Buying a home through shared ownership has meant Sam Flowers and Ayesha Brown have finally been able to move in together – and with a much smaller deposit than they expected.

Bus driver Sam Flowers and his shop assistant girlfriend Ayesha Brown love family – in fact they want to start one of their own. Shared ownership has allowed them to quit their childhood bedrooms for a new home together instead, with an extra bedroom for a possible child of their own.

“When I started work as a bus driver, I moved back in with my dad in Elephant and Castle,” Sam says. “Ayesha was also living with her parents.”

The two 20-somethings didn’t think they would have enough money for a deposit on a flat of their own. “Moving in together has been a long-term goal for us,” Sam says, “but we just weren’t sure when we would be able to afford to make it happen.”

The pair were doing well, putting money by each month – until Sam had some bad news. “My circumstances suddenly changed. Unfortunately, due to my dad’s ill-health, I was unable to stay living with him. So I needed to find somewhere of my own at quite short notice.”

Sam didn’t want to move far from his childhood home, though.

“When I started to view properties in the area, I started to realise it might be out of my reach,” he says. “Then we found out that shared ownership was available at Harvard Gardens, and once we’d seen it, we decided it was perfect.”

Harvard Gardens is a new scheme being developed by our merger partner, L&Q. It is part of a larger £3 billion regeneration programme in the area, which includes a new town centre, green spaces, market square and upgraded transport hub.

Shared ownership means people can buy between 25% and 75% of the property and pay a subsidised rent on the rest. They can increase their share over time, all the way up to 100%.

“As our deposit wasn’t as big as we’d hoped it would be, shared ownership was ideal for us,” Ayesha says. “We could never have bought a property so close to central London without it.”

The couple own a 30% share in their flat.

“We were originally looking to buy a one-bedroom apartment, but then we were told we could actually afford two bedrooms,” says Ayesha. “Now we won’t need to move if we start a family.”