What Is a Housing Association?

Housing Associations are not-for-profit, independent organisations that own, let and manage low cost homes. Some have affordable ownership divisions that help to get people onto the housing ladder.

Housing Associations are not part of the public sector but sometimes receive government funding to build new homes and restore communities. They are the UK’s major providers of new homes to rent and often work with other organisations to create jobs and other opportunities. Step Forward Homes is currently working in partnership with First Ark Group a leading North West based housing association.

Who pays for any repairs or maintenance of my home?

This is your responsibility, regardless of the shares that you own. Some brand new homes are offered with a warranty (defects) period, which your Housing Association will explain at the time of purchase.

If you have any further questions, please get in touch with your local Help to Buy Agent.  You can find out who that is by visiting: www.helptobuy.org.uk

Can I sublet my Help to Buy home or buy to let?

No, you must live in the home that you purchased or rent. In exceptional circumstances e.g. if you are a serving member of the armed forces away on a tour of duty, then subletting may be considered but written permission from your housing association is required.

Subletting of a home with an equity loan is not permitted, unless the equity loan has been repaid in full.

What if I want to sell my shared ownership home?

You can get advice about selling and re-purchasing a property from the Housing Association that dealt with your original purchase.

Can I buy additional shares

If you buy a shared ownership home, you can increase your ownership at a later stage and go on to own the property outright. This is called staircasing and many people who buy affordable homes staircase to become full owners.

What if I’m self-employed?

If you’re self-employed, you need to be able to demonstrate that you can afford to maintain the costs of home ownership in the long term. You will usually need to provide three years of past accounts, and it’s important that you obtain independent financial advice.

Can I use housing benefit?

You are unable to use housing benefit to buy or rent a Help to Buy property.

What if I have previously owned a home?

If you have previously owned a home, your application will be based on your current housing situation. However, if you have any equity from the proceeds of the sale, these will be taken into account when you apply.

What if I’m an existing home owner?

If you already own your own home, including overseas and existing shared owners, you are unlikely to be eligible for Help to Buy schemes except for the Equity Loan scheme. However, if you need to purchase a larger home and are unable to because of financial constraints then you may be eligible. In this instance, you will need to demonstrate that you are in housing need and have the support of your local authority or have sold your home prior to applying.

Who has priority?

Only military personnel will be given priority over other groups through government-funded shared ownership schemes. However, councils with their own shared ownership home-building programmes may have other priority groups based on local housing needs.

Who can apply?

Anyone can apply for the Help to Buy – Equity Loan scheme. For other schemes e.g. Shared Ownership, certain key eligibility criteria apply. These may include:

  • Being in full-time work
  • Having a household income of under £80,000 p.a.
  • Work and/or family connections to the area in which you want to buy