Emma Mahama (29), a medical secretary/PA in the NHS, is so thrilled with her new apartment that she wishes she could purchase it immediately. Emma is one of the first residents to take up residence in our London Living Rent (LLR) scheme in Beckenham, south London.
Introduced by the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, LLR is designed to tackle the housing crisis and offers Londoners on average incomes more affordable rents, enabling them to save for a deposit for their own home.
“I honestly can’t believe no one thought of this before – it seems so logical…It was always my frustration being in that ‘middle ground’ where you earned too much to get help, and yet didn’t earn enough to get a mortgage…
“It felt like my generation had been forgotten… so that is why I still have to pinch myself. Even though I’m in my flat, I’m part of this pilot scheme, it sometimes seems too good to be true,” says Emma, who moved in on 1 April 2017.
When her previous landlord told her he was planning to sell, it did not come as a total surprise. “I always thought that, although it was my home, I had no say in it. I always had it hanging over my head that nothing was 100% certain.”
But, she became panicky when she began researching the housing market in Beckenham (her ideal location: and where she had always lived) and realised just how much rentals had soared in the last five years.
Whereas she’d been paying just over £1000 p.m. for a one bed flat, she now had to consider renting tiny, claustrophobic properties for anything between £1,350 and £1,600 p.m.
Emma viewed nine or 10 properties and was about to sign on the dotted line when the estate agent told her about the LLR scheme.
“I was sceptical at first, because I’d researched other schemes before and they’d all looked good on paper - but you still needed a mortgage and lenders would only give you four times your salary which, in London, buys you nothing!
But when the agent explained how the LLR worked and that it could lead to home ownership, she got excited: “I’ve always wanted to own my own home, and now I knew it was possible.”
Emma put down the deposit before she even saw the flat: “I knew where it was because I know the area, but that was all. I loved it straight away: the spec is amazing, the finish is amazing and the views from my lounge are amazing!”
She was looking for a step-up from her previous flat, so this one has two bedrooms , is brand new, perfectly located, and only costs her a few pounds more than what she was paying before!
What also appealed was that you could take 10 years to save for a deposit without worrying about being kicked out, having it sold from under you, or that the rent would go up dramatically.
“It’s brilliant because it’s taken away all those ‘fear factors’ that come with renting privately.”
Emma’s now on the verge of getting her foot on the housing ladder, but she’s impatient: “If I was able to get a mortgage right now, I’d buy it. As soon as I can, I will…By this time next year I want to own a stake in this property.
“I feel this initiative is on the side of the tenant. I know this is a pilot, but, I’d love to see it rolled out to enable more people to benefit. My advice to young people like me is: try not to get frustrated; save all you can; and look out for schemes in your area – especially LLR!”