About shared ownership

Shared ownership is a cross between renting and buying. This page explains how shared ownership schemes work, who is eligible to apply and how you can make an application.

What is shared ownership?

Shared ownership schemes aim to help people who are otherwise unable to buy a suitable home to become home owners. Through a shared ownership scheme, you can buy a 25 per cent, 50 per cent or 75 per cent share in a house or flat owned by the housing association, usually in a new build development. You'll then pay a reduced 'rent', called an occupancy payment, for the part of the home that you don't own. The total monthly cost of your mortgage repayments and occupancy payment should come to less than the repayments on a mortgage for the whole property.

After the first year, you will have the option to purchase further shares (although you don't have to) until eventually you own the whole home outright.

Who runs shared ownership schemes?

Most shared ownership schemes are run by housing associations. However, some private builders also offer shared ownership for new build homes.

Who can apply for shared ownership?

Different housing associations have different application criteria and priorities when allocating properties. For example, some housing associations may only offer shared ownership properties to families or disabled people. Before you apply to a housing association for a shared ownership property, make sure you understand how their system works.

  • Financial criteria - in order to qualify to buy a shared ownership property, you must be able to afford at least a 25 per cent share of the home. The housing association will need to be satisfied that you can keep up the mortgage and occupancy payments, as well as the other housing costs involved, such as council tax, factoring and service charges and household bills. Some housing associations will only accept you if you earn above a certain income level. However, if you can afford to buy a home outright, you won't be eligible for a shared ownership scheme.

  • Council and housing association tenants - priority is generally given to council and housing association tenants, and people who are on council or housing association waiting lists. However, private tenants can also apply.

  • First time buyers -usually the schemes are only open to first time buyers, although some housing associations will consider your application if you have owned a home in the past but can now no longer afford to buy a suitable property, for example, because of health problems or relationship breakdown.

  • Disabled people - access Ownership is a new shared ownership scheme set up by Ownership Options and Link Housing for disabled people. More information is available from

How do I find out about shared ownership in my area?

To find out about shared ownership schemes operating near you, contact the housing department of your local council or the housing associations in your area - the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has a list of its members in Scotland. Try checking the websites of local housing associations - some will have information about shared ownership properties available.

You can also check Link Homes for properties in the Lothian area.

How do I apply?

In order to apply for a shared ownership property, you'll need to fill in an application form from the housing association - this is different from the application form you'd fill in to apply for rented housing. The housing association will ask to see proof of your income, savings and outgoings, to ensure that you can afford to take on the property but don't have the resources to buy a home outright. The page on buying a shared ownership property explains what happens if your application is accepted.

What are my chances?

Even if you do meet all the housing association's criteria, you may have to wait a long time before a suitable property becomes available. It's therefore a good idea to apply to more than one housing association, to increase your chances of getting a property.

Can I own the share jointly with someone else?

Yes, provided that all the co-owners meet the housing association's application criteria, both individually and jointly.

Find out more about buying a home with other people.

Can I get Housing Benefit?

If you are on a low income or receiving other welfare benefits, you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit to help with your occupancy payments. If you get income support, jobseeker's allowance or pension credit, you may be eligible for income support mortgage interest (ISMI) to help cover the interest payments on your mortgage.

What are my rights?

When you move into your home, you will be asked to sign an occupancy agreement with the housing association. This is similar to a tenancy agreement, and sets out your rights and responsibilities as a shared ownership owner-occupier.

Read more about your rights.

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Last updated: 29 December 2014

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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