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All you need to know about managing your home, from buying a bigger share to home improvements and selling.
Staircasing: buying a bigger share
One of the benefits of shared ownership is that you can buy what you can afford first, then when the time suits, you can buy bigger shares until you own your home outright. This is a process known as staircasing.
You can staircase as many times as you like to reach 100%, though each additional share must be at least 10%. For some older homes, it’s not possible to buy a full 100% share. Your lease will say if this is the case.
Each time you staircase, you need to pay some associated costs, such as a property valuation, solicitor fees and mortgage fees. Our staircasing fees are £250 (for partial staircasing) and £500 for staircasing to 100%.
If you’re interested in staircasing, please contact us.
You’re free to decorate and make cosmetic improvements to your home. This includes plastering, painting, putting up shelves, replacing kitchen cupboards and getting new appliances.
Any value you add to your property through larger home improvements belongs to you: eg from adding a conservatory or extension to your home.
However, for most major works you need to get our permission before doing the work. Your lease details the changes you can make to your property. Examples of work needing permission include:
- structural changes or work to the outside of your home
- anything that affects your water, gas or electric supplies
- reconfiguring your kitchen or bathroom
- fitting new windows
- fitting laminate, wood or tiled flooring.
To apply for permission, please read our License to Alter Guide and then complete the application form.
You’re responsible for maintaining and repairing the inside of your property (including fixtures, fittings and any goods you bring into your home) as well as looking after your garden. This means you have to look after things like:
- interior decoration
- central heating, boilers and radiators
- kitchen appliances, such as fridges and freezers
- door handles and locks
- plumbing and blockages.
Defects in a new home
New-build properties sometimes have minor defects – small faults or “snags” that need fixing after you move in – such as doors that stick or don’t close properly. If these occur within an initial defects period we’re responsible for repairing them.
Your lease and contract detail your specific repair rights and responsibilities.
If you want to remortgage, your new mortgage offer has to be approved by us before the mortgage transfer takes place.
We’ll need your reason for remortgaging, as well as your new mortgage offer document and the redemption statement from your current lender. We do charge for processing remortgage applications: a £60 administration fee and a £78 notice fee.
If you’re planning to remortgage, please contact us.
Extending your lease
Leases are typically for a fixed term, often 99 or 125 years. Your contract details the length of your lease.
Shared owners don’t have a legal right to lease extensions. However, we try to accommodate requests for longer leases.
Before you apply for a lease extension, please read our lease extension guide. This outlines the application process, which includes writing to us formally to request your lease extension. We also recommend you get advice from a solicitor.
After you apply
We’ll check that we’re both the freeholder and the immediate landlord, and confirm the lease has a long enough term remaining for an extension. If we don’t own the freehold, we don’t have the legal right to extend your lease.
If your lease can be extended, you’ll have to pay a surveyor’s fee and our legal costs. These costs vary depending on the property. In addition, there’s an administration fee of £195.
You can sell your home whenever you want. If its value has increased, you get to keep any profit on your share.
There are some restrictions if you want to sell, but haven’t staircased to 100%. Your lease will detail the procedure for selling your home. Typically, you have to sell your home through us. This ensures homes are offered to people needing affordable housing.
If you want to sell your home, the first step is to read our Selling Your Home guide. You should then contact us so we can assess your needs and arrange for your home to be valued by an RICS-registered surveyor. Once this is done, you send us your home valuation report and completed shared ownership instruction form.
We’ll produce your sales information, advertise your home for you and manage applications from potential buyers. If the sale price is higher than you bought for, you keep the profit on your share.
EWS1 fire safety forms
In 2020, the government issued revised guidance on building safety standards for flats within apartment blocks. As a result, buildings of any height are now potentially in scope for requiring the EWS1 (external wall system) form devised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
EWS1 certification requires a new assessment of the building by a qualified, independent professional to establish if the external wall system meets the new fire risk standards, or whether remedial work is needed.
EWS1 forms are not a legal requirement, but some lenders require one before they’ll offer a mortgage.
As a result, the form may apply to you if you live in an apartment block and want to sell, remortgage or staircase (buy a greater share of your home). EWS1 forms only apply to flats.
We're investigating the external wall systems on our buildings. We're now prioritising blocks under six storeys and expect to complete initial assessments this year. We'll update customers as soon as we know if any work is needed.