‘I now own a 2 bedroom apartment’ is misleading
A member of the Joint Committee of Notting Hill and Genesis Residents noticed that NHG was not being truthful in its advertising of ‘shared ownership’ homes and made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Other complaints followed.
The homes (totally out of reach for most Londoners) were being marketed as homes that you could ‘own.’ Which is simply not true.
The ad contained phrases like ‘I now own a 2 bedroom apartment’ and ‘Home ownership starts with us.’
The findings of the ASA are that: ‘Because the ad did not make clear that the advertised service was a Shared Ownership scheme, we concluded that the ad was misleading (1).’
But why is this important anyway?
Because housing associations, instead of building social rent homes, are building shared ownership homes at the instructions of the Government.
They then try to sell them off to make money – which is then put into more out-of-reach homes – market rent, leasehold, ‘affordable rent’ etc.
HAs have almost completely stopped building social rent homes which are desperately needed to end the housing crisis.
‘Shared ownership’ is not ‘owning your home’
An article in Inside Housing (the trade magazine for housing associations) makes plain what ‘shared ownership’ is really all about (2):
‘A High Court case in 2008 established that a shared ownership lease is no more than an assured tenancy for a certain term (3).’
The legal commentary (4) that Inside Housing cites is pretty clear:
‘if a tenant [shared owner] falls into arrears it could turn out to be financially catastrophic.’
And the Inside Housing article finished by noting that:
‘However, the advertising watchdog’s decision is a wake-up call for providers who need to act swiftly and to clearly get their messaging right with both existing and new lessees. Either shared ownership is a homeownership product or it isn’t, in which case don’t pretend otherwise.’
And the consequences can by serious for housing association residents – see the case of NHG shared owner Carolyn who was evicted:
So NHG, try telling the truth and stop mis-selling shared ownership!
And, don’t sell social rent homes, instead start building them (5). They are desperately needed to end the housing crisis.
- ’The above case should therefore serve as a timely warning for all shared ownership leaseholders. Given the credit crunch and down-turn in the economy, as well as the growth in popularity of this type of lease, this could prove to be a grave problem for a lot of tenants if they allow themselves to fall into debt. As can be seen, the nature of shared ownership leases and the way in which their terms are worded means that if a tenant falls into arrears it could turn out to be financially catastrophic. If the arrears aren’t cleared within a relatively short time in most cases that would mean as long as it takes for the relevant notice to expire and a hearing to be listed they then risk losing everything that they have invested.’
- The two HAs which merged into NHG sold and converted to unaffordable ‘affordable rent’ 613 social rent homes in 2017/2018