The need for social housing has never been greater. Buying a house remains out of reach for many people, mortgages are now only available with big deposits (20-25%) which are hard if not impossible to save up on tight budgets. Wages have, in general lagged behind prices during the recession and, although there are welcome signs of both a slowing of inflation and a pickup in wage awards and employment, the good news is counterbalanced by significant rises in house values leading to fears of another property "bubble" Affordable housing including the various ways of helping people to get on the housing ladder has been of increasing importance both practically for ordinary people and politically as political parties of all colours have realised that we are chronically short of housing. Unfortunately, governmental assistance has tended to be by way of eye-catching schemes such as Homebuy and Help to Buy, which, although valuable, especially to those able to take advantage of the schemes, are limited in scope, when compared to the size of the problem.
The recession has highlighted the long standing dichotomy in official (governmental of all political hues) housing policies. Essentially massive building programmes are officially recognised as being required to solve the problem, but the money to undertake home building on such a scale is simply not realistically available for government to provide. Indeed, cuts to housing grants are a reality and, not for the first time, Registered Providers are being asked to use their own assets to provide the funding.
Much trumpeted changes to planning, opening out of Registered Provider status to profit making organisations, leading to builders offering their own 'Homebuy Direct' types of product, together with the highly publicised schemes referred to above give the impression of decisive and significant progress towards solving the crises in housing.
However, other changes, possibly driven by overspend/the recession, such as the demise of Housing benefit and its replacement with Universal Credit, "bedroom tax" and proposals to 'fine' persons on benefit who do not accept and stick at employment by reducing their benefit are all challenges to Registered Providers in making increased arrears almost inevitable.
Once again, the sector is being asked to do more with less. Fortunately, many associations have been very prudent financially and initiatives like collaborative procurement have driven down some costs significantly and improving consistency of delivery, putting them in a strong position to deliver robust housing programmes notwithstanding the challenges faced.
Our sector experience
Rollits is one of the few Registered Social Landlords specialists in the Yorkshire region and we provide a full service to the sector nationally, dealing with all aspects of social housing property work. Our head of the social housing team has over two decades of experience in the sector. Working closely with Registered Social Landlords, we recognise that innovation is key to the sector remaining active.
We act predominantly for housing associations and for developers on planning matters and Section 106 agreements. We work closely with local authorities and Homes England, which is beneficial to our clients. We advise on all matters relating to social housing, including advising charitable bodies, undertaking anything from the management of substantial property portfolios, to day-to-day management of day care and nursery facilities. We also fully understand their sector-specific products: social rent, affordable rents, shared ownership, shared equity and restricted price covenant schemes/discount for sale.
We have extensive experience across all areas of the sector, including acquisitions involving complex, non-standard documentation, involving framework agreements between parties, option agreements, conditional contracts, overage provisions, the creation of bespoke documentation and 'extra care' schemes. As developers 'develop out' sites and face time limits on sales, we ensure that housing associations are able to take best advantage of the opportunities that arise.
Why use Rollits?
Our status as a credible specialist social housing firm is verified in Chambers and Legal 500. Our approach is very much about forging partnerships. By really understanding our Registered Social Landlords clients' business and ethos, we are able to deliver advice that is client specific and pragmatic.
Our multi-disciplinary approach also ensures that we can bring in other in-house expertise when necessary, dealing with planning queries, governance issues, charity status challenges, contracts, employment contracts, data protection work and Freedom of Information requests - where client information needs to be handled carefully. Our Social Housing team has earned a reputation for combining knowledge and experience with innovation and expertise.
‘Approachable and friendly, happy to explain things simply for us. All team members are very good and very thorough in their work.’
The UK Legal 500, 2020 edition
- Land Acquisitions and Disposals
- Planning Applications and Appeals
- Landlord and Tenant (residential and commercial)
- Shared Ownership Leasing
- Voluntary Purchase Grants and Discount Schemes
- Housing Association Structures and Administration
- Right to Buy
- Banking and Finance
- Portfolio Financing
Get in touch
To discuss our services, please contact us.