Key worker housing scheme – the basics

The current property market situation makes it very difficult to be able to afford the comfort of owning a house. Most people rent their properties or try the ‘rent to buy’ scheme. People do whatever they can to make buying property as hassle-free as possible. Key worker housing can help those working in ‘front line’

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The current property market situation makes it very difficult to be able to afford the comfort of owning a house. Most people rent their properties or try the ‘rent to buy’ scheme. People do whatever they can to make buying property as hassle-free as possible. Key worker housing can help those working in ‘front line’ public sector professions to buy affordable accommodation. It is available exclusively to members of certain professions and could make owning property possible.

Who is a key worker?

The professions which the scheme applies to vary by area and it might be worth contacting the buying agents local to the area you wish to live in to confirm your eligibility. In general the workers who qualify as key workers and can benefit from the key worker housing include:

  • Most clinical NHS staff (this excludes doctors and dentists)
  • Qualified Local Education Authority school teachers and sixth form colleges, lecturers in Further Education colleges, qualified nursery nurses, Local Education Authority’s children’s social workers
  • Police officers and community support officers in certain areas
  • Prison officers and some prison staff
  • Probation service staff and some staff working directly with offenders
  • Firefighters and some other uniformed staff working for the Fire and Rescue Services
  • Personnel of the Armed Forces and clinical staff of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), MoD’s police officers, Fire and Defence Service’s uniformed staff
  • Highway Agency staff in some safety roles
  • Qualified environmental health officers working for the local authority, government agency, the NHS or other public sector bodies
  • Planning authorities working for the local council
  • Social workers, educational psychologists and therapists, nursery nurses working for the local authorities

Criteria to qualify

The main criterion in order to qualify for the key worker housing scheme is that at least one member of your household is working in one of the above listed professions. In addition to that you must fulfil the following conditions:

  • As a household (whoever you are currently living with and intending to buy property with: on your own, with a spouse or partner etc.) you must earn £60,000 or less a year
  • You must be a first-time buyer ( you have not previously owned property)
  • You are not otherwise able to afford to buy property or
  • You already own property but it doesn’t meet your household’s needs and you are looking to buy a bigger one (such a family-size house rather than a one-bedroom flat you currently own)

How does it work?

There are several schemes helping key workers to buy property. These include:

  • First buy shared equity scheme or new build shared ownership, which enables you to buy a new build property as a shared equity (where you buy a share of the property for a pre-agreed price and pay rent on the rest of it);

 

  • The right to buy scheme, which gives you the right to buy the property you live in if it is owned by the council. You must be a public sector tenant for at least 5 years in order to qualify for the discounted price;

 

  • The right to acquire scheme, which enables you to buy the property if you are renting it from the housing association. You must be a public sector tenant for at least 5 years in order to qualify for the discounted price;

 

  • Social home buy, which allows you to buy a shared ownership (as above) of a housing association or council property if you cannot afford to buy it on the right to buy or right to acquire scheme.

Home buy agents

In order to apply for the scheme you should contact your local home buy agent who has the information on any properties for sale available on each scheme. The home buy agent is a housing association authorised to run the schemes in order to make affordable properties available to those who cannot otherwise finance buying a house.

For further advice and assistance, please contact me or Nayna Kotecha, who is our in-house expert on all forms of shared ownership.

James Swede • Property law

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