Guest blog: Cambridge Building Society helping renters become homeowners

Five years into its journey, the Society's 'Rent to Home' initiative continues to grow, helping first-time buyers to take their first steps onto the property ladder. 

By Katie Robinson, Community Engagement Specialist, Cambridge Building Society

Katie Robinson, Cambridge Building SocietyWe know the challenges first-time buyers face when trying to take their first steps onto the property ladder. In Cambridge it can often be a struggle for most first-time buyers to save for a deposit while renting with both property prices increasing and rents rising. 

At The Cambridge we always look to find new ways to do more to help people have their own home. We discovered that tenants can typically afford to pay their rent, but they have no spare income to put aside for a mortgage deposit, and ultimately, became stuck in a rental cycle. That’s where the idea for our ‘Rent to Home’ initiative came from. 

Successful applicants rent one of our newly refurbished properties from us for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years. During this time, and when our applicants are ready to purchase their own home, we return 70% of their rent to help towards the deposit to purchase their first home. The 70% return relies on the applicant taking a mortgage with The Cambridge. 

Our Rent to Home initiative is now five years into its journey and continues to grow. We own 5 Rent to Home properties – 3 flats above our stores and 2 new build houses located within our store network. We’ve helped 3 people to purchase their own homes with our deposit support, and we have 7 people on their Rent to Home journey to homeownership. 

One of our tenants described our ‘Rent to Home’ initiative as life-changing and captured the sentiment, stating, "You never think you'll be the lucky one that gets selected; it's like winning the lottery in many ways." We’ve been able to share our tenants’ stories across our direct and social channels, raising awareness of our initiative, our brand and showing how we truly are making the difference. 

As a mutual, our Rent to Home initiative is a not-for-profit programme. We designed Rent to Home to support both individuals and the local community by helping first-time buyers on to the property ladder and releasing rental housing back to the market to help others. All the associated costs are covered, and our property assets retained. 

Rent to Home is a cross functional programme relying on skills and team work. Our Facilities team work on the refurbishment of our properties whilst our Marketing team carefully create a marketing campaign to reach and engage our target audience. Our Community Engagement team manage the Rent to Home initiative and our Mortgage teams support our tenants on their journey to guide them through the complexities from renting to home ownership. We partner with a local estate agent to assist us in the search for tenants and to manage our tenancies. 

We have big ambitions for Rent to Home and will be expanding our portfolio further, as this model offers significant benefits to the people in our communities. We truly believe in our Rent to Home initiative, and we are always on the lookout for like-minded businesses who share our enthusiasm to join us on this journey, 

The success of our 'Rent to Home' initiative hinges not just on the financial benefits for our tenants but on the genuine connection forged through effective community engagement.

Visit: www.cambridgebs.co.uk for more information.