On 21st of April 2015, MSP Margaret Burgess, the Scottish Governments Housing Minister visited projects we have been involved with in both Dornoch and Helmsdale.
In her visit to the town of Dornoch, a place where HSCHT has developed many new homes recently. In the past 12 months, we have completed 6 new homes in the area. The first two properties in Dornoch were built through our first phase of Rent To Buy properties, working with local contractor J & S Gunn. Both are now occupied, with 2 families now been given the opportunity to own their own home after renting the property for 5 years before purchasing at a reduced, below-market price. This is made possible by the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden to the property.
Since 2013, the Scottish Government has issued over £7 million to our Rural Rent to Buy scheme, as we continue to develop affordable housing throughout the Highlands.
Right next door to these properties are two new homes developed for the Highland Council through the Greener Homes Initiative. These properties have recently been completed very recently this year and have already been allocated to residents who have now moved into the properties. The Minister got the chance to not only meet these residents, but also view the inside of the homes.
Rent to Buy and Greener Homes projects are being developed across the Highlands thanks to an innovative partnership between Scottish Government, Highland Council and HSCHT. The various schemes that have been developed through funding from the Scottish Government, have not only provided the Dornoch with new varying types of affordable housing solutions, but has also allowed for new members of the community to get on the housing ladder.
Margaret Burgess then went on to visit our brand new homes built by Pat Munro Homes through the Rent To Buy Scheme. Completed at the very end of last year, the two semi-detached properties are now home to very happy residents who are now on their way to owning their own home. Located in the new Deans Park development in Dornoch, one of our Tenants, was happy to greet the Minister and welcome her into her home.
The Minister then travelled north to visit the community of Helmsdale to view their community owned housing project. Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT) is spearheading a new community led housing development having built four new homes in the Highland village of Helmsdale, backed by £110,000 of Scottish Government investment. During her visit to Helmsdale, the Housing Minister Margaret Burgess met with new tenants of these properties, the local development trust and many children from the local primary school.
This innovative project is being driven by the community in order to provide community owned housing to ensure the future sustainability of the area. All statutory housing provision in the last 30 years has been provided in neighbouring villages, which has been detrimental and has led to out-migration from the community. Helmsdale went 35 years without any new affordable housing being made available for rent, and held a desire to solve this, as well as the aging demographic of the village.
HSCHT helped with this project in a number of ways. This included community engagement and facilitation, a local survey, initial project feasibility ans desktop funding options, negotiations with landowners and the local authority and the initial fundraising – a key challenge for the community in order to obtain the vision for this new project.
By partnering the Local Authority, local RSL along with guidance from HSCHT, Helmsdale community were able to deliver a feasible and practical solution to meet their longer term housing needs – four brand new rented homes to be managed by Albyn Housing Association using policies agreed with the Highland Council.
Helmsdale is part of the Growth at the Edge initiative by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. A local development officer consulted with the community through a series of open days and has produced a document “Shaping our future together”. In this housing features as a high priority for local people. Creating new community housing here will help make the community more sustainable:
There are a range of other benefits this project created including:
The day was a great success, and was seemingly enjoyed by all. Not only did Margaret Burgess perform the official opening ceremony of the Helmsdale & District Community Owned Housing Project, acknowledging the great success and work of the community, but it also allowed HSCHT to showcase the work we do throughout the Highlands.
If you would like any more information on these or any other projects we have worked on, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, should you be interested in how we can help you or your community, call us on 01463 233549.
Acharacle, Rent To Buy Project
This 2 bedroom property located within Acharacle is currently still in its final stages of construction. Although we are looking to allocate the new home in the very near future.
The building was designed and constructed by S&K MacDonald Homes, creating a home which is both modern and energy efficient.
Heating is provided by an air to air heat pump with A rated efficiency. Hot water is provided by a mains pressure direct cylinder, Megaflow Direct. The first floor is for future development. Initially the home will have 2 bedrooms downstairs as shown on the ground floor plan.
The windows and external doors are Scandinavian style softwood, while the external of the home will be made up of larch cladding.
The Application Process
The Rent to Buy Scheme aims to help mainly, but not exclusively, first time buyers who wish to own a home, such as people living in social housing; private rented housing; or with relatives. However other factors may lead to a person being selected for the scheme such as a significant change in your household circumstances. If you already own your home or part-own a property you will be required to sell your interest in that property in order to make you eligible for the scheme.
The allocation process of our properties follows specific criteria, in an attempt to ensure that the most suitable applicant or family is successful in securing their own affordable home. Priority is given to those who:
(i) living in the area where the homes are located,
(ii) have immediate family there,
(iii) work in the area,
(iv) or have a need to live there.
(v) are currently living out with the area, but can add social and economic benefit by moving to the area.
(vi) can release a social rented home
These criteria ensure that the house is allocated to whoever will receive the most benefit from the property, while also allowing someone who has a connection to the area, to remain living in the area.The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust aim to help rural communities become both socially and economically sustainable in their own right. A large number of people are having to leave their rural communities to live and work elsewhere, meaning these small villages and areas suffer. As more and more people from rural backgrounds are forced to relocate, HSCHT’s various housing schemes try to prevent this by allowing families who have lived in the area for generations to continue this tradition. In an attempt to enhance the economic and social sustainability of rural areas in the Highlands, these new properties can also act as accommodation to young or skilled individuals who have the potential to benefit the community.
We will assess all applications to ensure that applicants can afford the monthly rental payments and that they are likely to secure a mortgage for the home in 5 years’ time, based on their current circumstances.
1. Complete HSCHT’s application form.
2. Provide HSCHT with the supporting documents listed on the enclosed form to prove that you can fully fund your rental payments and in due course, your mortgage. Please return the form and documents by the specified date otherwise your application may not be considered.
3. HSCHT will assess the applications and allocate the homes according to the allocations policy. All applicants will receive a letter to let them know if they have been successful or not.
4. Successful applicants will be sent a letter and a reservation form, which they need to return to HSCHT with the reservation fee.
5. HSCHT will instruct their solicitor to provide successful applicants with the short assured tenancy agreement, the end user agreement and other associated paperwork for the home. You will be required to sign up to the RTBS at this point, and whilst not essential you are advised to take advice from your own solicitor on all aspects of the scheme.
6. You will be kept up to date as to when the home will be ready for occupation.
Sample Application Form. Please Go To Current Opportunities For Full Application Form
We are currently accepting applications for the following schemes –
Alness, Greener Homes x 2. As featured in our previous blog. Click For Link.
Daviot, Greener Homes x 2
Kyleakin, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Acharacle, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Request an application form or brochure for this project by contacting us by email or on 01463 233 549.
If you are unable to apply for this Rent To Buy house in Acharacle, but are interested in moving to a new home within the area, a further property will be available within the coming months, as HSCHT work on renovating an existing empty property, bringing it up to livable standards to provide a great new home to another individual, couple or family. This community owned project will be supported by the Nationwide Foundation, who have included the trust as part of their Empty Homes funding. More information will become available nearer the time, and the project will feature on this blog. However, if you would like to know more, or wish to express early interest in the project, get in touch with me by emailing email@example.com
We are extremely happy to announce that The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust has just secured a total of £3 million from the Scottish Government to fund our very successful Rent to Buy Scheme.
This funding will contribute towards the building of around 25 new homes in rural areas around the whole of the Highlands. The houses will be rented for five years to people who cannot afford to instantly buy their own home within the current property market.
The Rent To Buy scheme is an innovative way we look to secure affordable housing for individuals and families who are struggling to get on the property ladder.
Rent To Buy – An Affordable Way To Own Your Own Home
The tenant rents the home for a period of 5 years in an attempt to save up a deposit before purchasing the property. After this 5 year period, HSCHT will also return a percentage of the rent paid to go towards the deposit on the home.
Due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden, where the trust maintains 20% equity of the property, it is possible to sell the house to the tenant for about 20% lower than the market value. We also hold the right of pre-emption on the property.
The price of the homes are agreed upon at the beginning of the rental period, ensuring the tenant is not affected by rising house prices.
This will be our third phase of Rent To Buy developments, currently in the process of supplying around 37 new homes to people around the Highlands. In the past our projects have been developed in the following list of villages and towns, some of which (mainly Phase 2) we are currently working on or are due to start shortly:
Phase 1 – Dornoch, Fodderty, Beauly, Auldearn, Lochcarron, Gairloch and Sheildag.
Phase 2 – Dornoch, Gorthleck, Inverarnie, Auldearn, Sheildag, Balmacara, Kyleakin, Flodigarry, Aviemore, Strontian, Acharacle, Invergarry and Mallaig.
Our third phase of Rent To Buy units will aim to supply great affordable housing solutions to towns and villages around the Highlands. Various and different housing types will be supplied to more communities, as HSCHT aim to benefit people in new areas of the Highlands, and perhaps in communities we have worked with in the past.
In an interview with STV News, Ronnie MacRae, our chief executive, said:
“The Scottish Government’s approach to innovative and increased rural development is hugely helpful, and this scheme which has various benefits is proving extremely popular with individuals, contractors and communities alike. The scheme is based entirely on loan finance which has the potential to be recyclable and provide social and economic benefit to rural communities for the longer term.”
The Housing minister Margaret Burgess, who announced the funding during today’s Scotland Policy Event has stated:
“This successful Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme is giving people who might not otherwise have been able to afford their own homes the opportunity to get on the housing ladder. Despite financial challenges over the last few years from Westminster, housing continues to be a priority for us. We are three quarters of the way towards achieving our target of 30,000 additional affordable homes by the end of this Parliament. This boost to the Rural Rent to Buy Scheme will make sure rural communities don’t miss out and they also benefit from new affordable houses which otherwise would not have been built”
Margaret Burgess came to visit some of our projects earlier this year during the summer. She was even present to mark the completion of our Rent To Buy and Greener Homes projects in Fodderty. Meeting with the 4 families as they settled into their new homes – 4 semi-detached modern and sustainable designs by MAKAR Construction.
MSP Margaret Burgess, Visiting Our Fodderty Homes Earlier This Year With Our Chair Bill Hall
We are very excited about these new developments, and hope we are able to help people and communities greatly in the near future.
Click on this link – 3 Million For Highland Homes – to read the full press release by the Scottish Government about the fund.
If you would like any information about our current Rent To Buy Developments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In other news this week at HSCHT, the first two of our Greener Homes in Alness have been bought, with each looking forward to moving in to their new new modern and sustainable houses. We are currently still looking for tenants to the other two homes in Alness, as well as properties in Dornoch, Kyleakin and Lochcarron.
This blog post focuses on some of the projects we have in the Easter Ross and East Sutherland area of the Highlands. Various housing schemes that we provide are occurring in the town of Dornoch; while Alness is in the process of providing new properties under the Greener Homes Initiative. Our main contractors in these areas so far have been J & S Gunn Ltd, and Pat Munro Homes.
Recently we have had a mass increase in the provision of affordable housing in the Dornoch area. Having originally provided 2 semi-detached properties through our first phase of Rent To Buy developments, we are on our way to completing a further two homes as part of our second phase of Rent To Buy.
Our first of these developments was built by J & S Gunn Ltd. – two x three bedroom semi-detached properties completed in September this year. This project was done as part of our first phase of Rent To Buy homes. Both are now occupied, with 2 families now been given the opportunity to own their own home after renting the property for 5 years before purchasing at a reduced, below-market price. This is made possible by the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden to the property.
Rent To Buy Phase 1, Dornoch
Rural Housing Burden – A means of protecting the original discount offered on the home.
If you buy a home of ours which has this attached, you will still have full title to the property, although HSCHT holds a pre-emption right. Whilst you can pass the home onto your children, if you decide to sell it, this right of pre-emption which gives HSCHT the option to buy is back for the previously agreed equity share. This allows us to keep our house prices low, and maintain our ability to provide housing to families who may otherwise struggle to own their own home.
Nearing completion, and available for occupation early in the new year, we have 2 semi-detached bungalows, complete with front and back garden and off street parking. These houses are available to local families and individuals through the second phase of our Rent To Buy Scheme.
Rent To Buy Phase 2, Dornoch
The properties have been built by Pat Munro, as part of their large Deans Park development of new housing of various types in Dornoch. The great new homes – which tie in with the rest of the brand new modern housing and street development – include a spacious, open plan lounge and kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. In the final stages of construction, these properties are yet to be assigned; so if you are interested in applying, contact us about an application or brochure.
Visualisation of Internal Layout for illustrative purposes.
Due to be complete in February next year, we have also managed to introduce another two homes by J & S Gunn Ltd. through the Greener Homes Initiative – adjacent to the homes they previously built for us as part of our original Rent To Buy scheme.
These Greener Homes are being developed for the Highland Council. The tenants for these properties will be selected from the Highland Housing Register – a register shared between the Highland Council and registered social landlords around the Highlands compiled of anyone in the area seeking social rented housing.
The Greener Homes Initiative -
Following a successful bid from HSCHT and the Highland Council, through the Scottish Governments Greener homes Initiative (GHI), funding was secured to provide 20 units throughout the Highlands. While 13 of these units will be provided by HSCHT, a further 7 will made available by the Highland Council.
The Initiative aims to encourage modern sustainable and environmentally friendly developments, by providing funding to projects which make use of greener technologies, modern methods of construction carbon friendly materials.
Greener Homes, Dornoch
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust have had a presence in Dornoch for several years now, with another two properties on the same street being sold to families back in 2008 through a shared equity scheme – allowing them to purchase an affordable home due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden.
We are also working with Pat Munro in the town of Alness, to deliver four new homes through the Greener Homes Initiative. Located in Newfield, Alness, these four semi-detached two bedroom bungalows can be purchased at a low fixed price now due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden.
Greener Homes, Alness
These properties are similar to the units designed and built by Pat Munro in Dornoch. Each includes two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large open plan kitchen and lounge area.
The modern layout is complemented by the modern methods of design and construction, with each encompassing greener ideals, from high levels of insulation to the introduction of Canadian Solar Black Panels. Pat Munro Homes have a proven track record of building sustainable homes, and these are no exception. The houses are designed to have lower running costs and are built to the Scottish Building Standards Silver Active Level of sustainability.
Visualisation of Internal Layout for illustrative purposes
While two of the properties in this scheme have already been completed and assigned to happy tenants, we are still taking applications from people who are interested in moving into the remaining two Greener Homes, which we are due to take handover of the second week in January.
We are currently taking applications for both the Pat Munro ‘Rent To Buy’ properties in Deans Park, Dornoch, as well as the new ‘Greener Homes’ being developed by them in Alness.
If you are interested in any of these schemes, get in contact to receive a brochure and application form. Contact me at email@example.com
On Wednesday 12th November, we held an Open Day to showcase our Rent to Buy and Greener Homes projects which have been taking place in the village of Lochcarron.
The development incorporates two Rent To Buy units, and two Greener Home units. While the two Rent To Buy properties have been assigned, the Greener Homes are still available for anyone who is interested in applying. (Application instructions can be found towards the end of this blog post).
The Greener Homes Scheme aims to help people who would like to become home owners by providing them with the opportunity to purchase new homes that are sustainable, energy efficient and affordable. Like the Rent To Buy scheme, these properties are available to rent for a 5 year period before the tenant is given the opportunity to purchase the house at a discount of around 20% below the open market value as a Rural Housing Burden is attached.
These contemporary homes built by Highland based contractors, MAKAR Construction, are all single story, 2 bedroom, semi-detached properties with each incorporating a very open-plan layout, while allowing stunning views over the hills and water.
As with all our Greener Homes projects, the units aim to meet the highest of environmental standards, with each house having a very low total of embodied energy. Through the use of locally sourced timber and the natural non-toxic insulation and other materials, the development looks to meet top environmental standards. The air-tight structures includes wood burning stoves to create a warm and and economically sustainable home for each family.
Yesterdays Open Day was a great success, allowing us to showcase these great new sustainable homes to the local community as well as others involved in the project. We were there from the afternoon to the early evening, with many visitors deciding to swing by to learn more about the project as well as get to see inside the modern timber properties.
As we head into the colder winter months, many visitors to the properties commented on how the houses proved to great at keeping the heat in, with the wood burning stove warming up the house.
Prospective tenants who were at the open day were also able to start the thought process of how they are going to furnish their new homes in an attempt the create great new personal living.
We are still accepting applications for the two remaining Greener Home properties, so if you are interested in applying, or would simply like more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, just give us a call on 01463 233 549.
To find out more about the contractors of this project, head over tohttp://www.makar.co.uk and have a look at some of the other great work they do.
This modern property lies towards the west coast of the country near Ballachulish in the Lochaber area of the Highlands.
In 2008 we sold this vacant plot to a family who would go on to build a home for themselves with help from attaining a Rural Home Ownership Grant from the Scottish Government – a grant which is now no longer available. The plot was a shared equity project, allowing the family a discounted plot for below the land value.
Recently due to work commitments, this family decided to move – resulting in HSCHT fully buying back the property. The Rural Housing Burden previously set on the land, meant the trust has the first opportunity to buy the house.
This has allowed us to provide a great new home to another family, who otherwise may have struggled to find a property in the area. This new family can now cite their close family members as neighbours – a desirable factor in the search for suitable applicants by the trust, as we look to provide homes to people who have a form of local connection to these rural areas.
This family will now rent the property at a reasonable price for 5 years, before being presented with the opportunity to purchase the house. The shared equity we hold and Rural Housing Burden in place allows the family to buy the property at a price much below market value when the time comes.
If you are interested to hear about any similar properties or projects in your area we may have available. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Over the coming months, I will be visiting our long list of projects in locations around the Highlands. This map shows a selection of projects highlighting the extent of the work the trust undertakes, as well as where the majority of our projects can be found. The project list is always expanding, with HSCHT always looking to work in new areas within the Highlands.
If you have any queries about any of our projects, or are interested in what we currently have available. Feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog will feature a wide variety of HSCHT’s developments and types of projects located throughout the Scottish Highlands.
I will be exploring the massive scope of various work the trust undertakes; highlighting the benefits HSCHT is able to provide and already has provided to individuals, families, and whole communities.
Graduate Development Officer, HSCHT
This blog will feature a wide variety of HSCHT’s developments and types of projects located throughout the Scottish Highlands. It will also include the latest news and updates regarding the trust.