Working with Plymouth Council and Local Housing Association, Rentplus turns Plymouth renters into homeowners

May 27, 2024
Rentplus, Plymouth City Council, and Willow Tree Housing are celebrating turning 13 local renters into homeowners.

In 2014/2015, local housing developer Rich Pillar established Rentplus-UK to assist working individuals in the area who struggled to save a substantial deposit. By eliminating the upfront deposit requirement, Pillar believed that working people could achieve homeownership. The Rentplus team worked closely with Plymouth City Council and Tamar Housing Society (now Willow Tree Housing) to introduce a new affordable rent-to-buy model. This model enabled local residents to move into new homes without needing a deposit. Tenants were enrolled in 5, 10, 15, or 20-year plans and paid affordable rent, set at 80% of the average local rent and covered service charges and repairs. This approach allowed tenants to start saving money from the outset.

The first Rentplus schemes were rolled out across three local areas across Plymouth: Mannamead, Palmerstone Heights, and Redwood Drive. The initial tenants moving in during 2016 and the initiative scheme going on to pick up the prestigious Most Innovative Housing Product award at the 2019 National Housing Awards. In 2021, the first tenants reached their 5-year milestone during the Covid pandemic and 13 tenants on the 5-year plan have now transitioned to homeownership. By saving over the years and being gifted 10% of their home’s value from Rentplus, they were able to secure traditional mortgages to purchase 100% of their homes. Some tenants had up to 25% equity in their homes from the outset.

One of the first Rentplus families to turn from renters into homeowners were Mark and Maggie*. Although they knew they wanted to buy a home, raising the deposit had always been the barrier for the couple but after they moved in they were able to immediately start saving up £200 a month, squirreling it into an ISA. “We were motivated to buy our own home, but Rentplus helped us to do so faster.  We could not save the deposit but Rentplus allowed us to save and achieve our dream in just five years.  We also saved the upheaval of moving house: no changing address, no removal fees, less stress – that’s a big bonus.” Mark said.

Rentplus CEO Steve Collins remarked: “Without the support of Plymouth City Council’s housing and planning teams, and the endorsement of Councillors, Rentplus would not have taken off. Tamar Housing played a crucial role in helping us prove the mode, and we thank both parties for their vision. Thanks to their willingness to try something new, by the end of this year Rentplus will have turned renters into homeowners across 17 developments across England.  We have 100 sites in about 70 local authority areas where tenants are already on the path to homeownership.”

Plymouth City Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Housing, Cooperative Development and Communities, said: “Rentplus is a truly innovative product and we’re so pleased that our residents have been able to benefit from pioneering the model here in Plymouth. Schemes like this are so very important in helping us navigate out of the current housing crisis. It is by trying new things and working in closely with partners that we can make some headway and provide the homes needed for people of all situations from all walks of life.”

 The last word goes to buyers Maggie who added: “Rentplus offers great support for first time buyers. It is such a good thing. We can stay here, or we can sell and move to a bigger home because we now have equity. Rentplus has given us choices and opportunities we didn’t have before.”


* Names changed at homeowners' request  
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