What are homeownership schemes?

Homeownership schemes such as shared ownership and shared equity schemes are promoted as a low-cost way to buy a home.

Government schemes to help homeowners

The government provides a range of schemes to provide a route on to the property ladder for people who can't afford the full costs of buying a home.

Many schemes are mainly aimed at first-time buyers, but some also cover people who have previously owned a home. There are also schemes only for older or disabled people.

Some homeownership schemes are only available to people with household incomes of up to £60,000 a year or £80,000 in London.

Homeownership schemes fall into two main categories:

  • part-rent, part-buy schemes for shared ownership
  • help to buy 100% of a home using an equity loan

Features of the schemes vary and different schemes exist in different parts of the country. Each scheme has its own detailed rules for income and eligibility.

Find out more from Gov.uk about government schemes for homeowners.

Find out more from the Money Advice Service about home-ownership schemes.

Shared-ownership schemes

These are part-rent, part-buy schemes. They are often provided by housing associations.

You buy a share of your home (at least 25% of the property value), usually using a combination of savings and a mortgage. You can increase your share of the property by buying more of it over time.

The housing association owns the remaining share. You pay rent on the housing association's share.

Most shared-ownership flats and houses are leasehold.

Find out more about shared-ownership schemes.

Equity loan schemes

Private home-building companies typically run these schemes.

Equity loans are only available for newly built properties on specific housing developments.

You own the whole of a property that you buy through a shared-equity scheme.

Some of your deposit is paid for using an equity loan from the government and a national house-builder. You pay for the remaining purchase costs using savings or a mortgage.

Find out more about shared-equity schemes.

What you have to pay

All homeownership schemes require you to pay a deposit, typically a minimum of 5% of the purchase price of a home.

The costs involved in buying a home include solicitors costs, legal fees and taxes such as stamp duty.

Ongoing costs depend on the type of scheme and may include:

  • monthly mortgage payments
  • monthly rent payments
  • equity loan fees and charges
  • annual service charges and ground rent

You also have to pay the costs of running a home such as council tax and energy costs.

Use the Money Advice Service budget planner to help you work out the costs involved.

Find out more from the Money Advice Service about the costs of buying a home.

Repairs costs and service charges

As a home-owner, you are responsible for 100% of the cost of repairs in your home. Homeownership scheme providers don't help you with any of these costs.

Most homes provided using shared homeownership schemes are leasehold. This means you usually have to pay for repair costs and management costs through service charges.

You are also expected to pay the full costs of any home improvements you make.

Selling up and moving on

It's important to look carefully at any restrictions imposed by homeownership schemes. Some schemes don't allow you to sell your home without the permission of the scheme and have rules that restrict who you can sell to. Selling is usually more straightforward when you own 100% of the value of your home.

You have to repay any money owed to the scheme when you sell. With shared equity schemes, the amount you repay is calculated as a percentage of the price your buyer pays. You have to repay any mortgage owed to your lender.

Your home may gain value if house prices rise. If you own a shared ownership property, the housing association also benefits from this. If you have a shared equity home, the scheme provider benefits from the price rise too.

If house prices go down, you may end up owing more on your mortgage than your place is worth. This is called negative equity and could affect your ability to sell.

Find out more from the Money Advice Service about negative equity.

Eviction and repossession

Your home can be repossessed if you don't pay the mortgage and any secured loans.

If you have a shared-ownership home, you can be evicted by the housing association if you get into rent arrears. If this happens, you risk losing some or all of the money you put into the home.

You may be eligible for financial help if your circumstances change. There may be help available through Support for Mortgage Interest and housing benefit or universal credit.

Find out more about ways to avoid repossession.

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Last updated 14 Jan 2016 | © Shelter

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