What is a housing association? The misconceptions about housing associations

Today, housing associations (HAs) own over 2.5 million homes housing an estimated five million residents. Despite there being more than 1,500 HAs across the UK, a poll from the National Housing Federation showed that 70 per cent of respondents had never considered going to a HA for a home.

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Here, we explore the common misconceptions about HAs and explains how affordable housing is helping to tackle the UK housing crisis.

The first HAs were created in the late nineteenth century, with the mission of making accommodation available and affordable for all. In the past, HAs have been perceived as an option for those in the lower-income brackets or particular need, but as housing becomes increasingly more expensive, especially in larger cities, HAs are now providing affordable homes for very different types of households.

HAs are not-for-profit organisations that own, let and manage affordable-rental housing, which is generally cheaper than privately rented housing and usually provides a long-term tenancy. The accommodation provided by HAs is sometimes also referred to as social housing, which is often mistaken to mean the same as council housing.

Is social housing the same as a council?
Local authorities manage the local allocation of affordable or social housing, and so, the majority of HAs tenants are referred by the local council. While HAs do work with local authorities to meet local housing needs, social housing is owned and managed by social landlords, like Stonewater, which are registered with the social housing regulator and operate independently from councils.

HAs are overseen by a voluntary committee or board, which usually includes residents. This system offers a democratic housing management process, allowing residents to have a say in the running of their homes.

Affordable housing is in short supply in the UK, and there is high demand for the available homes. Most areas operate a central waiting list for all council and housing association properties, although some housing associations do keep their own waiting lists.

Affordable schemes
Any revenue acquired in a HAs property, through rent, is ploughed back into the maintenance of existing homes, providing associated services and in cases like Stonewater’s, building new homes available for affordable rent or home ownership.

Stonewater’s affordable home ownership options include its shared ownership scheme. Shared ownership enables people to buy a share of a property – normally 40 or 50 per cent, although higher percentages are available – depending on affordability and then pay a subsidised rent on the remainder. This gives more people the opportunity to purchase their own home and sometimes, even a brand-new one.

Schemes like shared ownership may provide the best opportunity for young people looking to get on the property ladder, considering the current economic climate and high house prices.

Why buy with a HA?
HAs, on the whole, have continued to build through the difficult financial constraints of recent years. Some have stopped or reduced the size of their programme, but this has not been the case for Stonewater. Stonewater strives to build more homes and maintain their current homes to a high standard, to create more places for people to thrive and where customers are proud to rent.

Committed to meeting the challenges of the housing crisis in England, Stonewater is leading on one of the most significant and progressive development programmes in the UK, with the aim of providing at least 1500 new affordable homes every year. Stonewater is also at the heart of a new government partnership with Homes England and Guinness to begin building 4,500 affordable homes by March 2022.

If you have any questions about renting with leading housing social provider Stonewater, contact our customer representatives on 01202 319 119 or complete the contact form here.