Shared ownership: a half-way house?
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Durham University, this study evaluates shared ownership housing – government sponsored part-buy/part-rent schemes designed to help people to get a foot onto the housing ladder.
Based on participatory research and interviewing with front-line housing staff and shared ownership households, the study highlights some of the tensions that run through the veins of shared ownership as a form of social and market-based housing. These include the challenges housing associations experience in meeting housing needs whilst also driving sales; the divergent ways in which public policy makers, marketing professionals, as well as households themselves deal with ambiguities in relation to the status attached to home ownership as opposed to renting; and finally the difficulties both households and housing associations face in attempting to manage the risks associated with marginal home ownership.
Recommendations to improve shared ownership housing
The study recommends the following reforms:
- Consistency in the names and conditions of low cost home ownership schemes, to free up mortgage finance, and reduce confusion among housing association staff and purchasers.
- Recognition that shared ownership has become a long-term tenure rather than a step on the way to full ownership for many households and that as a result maintenance responsibility and costs should be shared between housing associations and households who share the asset.
- Clarification of shared owners legal rights and responsibility, and transparency around the fact that they are, in the eyes of the law, tenants not owners.
- Long-term support for shared owners who encounter financial difficulties so they do not loose their homes, as-well as for older and more vulnerable households who enter the tenure in the belief that they will supported by their landlord.
The results of this research project have been presented at the Housing Studies Association, and to staff at a number of leading housing associations across the UK.