the greatest things in life – knowing that we won’t have to move again because of rising rents or at a landlord’s discretion ensures that we can plan ahead and establish real roots in the local community.”

Saxon Fields, Cullompton.  The Hornsey family

After moving on average every 18 months, the Hornsey family was sick of living out of boxes and ready to finally find somewhere they could call their own.

However, despite having a combined income of £35,000 and saving for a deposit for over five years, Damien Hornsey, an office manager at a local electrical company, and his partner Kirsty, a care worker, were not able to pull enough together as their deposit to buy a home. 

Kirsty explains: “We were saving for five years and getting close but never close enough for the open market. Rentplus swooped in and saved the day, literally: we had a ten year old son and four year old daughter sharing a bedroom as we couldn’t afford a bigger home”.

Their children, Lennon and Elsie, now twelve and six, were fed-up with having to share magnolia coloured rooms, and were desperate to have a space of their own that they could decorate to their own taste. 

After googling options for affordable housing in their area, Damien and Kirsty came across Rentplus’ affordable rent-to-buy model. They got in touch with Cornerstone, the housing association partner managing the Rentplus homes in Saxon Fields, Cullompton. 

After a discussion they applied for one of the ten available homes, and in June 2017, they moved into their new home.

Damien said: “Despite saving for years we found that we just could not keep up with the house price growth in our area. It always felt like we were near the finish line, but every time we looked to buy we just didn’t have quite enough for a deposit.” 

They took a five year tenancy and have the opportunity to buy their home in four years’ 
time. Until then, they benefit from the affordable intermediate rent, set at 80 per cent of local private rented homes.

Living in a Rentplus home also gives the Hornsey’s security of tenure – they won’t have to move again as they have a five year tenancy agreement with Cornerstone, who are also responsible for carrying out any repairs to the property until the Hornseys buy their home. The Hornseys also have no maintenance costs or service charges to pay while they rent. 

Their new reduced rental and running costs means that Damien and Kirsty are able to save more each month compared to the market rent they were paying before. These additional savings will be added towards the money they have already set aside for their deposit and purchase costs, as well the 10 per cent gifted deposit they will receive from Rentplus when they have the opportunity to buy their home. 

Damien continued: “For us the Rentplus model is perfect. It feels fantastic to be living somewhere which we will eventually own. Our new three bedroom house is a real upgrade from the two bedroom flat we were renting, yet we are saving an additional £30 a month, on top of what we are already setting aside, to put towards our deposit. 

“The house itself is also great. We were previously living just off a very busy main road and I was always worried about letting the children play outside near so much traffic. However, Saxon Fields feels like a really safe community, and the kids are able to go out and play with other kids on the street without us having to worry about them.”

January 2019

Zoe moved into their new Rentplus home with her partner and four month old baby. She said: “Before moving into our new Rentplus home we were living in a two bedroom bungalow with my partner’s father. With so many of us in the house it was getting way too cramped and we really wanted a space of our own. To date, we’ve just not been able to afford getting onto the property ladder in the traditional way.

“I first heard about Rentplus and their rent-to-buy homes through the council. As well as being affordable, the location really attracted me– it is so close to town and we have good schools right on our doorstep, which means that we won’t have to rely on public transport.

“We are aiming to buy our new home after 5 years. The affordable rent means that we are able to save at the same time so we will be able to put more towards the deposit than the 10% Rentplus will give us then. 

A and R spent several years in the private rented sector. The home they lived in was damp and did not have a garden. They desperately wanted to move, but as a consequence of rising rents in Plymouth they couldn’t afford to find somewhere new to rent.  Their story is not unusual; many tenants are increasingly priced out of moving to better accommodation within the rental market. In the South West alone average rents have grown by at least 2.5% in the last 12 months according to the ONS Index of Private Housing Rental Prices.

When they found out about Rentplus and the homes at Palmerston Heights they described it as “a dream come true”. They now have a two bedroom house with a spacious garden that they are looking to buy in 15 years’ time. The couple said they never thought they would get the chance to own their own home.

S is a 45 year old disabled man who has been allocated a ground floor 2 bedroom apartment.  He is going through a divorce and is sorting out his finances. He has a clear plan to pay off all related debts and enter the next chapter of his life. He recently moved jobs and he is training in the civil service and is expecting a promotion once his probation is over.

K is a 39 year old single father to a 13 year old boy who has been allocated a ground floor 2 bedroom apartment. K was previously privately renting and unable to save but really wanted to get onto the property ladder; Rentplus gives him that opportunity to save and later purchase his home.

A is a 32 year old single man with learning difficulties who has been allocated a 2nd floor 2 bedroom apartment.  A works part time and also volunteers with the British Heart Foundation.  He was living with his parents.  Having a Rentplus home means he is independent and can plan for his future without the support of his parents. He has a trust fund that will allow him to buy in 5 years’ time.

Z and J are 23 and 28 living together as a couple. They have recently had a child and were living with parents. They have been allocated a 2nd floor 2 bedroom apartment and plan to buy in 5 years. Rentplus allowed them to move into their own home and be totally independent.  Their ambition is to own their own property.  J has a daughter from a previous relationship and the location of his new home makes it easier for him to visit and care for his daughter.  Their own space means she can also come and visit which was not possible before.  The scheme will bring their whole family together and they are very excited about the opportunity they have been given.

T and N are 32 and 31. They have recently had a child and were renting privately. They have been allocated a 1st floor 2 bedroom apartment and plan to buy in 10 years.  Rentplus allows them to move into their own home with their independence and own their home in due course. 

D and H are 26 and 25. They have a 4 year old and were previously in Armed Forces accommodation. They have been allocated a 1st floor 2 bedroom apartment and plan to purchase in 15 years.  D has recently left the Army to start his own locksmith business and therefore had to vacate his tied accommodation with the Army. Having a Rentplus home has prevented them from becoming homeless as they were subject to eviction and will allow D to build his new business and save.  This is a great opportunity to support him and his family now when it is most needed.  This will give him and his partner an opportunity to save, secure their finances and eventually buy their home.  

E is a 52 year old single mother who has been allocated a 2nd floor 2 bedroom apartment. E works full time and has a grown daughter who is living with her. Rentplus gives her the opportunity to purchase the property with her daughter.  

Further Case Studies: 

T and R are both 25 years old. They have been accepted for a 2 bedroom house with garden on a 20 year tenancy.  They have a 6 month old son. T works full time and R is currently on maternity leave but will be going back to work full time.  They are currently living in a social housing one bedroom flat and with all the baby’s things it feels quite crowded. They don’t have a garden.  The new Rentplus property is a 5 minute drive to xx’s work. They feel that Rentplus will give them the motivation to save for a mortgage and offers them a better quality of life for their family.

P & E are in their mid-20s with a 14 month old son & are hoping to have more children. They have moved into a 2 bed Rentplus home. P works full time & E works for a care agency where she works shifts to fit in with P’s work so he can take care of the baby.  They were living in a top floor social housing flat. They feel that Rentplus is what they need to get on the property ladder, they plan to save to add to the gifted deposit and achieve home ownership in 5 years’ time.

C & F are both in their 40s with 2 young sons. They were renting privately but their house was very damp and cold, therefore they were desperate to move. They are both working and feel that Rentplus has given them a ‘chance of a lifetime’ to achieve home ownership as the affordable rent will enable them to save to add to the gifted deposit.

Y and P are in their mid - 20s with 2 young daughters. They rented privately but their property was very damp and did not have a garden. They were desperate to move but unable to find a home they could afford to rent in the private sector. They were allocated a new 2 bedroom house with the opportunity to buy in 15 years time and describe it as ‘a dream come true’ as they never thought they would ever get the chance to buy their own home.

H is 32 and a hospital administrator, after a relationship breakdown (and the loss of her rented home) she lived at home with her parents whilst trying to save for a deposit.  She was allocated a new Rentplus property near to the hospital with the opportunity to buy in 5 years time. H has taken a 2nd part time evening job to save money to add to the gifted deposit and reduce the mortgage required to buy her home.


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