Jersey first-time buyers may own property already

Looking at properties for sale
Image caption Some people buying first-time buyer homes put down a deposit of £150,000

Some people classed as first-time buyers in a first home discount scheme have owned property before, a States of Jersey investigation has revealed.

Research into the Homebuy scheme showed that some of the 46 families could have had a share transfer or flying freehold flat.

Housing minister, Deputy Sean Power, said it was a legal technicality that he wanted to see closed.

It also emerged that some were able to put deposits down of £150,000.

The technicality meant that only buying a house through the Royal Court was classed as a first-time purchase.

A flat could be obtained through a company and so would not officially count as a first home.

Deputy Power said: "If you transact for the first time in the Royal Court and buy a house it is regarded as a first-time buyer.

Significant deposits

"But if you have transacted for flying freehold or share transfer and it is a company transaction, they don't go through the Royal Court.

"Theoretically at the moment you can buy a flat through a flying freehold or share transfer and then turn up three years later and buy a house and you are still a first-time buyer.

"That's not just a home buy anomaly, that is an anomaly right across the island and something I would like to see sorted."

The minister said that all the people who bought homes under the scheme fit the criteria, despite some of them being able to put down significant deposits.

He said: "I think the then minister decided that using his discretion, because they had a large deposit but a small income, or an income less than £40,000 he let the one or two or three go through.

"I think that is fair because in all cases they were parents, they were either couples or a single mum with kids or a single dad with kids."

Share transfer properties are owned by a holding company with a number of shares attached. People then buy the shares which allow them to occupy that property.

Flying freehold is a law that allows a building to be owned by a number of people and split into separate dwellings. This allows apartments to be sold on a freehold basis instead of share transfer.

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