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Shared ownership lease agreements

If you are a shared owner of a property from us, you will own part of your home and then pay rent on the remainder.

A shared owner has a lease and has the same responsibilities for repairs and maintenance as other leaseholders. For further detail on leaseholder rights and responsibilities please refer to our section on lease agreements.

You may also need to pay a service charge if you live in a flat or maisonette, or a house with use of communal facilities. You can find out more on the service charges page.

If you are struggling to meet your payments, please contact us as soon as possible. Visit the Better Days website to find out more about money advice services we offer.

Can I buy more shares in my home?

Buying a shared ownership home is a great way of getting a foot on the property ladder. You can sell your share when you choose, but you may decide to stay in your home and buy more shares to increase the percentage you own of your home. This is called staircasing. Most leases allow you to staircase up to 100% ownership.

You can buy extra shares in stages. For example if you own a 25% share now, you can buy another 25% so you own 50%, or you can buy all of the remaining shares so that you own 100%.

All leases issued after July 2004 allow shared owners to staircase in stages of 10%. The rent you pay us will be reduced in proportion to the extra amount you own of your home.

If your shares are in a house, Orbit will usually transfer the freehold to you when you’ve bought all of the shares, but some leases don’t let you do this. Your lease will tell you what’s possible for your home.

Please read the staircasing leaflet (pdf, 310KB) if you want to buy more shares. Within the leaflet is an 'Intention to staircase' form that should be sent to us with the administration charges (pdf, 353KB) and the valuation report. Valuations must come from a RICS approved surveyor.

You can return a scanned, signed copy of the staircasing form to us by email to or to our postal address.

Can I sell my shares in my home?

You can sell a share of your home that you own by transferring your lease to another person. To transfer your lease you’ll need to have your home valued by a surveyor so that the maximum sale price for your share can be agreed.

Your share will be advertised on the Help To Buy website for your area. This will help us to find someone to take on your share.

To sell shares in your home:

Can I change, improve or add to my home?

You need our consent to carry out structural alterations and improvements to your home. We don't need to know about minor works such as redecoration or plumbing repairs but if you are in any doubt, please contact us.

Please see the Carrying out your own home improvements page for more information about how to request permission to make changes.

Am I responsible for repairs and maintenance to my home? 

You must keep your home in a good state of repair. You are responsible for the costs of repairing and maintaining your home. The Insuring your home page also provides useful information about buildings and content insurance.

If you live in a flat or maisonette, we are responsible for the outside of the building and communal areas. You are responsible for your property. More information about this can be found in your lease.

Let us know if a repair is needed to the building or a communal area.

Please contact your management agents directly to report communal repairs if we don’t own your freehold or manage your building.

Can I sublet my home?

You mustn’t let out any part of your home without our permission. This is because the shared ownership scheme was set up to help people buy a home for them to live in. You must tell us if you don’t want to live in your home any more.

We will consider allowing to you rent out your home for short agreed periods of time. This might happen if you had to move away to care for a relative, or were working away from home for a year or less.

You’ll be issued with a licence if we agree to let you sublet your home. We’ll need a copy of your tenancy agreement and your management agent’s details. There is an administration charge if you sublet your home.

For more information please read this subletting leaflet (pdf, 355KB).

Can I extend my lease?

A shared owner does not have the automatic right to extend their lease but can apply under the voluntary process.

It may make more sense financially to buy additional shares in your home. This can be especially true if you live in a shared ownership house where you often obtain the freehold once you own a 100% share. Please see the section above on 'Can I buy more shares in my home?' or contact us for more details.

What happens if I breach a covenant in my lease?

If you breach the terms of your lease, for example by not paying your rent or behaving anti-socially, we will make attempts to resolve the situation with you. If this is unsuccessful, we will inform your mortgage lender that you are breaching the terms of the lease.

Depending on the nature of the breach, we will then apply to the County Court or Leasehold Valuation Tribunal for a determination of the case and, if necessary, an enforcement order or injunction.

If all else fails we will apply to the courts or a tribunal for either forfeiture of the lease or repossession of the property. Failure to comply with the covenants of the lease could result in the loss of your home.

Can I re-mortgage my home?

You must tell us if you want to change your mortgage provider. We will need to agree to this.

You will need to provide details of the redemption figure from your current mortgage lender and tell us how much you will borrow on the new mortgage before your request can be agreed. Please refer to this remortgaging leaflet (pdf, 333KB) if you want to borrow more. We will ask you to provide some information, so we can make sure requirements are met. You will need to provide your mortgage offer.

We will charge you (pdf, 353KB) for agreeing to the re-mortgage and issuing formal consent to the lender.

Do I need insurance?

We are responsible for insuring your building. This means you won’t need to arrange your own buildings insurance. A charge for this service is included in your monthly payments, along with any service charge you might have to pay.

Please see the Insuring your home page for more details about what our insurance covers, how to make a claim and options for arranging your own contents insurance.

Does Orbit buy back properties?

If your property was once owned under a shared ownership lease you might not be able to sell it without first asking us if we want to buy it back. Please contact us to find out more.

If this applies to you, it will apply for up to 21 years from the date the last shares were bought. Whether we will buy back your home will depend on our plans within your area at the time you want to sell.

You will not be able to sell your home unless we provide you with a certificate saying you’ve asked our permission. We will charge a fee (pdf, 353KB) for providing this certificate.

Administration charges

We might ask you to pay a small administration charge to cover our costs:

  • when you’ve asked for permission to change your lease or for something else that needs our official consent; or
  • for supplying information or documentation.

We will charge you for providing these services. The administration charges leaflet (pdf, 353KB) contains more information.