Rent to buy; a new way to own a home

Getting on the property ladder is difficult when you rent. A mortgage might feel out of reach, because it’s too hard to save for a deposit. That’s why we introduced ‘Rent to Buy,’ a new scheme that reduces rent so that you can start saving for your future. Rent to Buy helps you on your journey to homeownership, by offering rent at 80% of the market value.

Rent now, buy sooner than you ever thought possible with Stonewater Homes.

Features

  • Save for a deposit while you rent your home
  • Rent your home for 20% less than the market price
  • Work towards home ownership in 5 years
  • Purchase the home you are renting

Benefits

  • We can help you own your home
  • Get on the property ladder
  • A home to call your own
  • Secure your future now

Rent to Buy – What is it and how does it work?

Rent to Buy is a scheme which allows you to rent a home at 80% of the market rent, providing you with the opportunity to save towards a deposit to then go on and buy your home.

Our homes will be let on Assured Shorthold tenancies for 5 years giving you plenty of time to build up a deposit, after which Stonewater will provide you with an opportunity to buy 100% of the home you know and love.

The idea is simple – rent now to buy later.

What is Rent to Buy?

Rent to Buy is exactly how it sounds. You rent the property for 5 year and at the end you buy it. The rent on the property is set at 80% of the market rent (including service charge) allowing you to save money towards a deposit to buy the home you love.

Am I eligible?

Working households with at least one tenant in full time employment are eligible to take part in the Rent to Buy scheme.

You should not currently own a property, though Stonewater may consider you if you do but are unable to live in that home due to exceptional circumstance such as a relationship breakdown.

You have to be serious about buying a home in the future and committed to saving the 20% not being charged as rent towards a deposit. You will be asked to sign an Options Agreement confirming this.

Do I need to live in the local area?

No, you don’t need to be from the local area to apply for one of our Rent to Buy homes.

If we have more applications than properties available we may have to follow a priority criteria, so make sure you supply all the necessary paperwork to the agent in a timely manner.

Will I be referenced?

Reference checks will be carried out on all applicants over the age of 18 by our letting agent. This will include:

  • An Employment reference, confirming that as a household you earn at least four times the rental amount.
  • A Landlord reference, confirming you have always paid your rent on time and looked after previous properties you have rented.
  • A Credit reference, confirming you have an adequate credit score to be able to secure a mortgage at the end of the 5 year tenancy.
  • A Right to Rent check, confirming you have a legal right to rent a property in the UK.
  • Money Laundering/fraud prevention checks include a check of valid photographic and proof of address identification.

There will be no cost to you for the referencing checks.

Please note; Stonewater will not be able to accept applications from those subject to a Bankruptcy or County Court Judgement above £500 within the last 3 years.

How do I pay my rent?

Your rent is set at 80% of the current market rental value including any service charge.

The first months rent will be collected by our agent in cleared funds 3 working days prior to you starting your tenancy. Future rent will be paid directly to Stonewater via Direct Debit in accordance with the date you moved into your home i.e. for a tenancy which commences on 14th March the rent will be due on the 14th of each month moving forward.

Please be aware that your rent will be subject to an increase each year in line with CPI index plus 1%.

Will I have to pay a deposit?

Yes. The deposit, equivalent to 6 weeks rent will be payable to our letting agent 3 working days before move in. Our Agent will register your deposit with one of the 3 Government approved schemes and provide you with the terms & conditions of the relevant scheme.

If you are eligible for a Local Authority Bond of equivalent value, Stonewater will consider this in lieu of a deposit.

How do I apply?

If you have already viewed a property with one of our letting agents, then you should contact them to start your application. If you have not yet seen one of our fantastic homes, please contact our new homes team on 023 8065 8858 option 1 and they will refer your details to the agent.

Once your referencing is complete and your eligibility confirmed we will be in touch to formally offer you a home. Only at this point will your chosen home be secured so it is vital that you act quickly once you have seen a property you like.

Do you accept Housing Benefit?

We do, although applicants have to be working and earn four times the monthly rent – it is unlikely that anyone meeting the criteria for Rent to Buy would be eligible for Housing Benefit.

Can I carry out a mutual exchange from my current housing association property?

No, we are unable to accept mutual exchanges, nor will you be able to once you have moved in to your Rent to Buy home.

Can I have pets?

Pets will be considered subject to review and consent. Please make the agent aware of any pets you may have as part of your application so the appropriate consents can be granted.

Can I decorate?

You will need to complete a consent form before you make any alterations to your home. We do ask that you don’t decorate within the first 12 months of moving in as this can affect the defects liability period offered by the builder.

Are there any restrictions on property size?

No, if you are able to demonstrate that the property is affordable and that you intend to buy at the end of the 5 year tenancy period, there are no restrictions on property size. Should there be more applications than properties available we may look at family size before confirming an offer.

Who is responsible for repairs?

As Landlord Stonewater are responsible for repairs to your home where this has not been caused by negligence. Please report any repairs necessary to Stonewater’s customer contact team on:

customers@stonewater.org

01202 319119

As a tenant you are required to keep your home clean, tidy and not cause damage. Any damage caused will be charged to you and taken out of the deposit monies held, should you not proceed to purchase at the end of the 5 year tenancy.

Why do I have to pay a service charge?

The service charge is payable to cover communal costs associated with your home such as road repairs etc. Whilst you are a tenant this is included in your monthly rental payment and you will continue to pay this when you buy your home. The service charge is reviewed on an annual basis and is payable by householders on the development.

What if I want to buy my home sooner than the 5 year tenancy?

It is not possible to buy your home before the 5 year tenancy term has expired. We will contact you when you are approaching the 4.5 years anniversary of your tenancy to find out your intentions for purchase and should you wish to proceed a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) valuation will be conducted and a formal offer to sell issued to you (subject to the price not breaching the Options Agreement clause). You must confirm your intention to purchase your home within 1 month of issue.

Where the property is being sold Leasehold (typically if you are buying a flat), a 125 year term will be issued.

Should you confirm you would like to buy your home but are unable to do so until year 6 of your tenancy, a 12 month extension may be considered to give you opportunity to save the remaining funds needed. In such circumstances an affordability assessment will be carried out by Stonewater prior to the extension being granted.

If you choose not to proceed to purchase your home then Stonewater will end your tenancy by providing you with a minimum of 6 months notice.

Can I leave my home before the 5 years is up?

Your initial tenancy is for a fixed 18 month term with no option for either party to break without agreement of the other. If your circumstances change and you are no longer able to remain in the property, you should contact us immediately and we’ll review your request.

Can I move to another Rent to Buy home at the end of the 5 year term?

No you will be unable to move.

What other costs are involved in Rent to Buy?

You may have moving costs associated with your tenancy. Other costs may be incurred if you decide to buy your home and will include:

  • Legal fees
  • Stamp Duty
  • Mortgage arrangement fees

How do I sell my Rent to Buy home in the future?

Once you have purchased your home you may sell it at any time without penalty.

If your property is leasehold then you will often be asked to provide a Leasehold Information pack as part of the conveyancing process. Stonewater are able to provide this subject to a fee which can be found at:

http://stonewaterhomes.co.uk/already-own-stonewater-home

Do you charge an administration fee?

There is no administration fee payable as part of your Rent to Buy application.

Once you are a tenant and subsequently a homeowner, you may be subject to administration fees for items such as:

  • Requesting consent to make alterations to your home or to keep a pet.
  • Requests to terminate your tenancy within the fixed term.
  • Requests to add or remove Tenants from the tenancy.
  • Provision of legal documents to you for both the purchase and future sale of your home.
  • Late payment of rent or service charge.

Where are Stonewater offering Rent to Buy?

During the next 18 months we are offering the Rent to Buy scheme in the following areas:

  • Wincanton, South Somerset
  • Mosterton, Dorset
  • Newhaven, East Sussex
  • South Petherton, South Somerset

I have further questions

If you have questions we haven’t answered regarding the Rent to Buy scheme, please contact the New Homes team on:

sales@stonewaterhomes.co.uk

023 8065 8858

The scheme is open to both first time buyers and those returning to the market having previously owned a property.

You must demonstrate that you are intending to buy your own home in the future and commit to working towards saving a deposit to purchase over the 5 year tenancy term.

You must be a working household with a minimum of one income through employment or self employment.

Whilst there is no cap on the maximum income you may have, Stonewater will operate their discretion to refuse those who are already in a position to buy on the open market.

You must not currently own another home. Stonewater may operate discretion to allow you to rent one of our homes if you can demonstrate that you do not have access to live there, for example through a relationship breakdown. Under this situation you would not be permitted to purchase under the scheme until you have disposed of your interest in the other property.

Stonewater works with local letting agents to advertise our Rent to Buy homes. Please contact Stonewater directly for the specific details of the development you are interested in.

We will be able to answer any questions you have about the scheme and development and then arrange for our agents to contact you to arrange a suitable time to show you around the properties we have available.

Once you find one that you would like to secure the process is simple and Stonewater and our dedicated new homes team will be here to help you at every step of the way.

As part of your application you will need to complete our referencing process which is applicable to all applicants over the age of 18 and includes:

  • Employment reference; with income check to ensure you have sufficient funding to be able to afford the rent and move to purchasing the property in 5 years time.
  • Landlord reference; including details of your rent being paid on time and your previous property being well looked after.
  • Credit Reference; you will need to achieve a minimum scoring to show that you would be able to secure a mortgage to purchase the property in the future. Unfortunately Stonewater are not able to accept applicants who are subject to Bankruptcy or County Court Judgements above £500, within the last 3 years.

Please note there will be no charge by the letting agent for any administration of referencing carried out upon you as part of your application.

Our letting agent will also conduct Right to Rent and money laundering checks upon any applicants over the age of 18, through the collection of the appropriate identification from you.

Once your referencing has been completed by our letting agent, it will be assessed by our new homes team. You will then be given a call to confirm if Stonewater are able to issue a formal offer to you.

Your initial tenancy will be for a period of 18 months through as assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

Upon review of the initial fixed term, if you are still enjoying your home and wish to remain you will be granted an extension of up to the total 5 year period.

Our rents are affordable and set at 80% of the current market rent (inclusive of service charge). This allows you to save towards a deposit to buy your home in the future.

Please be aware the annual rent increase will be subject to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1% and the CPI will be taken as at the September of the previous year.

Your first month’s rent will be paid to our letting agent and thereafter all payment should be made directly to Stonewater. You will be required to set up a direct debit payment as part of the application.

You will be required to sign a tenancy agreement setting out both Stonewater’s and your right and obligations surrounding the property.

This document will detail items such as any changes permitted within the property and any items that you would need consent for, for example keeping a pet.

You will be provided with a sample copy of the tenancy agreement as part of your application. Please ensure you read this through and take independent legal advice on anything you are unsure about as neither Stonewater nor our agent are able to provide you with advice on this.

Once signed, the tenancy agreement creates a legally binding contract between both parties and this cannot be broken without the agreement of the other, or through statutory mechanism.

Please note key clauses to consider before renting a home with us:

  • Smoking is prohibited within our properties
  • Pets will be considered subject to review and consent
  • Subletting is not permitted during the tenancy

Before you move into your new home you will be asked to sign an Options Agreement confirming your intention to purchase the property at the end of the 5 year rental period.

The agreement will include a clause permitted Stonewater to refuse sale after the 5 year initial period should the market value of the home be less than the valuation figure at the initial letting. In this circumstance you will be offered the possibility of extending your tenancy for a further term until such as time as Stonewater is able to sell to you.

A deposit of 6 weeks rent will be payable at the start of your tenancy.

Our agents will register the deposit with one of the 3 deposit protection schemes approved by the Government and provide you with confirmation of this as well as any information surrounding the scheme.

Upon the completion of your purchase at the end of the 5 year period, your deposit will be returned to you in full.

Should you decide to leave the property earlier than the 5 year term or not choose to proceed, Stonewater will look to make a claim against any Tenant who does not return the property in the condition let to them, minus allowance for fair wear and tear.

Stonewater will consider a Local Authority Bond of equivalent value in lieu of a deposit.

You will be responsible for all utilities for the property from the commencement of your tenancy.

At your new homes handover you will be provided with details of your utility suppliers as well as the meter readings. You will need to contact them and set up an account directly.

Although we do our best to ensure your home is in the best possible condition for you to move in to, occasionally things do go wrong. Should you need to report any repairs or defects during your tenancy, please contact our Customer Contact team on:

01202 319119

customers@stonewater.org

Should you have any queries in relation to your tenancy, participation in the scheme or option to purchase these should be directed to our dedicated Rent to Buy team:

Sales & Services

02380 658858

Homeowner@stonewater.org

Your tenancy will be for a fixed term period with no option for either party to break this without the agreement of the other. Should your circumstances change and you are no longer able to remain in the property, you should contact us immediately and we’ll review your request and respond accordingly.

It may be possible for Stonewater to consider requests to terminate the tenancy due to exceptional change in circumstances subject to a minimum 2 months notice and provision to allow remarketing and access to the property whilst your tenancy is still in place.

You will not be permitted to exchange property as part of the Rent to Buy scheme nor have access to any of the following rental products:

  • Statutory Right to Buy
  • Right to Acquire
  • Voluntary Right to Buy

You will be contacted approaching the 4.5 years anniversary of your tenancy to ask their intentions to purchase the home.

Should you wish to proceed to buy a RICS valuation will be conducted and formal offer to sell issued to you (subject to the price not breaching the Options Agreement clause). You must confirm your intention to purchase the property within 1 month of issue.

Where the property is being sold Leasehold, a 125 year term will be issued.

Should you confirm an intention to purchase but inability to do so until year 6 of your tenancy, a 12 month extension to the tenancy may be considered to give you opportunity to save the remaining funds needed. In such a circumstance an affordability assessment will be carried out by Stonewater prior to the extension being granted.

If you chose not to proceed to purchase the property then Stonewater will end your tenancy by providing you with a minimum of 6 months notice.

Stonewater are obliged to take every precaution to make sure that all parties to the application are eligible to participate in the scheme.

You will be asked to sign a declaration to confirm that you do not hold an interest in the ownership of another property at the point of letting.

Stonewater’s agents will collect a copy of two forms of identification to conform to Money Laundering best practice. To include:

  • Proof of address ID; passport or driving license
  • Proof of current address ID; a utility bill (not mobile phone) or bank statement (not credit card statement) registered at the address you are currently residing in, dated within the past three months.

The properties will be closely monitored for sign of subletting and any case that is found will result in the immediate termination of your tenancy.

Once you have purchased your home you may sell it at any time without penalty.

If your property is leasehold then you will often be asked to provide a Leasehold Information pack as part of the conveyancing process. Stonewater are able to provide this subject to a fee which can be found at:

http://stonewaterhomes.co.uk/already-own-stonewater-home

If we have not answered your question in the text above then please email us at renttobuy@stonewater.org.

For queries relating to Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy new builds, contact us now on 023 8065 8858.

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