Housing associations are not-for-profit businesses that help people on low incomes or those that need extra support to live in a rented property.
The types of properties available are similar to those offered by local councils.
You may hear housing associations being referred to as Registered Social Landlords or Private Registered Providers of Social Housing.
The application process
There may be several different routes you can take to apply for a housing association property, including going directly to a housing association or applying through your local council. If you decide to apply through the council, you’ll be put on what is called the “central waiting list”.
You’re not limited to just using one route either – it’s a good idea to apply both through your local council and through any individual housing associations in your area. This is because some housing associations have their own separate waiting lists that might boost your chances of being accepted or speed up the process.
To search for housing associations in your area, follow this link and fill in your details. Alternatively, you may be able to find some information in the Yellow Pages or by asking your local council for associations in your area. It’s worth doing this as well as applying to be on your local council’s central waiting list. You should be able to access materials like application forms and further information from your local council’s housing department website.
Once you’ve made an application, you’ll be put onto a waiting list. Just how quickly you are offered a property will depend on the houses on the market and whether you’re suited to them. This means that in some cases you may have to wait for quite a while before a suitable property becomes available.
Buying a property through a housing association
If you’re successful in finding a suitable property in your local area, or should you already be living in one, the time may come where you want to purchase your home. There are schemes out there to help you make the step up from renting this kind of property to owning it.
For example, the Right to Acquire scheme may let you purchase your rented property for a discounted price if you have lived in any property owned by a public sector landlord – such as a housing association or council home – for three years or more.
Alternatively, the shared ownership scheme could allow you to buy between around 25% and 75% of the property while continuing to pay rent on the rest. This scheme may also be an option for you if you’re interested in purchasing a different property to the one you currently rent or if you’re not yet renting through a housing association – whether you’re on a waiting list or yet to apply.
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