Rentplus & Harrow Churches Housing Association partner to deliver Oxfordshire’s first rent-to-buy scheme
On Wednesday, 14th December, Rentplus, an innovative business providing rent-to-buy homes, and Harrow Churches Housing Association (HCHA) announced a new partnership to deliver new rent-to-buy homes at Mulberry Developments Stratton Park scheme in Bicester. Located in Cherwell District Council, the local authority is leading the way on delivering affordable housing in Oxfordshire and the Rentplus homes are the first rent-to-buy properties to be built in the county. The arrival of these homes will be welcome news to many of the county’s residents, with Oxford recently named the UK’s most unaffordable city to live in. The first tenants are expected to move in to their new homes in the summer of 2017.
The 10 two bedroom homes will be constructed by premier regional developer, Mulberry Developments, and will form part of their Stratton Park development on London Road in Bicester. In total, the development will comprise 125 units. HCHA will manage the 10 Rentplus homes once they are built and will support the new occupants seeking to buy them in the future.
Richard Connolly, Rentplus CEO, said: ‘Hot on the heels of the Government’s announcement that they are keen to bring more rent-to-buy homes to local communities, we are pleased to be delivering exactly that. These properties will be Oxfordshire’s first rent-to-buy homes; we’re delighted to be working with Cherwell District Council as they represent a significant step-change towards providing mixed-tenure communities that support people with a range of housing needs. Our innovative model gives families who are just about managing the opportunity to fulfil their dreams of homeownership while offering them the safety and security of a long-term tenure. We believe that today’s announcement is the first step in a much longer journey with both Harrow Churches and Mulberry Developments which will hopefully see us working together long into the future, in partnership with Cherwell District Council to achieve their strategic housing plans. I hope that this first scheme will enable us to deliver many more affordable rent-to-buy homes across the district and Oxfordshire.’
Chris Holley, HCHA Chief Executive, said: ‘This scheme at Stratton Park is a great example of how collaboration and partnership is key to bringing more affordable homes onto the market, and Harrow Churches Housing Association is very pleased to be partnering with Rentplus. These affordable properties will support working families in the county, who aspire to own their own home but cannot currently do so, take their first step onto the property ladder.’
Rentplus, which has plans to build 5,000 new rent-to-buy homes by 2020, offers an accessible route to homeownership for low income working people who are unable to save for a deposit. Under this rent-to-buy model tenants pay an affordable intermediate rent which is substantially lower than market rents in the area, and have the opportunity to purchase their home in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. This includes service charges, and with no maintenance responsibilities, occupants have time to save for a deposit and build a credit history that will support mortgage applications. The tenants will receive a 10 per cent gifted deposit from Rentplus when they do so. Funded by institutional investors with no grant or public subsidy, Rentplus properties are let on 20-year operating leases to housing associations, like Harrow Churches, who manage the homes and provide housing services for the tenants.
Steve Mitchell, Residential Director for Mulberry Developments said: ‘Mulberry Developments already has an excellent reputation for building high quality houses across the region. We are differentiating ourselves in terms of the level of design and specification and by raising the bar in terms of what potential buyers should come to expect from a new home and these rent-to-buy apartments at Stratton Park are no exception.’
Stratton Park is located within walking distance of Bicester town centre, Bicester’s designer shopping village and railway station – which takes commuters to both London and Birmingham in just under an hour. Bicester secured ‘garden town’ status in 2014 and is rapidly expanding. Rentplus see Oxfordshire as a target area for growth and through the London Road development hope to demonstrate how rent-to-buy homes can complement Cherwell District Council’s strategic housing plans.