An explanation of many terms related to affordable homes | Useful information | Metropolitan Sales
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Audit Commission: Independent body that scrutinises local authorities and Housing Associations to ensure public money is spent effectively.


Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH): Professional body for people working in housing and communities. They have affiliated organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Comprehensive spending review (CSR): Periodic reviews of spending on public services that are carried out by the Treasury. They determine how much departments will have to spend, what their priorities will be and what they are expected to achieve through public service agreements.


Decanting: Process of moving residents from their homes while improvements are carried out.

Decent Homes: A scheme to get housing to reach certain standards in terms of being warm, weatherproof and having reasonable modern facilities.


Equity Loan: A loan given to help buy a home, such as the Help to Buy equity loan. The loan is only repaid when the home is sold and its value relates to the value of a home. So if a home rises in value, the amount to be repaid increases proportionally.


Flexible tenure: Form of Shared Ownership that allows homeowners to increase or decrease their share in the property, according to their circumstances and ability to pay.

Freehold: Opposite of leasehold. Gives the owner the right to occupy a property indefinitely.


Greater London Authority: The Greater London Authority (GLA) serve the London Assembly and the Mayor of London. Housing in London is funded and regulated by the GLA.


Homes For Londoners is the Mayor of London’s programme brand for low cost home ownership schemes, such as Shared Ownership throughout Greater London.

Homes England are the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s non-departmental public body.

Help to Buy : The government’s brand used to describe a range of products designed to assist people into home ownership. This includes:

  • Help to Buy equity loan, which developers offer on new homes to reduce the cost of buying by up to 20% of the value of the home (in London by up to 40%)
  • Help to Buy ISA, where government offers a savings top-up to first-time buyers
  • Help to Buy mortgage guarantee – which closed in December 2016.

Find out more on the government’s Help to Buy website.

Housing Association: Not-for-profit organisations set up to provide low cost housing, although the types vary widely. They range from small community-led groups, to larger operations involved in house building and development; often accessing funding through the Homes England, or private backers. They are also involved in helping tenants through initiatives such as Supporting People.

Housing Ombudsman Service: Service that allows tenants of landlords who belong to the scheme to refer any complaints to the ombudsman. All housing associations in England are members, as are some private landlords.

Housing Provider: A developer of homes. This could be a housing association, private developer or other Registered Provider of Social Housing.


Intermediate Housing Market: Refers to those who are not priority for public sector rented housing (through councils and housing associations), but who cannot afford to buy a home outright or pay private sector rents.

Intermediate Housing: Housing aimed at people who do not quality for social housing, but cannot afford full market rents. It can include Shared Ownership and key worker schemes.

Intermediate Rent: Rent charged for intermediate housing, set above social rent but below market level.


Key workers: A term used to define people they consider to be important in the provision of public services. Examples are as serving personnel in the armed forces, police, nurses and teachers. They are often frontline workers in essential public services where housing can improve recruitment and retention; or where workplace related accommodation is needed but is in short supply. Key worker groups with housing priority are redefined by central and local government cyclically. A range of MoD staff are currently the main priority key worker group for low cost home ownership.


Legal Representative: A solicitor or registered conveyancer acting for each of the parties in a home purchase.

Leasehold: A type of tenure where the homeowner does not own the freehold, but instead has a long term lease (often for 125 years) for which they may pay a ground rent.


National Affordable Housing Programme: Government funding to support the development of affordable housing. Issued to create a programme of housing supply. Currently referred to as the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme.

National Housing Federation: Trade body representing Housing Associations in England. The NHF play a key role in developing best practice, lobbying policy makers and finding solutions to address the housing crisis.


Registered Provider: A provider of social housing, registered with the Homes and Communities Agency under powers in the 2008 Housing and Regeneration Act. This term replaced ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) and encompasses housing associations, trusts, cooperatives and companies.

Right to Acquire (RTA): Housing Association tenants have the right to purchase their home through the Right to Acquire. Conditions apply – you will have to have been a public sector tenant for five years or more, your home must have been built or bought by a housing association with public funds from 1 April 1997 onwards, or transferred from a local council to a housing association after 1 April 1997.

Right to Buy (RTB) / Preserved Right to Buy/ Extended Right to Buy: Where council tenants (RTB) and tenants of non-charitable Housing Associations (PRTB) have the right to purchase their current home at a discount price. The government are also piloting RTB for housing association tenants in some regions through ‘extended’ Right to Buy.


Service Charge: A charge paid to landlords or (in the case of leaseholders) to the owner of the freehold, in exchange for maintaining communal areas of a development.

Shared Ownership: The main low cost home ownership scheme of the last 35 years. Home buyers part buy, part rent a home from a housing association (Registered Provider). Because you only pay a deposit on the share you buy, Shared Ownership lowers the first rung of the housing ladder. Monthly housing costs will also usually be lower than privately renting a similar home or buying it outright. View all our Shared Ownership homes

Specialist Financial Advisor (SFA): SFAs offer financial advice to their clients and recommend suitable mortgage (and other) products for our customers. They act on their client’s behalf and should offer the option of paying by a fee, as well as the option of paying by commission.

Staircasing: The process where home owners who have bought a share in their home via Shared Ownership increase their share. Decreasing their share is called downcasing.

Buying options

Buy a share in a brand new or resale home from Metropolitan. You pay a mortgage on the part you own and a subsidised rent on the part you don’t own. Learn more about your buying options here.

Useful Information

Buying your first home is a big commitment. Find out more how to make the process as smooth as possible.

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Looking? We offer a range of housing options to help first time buyers. We assist social tenants, Ministry of Defence personnel, those considered a housing priority and second steppers.