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Opinion: The evolution of shared ownership

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Opinion: The evolution of shared ownership

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

Opinion: The evolution of shared ownership Opinion: The evolution of shared ownership

Housing group Moat is giving London's social renters the chance to become first time buyers through a new shared ownership scheme that promises to be 'simple' and 'affordable'. Marilyn DiCara (pictured), Moat's director of sales and marketing, explains how it works.

Earlier this month, Moat launched ‘A Home of Your Own’ with the Greater London Authority at City Hall.

For the first six months, the scheme will offer council and housing association tenants in London the chance to buy a home on the open market through shared ownership. Following this initial period, it will be offered out to other first time buyers in the capital.

We’re hoping that during its first six months, the scheme will encourage London social tenants who aspire to get onto the property ladder, to do so; whilst at the same time releasing some precious social rented homes for others in housing need.

When the scheme expands in early January 2015, we expect the proverbial floodgates to open. Our challenge over the next few months will be to raise awareness of ‘A Home Of Your Own’ amongst social tenants, putting them at the front of the queue to buy a property of their very own in either one of five South East London boroughs – Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark.

‘A Home Of Your Own’ began as a pilot in the Sevenoaks District, in Kent. Here, we have helped nine local families into affordable home ownership. The scheme in London is fairly similar to the Sevenoaks scheme, and builds on that success.

Shared ownership works
Shared ownership is a tried and tested product that’s helped approximately 200,000 households across the country to get a foot on the housing ladder over its 30+ years to date. I’ve worked at Moat since the late 1990s and I’ve seen shared ownership increasingly become an option of necessity in areas like London and other parts of the South East, where ordinary hard-working people are priced-out of the housing market. Because of this predicament, it’s become vital that shared ownership forms part of any future housing mix - the intermediate market being the only viable stepping stone between renting and owning a home outright.

My own home is in London, within a beautiful development where, typically, a fair proportion of the homes are rented. Neighbours come and go. Some stay longer than others and put down roots but many don’t – an ever-increasing and uncomfortable feeling that we live in “Hotel London”. Home ownership options do a great deal to help people put down roots, take ownership of their homes and invest in their communities – helping to create places where people and families can thrive.

Shared ownership is a true alternative for the thousands of people renting privately in the capital, many of these with tenancies that are dangerously insecure. Renting is fine for those people who choose to rent, but many people’s choices are limited, without any other options.

Room for improvement?
But of course, we need to listen to our customers and potential purchasers and look to improve certain aspects of shared ownership. For example we must make it easier for people to move from one shared ownership home to another, recognising changing housing needs as families form and grow.

Those of you in the sector who have been around as long as I have will recognise the similarities between ‘A Home of Your Own’ and previous products, for example, DIYSO. The evolution of this shared ownership product has come full circle. The product which worked a number of years ago, is now back in demand. Giving customers choice and the chance to choose a home on the open market is its winning ingredient, with its affordability (shares from 25%) also integral. At its heart, this is simple shared ownership – part buy, part rent.

Partnership
The pilot with Sevenoaks District Council, and this new London pilot with the GLA have come into being because of excellent working relationships with local authorities, peers and service providers.

24housing has highlighted how many exciting initiatives like these are in the pipeline, but need cross-sector partnerships and open-mindedness for them to succeed. I completely agree with this approach and getting these two pilots off the ground have needed both of these ingredients in spades.

The London pilot for ‘A Home of Your Own’ aims to support 34 households over two years. I think in years to come we will double, triple and quadruple this target.

But to do so we’ll need more local authorities and providers to embrace this new product, and work with us in their regions, especially if we’re to entice social tenanted households out of their rented homes, to support them to become proud home owners.

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