South Norfolk tenants of Saffron Housing will be among the first in the country to get the chance to buy their own home as part of a new government pilot scheme.
The Voluntary Right to Buy scheme pilot came into effect this week, ahead of the national rollout later this year.
Saffron Housing tenants in the district will be able to apply for a place and, depending on their length of tenancy, a discount of up to £77,900 could help them buy their own homes.
There will be a limited number of sales under the pilot, due to be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis to those who meet the criteria. Proceeds will be reinvested into new affordable housing, say Saffron.
Those eligible have been contacted, and are now able to apply through the government website www.righttobuy.gov.uk/am-i-eligible. There is an application fee of £250, and it is expected that the first sales will be completed by the summer.
Adam Ronaldson, chief executive of Saffron Housing said: “We are really happy to participate in helping to shape the final structure of this new government initiative enabling tenants in the South Norfolk pilot area to own their own home.
We are really happy to participate in helping to shape the final structure of this new government initiative enabling tenants in the South Norfolk pilot area to own their own homeAdam Ronaldson, Chief Executive of Saffron Housing
“It is important that government works closely with housing associations to finalise a structure which will give optimum opportunities through Voluntary Right to Buy for people to own their own homes whilst there is a commitment to replacing them with new affordable housing.”
The government says following the agreement with the National Housing Federation, every home sold will be replaced nationally with a new affordable home.
But according to a new report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), there is a 76 percent shortfall in rural affordable housing with the average cost of a house in some countryside communities 11 times greater than average annual wages.
Ben Underwood, from rural lobby group CLA East: “The lack of homes in the countryside is extremely worrying for rural communities and the rural economy. The situation in some areas is already critical.”
Mr Underwood said that in order for the scheme to not hit housing provision in the countryside, there should be an exemption for rural communities.
“Settlements of 10,000 or less should have the opportunity to be exempt from Right to Buy, while those with a population of less than 3,000 should have an automatic exemption,” he added.