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Housing - Know your terms

'The limits of my language means the limits of my world' - Ludwig Wittgenstein

We live in a world of acronyms and technical jargon.  Planning is no exception, especially in the world of housing.  The terminology can be extremely confusing at best.  In this blog, I explain 10 housing terms, including Government initiatives, which will hopefully provide a little clarity on the subject.

1. Definition of a household

The National Statistics Survey uses the following definition of a household:

One person or a group of people who have the accommodation as their only or main residence AND (for a group):

  • either share at least one meal a day, or
  • share the living accommodation, that is, a living room or sitting room.

2. Dwelling & Dwelling house

A self‐contained building or part of a building used as a residential accommodation, and usually housing a single household. A dwelling may be a house, bungalow, flat, maisonette or converted farm building.

3. Private Sector

The term ‘private sector’ is used in housing policy and housing statistics, it is generally meant ‘the non-social housing sector’ i.e. owner-occupied dwellings and those rented privately, including those that go with a job or business and not those owned by housing associations.

4. Public Sector

All local authority dwellings are public sector dwellings.  To keep things simple, it is best to treat housing associations as public sector.  Housing associations are also known as Registered Social Landlords or Private Registered Providers of Social Housing. Registered Providers (RP) are independent housing organisations and are registered with and regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

5. Affordable housing

Affordable housing whether for rent, shared ownership or outright purchase, must be provided at a cost considered affordable in relation to incomes that are average or below average, or in relation to the price of general market housing.

It should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.

Falling under the ‘affordable’ umbrella is the following three definitions:

  • Social rented - Social rented housing is owned by local authorities and registered providers of affordable housing for which rents are set by the government. It may also be owned by other people and provided under the same type of rental arrangement, as agreed with the local authority or with the Homes and Communities Agency.
  • Affordable rented - Affordable rented housing is let by local authorities or private registered providers of social housing to households who are eligible for social rented housing. Affordable rent is subject to rent controls that require a rent of no more than 80 per cent of the local market rent (including service charges, where applicable).
  • Intermediate housing - Intermediate housing is homes for sale at a cost above social rent, but below market levels subject to the criteria in the Affordable Housing definition above. These can include shared equity (shared ownership and equity loans) and intermediate rent, but not affordable rented housing.

6. Shared ownership

Shared ownership schemes (part buy/part rent) are provided through housing associations. You buy a share of your home (between 25% and 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent on the remaining share. You can buy bigger shares at a later stage when you can afford to. With shared ownership you can buy a newly built home or an existing one through resale programmes from housing associations.

7. Right to Buy

If you are a council tenant with a least five years’ tenancy you may be eligible to buy your home at a significant discount. Some housing association tenants may also be eligible.

8. NewBuy

NewBuy lets you buy a new-build home with a purchase price of up to £500,000 with a deposit of only 5%.

9. Help to Buy

Help to Buy makes it possible to buy a new-build or existing home priced up to £600,000 with as little as a 5% deposit.

10. CSH (Code for Sustainable Homes)

National standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote higher standards of sustainable design above the current minimum standards set out by the Building Regulations. CSH was a mandatory requirement in a number of Local Authority Local Plans.

The Government has recently confirmed that CSH will be withdrawn.  The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) are currently consulting on a replacement assessment method that will be voluntary, aimed at Housebuilders showcasing sustainable technology.

Should you wish to discuss any sites suitable for housing schemes or just want an informal chat on your land options then please do not hesitate to contact us.



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