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Shared owners trapped in their homes due to building safety forms

Leaseholders who bought their properties through a shared ownership scheme are trapped, unable to sell and potentially face bankruptcy due to huge remedial costs to fix building safety issues following the national cladding scandal.

The shared ownership scheme was designed to help those on lower incomes onto the housing ladder, with owners buying a percentage of their homes, with the rest owned by their Housing Association. 

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, external wall survey (EWS1) forms are required by lenders and banks to ensure the building’s fire safety. 

Without this certificate, properties are essentially worthless.

Deepa Mistry, 40, bought 75% of her property in 2010, with the hope to staircase to 100% ownership at a later date. 

In 2017 it was confirmed that her building had the same cladding as Grenfell and remediation works were carried out. 

However they still do not have an EWS1 form and have struggled to get a reason for this from their Housing Association.

She said: “We can’t afford to live here anymore so we need to move, but we can’t, we’re totally trapped.

“It’s caused a huge amount of pressure. It’s got to the point where my husband has suggested I need to see a GP to get some help.” 

Mistry now has three children all sharing one bedroom and the pandemic has seen both her and her husbands incomes diminished. 

They are now reliant on food banks and Universal Credit and could still potentially face the cost of the initial remediation work. 

Mistry has pleaded with her Housing Association for some transparency but has been left in limbo with no support.

Matthew Walker* bought his flat, through the shared ownership scheme, in Colliers Wood in 2018 with his then partner. 

They have since split up and were forced to live together for eight months as their Housing Association did not permit subletting. 

Walker has tried to move forward with his life, but has been told the building is low priority for an EWS1 evaluation and he could be waiting up to 10 years.

Despite shared owners only owning a percentage of the property they are being hit with 100% of the remediation costs. 

Walker said: “We’re expecting a bill for tens-of-thousands per flat, payable within 28 days.

“The whole thing is so unfair, but there just seems to be an extra element of unfairness for shared owners.

“I would have to default on the mortgage and declare bankruptcy. I’d lose my job because I’m in a licenced profession.

“So that would be bankruptcy, homelessness and joblessness, all in one fell swoop.”

Last month, MPs voted down an amendment to protect leaseholders from covering remedial work costs. 

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham said: “We can see from donations that a lot of MPs who voted against this are millionaires and landlords themselves.

“I think there’s definitely going to have to be some reforms when it comes to shared ownership because people can’t keep being trapped in these situations.

“At this stage, you start to wonder how many people are going to lose their homes. Paying for maintenance and repairs is one thing but paying for safety, paying not to burn alive, that’s ridiculous.” 

Featured image credit: Mark Wilkins via Flickr

*Name has been changed to protect sources anonymity 

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