Affordable housing

Local Authority Housing Grant Scheme (LAHG)

Continuous Market Engagement (CME)

Further to our calls for Expression of Interest from Registered Providers to London Borough of Tower Hamlets Affordable Housing Grants scheme, we are pleased to announce that we have now entered into a period of Continuous Market Engagement in order to allocate an additional £5m in LAHG.

The bidding period is now open to Registered Providers to submit applications for grant funding.

The grant agreement is an agreement you will need to enter into with the council and will form a contract between both parties. This sets out the terms on which grant is given. You should also refer to the criteria for funding set out in schedule three of that document. To summarise, the key requirements are;

  1. The scheme is open to active registered providers working in the borough with a local management presence and signed up to the Common Housing Register
  2. The funding only relates to the rented element of schemes, and does not include intermediate units
  3. The programme covers, for example; new build acquisition and works; acquisitions (providing these are not in current use as affordable housing) and; conversions from market to affordable rent
  4. It covers 30 per cent of eligible development costs set out in schedule 2 and in a mixed tenure scheme only those elements relating to the rented units.

The other documents are:

Bids should be signed and sent electronically  to Tracey St.Hill@towerhamlets.gov.uk , jen.pepper@towerhamlets.gov.uk , alison.thomas@towerhamlets.gov.uk and Anaclette.austrie@towerhamlets.co.uk

Three paper copies of each submission is also required addressed to Jen Pepper, Town Hall, Mulberry Place,  5 Clove Crescent, London E14 2BG.

The bids will be assessed on value for money and compliance with the grant criteria set out in Schedule 3 and the Report to Commissioners 2 December 2015

If you have any queries please call or email jen.pepper@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

We look forward to receiving your bids.

Building new homes for local residents

The housing crisis in Tower Hamlets

The London-wide housing crisis is acute in Tower Hamlets. There are more than 19,000 on the waiting list for housing but the council can only grant 1800 new tenancies a year at the moment.

Renting in the private sector is on a short-term basis and does not provide the longer-term security of social housing. Rents in the private sector are beyond the reach of families on low income, around three times as much as rents for similar council (or housing association) homes and often cannot be covered by the local Housing Benefit allowance.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said, “We face considerable challenges in delivering really affordable homes for local people. These include the very high cost of housing, a chronic shortage of stock and a growing population. We welcome the significant regeneration taking place in the borough and the role this plays in transforming Tower Hamlets. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that for increasing numbers of people who grew up in the borough, the possibility of renting or buying a local home has been very difficult.”-

What is the council doing?

The council is committed to tackling the lack of affordable homes for rent by working with our partners to provide 5,500 new affordable homes for local residents to rent in the borough over the 2014-18 period. As part of this, the council will provide 1,000 new homes through its own programme of house building.

 Last year, the council built 12 new homes in Bradwell Street. Local families have already moved into the 40 new homes on the Dame Colet House scheme, and families on the housing list have been viewing the 60 new homes built as part of the Poplar Baths development. When completed in February next year, Watts Grove will house 148 families in a mixture of flats and houses.

One of the ways we build these homes is to develop them as part of existing housing estates. As part of the next phase of this important programme, we have identified four such sites in the borough which will provide more new affordable homes for local families by spring 2018:

  • Baroness Road
  • Hereford Estate
  • Jubilee Street and
  • Locksley Estate.

First Steps to home ownership in London

First Steps is the Mayor of London’s service for working Londoners looking to buy or rent a home at a lower cost than on the open market. With options available to buy or rent a home through over 40 housing providers across London, you could be taking your First Steps sooner than you think.

How do you know if you are eligible?

Generally, you must meet the following criteria to be eligible for First Steps:

  • a household must have a gross household income of up to £90,000 per annum when applying for 1 and 2 bedroom properties to rent or buy, or up to £85,000 per annum when applying to buy or rent a family sized property (3+ bedrooms)
  • the lead purchaser must be a British or EU/EEA citizen, or have indefinite leave to remain
  • purchasers must be able to get a mortgage and meet other criteria in relation to affording moving cost and credit history.

The above levels are updated from time to time by the mayor of London and any updates are available on the Homes for Londoners website.

As part of the planning process individual London Boroughs are able to set their own priorities to ensure that local residents have access to properties.

In Tower Hamlets the priority qualifying criteria for intermediate housing are as follows:

  1. Public Sector Tenants, being those tenants living in accommodation owned by the council or a Registered Social Landlord wholly releasing accommodation to which the council has nomination rights
  2. Leaseholders in blocks being decanted in anticipation of demolition who have a right to be re-housed by the council.
  3. People registered on the council’s Common Housing Register or waiting list
  4. Other council residents who may not release council accommodation when they move
  5. Others living in Tower Hamlets in rented accommodation or living with family or friends who do not appear on the council’s Common Housing Register
  6. People with strong connections by family ties within the borough
  7. People with full time employment within the borough.

Shared ownership

Shared ownership enables people to purchase a new or existing home from a housing association. They can purchase the maximum share in the property that they can afford with a minimum requirement of 25 per cent and pay rent on the remaining share. Properties are either brand new or being sold by existing shared owners. The rent on the outstanding share is usually set a maximum of 3 per cent on the value of that share when the home is first sold.

Resales

First Steps resales are usually previously owned Shared ownership homes that were built and sold in the past and are now being sold on a part-buy, part-rent basis by their current owner. First Steps resales vary in location, age and design and provide an opportunity to buy an older property in an established community.

Equity loans

The Equity Loans scheme enables people to buy a brand new property from a house builder with the help of an equity loan from the Mayor of London and the house builder. (Units offered with Equity Loans do not count as affordable by the council in terms of planning permissions, as they are just a short term provision of a loan to enable full purchase at market value.)  Equity Loans offers two products that are available:

First Buy 

First time Purchasers buy a minimum of 80 per cent of the property with a mortgage and a deposit. They need to be able to raise a minimum deposit equivalent to 5 per cent of the value of the property. No fee or interest will be charged on the loan for the first five years. After that they will pay interest on the equity loan of 1.75 per cent, rising annually by the increase in the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1 per cent.

HomeBuy Direct 

Purchasers buy a minimum of 70 per cent of the property with a mortgage and a deposit. They need to be able to raise a minimum deposit equivalent to 5 per cent of the value of the property. No fee will be charged on the 30 per cent loan (jointly funded by the HCA and the developer) for the first five years. After that they will pay a fee on the equity loan of 1.75 per cent, rising annually by the increase in the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1 per cent.

Rent to save

Rent to Save offers the opportunity to rent a newly built home at an intermediate rent which is charged at approximately 80 per cent of the open market rent, 20 per cent lower than people would expect to pay for a similar home on the open market. They can do this for up to five years with the option to buy the home through shared ownership when they are in a position to do so.

People who rent a home through Rent to Buy can make an offer to buy the home on shared ownership terms at any time during the tenancy, but if they fail to enter into shared ownership during that term, their tenancy can be ended. When they decide to buy, an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) will assess and discuss with them the maximum share they can afford to buy. Terms and incentives vary by development.

Intermediate rent

Intermediate rent offers people the opportunity to rent a brand new or existing home. The rent charged is approximately 80 per cent of the open market rent. As well as being more affordable, they have the assurance that their home is built, managed and let by a registered housing provider.

How do I apply?

In order to view properties that you may be eligible for, you should visit the Share to buy website (which for London properties is also known as First Steps).

If you would like to go on to purchase or rent a property then you will need to register your details on the website. 

You can then use their links to contact the housing associations providing suitable properties. 

You may also find it useful to register with another London service for Shared Ownership applicants which is Homematch

This website lists properties available from particular housing associations in London. 

For any additional information about home ownership please contact

The Affordable Housing Team
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
E14 2BG
Tel: 020 7364 2528  between 10am – 5pm Monday to Friday..