Shared ownership schemes were created by the Government to assist first-time buyers, or those on lower incomes, with purchasing a home of their own.
The buyer typically purchases a share between 25% and 75% of the property, with the remainder being owned by a housing association. The purchased share is funded like a standard purchase, with a rent paid to the housing association for the remaining portion. Over time, further shares can be purchased until the property is owned outright; this is known as stair-casing.
Once you have moved in, we will invite you for a welcome meeting so that we can talk through being a homeowner with Curo, and answer any queries you may have at this stage. If you'd like to meet at our office please let us know. We are also happy to have a conversation over the phone or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A list of responsibilities will be laid out in the lease that you sign, and there are responsibilities for yourself as the occupier, as well as for Curo as the landlord. Typical responsibilities for shared owners include the following:
- Paying the rent and service charges, typically monthly.
- Repairs to the internal areas of your home.
- If the property is a flat within a block, Curo would be responsible for the structure and common areas.
- If the property is a house, you will be responsible for the structure (for example the roof) but Curo may be responsible for the estate the house is located on. On some developments, particularly newer builds, there may be a managing agent that manages the estate instead of Curo.
This is the process by which you can purchase further shares in your property, either an extra 10% or enough to take you to 100% ownership. Typically, shared owners will purchase additional shares in their home when they remortgage, increasing the total mortgaged amount and at the same time increasing their ownership in the property. As your share in the property increases, the rent charged by Curo on the outstanding portion decreases.
Rent and service charges
Customers can expect to receive their rent and service charge review in February of each year, prior to the start of the new financial year in April. As stated within the terms of lease agreements, payment for rent and service charges are due monthly on the first day of each month.
Deeds of variation
If changes are required to your lease, this can be done via a Deed of Variation. This is a legal document that sets out the amendments to the lease, either by inserting or removing clauses, or make changes to the plan. A solicitor will be required to perform this action, with their fees payable by the leaseholder. Please refer to our additional manage fee schedule for the relevant administration fee.
As a shared owner, the sales process can differ compared with a home that is fully-owned. Your lease may include a clause whereby Curo must exclusively advertise the property for the first six weeks, which is called a nomination period.
If Curo successfully nominate a purchaser, a fee would be payable in a similar fashion to paying a traditional estate agent. If Curo are unsuccessful in nominating a purchaser, you can then approach an estate agent as usual. In this instance, no fee would be payable to Curo.
During the sale process we are able to assist with the enquiries by preparing a sales pack. This includes detail on the rent and service charges, buildings insurance, planned works etc. A fee is payable for this service, which is shown in our schedule of additional management fees.
Once a sales has completed, the buyer's solicitor should serve Curo with a Notice of Assignment. This states the parties involved, and the date of completion. On receipt of this, we close down the vendor’s account, and open one for the buyer.
Leases typically include clauses to restrict various items from being done, either work-related or behavior. This may completely prohibit something like an extension from being done, or may allow it, providing prior consent in writing has been obtained from Curo. Please see our schedule of additional management charges for our fee related to consent.
Please note that subletting of a shared ownership property is not permitted.
Service charge reconciliations
Customers can expect to receive their service charge reconciliations in September of each year; these relate to the previous financial year. Once the invoice is issued this will detail a debit or credit and this will be applied to your next year's service charge. This charge will appear as "prior year balance".
Curo has an obligation to maintain your building (if your property is a flat), for which the costs will be re-charged back to our customers, in accordance with the lease. When works are necessary, the process starts by Curo following a statutory consultation process, known as Section 20. On completion of the works, and once they have been signed off, an invoice will be issued. Where customers have a sufficient balance within their sinking fund, the cost of the works are covered from the sinking fund.
Where there are customers without a sinking fund or who have a shortfall within their fund, we will issue an invoice which will be payable within 30 days. If there are customers who are unable to pay the invoice in full, we can extend the payment terms by up to 24 months, subject to an income and expenditure form being completed and reviewed by the Commercial Accounts Manager.
Arrears process for homeowners
When an account falls into arrears we will always try to make contact with the individual(s) named on the account so that they can make a payment or create a Direct Debit in order to bring the account up to date.
If we do not hear back following this first contact, we will send an initial arrears letter to request that the account be brought up to date within seven days.
If we receive no contact or payment after the initial request, we will then send a secondary letter, which incurs a £45 administration fee. This letter advises that legal action will be taken if the account is not brought up to date or contact is made with ourselves.
The next stages of our arrears process is a Letter of Claim which is followed by a Fourteen Day Court letter, which leads to legal action that may incur court costs to the homeowner.
If you find yourself in receipt of any of these letters please contact us as soon as possible to arrange a payment plan.
For independent homeowner advice: https://www.lease-advice.org/