Nabiel Hafez (22) and his partner April Fey-Sparrow (21) moved into their first home together in March 2017.
They were the first residents in a brand new Hyde apartment block in Beckenham, south London, which is part of the London Mayor’s London Living Rent (LLR) initiative.
This new kind of tenancy enables middle income earners, typically earning between £35,000 and £45,000, to rent new affordable homes, while saving up for a deposit to purchase their own home.
“We honestly think that this is where we are meant to be. A month before, we weren’t even looking for a place, and now only a month later, here we are all settled in our own flat,” he says.
Nabiel had been living in Croydon with his mum, and April resided in the family home in Eltham. “I ‘floated’ between those two places; I was ‘living the dream’ at home: getting fed, having my washing done and not paying any rent,” he jokes.
The couple had been together for a while and wanted to have their own space and be responsible for themselves, so they decided to ‘take the plunge’.
As soon as they were shown around, they fell head-over-heels in love with the spacious apartments with their high spec finishes. And, at a rent of £965 per month, they didn’t even bother looking at other properties.
“We viewed a number of properties in the block (they are all different), but this one-bedroom flat is just perfect for us. Because we were flexible, and didn’t have to give (our parents) notice, we could move in straight away,” he explains.
In fact, Nabiel and April feel this initiative has been tailor-made for them.
“I suppose we could have stayed with parents and scrimped and saved for a deposit, but this way, we get to enjoy our beautiful home at the same time as we put money away.
“It’s really good… it’s something different and it’s helping us by subsidising our rent now, so we’re able to get a mortgage and become homeowners later.”
Nabiel, an insurance underwriter and April a receptionist at a motor garage were eligible for the scheme because their combined income was below the threshold of £60K .
The pair don’t have money for a deposit yet, but are proud to have made that first step towards independence: “The beauty of the LLR is that it gives you 10 years to save up for a deposit; we aim to halve that, so hopefully in five years’ time we’ll be able to call ourselves homeowners.”
Do they feel they’re firmly on the way to home ownership? ‘Yes, definitely. My advice to anyone who is in our position is to ’go for it’.”
Nabiel, who once worked as an estate agent, says their ‘housing experience’ has been positive. The entire process was so smooth – from the time they found the property online, viewed it, and moved in, it was only about 10 days!
“We’re very lucky: we’ve only been here a few weeks, but we both love it. It’s ideal. Our families and friends are nearby and we’re close to work too. April’s is literally a two minute drive away, and for me, the station is on our doorstop so I’m able to get to and from work quickly.
“I don’t think any of our friends are in their own place. We suddenly feel very grown-up,” he enthuses.