We have an obligation to be building new homes – whatever the tenure

Miranda Foster, our Home Ownership Manager shares her views on why Housing Associations should be building more homes…


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know there’s a housing crisis in the UK and prices are spiralling because we are building far too few homes to keep up with demand.

The only way out of this is to build enough homes. Housing Associations have long been proud of their social purpose, but I think we have an obligation to be building new homes, whatever the tenure.

As a Home Ownership Manager, I look after our Shared Ownership department. This includes new build sales and the post-sales when owners sell or buy more shares.

Why we should be building more open-market homes

It is wonderful seeing people who thought they could never buy a home moving in to one with Shared Ownership. But equally, the work we do via Help to Buy or open market sales is fantastic, helping people into home ownership at a time when thousands of people are priced out of the market or unable to find the right home for them.

Right now, the country needs more homes. Housing associations are in a fantastic position to do this, yet, in some circles there is still a stigma associated with the idea that we might build more open-market sale homes.

This stigma is very much based on the fact that the open-market is not concerned with a social purpose – something which we all know is at the core of a housing association’s existence.

For some, the open-market is perceived as a place housing associations should avoid, but since our grants for affordable rents were cut, we have had to diversify and evolve our business models so that we can continue to provide our services to those who need them most.

Open-market sales allow us to generate profits that are reinvested into our affordable housing portfolio. And it’s not just open-market sales that we should concentrate on – the private rented sector also provides a stream of income that we can reinvest.

The tide is turning

Some housing associations have been investing in this strategy for a significant period of time already. At Radian we’re starting to embrace this model more and more. For example, one of our flagship developments in Bournemouth is a scheme of 113 entirely open-market rental homes.

The entire market is definitely undergoing a period of evolution. As always, there are some early adopters and some who take longer to change their approach. But people shouldn’t be reluctant; we should be wholeheartedly embracing what we can do, creating social benefits alongside the financial gains.

Mixed tenures make better communities

The wonderful thing about our offering is we can find a home for everybody; we offer affordable and social rent, rent to buy, market sale and Shared Ownership.

Purchasers buying an open-market home from a housing association will find an ethical management team that truly has its customers’ best interests at heart. They’ll also have the benefit of seeing they are part of something long-term as it’s not just about profit.

The most inclusive and diverse communities do not include one type of housing tenure – the best are mixed. We want to create mixed tenure communities and that means offering a whole range of tenures that people need at different stages of their lives.