"Affordable" shared-ownership home in Clapham now too expensive to sell

Rises in property values have resulted in an affordable shared-ownership home in Clapham becoming too expensive to sell under the rules of the government's housing scheme
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A brother and sister who bought a shared-ownership flat in upmarket Clapham say they are banned from selling it because its sharp rise in value has landed them at the centre of a complex legal dispute. 

Bobby and Lydia Robertson bought their 70 per cent share as first-timers in 2006, when the flat had a full market value of £235,000. This has increased to £395,000 — so high, they say, that it no longer technically qualifies as affordable. They therefore cannot sell it on to a first-time buyer on a shared-ownership basis. 

Yet, under an agreement made when their block was built - that it would only ever provide affordable housing - they are not allowed to sell it on the open market either.

Lydia, a primary school teacher, 33, and Bobby, 37, an operations manager for a bar and restaurant group, need to move on because Lydia is unwell and has been unable to work, while her brother wants to move in with his girlfriend. 

“It is just totally frustrating,” said Bobby. “The amount of hassle it has caused is incredible. I would advise other people considering a shared-ownership property to read the small print, but even that does not seem to apply here. Our lease says that if we can’t sell the property through the association we are free to sell it on the open market, but that does not seem to be the case.”

Government regulations state that shared-ownership homes are only available to people with a household income of £66,000 or less — those earning more are not considered in need of subsidised housing. But Notting Hill Home Ownership, the association that sold the Robertsons the flat, calculates that a buyer would need a household income of £72,000 to be able to afford it today. 

Because of a legal agreement signed with Lambeth council when the flat was built, it must be retained as affordable housing and therefore cannot be sold on the open market.

Katie Bond, acting director of Notting Hill Home Ownership, said: “This is a first. We are talking to Lambeth council to try to sort this out.”.

A Lambeth spokeswoman said the council was looking into the matter, but that a decision to waive the original conditions could only be made by its planning committee. She added: “It is also clear that Notting Hill themselves could buy out the Robertsons in order to resolve this more quickly and ensure the property remains affordable.”

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