The Government introduced First Homes – a new type of discounted market sale housing – in 2021. Since then there has been a requirement for 25% of the Affordable Homes delivered on qualifying development sites to be First Homes. Qualifying sites are those sites, typically comprising at least 10 new homes, where a proportion of the homes are required to be delivered as affordable housing.
The Government has set out national criteria that must be met in order for properties to qualify as a First Home. In addition to these national criteria local authorities are able to apply local eligibility criteria. These apply, in addition to the national criteria, for the first 3 months of marketing a First Home.
Hertsmere Borough Council approved the following local eligibility criteria on 19 July 2023.
During the initial 3 month marketing period, Hertsmere Borough Council will prioritise in the following order:
1. Purchasers with a local connection, who:
- currently live in the area in settled accommodation (and have done for more than 12 months); or
- have previously lived in the area in settled accommodation for 3 of the past 5 years; or
- have immediate family in the area (immediate family is defined as parents, siblings, children or other family members on an exceptional basis as agreed by Hertsmere Borough Council).
The Council defines settled accommodation as a tenancy, tied accommodation or living with family.
2. Purchasers who are essential workers employed within Hertsmere Borough and in one of the following occupations:
- public sector employees delivering or supporting those delivering frontline services in areas including health, education, community safety, housing and can include NHS staff, teachers, police, firefighters, military personnel, social care, civil servants, council employees and childcare workers; or
- employees of registered charities; or
- private sector employees and the self-employed providing essential frontline services, which may include those being delivered on behalf of a public sector body, and which can include teachers, health care, social care, and childcare workers; or
- any other frontline occupational group experiencing recruitment or retention issues, such issues being first evidenced to the satisfaction of Hertsmere Borough Council.
Inclusion as local essential workers is at the sole discretion of Hertsmere Borough Council.
A local essential worker must have an income level lower than £80k, and would be deemed to be employed in the following circumstances:
- in paid full or part-time permanent employment for 16 hours or more per week; or
- working in the borough on a paid temporary or zero-hours employment contract that has been in place for at least 6 months and can demonstrate they have worked at least 16 hours per week since starting the employment contract.
To qualify as being employed in the borough, one of the following conditions must be met:
- the actual place of work is in Hertsmere Borough; or
- for those with a caseload or have a roving remit (eg district nurses, social workers, police officer etc), the applicant would need to obtain written confirmation from their employer that a substantial amount of their day-to-day duty fell within the borough; or
- for the self-employed, if the employment required the worker to work outside of the borough from time to time, they would be required to demonstrate that their permanent base of operations was within the borough.
In recognition of the unique circumstances of military personnel, local connection criteria should be disapplied for all active members of the military personnel, divorced/separated spouses or civil partners of current members of the military personnel, spouses or civil partners of a deceased member of the military personnel (if their death was wholly or partly caused by their service), and veterans within 5 years of leaving the military personnel.
If you meet the eligibility criteria and want to purchase a First Home you will need to complete an application pack and submit this to Hertsmere Borough Council for approval before you can proceed with the purchase. You should do this in conjunction with the developer, your solicitor or conveyancer, and your mortgage advisor. An application pack specific to your intended purchase should be available from the developer who is building the property. It will be very similar to this template First Homes Application Pack (PDF 1.03Mb) we have issued and which you can use; it is based on the pack issued by the government.