Thinking of buying your home?

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1 Thinking of buying your home?

2 We welcome your views At North Hertfordshire Homes we like to take your views into account when making decisions. We aim to provide a responsive, efficient and effective service that is valued by all our tenants and customers and we are always looking for ways to improve. To do this we need your help. Talk to us when things go wrong, but also tell us when we have done things right and let us know how we can do things better. If you are not pleased with the service you receive from us we would ask that, in the first instance, you speak directly to our frontline staff. However if you are still not satisfied you may wish to use our formal complaints procedure. All the relevant contact details can be found on the back pages. Kevin Thompson NHH Chief Executive

3 Thinking of buying your home? THINKING OF BUYING YOUR HOME? This booklet provides information to assist you if you are considering buying your home. It covers all of the steps you need to take to apply to buy your home, including financial arrangements and the special conditions affecting the tenants who can only purchase the leasehold of their property. It is designed to put you in a position to make an informed choice about whether or not to apply to buy your home. Tenants of North Hertfordshire Homes who held a tenancy with North Hertfordshire District Council before 31 March 2003 can purchase their home under Right to Buy. It is referred to as the Preserved Right to Buy, and this was guaranteed when your landlord changed. Those who became tenants after 31 March 2003 can apply to purchase their home under Right to Acquire, but there are restrictions. Further details on the qualifying criteria can be found on the following pages.

4 CHOOSING TO BUY YOUR HOME Buying your home will be the biggest financial decision you will make. You will be responsible for all of the costs of repairing, maintaining and improving your home, including major repairs that may be needed to the structure. If you buy your flat or maisonette you will pay an annual service charge and you will pay a share of the cost of all major repairs or improvements carried out on your block or estate. In general, you will not be able to claim any assistance with your housing costs through Housing Benefit.

5 Thinking of buying your home? Before borrowing any money you need to ensure that you have considered all the costs of home ownership, whether you can afford them and how you would manage if your circumstances changed for example you lost your job or had a period of long term sickness. We recommend that you take independent financial advice and it is very important that you do not sign anything that you do not understand. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into making up your mind. You cannot buy your home if: a court has granted a Possession Order which says you have to leave your home and this includes suspended orders you are an un-discharged bankrupt or have a bankruptcy petition pending against you you have made an agreement with your creditors and the debt is still outstanding it is designated as being suitable for tenants who are elderly or who have a disability. You may not be able to buy your home if: your home is built in a non-traditional way as you may not be able to arrange a mortgage your property is in certain rural areas containing settlement where the population is 3,000 or fewer (Right to Acquire) If the property was built without any Social Housing Grant Funding.

6 Discount If your application is successful you will receive a discount off the market value of your home based on the number of years of your tenancy. The discount rises to a maximum amount which varies across the country. You will be asked on your application form (RTB1 or RTA1) about other tenancies you may have had with other landlords and you should make sure that you give as much detail of these previous addresses as possible. This information will help us decide very quickly if we can include them to ensure you get the full discount for which you qualify. If you buy your home, you can sell it whenever you like, but if you wish to (or have to) sell within the first five years after purchase you will have to pay back some, or all, of the discount to North Hertfordshire Homes and the amount is calculated on the current market value not the value of the property at the time of purchase. If you sell within 10 years of the date you bought it, you will need to allow us the opportunity to buy it back from you at the full market value price. If we decline (in writing) then you will then be free to sell your property on the open market.

7 Thinking of buying your own home?

8 Buying a flat or maisonette If your home is a flat or maisonette and you decide to buy you will usually buy on a leasehold basis. The lease is normally for 125 years but the block that your flat or maisonette is in will still be owned by North Hertfordshire Homes, as your landlord. As a leaseholder you will pay a fixed small annual charge of Ground Rent, which is currently 10 per year. As your landlord we are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the building structure and communal areas of the building. We may provide services such as lighting and/or cleaning of communal areas. The cost of these services and their provision will be charged to you through an annual service charge. Your share of the cost will be reasonable and will be shared amongst the flats in the block. We include a charge for the administration of your service charge. Older properties, especially flats, may require significant investment in repairs such as windows and roofs. If your block needs major repairs such as a new roof or windows you will have to pay your share of the cost. Leasehold houses in Letchworth Garden City The majority of our houses within Letchworth are on land owned by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation ( If you apply to buy your home and it is on leased land you will only be able to initially purchase a 125 year sub lease with ground rent of per annum. However, after two years as an owner occupier you will be able to apply to North Hertfordshire Homes and the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation to purchase the freehold (land).

9 Thinking of buying your home? THE COSTS OF HOME OWNERSHIP Buying your home is a major financial commitment and, unless you are going to buy your home with cash, you will need to apply for a mortgage. You will have to repay this loan, plus interest, by instalments (usually monthly) over a period of 25 years (although the time can be shorter). You must remember that the value of your home could go down and you will find that your home may be worth less than the amount you borrowed to pay for it. If you cannot keep up the repayments the lender may go to court and ask to re-possess your home. You may not always be able to get another tenancy if you lose your home in this way. If you lost your job you would not normally be able to receive financial assistance from the Government towards your mortgage for the first nine months and, even it would only pay for the mortgage interest and would not cover the full cost. The amount you will need to borrow would be the market value of your home less any cash you can put towards the purchase price.

10 Regular payments and insurance The current rent that you pay may include an additional amount for water rates, once you buy your home you will have to pay these directly to the Water Company. Currently we service and maintain your heating system. You will be responsible for its annual servicing and paying for any repairs. You will continue to pay Council Tax and to make payments in the same way. If you currently receive Council Tax Benefit you may be able to continue to receive this. Remember, you will still have to budget for your gas and electricity costs. You may have contents insurance collected with your rent. You will need to make new arrangements for this cover. Building Insurance needs to cover the full cost of re-building your home. Your mortgage lender will insist that you have buildings insurance. If you buy a flat we will insure the whole building but you will be expected to contribute your share. Life assurance is also something you should think about, for example, if you were to die before your mortgage is paid how would your family cope with the debt? Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance covers the monthly payments, if you lost your job, or could not work through sickness. However, you need to decide if this is suitable for your circumstances having taken independent advice. The cost of insurance varies so it is important that you shop around to get the best deal for you.

11 Thinking of buying your home? COSTS INVOLVED IN BUYING YOUR HOME: Solicitors You should employ a solicitor to deal with the conveyancing process. It is very important that before you ask any solicitor to act on your behalf you ask how much their advice and services will cost. Surveys You will need to get a survey of your home carried out. These inspections are usually done by a Chartered Surveyor, and the cost can vary depending on the type of survey that is needed. Homebuyers Survey This is likely to be adequate for most properties and will give you a guide to your home s value it will typically cost in excess of 300 but your lender will be able to provide you with full details of the fees. Structural Survey This will involve a detailed inspection of all visible parts of the property and you should have this type of survey done if your home is old, or in obvious need of repair. It may cost 700 or more and may not be available if your home is a flat or maisonette. Your lender will advise you. Further information is available from Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors ( In some cases your lender may choose to arrange the survey for you but will recharge the cost to you. Note: If your home has any special problems, for example, the construction is not traditional it may cost you more for the survey.

12

13 Thinking of buying your home? Searches These will need to be arranged and paid for before you complete the purchase of your home. Your solicitor can advise you of the fees. Local Search A search of the local authority registers and to reveal any road schemes, planning issues, tree preservation orders. Water Search This provides information about drains and water supply. Environmental Search This gives details of the history of the land to check for contamination. Title Search This provides any updates on the information on title and also gives you protection over last minute changes. Bankruptcy Search Your mortgage company will normally perform this to check whether you are or have ever been bankrupt. OTHER FEES AND EXPENSES When you take out a mortgage you may have to pay for the cost of arranging it with the lender, which may include a valuation fee. When the sale has completed you must pay the Land Registry fee which is based on a sliding scale depending on the purchase price. (This fee is to register you as the owner). You will also have to pay Stamp Duty which is a tax payable on becoming a home-owner. This charge is worked out as a percentage of the purchase price.

14 FOR MORE INFORMATION Application forms and further advice are available from: Home Ownership Team The Manor House 21 High Street Baldock Hertfordshire SG7 6AZ or

15 Baldock The Manor House, 21 High Street, Baldock Hertfordshire SG7 6AZ Hitchin 66 Bancroft, Hitchin Hertfordshire SG5 1LL Letchworth 28 Broadway, Letchworth Garden City Hertfordshire SG6 3AA Royston 10a Angel Pavement, Royston Hertfordshire SG8 9AS St Albans 19 Victoria Street, St Albans Hertfordshire AL1 3JJ If you have a compliment, comment or complaint on any area of service please call , or write to us at the address on the back cover.

16 North Hertfordshire Homes Limited Rowan House Avenue One Letchworth Garden City Hertfordshire SG6 2WW T F E W This leaflet about how to buy your home is available in large print or other formats on request. You can also ask for a translation into another language. Bengali Polish Punjabi Urdu HO06/12

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