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Your rights in a shared ownership home

If you own a share of your home through a shared ownership scheme, you’ll have rights and responsibilities both as a homeowner and a tenant.

You’ll need to pay both your mortgage and an occupancy payment. You can get help with money and debt if you’re struggling to keep up with these payments.

We have advice on buying a home with shared ownership schemes.

Your occupancy agreement

The housing association should give you an occupancy agreement that tells you your rights and responsibilities.

Usually the occupancy agreement will:

  • say you have the right to live in the property

  • break down your occupancy payment and other service charges

  • explain your right to buy more shares in your home

  • explain your right to sell your share if you wish

  • say who's responsible for repairs, maintenance and insurance

  • include any other terms and conditions, like if you can sublet or if someone can inherit your home

Show the occupancy agreement to your solicitor before you sign it. Ask them to explain any legal terms you're unsure about.

How long your occupancy agreement lasts

Occupancy agreements last 20 years. The housing association should contact you ahead of time to tell you when it's ending.

You can end the agreement earlier by buying the entire home or selling your share.

When your occupancy agreement ends

You can either:

  • sell your share of the home to the housing association

  • sell your home jointly with the housing association on the open market

  • start a new occupancy agreement

  • buy the remaining share of the home

If you want to buy the remaining share, you must tell the housing association at least 3 months before the occupancy agreement ends. It’s best to do this in writing so you have proof.

Your repair responsibilities

You’ll usually be responsible for:

  • looking after your home and keeping it clean

  • carrying out any external and internal repairs

  • paying the buildings and contents insurance

  • getting permission before making improvements or alterations

Check your occupancy agreement to see who is responsible for:

  • keeping the structure of the external building in good repair

  • looking after the stairs, entrance and garden

If the housing association is responsible for these, you’ll usually have to pay a service charge.

Taking in a lodger and subletting

Check your occupancy agreement to see if you can take in a lodger.

You’ll usually need permission from the housing association and your mortgage lender. Check our advice on taking in a lodger.

If you want to rent out the whole property, you may not get permission unless you have a good reason, like going into hospital for a while.

Renting out your home may affect your insurance and any benefits you receive.

Leaving your share of your home in your will

You have the right to leave your share of your home to someone in your will.

Your occupancy agreement should say if you can leave them the share owned by the housing association. This may depend on:

  • who you leave the share to

  • whether they live in the property with you

  • whether they meet the housing association's application criteria

Check the housing association’s policy on this. Discuss it with your solicitor before you sign the occupancy agreement.

Help if you cannot afford your payments

If you’re having problems paying your mortgage or other costs, take action as soon as possible.

If you miss mortgage payments

If you miss mortgage payments your lender could try to repossess your home. To avoid this, take the following steps:

  • always prioritise your mortgage above all other debts

  • talk to the housing association

  • get debt advice

Your housing association should have an agreement with your lender about what to do. They could help you negotiate with them.

If you miss occupancy payments

The housing association could try to get a court order to force you to pay the debt or sell your share of the home.

Talk to the housing association and let them know you want to take steps to resolve your situation.

If you’re on a low income or you get other benefits, applying for Universal Credit could help with occupancy payments.

Get help with money

A money and debt adviser can help you apply for benefits, make a budget, manage debts, and negotiate affordable repayments. Get free advice now:

Last updated: 9 August 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England