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What is a Housing Association and how do they work?

A Housing Association is an organisation that is not-for-profit and it has a portfolio of housing that it owns but it is much more

A Housing Association is an organisation that is not-for-profit and it has a portfolio of housing that it owns. It then lets and manages these properties to people who are in need of them. The organisations are not-for-profit, so all of the rent money is used to purchase further properties and also to maintain the properties that are already owned.

However, not every entity called a housing association is the same. Some will be registered charities, some will provide housing for specific groups, such as older people or people who need particular modifications to, or specific types of homes. Associations may, or may not, subsidise rent and where subsidies to exist there is no set levels for these.

Within the property industry all housing associations are defined as ‘registered social landlords’, which is a group that also includes YMCA hostels and also housing cooperatives. Housing associations are also usually private registered providers of social housing because they provide social housing but are not a local authority. The accommodation that is available through a housing association is called ‘social housing’, which also includes other types of housing, including council housing.

housing associations

Housing associations are designed to provide affordable accommodation for anyone who needs it. The nature of housing associations is changing a little as buying a house moves ever further out of reach for many people. Housing association properties can provide younger people with the opportunity of living in a desirable area at a price that is affordable. Some housing associations will also offer financial assistance in some cases to people who are buying their own property but who are unable to utilise a commercial mortgage deal.

Housing associations are also used to refer people to who do not qualify for council housing. Referrals can also be made if people have a specific need that housing association housing can potentially satisfy where council housing can not.

The application procedure for housing association tenancies is relatively straight-forward and this can be achieved either by applying directly to a housing association, or it can very often be done through a local council. People can apply to multiple housing associations at a time. The application form for every housing association is the same and these can be obtained from the housing association office or also from any Housing Executive. Once this form has been filled in and returned either to the housing association office or the Housing Executive, the Housing Executive will then arrange a visit in order to assess the needs and current situation of the applicant. Applicants will then be placed on the waiting list until a suitable property comes up.

Any applicant should be aware that it can take a long time for a suitable property to become available, especially if their needs are assessed as being relatively low on the grading scale. Applicants may wish to speak to their local housing association about their particular policies and how they allocate their properties.


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