London, April 13th, 2017 – The London Rebuilding Society (www.londonrebuilding.com) (LRS) works with local authorities and vulnerable owner-occupiers to help them unlock the equity in their own homes. Today, LRS has announced the completion of its first Home Improvement Scheme project in East London, backed with pilot investment from Legal & General.
The situation is a typical one across the capital; the owner, who has lived in the property all his life, had ended up with a home in such a state of disrepair that it was damp, lacked heating, insulation or effective sanitation and he was left living from a single room. Working with LRS, the home has now been transformed to a place where he can now live in warmth and comfort, and remain part of the community he knows so well for many more years to come.
Government statistics (DCLG 2013) show that 100,000 vulnerable owner-occupiers over the age of 65 live in ‘non-decent’ homes in London, of which 20,000 urgently require significant work to make them habitable. Many of these owners are asset-rich but cash-poor, so the LRS, working in conjunction with the local authority, is tackling this growing issue.
Naomi Kingsley, Chief Executive of London Rebuilding Society, commented:
“The home had over the last few years fallen into a state where it was beyond being fit for occupation. Despite it being mortgage-free, the owner was unable to borrow against the property to fund the much-needed improvements. We worked in conjunction with all relevant parties, including the local authority, financial backers and approved tradespeople to provide a seamless solution to this problem.
“The owner can continue to live in the home he has known all his life, but it’s now a warm, dry and healthy environment. Not only is this comfortable, but it also brings with it a raft of physical and psychological health and welfare benefits, too.”
The financing involves the use of a lifetime mortgage, a tightly regulated product that can only be offered by authorised firms such as Legal & General. Safeguards are in place, including a no negative equity guarantee, whilst inheritance protection can also be offered to ring-fence a percentage of the property’s value as a legacy.
Steve Ellis, Managing Director of Legal & General’s lifetime mortgage business, said:
“We’re delighted to be a part of this pilot scheme with London Rebuilding Society and to see the successful conclusion of this test case. The use of a lifetime mortgage to transform properties like this from a state of disrepair to a safe, comfortable place to live shows the positive role that releasing housing equity can play for many of the capital’s most vulnerable homeowners.
“We have an ageing population in the UK and thousands of people are approaching retirement without the funds they need to support later life. Releasing housing equity could be the solution to that problem.
“We will take what we have learned from this pilot and seek ways to make this scheme available to many more vulnerable people both in the capital and across the UK.”
LRS is a social enterprise and mutual, registered with the FCA under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act. It is owned by its shareholders who each have one vote no matter the size of their shareholding. LRS is also a member of the Social Stock Exchange (www.socialstockexchange.com), Europe’s only public market for impact investing.