19 April 2009

Derek Hale, a housing consultant, came to talk to the OWCH group for the second time in about six years. His main message to the group was that there is always more flexibility than you think or are told about. Nothing is written in stone. Housing associations make up ‘rules’ which aren’t rules.

Two possibilities exist for the group: Shared ownership and Leasehold for the Elderly. There is a lot of flexibility re the size of the share you buy. (In Shared Ownership you pay the market rent on the share you don’t buy. In Leasehold, you buy a % of the property and pay aminimal rent on the share the housing association owns; it benefits from the capital gain on resale). It all depends on how the entire scheme works.

Leasehold – anyone over 55 or 60 depending on the age set. Need to apply for additional HAC (grant). There will be more grant available – the Homes and Communities Agency is trying to get things to happen. Easier to get buyback with leasehold than in shared ownership (releasing income by selling a share of your property back to the housing association).

His main concern was the ‘valuations’ quoted to us so far by Hyde. What are these based on? H4W needs to ask Hyde for its feasibility study. What was the price of the land and OWCH’s part of it? Who did the valuations and when? With leasehold, you can play around with the equities and put more restrictions in the lease. Were they framed within the context of OWCH’s restrictive lease?

Need to consider how to protect group if H4W should disappear. Its business would be passed on to another HA which might not be sympathetic to OWCH. Need to allow for this eventuality in contractual arrangements from start.

All these are details. Where we need to start is with the whole scheme and how it can be made to work for the group. Derek agreed that he would ask Keith Jenkins (housing lawyer) to accompany him to a meeting with Housing for Women to look at the whole scheme and the options available within it. Maria to liaise with him and H4W.