In English multi-owned housing (MoH), such as blocks of flats and cohousing developments, homes are individually owned on long leases but residents share communal spaces (such as entrances and gardens). The building owner (the freeholder) has responsibility for looking after the building, and often employs a professional manager for this. MoH is a very common form of housing. Over 2 million homes are flats that have been bought as leases, and with almost half of new homes being sold as leasehold the number is growing. Cohousing – intentional communities created and run by their residents - is also an emerging trend, with about 60 established or developing cohousing sites across the UK since 2010. MoH includes an important collective dimension and interdependency as home owners share common parts of the building which need to be managed and maintained on behalf of all owners. Moreover, within MoH there is the possibility for the individual owners to embrace and support community values, such as mutual cooperation, solidarity, and trust, which can also help to overcome issues of loneliness. In practice, however, this kind of shared living is often difficult and conflict is commonplace. A common attitude appears to one of wishing to remain private and not wanting to engage with the broader collective. Property theory also echoes this perspective, and there has been little examination and accounting for the collective dimension of MoH.

In this research we explore how leaseholders in different types of MoH think about their own property ownership. We will use empirical research methods to examine how they understand their relationship with others sharing the same site, and their attitudes towards engaging in building management and governance. In particular, the research aims to discover the prevalence of individualistic understandings of ownership (as reflected in the cry: ‘My Apartment is my Castle: Leave me Alone!’ (a chapter heading in Van der Merwe, C. (2015). European Condominium Law, CUP) as against more collectivist perceptions in which interdependency with others is recognised and valued (‘My apartment is part of a community’).