Oxfordshire’s first Rent-to-Buy scheme in Bicester brought to you in partnership with Rentplus & Harrow Churches Housing Association.
An innovative solution for those seeking that stepping stone to a home of your own
Rentplus affordable housing is a new way for rental tenants, first-time buyers and local households to take the first step into home ownership.
The scheme allows you to initially rent a new 2 bedroom property in Stratton Park near Bicester Village, with the option to buy the property after 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. Furthermore, Rentplus will gift you 10% deposit of the property’s market value at the time of purchase.
In Stratton Park, Bicester, Harrow Churches Housing Association manages 10 two-bedroom in the rent-to-buy housing scheme by Rentplus. Please note, all ten properties have been filled.
Rentplus is a major new affordable housing option, providing real opportunities for people aspiring to move from renting to owning their home. For answers to frequently asked questions on Rentplus click here.
Rentplus & Harrow Churches Housing Association partner to deliver Oxfordshire’s first rent-to-buy scheme
In 2017 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 were the first rent-to-buy properties to be built in the county. The arrival of these homes was 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 moved in to their new homes in the summer of 2017.
The 10 two bedroom homes constructed by premier regional developer, Mulberry Developments, form part of the Stratton Park development on London Road in Bicester. In total, the development comprises of 125 units. HCHA manages the 10 Rentplus homes and will support the occupants to buy them in the future.
At the tenants welcome party event held in 2017, 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. 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 support working families in the county, who aspire to own their own home but cannot currently do so, to take their first step onto the property ladder.”
Rentplus 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 in Stratton Park, Bicester are let on 20-year operating lease to Harrow Churches Housing Association, who manage the homes and provide housing services for the tenants.
Steve Mitchell, Residential Director for Mulberry Developments, said “Mulberry Developments 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.
Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions about the Rentplus scheme.
What Is Rentplus?
Rentplus is new type of affordable housing aimed at people who aspire to home ownership.
Each Rentplus property will be on the scheme for an agreed period of between 5 and 20 years. At the end of the agreed period each home is sold, preferably to the existing tenant with a gifted deposit.
How Does Rentplus Work?
On each Rentplus site, homes are divided up into four groups, each is on the scheme for an agreed period of between 5 and 20 years as shown below.
- 25% of properties will be Rentplus homes for 5 years
- 25% for 10 years
- 25% for 15 years
- 25% for 20 years
Initially, you will be given a five year tenancy, and this will be renewed every five years until the property reaches the end the agreed period.
When your property reaches the end of the agreed period you will be given the opportunity to buy your home. Rentplus will also give you a deposit of 10% of the value of your home as a gifted deposit to add to your own savings. You can get advice on how big a deposit you may need by clicking on the links on the right.
Who is Rentplus Suitable for?
Rentplus is aimed at people who are looking to move into home ownership. You might be renting privately, living with relatives or renting from a housing association or Council. Rentplus will be especially attractive to couples and younger families who will be able to get a mortgage in 5 to 20 years.
You will need to show that you can save a deposit over a number of years, that you will be able to get a mortgage and that you are committed to home ownership.
Rentplus would be suitable for people who
- Are in work or in training
- Have been saving for a deposit or are able to do so
- Have a good credit history
Rentplus will especially suit people who are looking to buy a home but aren’t able to do so yet, as you will get the chance to save up for a deposit while living in your new home. You might be looking to get a better job, training for a career or look for promotion.
What Type of Home Could I Get?
Rentplus sites may offer a variety of homes, with each site being different. You may be able to get a home with up to one bedroom larger than your family needs now, although this will depend on availability and whether you can afford the rent.
At the start of the tenancy the rent will be set at an affordable rent, which is 80% of the market rent. This will only be increased by the Consumer Prices Index plus 1% every year. At the end of each 5 year tenancy the rent will be reset to 80% of the market rent again. There is no deposit but you will be expected to pay the normal household bills.
Do I Have To Buy My Home or Can I Chose Any Home?
Rentplus is set up to help you buy your home. You won’t be able to trade or swap with anyone else or buy a different home.
What Happens at The End of The Agreed Period?
We hope that you will be able to buy your home at this point. We will help you to find a mortgage and support you through the purchase of your home. If you can’t buy your home you may be able to extend the agreed period, depending on availability.
If we can’t give you any longer on the scheme and you can’t buy your home we will support you to find alternative accommodation.
What If I Want to Buy My Home Earlier Than The End of The Agreed Period?
This may be possible. If another family is unable to purchase their home you will be given the chance to buy your home instead.
Am I Guaranteed That I Can Stay Until The End of The Agreed Period?
So long as you pay your rent, do not cause a nuisance, look after your home, there are no significant changes in your family circumstances and you don’t breach your tenancy you will be able to remain in your property during the agreed period. You may, however, leave at any time by giving us 4 weeks notice in writing.
Do I Have The Same Rights As Other Social Housing Tenants?
Broadly yes, you have the same rights. Your landlord will be responsible for carrying out repairs and looking after any communal areas. You will need to seek permission from HCHA before doing the following:
- take in lodgers
- run a business from your home
- keep pets
- make improvements to your home.
You won’t have:
- The right to exchange with another social housing tenant
- The Right to Buy or the Right to Acquire
If you are moving from social housing you will be losing some rights. You should seek advice about this from the CAB or other housing advisor.
How Do I Apply?
You can register with us (for most 5 year Rentplus properties) or your local HomeChoice service (for all other Rentplus properties).
To register your interest please fill in the online form (link here) or contact the HCHA Head office on 020 8424 2776.
What Happens If I Apply?
First we will check whether your meet the basic criteria.
- That you are working or in training
- That you have no adverse credit history
- That you do not have high debts.
We will then visit you in your home to ensure that the details you have given are correct. We will expect to see proof of
- Your credit history
- Your employment or training contract
- Your income, such as wage slips and benefit books
- Your debts and savings, including bank statements
- Your outgoings, such as bank statements
- Your family make up
We will check to ensure that you can afford the rent now and save for a deposit in the future. We will help you to understand what you will be expected to do to have a Rentplus home and how you can prepare for home ownership.
We will then assess your application, and if you are successful we will offer you a property, with a maximum time as a Rentplus home between 5 and 20 years.
Rentplus website http://rentplus-uk.com/
Cherwell Homechoice https://www.cherwell-homechoice.org.uk/Data/ASPPages/1/4280.aspx
Bicester is one of the fastest growing towns in Oxfordshire. In 2014, the government announced that it would become a ‘garden city’, with upwards of 13,000 homes being built. Its close proximity to the M40 and much improved railway services to London make it a very attractive place to live.
The Stratton Park plot is built by Mulberry Developments and provides 125 new homes – ten of which are owned by Rentplus and managed by Harrow Churches Housing Association and available as rent-to-buy properties. The development is located just a few minutes walk from the town centre, Bicester Village station and Outlet Centre. There is fast road access to the M40 (3.5 miles) via the A41.
Possibly the most modern feature in the town is Bicester Village Outlet Centre, showcasing stores from the world’s leading fashion and lifestyle brands, ideally located adjacent to the A41 and with newly upgraded railway station.
The town centre has also seen new investment, with a major Sainsbury’s store and a seven screen Vue Cinema, as part of the Pioneer Square. New civic buildings and scheduled improvements to Market Square and the High Street are set to enhance local facilities.
Bicester Village and Bicester North stations already provide fast and frequent mainline rail services to Birmingham, Oxford and London Marylebone. The new EastWest Rail Line, the first phases of which are now open with completion due by 2019, will see Bicester at the heart of a new rail network of reinstated lines linking Reading, Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford.
|Plot||Postal Address||Beds||of flat (m²)||liv/din/kit (m²)||kit (m²)||Bed 1 (m²)||Bed 2 (m²)||bath (m²)||Floor|
|116||1 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||57.2||20.4||7.4||10.3||8.4||5.1||Ground|
|117||3 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||57.2||20.4||7.4||10.3||8.4||5.1||First|
|118||5 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||56||20.5||7.4||9.1||8.4||5.1||Second|
|119||2 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||57.6||21.4||7.8||11.4||7.7||4||Ground|
|120||4 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||57||22.6||7.8||10.1||7.7||4||First|
|121||6 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||57||22.6||7.8||10.1||7.7||4||Second|
|122||7 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||57.3||20.5||7.2||10.1||8.2||5.1||Ground|
|123||8 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||56.1||20.5||7.2||9||8.2||5.1||First|
|124||10 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||56.1||20.5||7.2||9||8.2||5.1||Second|
|125||9 Flanders Close, Bicester, OX26 6FY||2B/3P||56.4||20.9||7.2||9.1||8.4||5.1||First|