Shared Ownership Schemes Northern Ireland

If you have found the perfect home that meets all of your needs, but it is just out of reach of your financial situation, all may not be lost. There are two schemes currently running in Northern Ireland to help first-time buyers get on to the property ladder, Co-Ownership and FairShare. There can be help offered to people who have owned a house before, providing you do not currently own any property, land or are named on any deeds.

For many years now Co-Ownership has been the best-known scheme for people looking to buy a home but who are unable to manage the entire purchase price on their own. So much so, that in the same way Hoover became synonymous with vacuum cleaners, Co-Ownership became the term in Northern Ireland that people use for shared ownership.

More recently, another shared ownership scheme called FairShare has also started up in Northern Ireland. The FairShare scheme allows people to partner with a housing association to buy a property.  There are currently three housing associations who are participating in the FairShare scheme; Apex, Choice and Clanmil.

What is Shared Ownership

Shared ownership schemes allow people to buy a share of the home they want (usually between 50% and 90%) and then to rent the remaining share of the property from a housing association. So basically, you pay the mortgage on your share of the home and pay rent on the share owned by the housing association. As mentioned, FairShare currently partner with three housing associations whilst Co-ownership are a not-for-profit organisation who is a housing association themselves.

There are many reasons why people consider the various shared ownership options in Northern Ireland, with the most common being:

  • People who are finding it difficult to raise the necessary deposit
  • People who are on low income
  • People who are in non-permanent employment

Some banks and building societies (often collectively know as ‘lenders’) will take the housing associations share instead of a deposit, meaning that you don’t always need a deposit with shared ownership.

Even though you have effectively bought a home together with a housing association, don’t worry, it is 100% your home! And when you are able to, you can increase your share in your home until you own it all!


Since Co-Ownership was founded in 1978 they have helped over 29,000 people buy a home in Northern Ireland. There are over 9,000 homes across Northern Ireland which are currently Co-Ownership homes. Co-Owners take as large a share as they can afford to start with, between 50% and 90% and they can then increase their share at any time by buying more of their property. Co-Ownership is Northern Ireland’s regional body for shared ownership.

These are the key current criteria (correct at the time of writing) required by Co-Ownership to meet their eligibility:

  • You over 18 and live in the UK
  • You do not currently own any property or land anywhere (exception for Co-Ownership Portability cases)
  • You will live in the property as your only residence and will not use the property for business purposes
  • You have an adequate right to reside in Northern Ireland
  • You have had no Payday Loans or Home Credit within the last 12 months
  • Any Debt Relief Orders, bankruptcies or Individual Voluntary Arrangements must have been satisfactorily completed at least 6 years before applying
  • You have no outstanding adverse credit at the time of making a Co-Own application e.g. CCJ’s, Defaults
  • We use Experian to review your credit history and help us make the decision on the creditworthiness of your application.

Co-Ownership offers 9 starter shares available for buyers, with a minimum of 50% and a maximum of 90% ownership, in steps of 5%. You can buy as much as you can afford initially, then increase your share in the future as your finances permit.

You will have to pay a monthly mortgage payment on the share of the property you own, and you have to pay rent to Co-Ownership for the share of the property they own.

You will need to apply for a mortgage for the portion of the property that you intend to purchase. Some lenders will accept Co-Ownership’s share instead of a deposit, while others will require that you pay a deposit. Our Mortgage Advisers can talk you through the options available, the pro’s and con’s and make sure you go with the mortgage that’s right for you.

When you initially apply to the Co-Ownership scheme, there is a fee of £100 that you will need to pay to get the process started. This fee is for Co-Ownership to do an assessment of your financial position and will not be refunded. A further fee of £450 will then need to be paid when you upload your property details. This is to cover your valuation fee and most of the legal fees involved in purchasing your home.

You will have to pay rent on the share of the property that is owned by Co-Ownership. 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 payments, you could lose your home so it’s important to get advice urgently if your finances are stretched.

If your financial circumstances change in the future, you have the choice to increase your share of the property. For your information, the term used for 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%.

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.



FairShare is a relatively new shared ownership scheme operating in Northern Ireland. It has been created to offer an alternative affordable choice to home ownership for buyers who are unable to purchase a home outright. The key requirements for eligibility are similar to Co-Ownership; that you don’t already own a home, you cannot afford to buy outright the kind of home that you need, but you could afford to buy at least a 50% share in the property.

You are likely to qualify for FairShare if you:

  • do not own a home in the UK or abroad
  • do not own a share of a home or property in the UK or abroad
  • are applying to buy a new-build property with a full purchase price not normally exceeding £160,000
  • need the assistance of the FairShare scheme to buy a home that is suited to your housing needs
  • cannot afford to buy a 100% share of a home suited to your housing needs within a reasonable distance of your place of work
  • cannot afford to rent a home suited to your housing needs on the open market within a reasonable distance of your place of work
  • are eligible to obtain a mortgage for at least 50% of the full purchase price
  • can show that you can afford to buy a minimum 50% share of and run the property by providing details of your income and credit history
  • are an individual applicant with a gross income which when multiplied by 4 is greater than the amount of the mortgage being sought;
    • or
  • are joint applicants with a combined gross income which when multiplied by 3.5 is greater than the amount of the mortgage being sought

Please note that other restrictions may apply at the time of purchase. Our Mortgage Advisers will make sure you have the very latest, up-to-date information to hand when you begin your enquiry into shared ownership options.

As with Co-Ownership, you will still need to apply for a mortgage for the share of the property that you intend to purchase. As your financial circumstances change in the future, you may want to consider increasing your share of ownership in the property. As mentioned before, this is called ‘staircasing’.

There are currently three major UK lenders providing mortgages for the FairShare shared ownership scheme. The requirement for a mortgage deposit will depend on the individual lender’s criteria at the time of your mortgage application

In addition to your monthly mortgage payments, you will be required to pay rent towards the share bought by your FairShare partner. FairShare rent is set at 2.5% per annum and is subject to annual review.

Through the FairShare scheme, the amount that you will pay for increasing your shares in your home will depend on the value of your property at the time you want to purchase extra shares. So if your home’s value has gone up, the price of the extra shares will be based on this new valuation. However, if the property’s value has decreased, the price will be based on the original value of the property at the time you first purchased it.  FairShare requires that you buy additional shares (or ‘staircase up’) in blocks of 10%.

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.


How Mortgage Solutions help

Being one of the largest mortgage networks for shared ownership, and working with both Co-Ownership and FairShare, Mortgage Solutions can offer advice on which option is right for your circumstances. Our qualified and experienced Mortgage Advisers can offer advice and guidance on obtaining the right mortgage to complement your shared ownership scheme.

We will coordinate with the mortgage lender, the housing association, your solicitors, basically everyone involved in the buying process. You will receive regular updates on progress and advice whenever you need it.

If you are struggling with raising a deposit or cannot quite reach the value of the home you are looking to buy, find your nearest Mortgage Solutions branch and pop in for a chat. We are always happy to explain how the two shared ownership schemes work, how they are different and advise on which is the right choice for you.

Call us today on 028 9182 8255 or use our branch finder to find your nearest adviser.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Dealing with the housing association and solicitors are not part of the Openwork offering and are offered in our own right. Openwork Limited accept no responsibility for this aspect of our business. These services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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