Housing Association property

Most housing associations work alongside the local authority so, once you are on the housing register, you will be shown housing association properties. However, some housing associations have properties that are known as “self-referrals” or general needs housing. You can apply directly to the housing associations for these. However, they are rarely adapted and hard to come by. There are some housing associations that specialise in adapted properties and you will find these on your local authority website. Contact housing associations in your area and find out how to apply direct.

Shared ownership schemes

With some housing associations or shared ownership housing providers you can enter into an agreement to “part buy” or “shared ownership”. This is where you purchase part of a property and you rent the rest directly from the housing association. The aim is that ultimately you work your way up into owning the entire property over time. You will need to be able to pay for the part you buy, either in cash or mortgage, and rent the rest. The rental side can be paid using housing benefit. Be aware that moving can be difficult as some housing associations or shared ownership scheme operators may not have an obligation to buy back your part of the house and it can be difficult to sell only half a house! Check the buy-back policy so that you are sure before you invest. Whatever you decide please make sure you get proper financial advice.

Renting from a private landlord

Going down the private rental route can be a mixed bag of fortunes. Most private rentals are not fully adapted or accessible and there is not a legal obligation for landlords to allow you to make structural or major changes but they do have a responsibility to allow you to make minor ones. Where they do allow major changes, such as changing a bathroom into a wetroom or adapting a kitchen, they also have the right to demand that when you leave you change things back to the original layout. While you can apply for funding to complete the adaptations there is no funding available to reverse these changes.

Always check your lease or tenancy agreement to see the wording regarding building works and adaptations. Check that you are allowed to complete works to the flat itself and be aware that you may not be allowed to change things in communal spaces like entrance doorways and halls.

There are some very good landlords and some very good properties, so it can be worth trying.

Housing co-operatives

A co-operative is a smaller version of a housing association with at least one major difference – the members of the co-op collectively manage and own the properties. However, there are very few of these left in the UK and they rarely become available. The Councils do often have referral rights to any vacancies that arise but often word of mouth can be better. Ask around and speak to people who may know when a vacancy is due. Contact the council for information about local housing co-operatives and then get in touch with them directly.