An investigation by BBC Panorama, broadcast on 25th November and available on iPlayer, has found that the UK government’s Shared Ownership scheme “has left some people living in homes with escalating costs and huge debts”.
The scheme is designed to enable buyers to buy a portion of their home and then pay rent for the remaining portion which is owned by a housing association. Over time, the portion owned by the housing association can be bought back until you own 100% of the property outright.
For first-time buyers in particular, Shared Ownership promises to help get you on the ladder without having to have huge sums of money up front as is required when buying on the open market.
While the scheme does indeed help a lot of people achieve their ownership dreams, the investigation from Panorama has revealed a troubling and broadly unknown clause in the contract.
Panorama interviewed a woman called Giulia. She bought a 45% of a flat in Hoxton in London’s East End, and paid rent for the rest to the housing association, L&Q.
But, within 12 months of moving in, black mould and damp appeared throughout her home and the basement of the building “began to flood with waste water”.
L&Q moved Giulia out for 6 months in order to repair the building’s pipework, but when she returned home, she received a bill for more than £20,000 from L&Q who stated that she was liable for the full cost of the repairs.
Here’s the secret – Shared Ownership often dictates that the part-owner is liable for 100% of the maintenance costs, even if they own as little as 25% of the property.
While this may seem like a blatant imbalance which puts the part-owners in a significantly risky situation, L&Q told the BBC that “given the benefits of the scheme it was fair and reasonable for shared owners to pay (for repairs)”.
It’s a disappointing response from L&Q, and one which pretty much says, we’ve already been incredibly generous and given you more than you probably deserve, you should be grateful, not coming and asking us for more.
Glaring issues with Shared Ownership
This little-known clause is just one of a number of glaring issues that Panorama has highlighted through its investigation. Others include ‘obscene services charges’, and incredibly short leases, and you can read about it all in depth on the BBC News website.
Learn more about Shared Ownership by reading our full guide.
Have you bought a home through Shared Ownership? Has it been a good experience for you, or have you endured some of the same issues highlighted by Panorama? Let us know in the comments section below.
L&Q have a track record of failing customers. A quick look at their Trust Pilot review page tells the general story (1.2 out of 5!). Do you think there should be stricter regulation in place to hold developers (more) accountable?
Sadly, it seems to be another case of ‘large company takes advantage of customers by choosing to bury vital contract clauses’. L&Q aren’t stupid – they know what they’re doing, they know that burying clauses deep in contracts means they won’t be noticed until it’s too late.
In fact, the very idea that they’re not forthcoming with the clause tells us they know it’s not fair and that it won’t be accepted for long if it is widely known. Perhaps companies like this should be held to stricter contract standards where absolutely everything should be stated clearly and without ambiguity. This way, people can know what they’re getting into before it’s too late.
Thanks for the reply. Moral of the story is always check the contract small print people!