Places for People and Derwent Living Voluntary Right to Buy (VRtB) Local Sales Policy

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1 Places for People and Derwent Living Voluntary Right to Buy (VRtB) Local Sales Policy VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 1 of 16

2 Table of Contents Item Description Page Number 1.0 Scope of Policy Introduction Policy Objectives Tenant / Purchaser Eligibility Excluded Properties Discount Calculation Application Process Repayment of Discount Equality and Diversity Complaints Monitoring and Review Associated Documents Appendix 1 - Timescales for VRtB Process VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 2 of 16

3 1.0 Scope of this Policy This Policy sets out the approach to be taken by Places for People and Derwent Living (the Group) in delivering the Voluntary Right to Buy (VRtB) - Midlands Pilot Scheme (the Scheme). In delivering the Scheme the Group has discretion in relation to the nature and type of properties it wishes to make available for sale to tenants. 2.0 Introduction The Government has launched the Scheme for eligible tenants in the Midlands local authority areas. The Scheme will operate for two years and will provide the opportunity for a number of eligible general needs tenants across the Midlands pilot area to purchase their homes. The Group is one of the Registered Providers (RPs) that has chosen to take part in the Scheme. The Scheme aims to test specific aspects of VRtB not tested in the original pilot: one-forone replacement of housing sold and portability of discounts for those tenants whose properties are not eligible for the Scheme. The Government has set policies in areas such as: overall eligibility for the VRtB; how the discount will be funded and reimbursed, and how the discount will be calculated. As this scheme is a voluntary initiative, RPs have full control over policy decisions to exclude properties. The Group will exclude as few properties as possible in order to help its tenants realise their home ownership aspirations and to meet the Government s objective of providing tenants of RPs the opportunity to purchase their home with a discount. Where tenants are unable to purchase the home they live in because the property is excluded under this policy, the Group will offer tenants an option to port their discount entitlement under its VRtB Portability Policy. 3.0 Policy Objectives The aim of this policy is to ensure that our customers are aware of how the Group will deal with the following areas: Tenant eligibility criteria for VRtB as set by Government policy. Properties which are excluded from VRtB. Evidence required for tenancy verification. Application process and timescales. Discount calculation. Combatting potential fraud. Appeals and complaints processes. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 3 of 16

4 4.0 Tenant / Purchaser Eligibility Tenants must fulfil certain criteria (as outlined in the Government s Guidance for Housing Associations issued in May 2018) to qualify to purchase their home under VRtB. 4.1 Tenants Eligibility Criteria In line with the Governments requirements, to be eligible for the scheme tenants need to meet ALL of the following criteria: They can demonstrate that the property is their main home and that they have lived in it for at least 12 months; They can prove that they have been a public sector tenant of social or affordable housing for at least three years (in accordance with 4.2 below); They currently hold an un-demoted secure tenancy, an assured tenancy (subject to exclusions in 4.3 below), or a Localism Act fixed term tenancy; They have the right to reside in the UK, and can demonstrate that they meet the immigration status checks; They live in a general needs property; They have a valid Unique Reference Number (URN) from the Government s digital gateway. Please note that the allocation of a URN by the Government does not indicate that an application or property is eligible for VRtB. 4.2 Qualifying Period The Government requires that the qualifying period and the period on which discount is calculated include the following periods with a public sector landlord (See Appendix 2 of the VRtB Application form): Non-consecutive periods as public sector tenants; All undemoted secure or assured tenancies; Fixed term assured short hold tenancies as long as they don t apply to the property being purchased; Any probationary periods that have been completed or do not apply to the property being purchased; Any period spent as a public sector licensee (e.g. as a tenant to an almshouse or the Ministry of Defence) even though they cannot buy such properties under the scheme. These qualifying periods need not have been with the same landlord or continuous. Unlike Statutory Right to Buy, the qualifying period and the period on which the discount is calculated cannot include time spent as a non-tenant adult in a parental home. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 4 of 16

5 4.3 Tenant Ineligibility Criteria Tenants are not eligible if: They have the Statutory Right to Buy or the Preserved Right to Buy; The tenant s property is not situated in one of the Midland local authorities determined by the Government in which VRTB will operate; They do not have a valid URN from the Government s digital gateway at the time of application; They hold an assured short hold tenancy (other than a Localism Act fixed term tenancy), a contractual (non-assured, non-secure) tenancy or are a licensee; They have a fixed term tenancy of less than two years, or a periodic assured shorthold tenancy (including a starter tenancy which has not converted); They do not have the right to reside in the UK and cannot demonstrate that they meet the immigration status checks; They are currently subject to the mortgage rescue scheme. They will become eligible if they move to a new property or are granted a new tenancy; They are residents of almshouses or co-operative housing associations; They have any rent arrears (unless these are paid within 7 days of submitting an application for VRtB); They, or any joint applicants, are subject to bankruptcy proceedings or unfulfilled credit arrangements; They have committed anti-social behaviour as defined in the Paragraph 11 of Schedule 11 to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and the RP has initiated legal proceedings as a result of this. Tenants would become eligible if such legal proceedings were withdrawn or discontinued; They are currently subject to legal proceedings, for example if injunction proceedings have been issued or a Notice of Seeking Possession (NOSP) has been served. Tenants would become eligible if such legal proceedings were withdrawn or discontinued, if the landlord failed to send papers to the court for issue within six months of expiry of the NOSP, or the landlord loses the case in court (including following any appeal); They are subject to legal proceedings at any point between application and completion. Tenants would become eligible if such legal proceedings were withdrawn or discontinued; They already own a property at the point of application; and will not end their ownership on or before completion of the VRTB purchase; They hold an assured fixed term tenancy where the original term was 21 years or more (i.e. a long term tenancy); They occupy only a room, or rooms, in a shared house or flat, even if the terms of the occupancy amount to an assured tenancy; They are a shared ownership tenant. The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that they qualify for the initial qualification period and are entitled to the discount being claimed. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 5 of 16

6 4.4 Qualifying Family Members Tenants may share the purchase with up to three qualifying family members as defined below: The tenant s husband, wife or civil partner, or someone who lives with the tenant as their husband, wife or civil partner The tenant s parent, grandparent, child, stepchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece The parent, grandparent, child, stepchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the tenant s husband, wife or civil partner To qualify to share in a VRtB purchase the family member must: Be aged 18 or over; Demonstrate that the property they wish share the purchase of is their main home; Evidence that the property they wish to buy has been their residence for at least 12 months prior to the date of application for VRtB, Not own another property, or sell their other property before the VRtB purchase. 5.0 Excluded Properties The Group has excluded the following categories of property from the Scheme: Properties which are subject to a Section 106 Agreement, planning agreement, lease, transfer, title restriction, nomination agreement or other legal document which stipulates that the property must be used for the purpose of providing rented accommodation or otherwise prevents properties from being sold through the VRtB. Properties that are leasehold houses are excluded from the Voluntary Right to Buy Midlands Pilot. Properties originally developed in fulfilment of a planning obligation for affordable housing, for example through a Section 106 Agreement, that are not subject to the restrictions outlined in the above bullet point but where the local authority has expressly objected to the sale of properties through the VRtB. Properties charged to a lender where the conditions imposed by the lender to release the property from the charge are, in the Group's opinion, too onerous to facilitate an efficient sale, or would mean that a sale would not be financially viable for the Group. Properties for which the current open market value is less than the cost to the Group of acquisition, development and repair. Properties where the sale would result in an accounting loss to the Group; it is not economically viable for the Group to suffer a financial loss in operating the Scheme. Properties which are due to be sold/redeveloped/demolished as part of a wider regeneration scheme in the area in question. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 6 of 16

7 Properties where there are significant shared facilities, such as kitchens or bathrooms. If eligible tenants are unable to buy the home they live in because the property has been excluded from the Scheme for any of the reasons outlined above, we will ask the tenants if they wish to investigate porting their discount entitlement to an eligible property under our VRtB Portability Policy. Following approval of the application form and supporting evidence, the Group is required to seek permission from Homes England to proceed with the sale. In the event that Homes England does not provide permission, the Group will withdraw its offer and close the application. 6.0 Discount Calculation A tenant must have been a public sector tenant of social or affordable housing for at least three years in order to qualify for the Scheme (See Appendix 2 of the VRtB Application Form). The minimum discount for the purchase of a house is 35% of the value of the property after three years of qualifying tenancy. After five years of tenancy, this increases by 1% for each additional year of tenancy. The minimum discount for the purchase of a flat is 50% of the value of the property after three years of qualifying tenancy. After five years tenancy, this increases by 2% for each additional year of tenancy. The maximum discount for houses and flats is 70% or 80,900 (whichever is the lower). The below table shows the discounts available for each qualifying period, both for houses and flats, and also gives some examples of the discount a tenant could receive on a home worth 120,000: Qualifying Period in years Houses (%) Example discount on a home worth 120,000 Flats (%) Example discount on a home worth 120,000 3, 4 & 5 35% 42,000 50% 60, % 43,200 52% 62, % 44,400 54% 64, % 45,600 56% 67, % 46,800 58% 69, % 48,000 60% 72, % 54,000 70% 80, % 60,000 70% 80, % 66,000 70% 80, % 72,000 70% 80, % 78,000 70% 80,900 VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 7 of 16

8 40 and over 70% 80,900 70% 80,900 For each complete year of confirmed tenancy, the tenant is entitled to receive a discount based on a percentage of the open market value of the property. The total periods of qualifying tenancy are added together (years, months, days) and the discount is calculated on the total years. The monetary value of this percentage is deducted from the market valuation of the property. The maximum discount will be reviewed annually and increased if appropriate in line with the Consumer Price Index level of inflation (CPI). If a tenant (or if there is more than one tenant purchasing, one of the tenants) has previously received a discount under Right to Buy, Preserved Right to Buy or Right to Acquire, the monetary value of the discount is reduced by the monetary value of the discount previously received. 7.0 Application Process Before a tenant can become eligible and the Group can process an application, the tenant must log their interest on the Government s digital gateway and if accepted onto the funding programme they will receive a URN which must be noted on the Group s application form. Application forms without a URN cannot be accepted. The Group will operate an online/interactive pdf application process. The Group's websites will provide guidance for customers, outlining key factors such as entitlement, costs and discounts available. Purchasers must comply with both our Anti-Money Laundering and Fraud Policy and the Government s requirements under the Scheme. If at any time during the application procedure the Group suspects fraud or money laundering, the application may be suspended to carry out investigations. The Group will aim to complete such investigations within a reasonable time period. Please see the VRtB process (Appendix 1) for details of the timescales to be followed by the Group and tenants at each stage of the process. Purchasers must meet all timescales set out by the Government, failing which the Group is required to withdraw its offer and close the application. Details of all applicants will be logged on the Homes England Investment Management System (IMS) and will be updated at key parts of the process. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 8 of 16

9 7.1 Application Form Tenants must submit a fully completed application form signed by all purchasers to the Group along with a full set of documentation requested from the list below: Proof of identification for each purchaser, as per the Group's Anti-Money Laundering and Fraud Policy. Marriage certificate, death certificate, change of name deed as requested by the Group. Consent to complete Lending Metrics checks in order to comply with the Group's Anti-Money Laundering Policy. Evidence of the Group s consent to any tenant home improvements claimed under the VRtB application form. Evidence of eligible current tenancy and former tenancies with the Group as requested (see section 7.3). Acceptable evidence of eligible former tenancies with other eligible landlords (see section 7.4). All tenants of a property must agree to purchase the property or sign the Declaration - Tenants not wishing to buy on the application form to say that they do not wish to be included in the purchase. Failure to submit a fully completed and signed application form with a full set of required supporting documents within the relevant timescales (set out in Appendix 1) will result in the application being declined by the Group. It is at the Group's discretion whether to accept the documents submitted and the Group will apply reasonable judgement when making this determination. 7.2 Initial Landlord Checks Following receipt of the completed and signed application form and acceptable evidence, the Group will complete applicant eligibility approval and initial property inclusion checks including a home visit. Each tenant and family member sharing the purchase must be present at the home visit. Each tenant and family member must produce original documents requested by the Group which will include documents to confirm identification, evidence of family member relationship with tenants and documents which confirm each purchaser has the right to reside in the UK. In usual circumstances applicants will be given no less than three days notice of the home visit. In cases of ill health or of applicants who are working away, the Group will use their discretion regarding the timescale for carrying out home visits. Failure to be present at the home visit and to provide original documents requested will result in the application being declined by the Group. Copies of documents will be held by the Group for at least one year. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 9 of 16

10 Following applicant eligibility approval and initial property inclusion checks the Group will ask the purchaser(s) to pay the application fee and select a valuer from a list provided by the Group. 7.3 Evidence to Verify Tenancy - Group Tenancy For the purpose of verifying the tenant s current tenancy, the Group will rely on the tenancy agreement from the tenancy file. In the event that the tenancy agreement is not available, the Group will rely on a screenprint from its housing management system which confirms the tenant s name(s), start date of tenancy, tenancy type and shows the tenancy as a current tenancy. A tenant must provide any information requested by the Group to rectify any inaccurate tenancy details, including and not limited to original or certified copy marriage certificate, death certificate and name change deed. This documentation can be in the form of a copy of the tenancy agreement or a statutory declaration. When a tenant submits a statutory declaration, the Group will cross reference the document against available internal records. If the statutory declaration does not correspond with internal records, the statutory declaration will not be accepted by the Group and eligibility for the scheme or discount entitlement will be restricted accordingly. 7.4 Evidence to Verify Tenancy - Non-Group Tenancy To support a tenant s claim in respect of former tenancies with other landlords, the tenant must provide documentary evidence to the satisfaction of the Group as below: Former landlord's name. Property address. Start and end date of tenancy. Tenancy type. Confirmation if the tenant purchased that property with a discount, and if so, if any discount was repaid to the former landlord. In the first instance, the tenant must approach their former landlord to obtain signed correspondence on the landlord s letter-head paper to confirm all of the above information. In the event that the former landlord does not hold records to confirm these details, the tenant must provide signed correspondence on the landlord s letter-head paper to confirm this. The tenant may then submit this letter with a statutory declaration* to support the purchaser s application to purchase/claim discount providing that the tenant also submits at least two documents** which verify that the tenant lived at the property during the period they are claiming. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 10 of 16

11 The Group will accept statutory declaration providing that the tenant provides two documents** which, in the opinion of the Group, suitably evidence the declaration being made, along with correspondence from the former landlord that they do not retain records to confirm this information themselves. * Following Section 180 of the Housing Act 1985, statutory declarations can be accepted by a housing provider where there is an absence of evidence or other supporting document to support the purchaser's application to purchase under the statutory Right to Buy scheme. Whilst a housing provider can accept evidence in the form of a declaration it is always at its discretion "if it sees fit" to do so. **Two documents, such as a bank statement, council tax statements, utility bill, must be provided one dated within the first year of the tenancy the customer is claiming and one dated within the last year of the period being claimed. Alternatively a written statement from the tenant s GP which confirms the name, former address and date of occupancy at the property will be accepted. It is at the Group s discretion whether to accept the documents submitted and the Group will apply reasonable judgement when making this determination. If the Group determine the information submitted does not sufficiently evidence the tenants claim, eligibility for the scheme or discount entitlement will be restricted by the Group accordingly. 7.5 Application Fee Applicants will need to pay an administration fee of 250. An application cannot proceed, and a valuer cannot be appointed, until this fee is paid. The fee will be refunded if the applicant is unable to proceed because they fail the eligibility checks, or because the property is subject to exclusion. The fee will also be refunded on successful completion of the sale. The fee will not be refunded if the applicant chooses not to proceed or investigations into fraud are upheld following valuation of the property. 7.6 Valuation and Legal Due Diligence Applicants will be able to choose from a short-list of local professional RICS certified surveyors compiled by the Group. The cost of carrying out the valuation will be met by the Group. Further details can be provided by the Group on request. The Group will obtain a RICS valuation, complete legal due diligence and, if no exclusions are identified following receipt of valuation and legal due diligence, calculate the discount, obtain permission to sell from Homes England and issue a formal offer to the applicants. Any applicants that wish to appeal the valuation will be expected to bear the additional costs of a second valuation. The Group will pay for this cost where it requests the second valuation. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 11 of 16

12 7.7 Offer Acceptance and Conveyancing Applicants are required to accept the offer and provide solicitor details within the timescales as per Appendix 1 from the date of the offer. If the offer is not accepted and solicitor details not provided within the timescales as per Appendix 1, the Group will withdraw its offer and close the application. Applicants are required to complete the purchase of the property within the timescales as per Appendix 1, from accepting the Group s formal offer and providing their solicitor details. If completion does not take place within this timescale due to delays by or on behalf of the applicants, including solicitors and finance provider, the Group will advise Homes England and the offer may be withdrawn and the application closed. Mortgages/secured loans to purchase VRTB properties must be provided by lenders registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and who are authorised to enter into regulated mortgage contracts. The Group will not complete a sale where this criteria is not met. 7.8 Repairs after Valuation No repairs will be carried out to a property once an application has been received unless they are required for the Group to comply with the following: Section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985; or Environmental Protection Act 1990; or Section 4 Defective Premises Act 1972 No planned improvement works will be undertaken to a property once an application has been received. 7.9 Changes to Applicants If any of the applicants who are not named tenants change at any point once the signed application has been submitted, the application will be rendered void. If the purchaser(s) then wish to re-apply, they must successfully apply for a new URN, otherwise they will not be permitted to proceed. In the event of the death of a sole named tenant, subject to the consent of Homes England, the application may continue provided that the statutory successor to the tenancy is one of the other named applicants. Joint applications where any applicant is ineligible will be voided. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 12 of 16

13 8.0 Repayment of Discount If the property is sold, transferred or sublet within five years following completion of the sale, the purchaser is required to pay back the discount as follows: 100% of the discount repaid in the first year. 80% of the discount repaid in the second year. 60% of the discount repaid in the third year. 40% of the discount repaid in the fourth year. 20% of the discount repaid in the five year. To calculate the discount repayable upon sale, transfer or subletting, the percentage discount which was given on the VRtB purchase is applied to the market value of the property at the time of the sale, transfer or subletting. This sum reduces each full year following the VRtB purchase by the percentages outlined above. For example, a property valued at 120,000 and sold under VRtB with a discount of 40% ( 48,000) and which is valued at 160,000 at the time of the sale, transfer or subletting would give rise to a repayment of 64,000 (40% of the current value) if sold within the first year following the VRtB purchase. This reduces each year thereafter as illustrated below: Year following VRtB purchase % Discount Repayable Discount Repayable 1 100% 64, % 51, % 38, % 25, % 12,800 The amount of discount to be repaid if the property is sold, transferred or sublet within five years of purchase will be a percentage of the open market value of the property, disregarding the value of any improvements. The Group will require a RICS open market valuation to determine the value of the property, the cost of the valuation is payable by the purchaser(s) of the property. Repayment is triggered by the date at which the purchaser enters into an agreement to sell on the property. Therefore, if the tenant signs an agreement with a third party to sell the property to them after a period of time (for example, in return for funding to make the initial purchase), the discount is repayable from the date of that agreement not the date of onward sale (a deferred sale ). VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 13 of 16

14 9.0 Equality and Diversity We are committed to promoting equal opportunities in the provision of housing services and in the employment of staff and contractors, regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin, religion or belief, disability, age, gender, marital status or sexual orientation. Our aim is to ensure that our policies and procedures do not create an unfair disadvantage for anyone, either directly or indirectly Complaints A tenant wishing to make a complaint about the level of service provided in dealing with the application process will be dealt with under the Group's complaints policy. Tenants wising to make complaint should contact: For Places for People: or For Derwent Living: or Appeals Tenants wishing to appeal about a decision under this policy should contact: For Places for People: or For Derwent Living: 11.0 Monitoring and Review We reserve the right to change or modify this policy as the pilot progresses and/or as further guidance is made available to us. The next policy review is scheduled for We will complete all appropriate regulatory reporting and any requirements as notified by MHCLG, National Housing Federation or agencies acting on their behalf Associated Documents List of documents and associated policies: Voluntary Right to Buy - Midlands Pilot Guidance for Housing Associations The Group VRtB Portability Policy Timescales for VRtB Process Appendix 1 Anti-Money Laundering and Fraud Policy The GDPR Policy VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 14 of 16

15 Appendix 1 Timescales for VRtB Process Launch Date 16 th August Tenant registers interest on the Government portal. Go Live Date 16 th September Government allocate URN to tenants who have registered for Voluntary Right to Buy and informs tenants and applicable landlords. Stage 1 Application Form - within 4 weeks Tenant submits a fully completed and signed application with all documentation and evidence requested by the Group. Stage 2 Eligibility Checks - within 4 weeks (full history with current landlord) or within 8 weeks (history includes other landlords) The landlord carries out applicant eligibility and initial property checks this includes immigration fraud checks and a home visit If the application/evidence/home visit has been verified and approved, the landlord will ask the tenant to pay the administration fee and select their choice of valuer from list provided. Stage 3 Pay Administration Fee and Select Valuer within 4 weeks Tenant pays 250 administration fee to the landlord and confirms choice of valuer Stage 4 - Valuation and Legal Due Diligence within 12 weeks The landlord instructs a valuation and carries out legal due diligence to identify any property exclusions under this policy. For included properties the landlord will request permission to sell from Homes England. If Homes England provides approval to sell, the landlord will issue a formal offer to the tenant to confirm the value, purchase price and discount entitlement. Stage 5 - Formal Offer Notice Accepted by Tenant within 4 weeks The tenant confirms their intention to proceed with the purchase and provides their solicitor s details to the landlord. Stage 6 - Conveyancing and Sale Completion of sale within 12 weeks The tenant, landlord and solicitors for both sides progress conveyancing and complete sale. All of the above timescales are provided by the Government within their Midlands Pilot Guidance for Housing Associations. The Group will aim to administer applications in line with these timescales. Failure by the tenant to comply with these timescales, or if the tenant does not facilitate the home visit (stage 2) or allow access to the valuer (stage 4) within a reasonable timescale set by the Group, will result in the withdrawal of their application or the expiry of the funding allocated to them by the Government. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 15 of 16

16 Applications withdrawn by the Group will not be re-opened. If the tenant wishes to reapply they must register on the Government portal again. Their ability to make a new application will be dependent on them receiving a new URN from the Government. If an appeal is made against the Policy, the Group will acknowledge the appeal within three workings days and then respond to the appeal request within 10 working days. If a complaint is made regarding the service the customer has received, the Group will respond within the timescales of their Complaints Policy. VRtB Local Sales Policy Page 16 of 16

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