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Jargon Buster


Assured tenancy: Type of tenancy agreement usually offered by Housing Associations. Tenants can continue to live in the property for as long as they wish, as long as they do not break certain conditions set out in the Housing Act 1988.

Audit commission: Independent body that scrutinises local authorities and Housing Associations to ensure public money is spent effectively.


Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH): Professional body for people working in housing and communities. Have affiliated organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Comprehensive spending review (CSR): Periodic reviews of spending on public services that is carried out by the Treasury. They determine how much departments will have to spend, what their priorities will be, and what they are expected to achieve through public service agreements.


Decanting: Process of moving residents from their homes while improvements are carried out.

Decent Homes: Government scheme to get housing to reach certain standards in terms of being warm, weatherproof and having reasonable modern facilities. The current aim is for 95 per cent of social housing to reach the Decent Homes Standard by 2010.


English Partnerships: Former national regeneration agency for England. It was a non-departmental public body responsible for funding and directing large-scale regeneration work. On 1 December 2008 it closed and its powers passed to the Homes and Communities Agency.

Equity loan: Loan given to help buy a home. The loan is only repaid when the home is sold, and its value relates to the value of a home. So if a home rises in value, the amount to be repaid increases proportionally.


FIRST STEPS is the Mayor of London's programme brand for low cost home ownership schemes such as Shared Ownership throughout Greater London. 

Flexible tenure: Form of shared ownership that allows homeowners to increase or decrease their share in the property according to their circumstances, and ability to pay.

Freehold: Opposite of leasehold. Gives the owner the right to occupy a property indefinitely.


Greater London Authority

The Greater London Authority (GLA) serve the London Assembly and the Mayor of London. Housing in London is funded and regulated by the GLA.


Help to Buy
The government's brand used to describe a range of products designed to assist people in to home ownership. There is a Help to Buy equity loan, which developers offer on new homes to reduce the cost of buying by up to 20% of the value of the home (in London by up to 40%), the Help to Buy ISA, where government offers a savings top-up to first-time buyers and the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee - which closed in December 2016. Find out more on the government's Help to Buy website

A brand used to describe a range of schemes designed to help people buy homes through devices such as shared equity, shared ownership, and other forms of low cost home ownership.

Metropolitan's service to help priced out Londoners meet their perfect home for less. One application form gives access to hundreds of homes. Homematch is set to close on March 31st, 2017.

Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the national housing and regeneration agency for England. The HCA contribute to economic growth by helping communities to realise their aspirations for prosperity and to deliver high-quality housing that people can afford. The HCA role is to create opportunity for people to live in high quality, sustainable places.

Housing association
Not-for-profit organisation set up to provide low cost housing, although the types vary widely. Range from small community-led groups, to larger operations involved in house building and development, often accessing funding through the Homes and Communities Agency, or private backers. Are also involved in helping tenants through initiatives such as Supporting People.

Housing Provider
A developer of homes; this could be a housing association, private developer or other Registered Provider of Social Housing.


Independent housing ombudsman: Service that allows tenants of landlords who belong to the scheme to refer any complaints to the ombudsman. All housing associations in England are members, as are some private landlords.

Intermediate Housing Market
Refers to those who are not priority for public sector rented housing (through councils and housing associations) but who cannot afford to buy a home outright or pay private sector rents.

Intermediate housing: Housing aimed at people who do not quality for social housing, but cannot afford full market rents. Can include shared ownership and key worker schemes.

Intermediate rent: Rent charged for intermediate housing, set above social rent but below market level.


Key workers:

A term used by the Government to define people they consider to be important to provide public services, such as serving personnel in the forces, police, nurses and teachers. They are often front line workers in essential public services where housing can improve recruitment and retention, or where workplace related accommodation is needed but is in short supply.  Key  worker groups with housing priority are redefined by central and local government cyclically. A range of MoD staff are currently the main priority Key Worker group for low cost home ownership.


Legal Representative
A solicitor or registered conveyancer acting for each of the parties in the purchase.

Leasehold: Type of tenure where the homeowner does not own the freehold, but instead has a long term lease – often for 99 years – for which they may pay a ground rent.

Low cost home ownership: Range of schemes intended to help those who cannot afford to buy a home get onto the housing ladder, normally by buying a part share in a home or through the help of an equity loan.


New Build HomeBuy (NBHB): You buy a proportion of a property, usually through a Registered Provider, and pay a subsidised rent on the portion that you do not own.  NBHB was another name for new build Shared Ownership.

National Affordable Housing Programme: Government funding to support the development of affordable housing is issued to create a programme of housing supply. Currently referred to as the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme.

National Housing Federation: Umbrella trade body representing Housing Associations in England, the NHF play a key role in developing best practice, lobbying policy makers and finding solutions to address the housing crisis.


Registered Provider
A provider of social housing, registered with Tenant Services Authority under powers in the 2008 Housing and Regeneration Act. This term replaced ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) and encompasses housing associations, trusts, cooperatives and companies.

Registered social landlord: Organisation registered with the social housing regulator, the Tenant Services Authority, under the Housing Act 1996. Most are housing associations, although housing cooperatives and local housing companies are also registered.

Right to Acquire (RTA)
Housing Association tenants have the right to purchase their home through the Right to Acquire, conditions apply – you will have to have been a public sector tenant for five years or more and your home must have been built or bought by a housing association with public funds from 1 April 1997 onwards or transferred from a local council to a housing association after 1 April 1997.

Right to Buy (RTB) / Preserved Right to Buy/ Extended Right to Buy
Where council tenants (RTB) and tenants of non-charitable Housing Associations (PRTB) have the right to purchase their current home at a discount price. The government are also piloting RTB for housing association tenants in some regions through 'extended' Right to Buy.


Service charge: Charge paid to landlords or, in the case of leaseholders to the owner of the freehold, in exchange for maintaining communal areas of a development.

Shared Ownership: The main low cost home ownership scheme of the last 35 years. Home buyers part buy, part rent a home from a housing association (Registered Provider). Because you only pay a deposit on the share you buy, Shared Ownership lowers the first rung of the housing ladder, monthly housing costs will also usually be lower than privately renting a similar home or buying it outright.  

Specialist Financial Advisor (SFA)
SFAs offer financial advice to their clients and recommend suitable mortgage (and other) products for our customers. They act on their client’s behalf and should offer the option of paying by a fee, as well as the option of paying by commission.

Staircasing: Process where people who have bought a partial stake in their home through a shared ownership scheme increase or decrease that stake.

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