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What is Affordable Housing

Rural Housing Guide

Most people know what they mean when they talk about “affordable housing” - they mean housing which someone living and working in the community can afford to buy, or housing for rent available at a monthly rent which can be afforded by someone on a local wage.

The only official definition comes from Scottish Planning Policy which defines affordable housing as

“housing of a reasonable quality that is affordable to people on modest incomes… affordable housing may be in the form of social rented accommodation, mid-market rented accommodation, shared ownership, shared equity, discounted low cost housing for sale including plots for self build, and low-cost housing without subsidy”.

This is a fairly broad definition that can be roughly characterised as housing available to rent or buy at below the level of the market. The types of housing defined as affordable are:

Affordable Rent

Social Rented Accommodation – primarily housing rented from a council or housing association at an affordable rent (In 2009/10 average rent for council housing was £52.67 per week, and £61.01 per week for housing association houses)

Mid-Market Rented Accommodation – housing for which the rent is higher than social rents but below the rent level charged in the private rented sector. It is currently 84% of the local housing allowance level as set by Rent Service Scotland.

Low Cost Home Ownership

Shared Ownership - housing where a household buys a share of a house - usually 25, 50 or 75 percent, and also an occupancy charge to the developer, normally a housing association, for the remaining share of the property.

Shared Equity - housing where the buyer purchases 60-90% of a property (either from the open market or built specifically for this purpose). The remaining 10-40% is held by the Scottish Government. Unlike shared ownership there is no occupancy charge on the portion of the property held by the Scottish Government.