Partners Caroline and Lynne are about to fulfil their home-ownership dream after Hightown Housing Association’s Rent for Less scheme (also known as Intermediate Rent) enabled them to save for a mortgage deposit.
They have been living in a Hightown flat property in St Albans for three years while they saved up enough money for a deposit for their own apartment in London Colney.
Hightown’s Rent for Less properties offer assured shorthold tenancies that are around 20% cheaper than similar properties to help people save for a deposit to get onto the property ladder within five years.
The Davy Close flat that Caroline and Lynne have been renting from Hightown is a short walk to St Albans city centre and close to the train station for commuting into London – so in an ideal location for them as they work in London and St Albans.
The Rent for Less scheme also made it affordable at a time when private rental prices and house values have been spiralling upwards.
Figures released on 27th May from the Office for National Statistics show the average rent charged by private landlords increased by 3.1% in the South East – more than 10 times the inflation rate - in the 12 months to April 2016. According to Zoopla, the average purchase price of a flat in St Albans is also now £308,095 – a year-on-year increase of 5.7%.
Caroline said: “I would definitely recommend Hightown’s intermediate rent scheme. Not only is the rent cheaper, but our flat is also energy efficient – making it even easier to save money for a deposit.
“It was a surprisingly quick and easy process to apply for intermediate rent. Hightown have also been helpful and responsive landlords. For example, when we had a leak, we had a new bath fitted and they also replaced the flooring. The maintenance people have always been polite and flexible – arranging a time to visit that suited us.
“It was a great feeling to have peace of mind that we had managed to get our foot on the property ladder. Property prices have been going up quite quickly, especially in the St Albans area, so it was worrying to think that we could be priced out. Also, the later in life you get a mortgage, the higher the monthly costs will be.”
Hightown has intermediate rent properties, from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom houses, in a variety of locations - mainly St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Watford. To check the eligibility criteria and find out more, visit: www.hightownha.org.uk/find-a-home/renting-while-saving/