WHO ARE EPIC?
We are a not-for-profit housing association based in Stoke-on-Trent, with over 1,200 properties across North Staffordshire, which are available at below-market rents. Offering a high quality service and maintaining our homes to very high standards, we are purchasing around 50 homes each 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 home, after having rented the property for a five year period 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 acquiring and refurbishing properties across North Staffordshire.
AM I ELIGIBLE?
To be eligible for the Rent2Buy scheme you must:
Be part of a working household.
Be a first-time buyer, or returning to the market following a relationship breakdown.
Have a satisfactory credit rating, which you would demonstrate by allowing us access to your credit report. For further details on this, please contact us.
Be able to afford the rent and other essential outgoings, which you would demonstrate through an assessment of your income .
Aim to purchase your home following a 5-year probationary tenancy.
IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT?
No, but you should be aware that the closer you are to retirement age the more difficult it may be to get a mortgage. Many lenders won’t allow you to extend the mortgage term into your retirement period.
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 viewing applicants still wishing to be considered for the property must email us confirmation within 24 hours. The property will be offered to the applicant with the earliest registration date.
Once you have accepted the offer of a property, you will be invited to meet with us in a 'structured discussion'. This will be with your prospective Housing Officer. We will need to view a copy of your credit report to help establish whether you can afford to run your home and aim to buy it after 5 years.
If you are successful at this stage we will arrange for you to sign the Tenancy Agreement and collect the keys. You will need 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 your tenancy and help you achieve your aim to eventually buy the property, so we will visit you at several intervals. Our first visit will be after the first month, to check that you are settling in and to 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 can spend money on the property and subsequently increase its value, with the knowledge that you will be the one to benefit.
Once you own your home you do not need to ask the landlord about any improvements you wish to make (although for some things you may need to get e.g. planning permission or building regulations approval).
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 a number of 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.
After purchase, the value of the property can go down leaving you in 'negative equity'.
Your flexibility to move home would decrease as it's easier to move when you're renting.
You should also consider other costs involved in the purchase, such as:
Mortgage application fee (if applicable)
Legal costs e.g. solicitors/conveyancing fees
Stamp duty (although virtually all first-time buyers are exempt)
WHAT IF I WOULD RATHER RENT A PROPERTY THAN BUY IT?
If you are looking to rent long-term please visit our other website (www.epichousing.co.uk). If you select find a home you will find an application form where you can apply for our rented homes.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE 5 YEARS?
At least six months before the end of the 5 year tenancy, we will serve you with a notice setting out our intentions and giving you the following three options:
As the sitting tenant, you would be offered first refusal on the opportunity to buy your home.
EPIC retains the premises as a Rent2Buy property and we give you a longer time-frame to save towards a mortgage.
In the event that you decide not to purchase the property, we may allow you to continue to rent it on a long-term basis.
The most appropriate option would depend on the individual circumstances of your household and situation. Should you decide to buy your home, the Rent2Buy scheme offers an independent property valuation, but you would be responsible for appointing and paying for solicitors to handle your side of the purchase.
If the property is valued at less than the original purchase price, we would be unable to offer you the option of purchasing your home at that time.
CAN I CHOOSE MY OWN HOME?
We advertise our available properties through this website. However, if 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 up to £125,000 per property on potential purchases (depending on area), 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 typical examples are shown below: