WHO ARE EPIC?
We are a not-for-profit housing association based in Stoke-on-Trent with nearly 1,200 properties across North Staffordshire, which we let at below-market rents. We offer a high quality service and maintain our homes to very high standards. We are buying around 60 homes per year and allocating these to customers who are unable to rent or buy on the open market.
WHAT IS RENT 2 BUY?
Rent2Buy aims to help people purchase their homes after having rented them for five years at a below-market rent. The scheme is open to first-time buyers, or those returning to the housing market following a relationship breakdown. We are purchasing and refurbishing properties across North Staffordshire.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?
To be eligible for the Rent2Buy scheme you must:
Be a working household.
Be a first time buyer, or returning to the market following a relationship breakdown.
Aim to buy your own home in the future.
Be able to afford the basic rent, which you would demonstrate through an income assessment.
Pass a credit check.
HOW DO I APPLY?
You must complete the online application form (click on 'Apply Now') after which you will receive an email which will explain the next steps. The email will also request you to send photographs of various documents (via email to firstname.lastname@example.org) within 14 days. These documents include:
One proof of identity e.g. a passport or national identification card. If you do not have either of these we will need to see two of the following: driving licence, full birth certificate or a proof of benefits letter (dated within the last 3 months).
Two proofs of address dated within the last 3 months - e.g. a bank statement, utility bill or phone bill.
Proof of National Insurance Number (this can be found on e.g. a wage slip or P60).
Proof of income (including wages, any benefits, pensions, etc). You can send a copy of wage slips, or bank statements showing the income going into your account.
If children are to be rehoused with you, we will need to see their birth certificate(s) or proof of Child Benefit.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
If you are eligible for the scheme you will then be registered and able to bid on forthcoming properties. All 'live' applicants who have expressed an interest in a property will be invited to an open house, group viewing. If we receive an exceptional amount of interest for a particular property (and where it would not be practical to invite all interested applicants to a group viewing) we will invite the 5 earliest applicants, based on their date of registration for the scheme. Following the group viewing, applicants still wishing to be considered for the property must then email us confirmation within 24 hours of the viewing. The property will be offered to the applicant with the earliest registration date.
Once you have accepted the offer of the property, you will be invited to engage in a 'structured discussion' with your prospective Housing Officer. If you are successful at this stage we will arrange for you to sign the Tenancy Agreement and collect the keys. You will be required to pay at least one calendar month's rent, in advance.
HOW WILL YOU ENGAGE WITH ME DURING MY TENANCY?
We want to guide you through the process so during your tenancy you will have several visits from your Housing Officer at different stages: 1 month, 6 months, 18 months, 2.5 years, 3.5 years and 6 months prior to your 5 year tenancy anniversary. Our first visit will be to check that you are settling in and give you more information about the process. As the visits progress they will become more focused on your preparation to purchase the property at the end of the 5-year period.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HOME OWNERSHIP?
There are many benefits to home ownership over renting, including:
Once you have paid off the mortgage the property will be yours and you will no longer have this financial responsibility.
If your home increases in value you could use its equity to buy a larger property.
You are able to spend money on the property and subsequently increase its value with the knowledge you will be the one to benefit.
You do not have to ask the landlord about any improvements you wish to make once you own the home.
WHAT DO I NEED TO CONSIDER BEFORE APPLYING?
It's important to note that - as part of the Rent2Buy scheme - we are unable to sell the property for less than the value we paid for it (plus the cost of any major improvement works we may need to complete during your tenancy).
Whilst there are many benefits to home ownership there are many things you need to consider before deciding whether this is right for you, including:
It is a big commitment and you must ensure you can afford the mortgage payments.
If interest rates rise, repayments would increase on a variable rate mortgage - you would need to be prepared for this.
It may not be easy to sell your home if you decide to put it back on the market.
You would be responsible for all major repairs, meaning you may need to budget for this.
The value of the property can go down after purchasing it, resulting in negative equity.
Your flexibility would decrease as it is easier to move property when renting.
You should also consider other costs at the point of purchase, including:
Stamp duty (although virtually all first-time buyers are exempt)
Legal costs e.g. solicitors/conveyancing fees
WHAT IF I WOULD RATHER RENT A PROPERTY THAN BUY IT?
If you are looking to rent please visit our other website (www.epichousing.co.uk). If you select “find a home” you will find an application form which would enable you to apply for our long-term rented properties.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE 5 YEARS?
At least six months before the end of the 5 year tenancy period a notice will be served setting out our intentions for the tenancy going forward. At this point three options would be given:
As the sitting tenant, you would be offered first refusal on the opportunity to buy your home.
We maintain the property as a Rent2Buy property and give you a longer time-frame to save towards a mortgage.
Should you decide not to purchase the property we may allow you to continue to rent it long-term.
The most appropriate option would depend on the individual circumstances of the household. Should you decide to buy your home, the Rent2Buy scheme provides an independent property valuation. If your home is valued for less than our original purchase price, we would be unable to offer you the option of purchasing your home at that time. You would be responsible for appointing and paying the costs of solicitors to handle your side of the purchase.
CAN I CHOOSE MY OWN HOME?
We advertise our available properties through this website. If, however, you see a potential home you would be interested in purchasing after 5 years, you can email us details about it. Whilst there is no guarantee that it would meet our criteria, we may consider your request. We currently have a budget of £125,000 per property on our purchases, including any acquisition costs and renovation works. You would need to ensure any properties meet this criteria.
WHO WILL COMPLETE MY REPAIRS WHILE I AM RENTING?
Under the Rent2Buy scheme your home is maintained by us for the 5-year renting period. We offer this to help you - our customers - to save a deposit to buy your home.
DO YOU REQUIRE A DEPOSIT BEFORE I MOVE IN?
We do not require a deposit but we do require at least one month's rent to be paid in advance, before you receive the keys.
WILL I HAVE TO DECORATE THE PROPERTY?
We do not carry out any decoration prior to you moving in to your home. On the advertisement we will specify a grade to represent the amount of work which needs completing.
A = Requires minimal decoration
B = Requires some decoration
C = Requires decorating throughout
1 = floor covering throughout
2 = some floor covering
3 = no floor covering
The example property shown above would be graded as a C3. Properties are often graded at this level where there has been a lot of renovation work e.g. kitchen/bathroom renewal or rewire.
We often fit new kitchens and bathrooms as part of the acquisition works.
The kitchens and bathrooms come as standard and are shown below: