My SO Home: No. 26

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I bought my shared ownership flat from a friend, and I’ve been here for 19 years now. At the time, the large communal gardens for our blocks were beautifully maintained, which was a big draw for me. Plus the rent was cheap, which was also important as I was a single mum when I bought my 25% share.

Equity was my landlord to start with. Later on, Equity was taken over by Plumlife Homes, who are part of the Great Places Housing Group.

It’s my property (but it isn’t really)

When my son and I moved in, the housing association said they’d install double glazing. But it took me two years of battle to get it. That was my first poor experience. In the end, the mould clinched it and they finally installed new windows.

Then the upstairs flat had a leak which went through my bedroom. I had to pay a builder to repair the damage. Even though we pay for buildings insurance, we have to pay for any repairs. I wasn’t happy about that. On the one hand, they say: “It’s your property so you have to pay for everything”. But, on the other hand, I need permission to do anything, so it’s not really my property.

Repairs and maintenance

Plumlife tells us contractors have visited when I know they haven’t. I’ve got security cameras so I can see whether they’ve been or not. And they’ve charged us for window cleaning when the windows clearly haven’t been cleaned.

Woman looking at tablet
Image: freepik

I’m particularly upset that the landscaping has deteriorated so much since I first moved in. All the residents here take pride in our gardens, but we’re let down by the garden maintenance. Nothing is done properly. The trees were pruned badly because they didn’t employ proper tree surgeons. And the wooden fence hasn’t been replaced since 1980, so now it’s a security issue because we’ve got kids coming in through the gaps.

My gripe is that we can’t get a breakdown of costs, so it’s hard to know where our money has gone. I don’t get answers when I ask questions. It’s lip service all the time. I don’t even know what the funds in the sink fund have been spent on. We’ve had new guttering and, of course, there were the replacement windows when I first moved in. But, that aside, it feels like money for nothing.

I can’t extend my short lease

When I bought my 25% share no-one told me anything about lease length.

Now my lease is down to about 50 years. Which means that, if I want to sell, it could cost me £10,000 to extend the lease. Even though Plumlife owns 75%, so they get most of the benefit.

Because I’m close to retirement I can’t raise that much money to extend my lease. But I can’t afford to leave either. I don’t know what I’ll do.

To be honest, I regret going into shared ownership. I wish I’d struggled for ten years instead so I could have bought on the open market.  My rent isn’t cheap any more. Even though I like living where I am, and I’ve got lovely neighbours, I want to get out because of the constant problems. I’m worn out with the ongoing battle to get anything done.

Featured image: freepik

One Comment

  1. Zahrah Aullybocus
    May 28, 2024

    You could market it for the value without the lease extension and make it clear to a buyer you can’t afford to extend it. You can gather an idea of costs to extend (which may now have changed due to the Leasehold & Freehold Reform Bill) so at least a potential buyer will know the costs and can arrange for the lease to be extended with their purchase. I have had sellers chip in a little where they cannot afford the whole amount, or negotiate with a buyer.

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