Are shared owners in London left behind?

On 19 December 2023, Secretary of State Michael Gove wrote to all registered providers (e.g. housing associations) to let them know about changes the Government has made to relax rules on subletting and funding available for buybacks of shared ownership properties. He also asked registered providers to publish their policies online.

These changes were effective outside London immediately. For similar changes to benefit shared owners in the Greater London Area (GLA), the Mayor of London has to amend the GLA’s Affordable Housing Capital Funding Guide.

We recently carried out a review of the websites of the capital’s largest housing associations and found that none had updated their subletting, buyback, reverse staircasing, staircasing or resales policies. To make matters worse, only 1 in 10 actually publish their policies online. Unfortunately, this appears to exemplify registered providers’ ongoing failure to provide London’s shared owners with the information and support they desperately need.

We have now contacted Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor for Housing, to share our concerns and ask what steps the GLA is taking to update the Affordable Housing Capital Funding Guide. We reminded the Deputy Mayor that one of the key recommendations of our 2022 Dereliction of Duty report was for registered providers to update their policies in the light of the building safety crisis.

This was also a key recommendation in the Housing Ombudsman Spotlight report on cladding in May 2021.

It is disappointing that, almost seven years since Grenfell, so little has been done to help those trapped in unsellable and unmortgageable properties through no fault of their own. Lack of transparency and inadequate policies continue to be major issues for shared owners and leaseholders.

Read the Secretary of State’s letter to providers dated 19 December 2023.

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