Social housing is governed by law to ensure it is affordable and secure and has a decent quality. Councils or not-for-profit organisations (such as housing associations like Soha) provide it. Social housing also covers shared ownership (part buy, part rent). Soha has both types of home – just over 13% of Soha’s stock is shared ownership or leasehold.
What does affordable mean?
Social rent is never as high as private market rent, but housing associations are allowed to charge up to 80% of the private market rent for their housing. This is called affordable rent. Housing associations set rents that are within the reach of people on low incomes.
What does secure mean?
A tenant's first tenancy agreement is a Starter Tenancy. It’s a kind of probationary period. At the end of a Starter Tenancy, the agreement is converted to an Assured Tenancy which gives the tenant more rights. If tenants are married or in a civil partnership and one partner dies, the tenancy can often automatically pass to a surviving partner or a family member. You can find out more about tenancies here.
What does quality mean?
The Government has a Decent Homes standard for all landlords like Soha. Various conditions must be met for a home to meet this standard. All Soha’s homes do. In fact, our homes better than this standard. We call our promise to tenants Decent Homes Plus.
Who regulates social housing?
Registered providers are financially regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing. The Government department currently responsible for the social housing sector is the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Who lives in social housing?
Anyone can apply to be on the housing list held at their local District Council. The Housing Needs team (or a department with a similar name) gives a priority to each application. The applicant gets a so-called 'banding' and can apply online for homes which match this banding. In South Oxfordshire, the online system is South Oxfordshire Homechoice. There may be other requirements as well, such as that the applicant has to show they have a connection to the area. This way of allocating social housing is known as choice-based lettings: the idea is to make the process of applying for social housing more like that of choosing a home on the private market. Choice-based lettings is the way that social housing is allocated in most English Districts. Social housing tenants can swap homes with others elsewhere by using Homeswapper.