Lifton families get the keys to their Rentplus home in time for Christmas

Dec 1, 2022

A Devon-based innovative approach to increasing local home ownership has seen six local families being helped onto the housing ladder.

A new partnership between Plymouth-based Rentplus-UK and local housing association, South Devon Rural, working with West Devon Council and local builders, Harrington Homes, meant six new affordable rent to buy homes were available close to the centre of Lifton. Under the model, private finance funds new affordable housing at no cost to the local council.  The housing association also benefits from a new rental income stream, in return for taking over local management of the tenancies.

With just four weeks until Christmas, Sir Geoffrey Cox MP joined with Cllr Caroline Mott, Mayor of West Devon and Lead Member for Built Environment and Christine Candlish, CEO at South Devon Rural Housing to welcome the new residents into the homes they will be buying.

The homes consist of two 2-bed houses and four 1-bed flats. All homes have been allocated and tenants are starting their home ownership journey by moving into their brand-new homes without paying any upfront deposit.  They will pay an affordable rent (80% of market rent) for an agreed period, living in the home that they will one day own whilst they save up to buy it.  Each family has previously lived in or have connections to the area.

By paying a below market rent they can save more each month. At the outset, they choose whether to buy their home after 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. They move in with no deposit and when they come to purchase, Rentplus will gift them 10% of their home’s value to add to their savings and reduce the mortgage they need. They will buy their home using a high-street mortgage and then own 100% of it as if they had bought on the open market.

At the event, Robin Falle, Regional Director for the West of England at Rentplus, said: “Affordability is an issue across the country. We’re excited be working with South Devon Rural and West Devon Council to offer local home for local people, enabling hard working people to stay living in the communities they grew up in.  It is good to be here today to meet the tenants, hand over their keys and to wish them all the best in their new home.”

Christine Candlish, Chief Executive at South Devon Rural, commended all parties for the partnership and said: “One of the things that excites us about working with Rentplus is the way it fills a gap in the market, particularly in small rural villages where people want to stay living in their communities, but cannot afford to.  With Rentplus they can stay living locally, pay an affordable rent, build their deposit, and buy.  They never have to move again if they choose not to.

“We’re excited about future opportunities, and we all wish our tenants picking up their keys today every luck and happiness in their new homes”.

Cllr Caroline Mott, Mayor of West Devon added: “This is the council’s sixth scheme with Rentplus. We need more schemes to get affordable housing into our local communities.  Giving local people the chance to buy a home in these villages is crucial to the future of our rural communities.  We are working with partner agencies as we want to see more schemes like this come to fruition.”

Sir Geoffrey Cox MP said: “Partnership such as this have an important part to play in enabling more people to own their homes. Providing people with somewhere to call their own is the single most important cause of the time. Talking to the people moving in today I can see how much it means to them to have a place of their own that they will someday own. Giving people the chance to own their home is true Levelling Up. Schemes such as Rentplus assist in this and I hope there are more to come.”

Declan and Georgina Howarth are amongst the first residents to move in to their new Lifton homes. Not needing a deposit to move in is a real bonus, they told us. “We’re really excited to be moving in.  We’ll be paying an affordable rent, cheaper than local rents, which means we can save our deposit and get on the housing ladder earlier than we expected thanks to the Rentplus scheme.”  The young family are excited to be in for Christmas. “Firstly, we’ll get the carpets put in next week, then the Christmas tree goes up!”

Sir Geoffrey, Cllr Mott and Christine Candlish also planted a sweet cherry tree, part of the Rentplus commitment to plant trees for the late Queen’s Jubilee Canopy.

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