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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Shared ownership

Shared ownership schemes allow someone to own a portion of a property and to rent the remainder from a housing association.  For years, Co-Ownership Housing has been the best known scheme for people who want to buy a home but who cannot afford to purchase 100% of the property they’re interested in.  Recently, a new shared ownership scheme called FairShare started operating in Northern Ireland. This scheme allows people to partner with a housing association to buy a property.  Currently, Apex, Choice and Clanmil housing associations are participating in this scheme. 

Buying a home with Co-Ownership Housing

You can apply to buy a home through Co-Ownership if

  • you are over 18 and live in the UK
  • you do not currently own any property or land anywhere
  • you will live in the property as your only residence and will not use the property for business pruposes
  • you have an adequate right to reside in Northern Ireland
  • you have had no payday loans or home credit within the last 12 months
  • you have no outstanding bad credit, such as CCJs or defaulted loans, at the time you apply
  • you could not afford the property without using the Co-Ownership scheme
  • the property you want to buy is not valued at more than £165,000.

There are 9 starter shares available for homebuyers, with a minimum of 50% and a maximum of 90%, in steps of 5%. You can buy as much as you can afford initially, up to 90% of the property value. 

You will have to pay a monthly mortgage on the part of the property you own and you have to pay rent to Co-Ownership for the share of the property they own.  You are responsible for all repairs in the property.

If you meet the criteria and think Co-Ownership might be a good option for you, you can apply online. Co-Ownership will review your application and will issue you with an approval in principle if you are eligible for the scheme. This will allow you to start looking for a home with confidence. 

Mortgage and fees

You will need to apply for a mortgage for the portion of the property that you intend to purchase. The Co-Ownership website includes a list of lenders you can approach for Co-Ownership. Some lenders take Co-Ownership’s share instead of a deposit, while others will require that you pay a deposit.

When you intially apply to Co-Ownership you must pay a fee of £100 fee. This fee allows Co-Ownership to assess your financial position and will not be refunded. A further fee of £450 is payable when you upload your property details, this covers your valuation fee and most of the legal fees involved in purchasing your home.

Paying rent

You will have to pay rent on the portion of the property that you do not own. Co-Ownership charge rent at 2.5%, so £25 for every £1,000 you owe. If you fall behind on your rent or on your mortgage, you could lose your home so it’s important to get advice urgently if your finances are stretched.

Increasing your shares in the property

As your financial circumstances change, you may want to increase your shares in the property. This is called staircasing.As part of the staircasing process with Co-Ownership, a valuation will be carried out on the property and the report from this process will explain how much your new shares will cost. Co-Ownership allows you to staircase up in blocks of 5%. Find out more about staircasing from Co-Ownership's website.

If you increase your share in the property and use a mortgage to finance this purchase your mortgage payments will go up accordingly. However, your rent payments will reduce as you increase your shares in the property. 

Buying a home with Fair Share

You can apply to buy a home through Fair Share if

  • you do not own any property or shares in property in the UK or abroad
  • you cannot afford to buy a 100% share of a home suited to your needs that is within reasonable distance of your work
  • you can’t afford to rent a place within reasonable travelling distance of your work
  • you are eligible to get a mortgage for at least 50% of the purchase price
  • your salary meets FairShare’s affordability guidelines for potential purchasers.

There are a number of properties listed on the FairShare website which can have been preapproved for the scheme. If you’re not interested in these, but have found another property that you’d like to buy with the help of this scheme, you can contact Fair Share to see if it is eligible under the scheme’s rules.

Getting a mortgage

You will need to apply for a mortgage for the portion of the property that you intend to purchase.  

Increasing your shares in the property

As your financial circumstances change, you may want to increase your shares in the property.  This is called staircasing. 

If you bought with FairShare the amount that you will pay for additional shares in the property will depend on the value of your property at the time you apply for extra shares. If the property’s value has gone up the price of shares will be based on this new valuation.  If the property’s value has decreased, the price will be based on the value of the property at the time you first purchased it.  FairShare requires that you staircase up in blocks of 10%. You can read more about staircasing with FairShare on its website.

If you increase your share in the property and use a mortgage to finance this purchase your mortgage payments will go up accordingly. However, your rent payments will reduce as you increase your shares in the property.