Lydia Yuzva shares her experience of buying a shared ownership flat in East London’s Olympic Village.
“We can’t really make any plans at the moment. It’s like being in a prison; an invisible prison.”
We bought a place in the Olympic Village in East London in 2014. It’s a two-bedroom flat, and we purchased a 60% share. (The Olympic Village was built to house athletes during the 2012 Summer Olympics and then converted for use as a new residential district as part of the proposed Olympic legacy).
We decided to move during lockdown. We were both working from home. Because the flat is open-plan it was impossible to work at the same time as looking after our daughter. I ended up working in our bedroom, which wasn’t exactly ideal – particularly not for online meetings!
We found a house we liked in Surrey, and got our daughter a place in a school nearby. We had to get permission from the managing agent (Triathlon Homes LLP) and freeholder (East Village Management Ltd) to sell our flat.
Then we had to allow Triathlon Homes an 8 week ‘nomination period’ to find a suitable buyer. Which they didn’t… So we found a buyer via an estate agent, Purple Bricks, in February 2020. The next day we made an offer on the house we wanted.
We lost our sale over EWS1
Our development had an EWS. But our buyers’ mortgage provider insisted on the more detailed EWS1 form despite Government guidance stating that they don’t need to rely on this form. Our sale fell through. It was emotionally devastating.
And we lost a lot of money. We’d already incurred property marketing fees (payable in advance both to Triathlon and to Purple Bricks for marketing our property on Rightmove), valuation fees, survey fees and legal fees (including Triathlon Homes own legal fees which we had to pay in advance). Our conveyancing/property solicitor firm has shut down, so that didn’t help.
Subletting our flat
As we’d already arranged a school place in Surrey for our daughter we decided to rent a house near the school.. We sublet our flat to our prospective buyers (on a no-profit basis, as making a profit is prohibited by the agreement with Triathlon). We had to wait three months for approval to rent the flat to our potential buyers. They’ve been there for a year now.
But we feel fortunate. We’re aware that some of our neighbours were denied permission (at the time we got ours in 2020) even though their reasons seem equally valid. For example, some had plans to emigrate, or a medical condition that made their home unsuitable. As time goes on, people with serious medical conditions are even more worried about bills for remedial works than their own health!
We own 60% but we’ll pay 100% of fire safety remediation charges
We know the development needs fire safety remedial work. But we don’t know yet if there’ll be any funding for that, or for the waking watch. Recently we found out there might be funding for installation of smoke alarms. (Confusingly it is called waking watch fund, but covers only some of the smoke alarms installation). And we don’t know how much we’d be charged. We’re worried our total charges could be around £100,000. Triathlon and East Village Management Ltd put expensive project managers Savills in charge of all the planning and permissions from Network Railways and Newham Council and more.
Galliford Try built our block. They don’t build residential homes anymore. But they’re still building schools, hospitals, and supermarkets. I hope they’re not off the hook. Their CEO, Bill Hocking, mentioned in his email to me that is a complex issue. I bet Mr Hocking is not prioritising it; he’s been looking into it since spring 2020.
There’s been a lot in the media recently about huge donations to the Conservatives from construction and property companies. It makes you wonder…..
It’s complicated; the development is a mixture of shared ownership, private renters and social housing, and we don’t know how the bill will be divided. Even with having only a 60% share, we’re likely to pay 100% of the remedial work on our flat. We can’t really make any plans at the moment. It’s like being in a prison; an invisible prison.
I’ve bought a leasehold flat prior to this one but I’d never do that again. I’d rather rent, or live in a small house.