Bovis Homes have played a key role in a new scheme to make homeownership affordable for first-time buyers in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.
The rent-to-buy scheme, which is the first of its kind in the UK, has seen a private company - Quality Social Housing (QSH) - buying quality new homes from Bovis Homes and renting them out to tenants at an affordable rent, without any Government subsidy.
Fifty percent of the rent paid goes towards a deposit - up to a maximum of £15,000 or 10% of the property's value - and the tenants agree to buy the homes outright within three to 20 years. If they move out without buying, the deposit remains with the property.
Richard Holland, Associate Director of Partnership Housing for Bovis Homes, said: "We are delighted to be a part of this excellent scheme, which should give local homeseekers a real boost. As a major national housebuilder we have had to be innovative in our thinking to provide solutions for homebuyers and we applaud QSH for their creative and proactive approach."
Helping first-time buyers has been a driving force for Bovis Homes and they have a suite of their own low-deposit purchase assistance schemes, including FirstBuy and Jumpstart, two shared equity schemes that require just a 5% deposit, and NewBuy, a 95% mortgage available to both first time buyers and existing home owners. The Kirklees scheme is being managed by Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH), which manages 23,500 homes on behalf of Kirklees Council.
The first four QSH homes were advertised in November and attracted interest from dozens of local people. The three-bed homes are built to Bovis Homes' traditional high standards with the latest materials and technologies aimed at boosting the efficiency of the building and helping residents save on bills.
One of the first to apply was Charlotte Middleton and her partner Alex Walmsley who had been living with family.
Dental nurse Charlotte said: "I was so nervous waiting to find out if our application had been accepted, I couldn't sleep!
"Getting the keys to our new home and being able to plan how we're going to decorate it and where we're going to put our furniture has been fantastic, What's really exciting though is knowing that this is going to be OUR home.
"We've got the peace of mind knowing that any problems will be taken care of while we're renting but also know that our rent is not just dead money - it's helping build our deposit and we'll also be able to save the difference between our rent and what we would have to have paid in private rent, which means we'll have a really good down payment when we're ready to buy.
"I think it's a great scheme. With the way things are, I never thought we'd be able to afford to buy our own house, so this is just brilliant."
Cllr David Sheard, Deputy Leader of Kirklees Council and Cabinet Member for Investment and Housing, said: "It's a real coup that Kirklees is the first area in the country to test out this new approach to affordable housing. The QSH project is a great example of how organisations from different sectors can work together to develop innovative solutions to local housing need."
Paul Hardisty, Chief Executive of QSH, added: "QSH provides an opportunity for City institutions to invest in UK infrastructure projects to help foster economic growth whilst obtaining acceptable returns on their investment, as well as increasing the stock of affordable homes - everyone wins."
In order to qualify for the scheme, prospective tenants have to be first-time buyers or leaving a home because of marital break-up; have a household income of between £15,000 and £60,000 per year, depending on the property value; and be unable to afford to buy a home outright on the open market.