Rent for Less (also known as Intermediate Rent) is a great option for people who are not ready to commit to buying a home right now or who have difficulty securing a mortgage at the moment but who would like to save to buy a home in the next five years.
Hightown offers homes at 20% lower rent than you would expect to pay for a similar home in a similar area, if you were renting from a private landlord.
Rent for Less homes are usually let on an assured shorthold tenancy basis with a minimum six month contract period up to a maximum of five years.
Rent for Less properties are not available to purchase in the future, they are for rent only.
Am I eligible?
For all Rent for Less homes, applicants must be assessed by the regions Help to Buy agent, Help to Buy East and South East (www.helptobuyese.org.uk) and meet the following criteria:
- Your total household income must be less than £80,000
- In addition you must be unable to afford to buy a suitable property on the open market without assistance
- You cannot be an existing homeowner
Hightown Homes has further eligibility criteria that need to be met:
- Applicants must be able to afford 80% of the local market rent without further assistance e.g. housing benefit (an assessment will be carried out to establish your affordability)
- Applicants should make a commitment to enter home ownership through low cost home ownership products in the short to medium term (within five years) and be able to demonstrate how the discounted rent will enable them to save a deposit
What would prevent me from qualifying?
We won’t be able to help you if:
- Your total household income exceeds £80,000
- You have had rent arrears during the previous 12 months or you are in breach of your current tenancy agreement for any other reason
- You are on a temporary work contract with less than six months remaining
- You have adverse credit history
- You have your name on a mortgage
- You have less than six months leave to remain in the country
- If you require housing benefit to pay your rent
We will carry out a detailed assessment and reference check before we offer you a home.
If you have ever had a County Court Judgement (CCJ) registered against you, if you have failed to meet the repayments on a loan, or if you have taken “payday”/short term loans within the past twelve months, it will show up on the referencing and we will not be able to help you.
We will ask you to certify that the information you provide is complete and accurate.
How do I apply?
- You must be registered with www.helptobuyese.org.uk before you can apply for any affordable home ownership/rental scheme
- Check our website www.hightownhomes.com for available properties and register your interest
- When a suitable property becomes available we will carry out an affordability assessment with you
- Applicants who pass the assessment will be invited along to view the property (appointments will be during office working hours only and you will need to bring along photo ID)
- Prior to your viewing you will be emailed a copy of our application form to complete and bring along with you to your viewing. You will also need to bring along a copy of your most recent credit report
Where we have two or more applicants interested in one property we will consider all applications and allocate the property based on the following criteria:
- Serving members of the British Armed Forces, and those honourably discharged in the last two years. Surviving partners of regular service personnel who have died in service and have applied within two years of the bereavement are also considered a priority
- Existing social housing tenants (if you will free up a public sector home for re-letting)
- Other local priorities agreed with the local authority. This is normally applicants who live or work in the borough or have a local connection
We will also take the following factors into account:
- Household size
- Current housing
A property will be provisionally offered based on the information provided within your application form. Upon accepting the offer of the property we will require a non-refundable reservation fee of £195 and the following supporting documentation for full assessment and credit referencing (a link will be emailed to you to complete and requires completing within 24 hours):
• Proof of identification (e.g. driving licence or passport)
• Proof of address (e.g. copy of most recent utility bill (not mobile phone bill) / HMRC letter / Council tax letter)
• Proof of earnings (e.g. three month’s payslips/self-employed three years SA302 tax returns)
• Proof of landlord (tenancy agreement/signed letter from landlord or friends/family with whom you reside)
• Proof of savings – please provide three months statements for all bank accounts held in your name
• Proof of financial commitments (e.g. loan agreements/hire purchase agreement/maintenance payments)
Your application will be assessed in full to ensure the initial information can be substantiated. We will ensure you still meet affordability criteria based on your income and outgoings.
Once your application is approved you will be required to pay a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent (including service charge) and one month’s rent in advance.
You can move in as soon as the rent and deposit funds have cleared and the property is ready to let. An appointment will be arranged for you to meet your new home ownership officer at the property to run through and sign the tenancy agreement and also check the inventory.
If the tenancy is in joint names, both applicants have to be present to sign the document. Please remember your tenancy agreement is a legally binding document.
Ending my tenancy
You must give four full weeks’ notice if you are planning to end your tenancy and follow these few simple steps:
- Please complete and return our end of tenancy notification form giving Hightown at least four full weeks’ notice that you are ending your tenancy.
- Please note the tenancy will end on a Sunday and the keys will need to be returned to Hightown by 12 noon on the next working day after the tenancy ends. A meeting will be arranged with a Hightown representative at your property to check out and complete handover.
- You will need to give Hightown vacant possession, clear the property of all personal possession and return all property keys including utility keys and parking permits.
- Provide your new address, arrange for post redirection and close down your utility service contracts, including notifying the Council Tax department.
- Pay your rent until your tenancy ends, and clear any arrears and other monies owed to Hightown.
- Allow access during your four weeks' notice period for Hightown to carry out inspections and viewings at your home.
When the time comes for you to move we ask that you leave your home in a clean and tidy condition so we can re-let it without having to repair things that may have been damaged. It is important you change things that you have altered and remove old furniture and rubbish. A charge will be made to you for the cost of work if we have to put things right and this will be deducted from your deposit.
Our Home Ownership team will request refunds of deposits when you have vacated your home and any refund should be received within four weeks of your tenancy end date providing there isn’t a dispute.
Hints and tips to prepare your property before your tenancy ends
- Cooker/ oven/ hob: please ensure they are clean and free from burns, grease and stains (this is a very common cause of charges to the damage deposit).
- Fridge / freezer: if you have a fitted fridge/freezer please defrost it and make sure it is nice and clean. To save energy and to stop it from smelling we ask that you switch it off and leave the doors open.
- Washing machine: if we supplied you with one can you please clean the powder drawer and wipe down the inside rims.
- Cooker hood / extractor fan: please make sure this is also cleaned.
- Baths / sinks / showers / sanitary wear: please clean and remove all lime-scale paying particular attention to crevices and corners where scale can easily build up. Descaling is often necessary for shower heads and shower screen seals.
- Windows and all other glass, mirrors and shower screens: please clean and remove any condensation and bacterial build up.
- Please remove any additional items that you have added to the bathroom such as mirrors and shower curtains and fill any holes left, painting over the area in matching paint.
- Carpets, vinyl and blinds: please ensure all are clean and free from marks - this is particularly important if you smoke.
- Walls: please decorate in neutral paintwork. If any paintwork, wallpaper or stencilling was carried out without prior permission, please ensure the walls are returned to a neutral colour as it was left.
- Marks, scuffs, chips, or holes to the walls or woodwork: in order to prevent unsightly touch up marks and to ensure that you will not be charged for redecorating an area, you will need to redecorate the whole affected wall or area as touching up is not considered to be making good.
- Cleaning: please wipe down all skirting boards, sockets, switches and remove all cobwebs
- Please ensure the property is clean and tidy and replace all items in the location specified in the Inventory/Statement of condition.
- Again, to avoid you being recharged, please remove any additions you put up such as curtain poles, blinds and picture hooks, lamp shades and fill and redecorate the affected area to match existing room decoration. This is a popular section that is missed which results in recharges
Other useful things to remember before you move out:
- Speak to the Post Office and arrange for your mail to be redirected (please be aware it takes at least 5 working days to set up). We are unable to accept responsibility for post that has been delivered after you have returned the keys to us. All post will be returned to sender.
- Contact your utilities suppliers (i.e. gas, electricity, water, telephone) and other organisations you may deal with (e.g. TV licencing, satellite/cable company, mobile telephone number provider, internet provider, insurance company, bank/building society, credit card company, DVLA, doctor, dentist, vet, schools and employer) and let them know you will be moving.
- Call your local council for council tax purposes.
- Update HM revenue and customs about your move if you are receiving Tax Credits or Child Benefit.
- Tell your family, friends and neighbours.
You will need to register with Help to Buy East and South East.