Nurse Bettie Chikoto is being given the chance to fulfil her home ownership dream after Hightown Housing Association offered her an Rent for Less (also known as Intermediate Rent) flat in St Albans, enabling her to save for a mortgage deposit.

At the age of 55, and with a recent survey showing Hertfordshire is the most expensive county to buy a home in the East of England, grandmother Bettie would have otherwise found it difficult to raise enough funds for a deposit.

She has recently moved into an intermediate rent flat in Davy House, Charrington Place, a modern development close to St Albans City Station and handy for commuting to her work at St Ann’s Hospital in Haringey, London.

Hightown’s Rent for Less properties offer assured shorthold tenancies that are around 20% cheaper than the market rate to help people save for a deposit and get onto the property ladder within five years. They have become popular at a time when private rental prices and house values in the area have been spiralling upwards.

The recent National Housing Federation’s East of England Home Truths 2016/17 report[i] revealed the seriousness of the housing crisis facing local people, with a shortfall of 58,000 affordable homes across the region.

Across the whole of the East of England, the average home costs around 10 times the average salary. But in the Dacorum area, while the average salary is £33,119, the average house price is £411,712 – 12.4% higher. Only those earning over £94,000 would be able to afford an 80% mortgage in Dacorum.

It’s a similar picture in St Albans, where the average salary is £42,489, but the average house price is £545,777 – 12.8 times higher. In fact, you’d need to earn more than £124,000 to be able to afford an 80% mortgage in St Albans, making it the most expensive area in the East of England in which to own a home. 

Bettie said: “I previously rented in Watford and Enfield, but the extra money I’m saving with Hightown’s intermediate rent scheme means I have a much better chance of being able to buy a home. It’s a lovely flat too – the bills are low, there’s lots of natural light coming into the living room and it’s a really good quality build.”

The mother-of-four grown-up children has recently become a grandmother and her flat is well-placed for her family to visit, as well as being just a short walk into town.

She added: “Despite being close to the station, the estate feels secluded and the grounds always look good. It’s also really handy having an underground parking space.”

Hightown, a charitable housing association which aims to help people unable to afford to rent or buy at market rates, is committed to addressing the issues revealed by the Home Truths report. It has a development programme that will deliver around 1,000 new affordable homes over the next two years.

These include 53 Rent for Less flats being built as part of the new “Maylands Plaza” scheme on the site of a redundant call centre on Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, which should be complete by the autumn.

It is also due to finish work on 24 new flats for Rent for Less on the former Beaufort House site in Grosvenor Road, St Albans, by the end of the year.

For more information on Hightown’s Rent for Less scheme see: