Specialist scheme makes buying a home possible for man with Asperger's

Ross Payne, who is 29 and diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, searched for over two years for a home where he could begin independent living.

With mum Julie, he found L&Q’s shared ownership scheme at Darwin Green in Cambridge, which provides stability, security and meets Ross’s disability needs.

He used the government Home Ownership for the Long-Term Disabled scheme – HOLD – which gives disabled people the chance to become shared ownership homeowners.

They buy an initial share worth between 10 and 75% of the full market value via a combined deposit and mortgage, while paying rent to a housing association on the portion of the property they don’t own, and can buy further shares in the future.

However, HOLD differs from standard shared ownership in that, if someone with a long-term disability can’t find a suitable part-buy, part-rent home, they can buy a property on the open market but on a shared ownership basis.

The monthly mortgage is usually covered by a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan – repaid from equity when the home is eventually sold – topped up by other benefits. For applicants to meet these payments, they need to be on either High or Middle Rate Disability Living Allowance or Higher Rate Personal Independence Payment.

HOLD enabled Ross to buy 25% of a two-bedroom house at L&Q at Darwin Green, near his family home. ‘It was important that Ross was able to stay close to us and live in the area he’d grown up in,’ says Julie.

‘Prices in Cambridge are horrendously expensive, and we were struggling to find any homes within budget and close to the services he relies on. We spent a long time thinking a resale home was the only option, until we heard about shared ownership with L&Q.

‘As soon as the properties were released, we registered our interest and made an appointment to see the show home and were very impressed.

‘The location offered a fantastic opportunity for Ross to find his new home in an area he already knew, with easy links into Cambridge.’

Ross secured a 25% mortgage with assistance from My Safe Home, the UK’s leading provider of support for people with disabilities who want to buy a place of their own. It helps with financial matters such as assessing eligibility, mortgage applications and benefit claims.

Ross and Julie created a file for his documents as a reference point for him to manage his new home. ‘In the folder, we planned out everything week by week, including all the things I’d need when I moved in, from cutlery to furniture,’ explains Ross. ‘I’m really enjoying the responsibilities which come with having your own home.

‘My new kitchen has everything I need to cook my own meals. The second bedroom is my study space – I have my desk and computer in there and there’s room for my drawing and art equipment.

‘And the lovely little garden is great for my cat, Freya. The house even came with a shed where I store garden equipment and my bike, and I can cycle or get the bus to the clubs I go to each week.’

Julie adds: ‘It was really important that we found Ross a home where he felt safe and comfortable, which was exactly what L&Q at Darwin Green provided. The homes are in a cul-de-sac and the neighbours are lovely, so there is a really nice community feel.

‘Ross has taken the whole process in his stride, managing his new home, cooking his meals, looking after his cat and now finally enjoying an independent life.’

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