The Green Party supports shared ownership (SO) if the SO owner has reasonable protection – which is frequently not the case at present. This should include a requirement to repay a fair proportion of the owner’s capital investment if the lease is ended through possession proceedings by the landlord. In the longer term we call for legislation to protect SO owners. At present this does not exist – successive governments have promoted SO without creating legislation to give it proper protection, with the result that the legal rules designed for other situations can apply in unfair ways to SO owners.
Although shared ownership helps people to own their homes where they can’t afford to buy outright, the Green Party considers it has several hidden problems. For instance at present SO owners risk losing both their home and their capital investment if they owe more than 8 weeks rent on the landlord’s share. The landlord would make an undeserved profit, getting back the property at full value without having to compensate the SO owner. This is because as well as being long leaseholders SO owners are usually also assured tenants, subject to mandatory eviction by the court for over 8 weeks rent arrears. There have already been cases where SO owners in financial difficulties have been evicted and lost their entire investment in the home. SO owners are much more at risk in this respect than owners of standard long leasehold properties, who benefit from forms of protection which avoid such an unfair outcome.
Another problem is that, although SO owners are often people facing financial challenges, they are frequently unfairly treated under the lease in comparison with the landlord, by being required to pay 100% of repair, maintenance and service charges on the home despite owing only a percentage stake, e.g. 25%. So the landlord would get rent on 75% of the value, but not pay any of the maintenance etc.
The Green Party wants to see these and other problems with shared ownership tackled.
At the last council meeting, LibDems and Tories misinterpreted a statement by Cllr Radice, making reference to shared ownership in a debate about housing, trying to make out that we are in outright opposition to it. We trust this statement provides some clarity.