Almost everyone wants to own their own home, which can be one of life’s greatest joys. But buying, managing and improving your home can also be very difficult.
Our experiences, and those of our friends and family, include:
- a seller putting a house back on the market just before contracts were meant to be exchanged
- being told to pull down an extension which cost around £100,000, after the architect turns out to be bogus
- an estate agent lying in order to try to force a homeowner to pay excessive fees he hadn’t agreed to
- a high street mortgage lender telling a first-time buyer he was “mad” for refusing to take a now-discredited type of mortgage
- a husband and wife continuing to rent in shared accommodation because they couldn’t afford a home of their own
- a surveyor wrongly suggesting a house might be suffering from subsidence, leading to the withdrawal of a mortgage offer
- an electrician insisting on being paid £200 for fixing a light switch, even though he failed to do such a simple job
In no other area of life do consumers face such problems. There has to be an easier way.
The HomeOwners Alliance was created to ensure there is. It is the only group in Britain to represent, champion and serve homeowners and homebuyers.
Paula Higgins, one of the co-founders of the HomeOwners Alliance, and its chief executive, noticed the lack of a voice for homeowners in her job. Paula worked for national government responsible for its review of building control, and was constantly lobbied by the hundreds of groups that represent industry. But she struggled to find anyone to put across the views and interests of the homeowners.
Martin Shankleman, for many years a BBC journalist reporting on personal finance issues, also noticed the lack of a voice of homeowners in the media. In stories on issues of interest to homeowners, such as mortgage rates, house prices, and rubbish collection policies, the media put forward the views of industry and government, but there is no group to represent the homeowners’ views.
Britain is unusual in this. Many other countries have powerful groups that champion and serve homeowners, transforming government policy and industry practice.
Paula left the civil service to do something about it. The HomeOwners Alliance was born.