Homes scheme is a nationwide first

Charlotte Middleton and Alex Walmsley receiving their new house keys from Paul Hardisty and Sanele Mhlanga. (d23011206)
Charlotte Middleton and Alex Walmsley receiving their new house keys from Paul Hardisty and Sanele Mhlanga. (d23011206)

FOR dental nurse Charlotte Middleton getting a home of her own seemed an impossible dream.

But this week Charlotte and her partner Alex Walmsley picked up the keys to a three-bedroom property in Mirfield – thanks to a new scheme that is a national first.

The rent-to-buy scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, involves private company Quality Social Housing (QSH) buying new homes from housebuilder Bovis Homes and renting them to tenants at an affordable rate without any government subsidy.

Fifty per cent of the rent paid is for a deposit, up to a maximum of £15,000 or 10 per cent 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.

The Mirfield scheme is being managed by Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing. The first four QSH homes in Greenside Road, Lee Green, were advertised in November and attracted interest from dozens of local people.

Charlotte said: “I was so nervous waiting to find out if our application had been accepted, I couldn’t sleep. What’s really exciting is knowing this is going to be our home.

“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.”

Coun David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike), deputy leader of Kirklees Council and cabinet member for 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.”

He said the QSH project was a great example of how organisations from different sectors could work together to develop innovative solutions to local housing need.

Chief executive of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing Simon Rogers said: “The QSH is a brilliant idea. It makes home ownership affordable for those who have been priced out of the market and also has potential to free up social housing for those who can’t afford other options.”

To qualify prospective tenants have to be first-time buyers or leaving home because of martial break-up, have a prospective income of between £15,000 and £60,000 a year and be unable to afford a home outright on the open market.

Chief executive of QSH Paul Hardisty added: “QSH provides an opportunity for City institutions to invest in UK infrastructure projects to help foster economic growth while obtaining acceptable returns on their investment.”

More developments are now being planned in other areas of Kirklees.