A shared owner buys part of a home (through a mortgage or cash), and pays rent on the rest. Here are answers to questions most frequently asked by shared owners.
Selling your home
West Kent does not buy back shared ownership homes but you are free to sell your share. If you wish to sell your shared ownership home you need to follow this process.
We need a valuation so we know how much your home is worth. You can use any surveyor you choose as long as they’re a member of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). We’ll send you a list of these when we receive your request to sell. A valuation is usually valid for three months but you can sometimes apply for an extension for a fee if you have a buyer. We are not able to accept estate agent valuations.
Marketing your home
Depending on the terms of your lease, West Kent has either an eight or twelve week period to find someone to buy your home. After this time we will give you permission to sell your home privately or through an estate agent. If we successfully find someone to buy your home, we charge an assignment fee of 1% + VAT (calculated on the equity share you own.)
Your home will be advertised for sale at www.helptobuyese.org.uk and anyone interested will be asked to contact you direct to arrange an appointment to view. We’ll assess all the interested parties first to ensure we’re taking housing need into consideration.
Before we can start to market your home, we need photos – internal and external, and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). If your property was built after January 2008 we should be able to provide you with a copy of the EPC. You can also check if your property has one by visiting the EPC website.
Once you have a buyer you should instruct a solicitor; we will then issue a Memorandum of Sale to everyone involved in the sale. Both your solicitor and the buyer’s solicitor will work through the conveyancing process and agree a date to complete the transaction. Completion dates are negotiated between the buyer and seller - West Kent is not involved. You just need to tell us the proposed date.
Leasehold enquiries (LP1 form)
Your solicitor will ask West Kent many questions relating to the property, accounts, and the estate. Our fee for providing a leasehold pack is £270 (including VAT) and for any additional questions £36 (including VAT). This fee will be payable directly to West Kent. You can do this over the phone using a debit or credit card, or by cheque made payable to West Kent. We aim to reply to all enquiries within ten working days. If your property is also managed by a third party management company your solicitor may also request a leasehold pack from them directly which will be an additional cost.
The resale of shared ownership properties takes roughly four to six months from when the buyer is approved. Sometimes it can be longer if there is a chain or legal difficulties arise.
Handing over the keys
We will arrange with the purchaser how they will receive the keys on the completion day. You should not hand over the keys until your solicitor confirms they have received the buyer's payment.
Before re-mortgaging you should get advice directly from a lender (like a building society or bank), or from a mortgage broker or financial adviser. Make sure they are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
Get permission from West Kent
We'll only give you permission if you have a clear rent account and we're not taking any action against your tenancy for some reason, anti-social behaviour for example. We'll also need a copy of your mortgage offer from the new lender and confirmation from them of the current valuation of your home. If you are borrowing extra money we will also need full details of what you are borrowing it for.
Mortgagee Protection Clause (MPC)
This is a clause in your lease that protects your mortgage lender if they make a loss because they have had to repossess your home. It allows them to claim some of their loss from West Kent. Lenders usually want confirmation from us that any extra money they lend you will also be covered by the original MPC.
In line with government guidelines we only extend the MPC to extra borrowing that's for:
- staircasing (buying more shares in your home)
- a shared owner buying out the joint owner, such as in cases of relationship breakdown
- essential repairs needed to comply with the terms of the lease (in specific circumstances.)
We will not extend the MPC for borrowing that's for other purposes, including:
- debt consolidation (paying off credit cards and loans)
- home improvements that are not essential repairs.
The protection of the MPC is usually important for mortgage lenders, so you should check this with your proposed new lender at the beginning of your application to prevent delays or disappointment.
After the remortgage has taken place we need a Notice of Mortgage and accompanying fee of £50 + VAT, cheques made payable to West Kent Housing Association.
Renting out your home
Subletting is prohibited under the shared ownership leases but we can give permission to sublet in some circumstances, such as having to move for health reasons or because you’re overcrowded and you cannot sell your home. For an informal chat about whether or not we’ll give you permission, please contact our Homeownership Team on 01732 749900.
If you’d like to formally apply, please write to us and include:
- details of why you want to sublet your home, including any relevant evidence
- the length of time you want to sublet for (we’ll only give you consent for one year initially)
- confirmation from your current mortgage lender that they’ll agree to the sublet in principle, along with evidence of your current mortgage payments (e.g. mortgage or bank statement)
- payment of a non-refundable £50+VAT application fee.
As long as you give us everything we ask for above, we’ll be able to give you an answer within ten working days. We will then go through with you what other documents you will need to provide and you will need to sign a legal document called a licence and pay a licence fee of £50 + VAT.
Buy more shares in your home
Staircasing is the name for buying further shares of equity in your home. Our shared owners can staircase at any time. This can be done in increments of 10% or more, and depending on affordability, it could lead to you owning the whole of your home and paying no more rent!
Under the government’s model leases the price you pay for further shares is based on the current full open market value of your home, which is determined by an independent Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) qualified surveyor. Your lease contains information that explains how to increase your ownership in stages.
The first step is to get a RICS valuer to determine the current value of your home. The Homeownership Team will be able to suggest some companies to you if you do not have a surveyor in mind. Please note we are unable to accept estate agent valuations.
- Your rent to West Kent reduces as you increase the proportion you own in your home. In fact - when you own 100%, no rent is payable at all.
- You have a larger financial interest in any increase in the value of your property.
- Your home becomes freehold when you own 100% of the equity.
- You’re free to sublet your home when you own it entirely.
Things to think about
- Your monthly housing costs may increase if you take out further borrowing to fund the staircasing.
- Consider speaking to a financial adviser before paying for a formal valuation to ensure you will be able to get a larger mortgage, if you do not have capital available.
- You will need a solicitor and their fees are usually around £300-£500.
- There may be additional charges payable to West Kent or a management company if your solicitor needs a leasehold pack.
- Some homes in rural areas are restricted and you can only staircase up to a set level.
West Kent organises the buildings insurance for our shared owners and you repay the cost of this through your service charge. We'll send a new summary of cover every June. You may have to give a copy of this to your lender, so they know their security (your home) is insured.
If your home has been damaged please contact us for a claim form. There is a £100 excess on most claims. The insurance covers the damage to the property but not the repair itself, so for example if you had a leak from your boiler which damaged your ceiling, the insurance may cover the damage to the home but not the repair to the boiler.
In a few flats, West Kent is the leaseholder but the freeholder organises the buildings insurance, so you will be on a different policy with a different excess.
You should always organise your own home contents insurance.
Having trouble paying?
If you’re struggling with money it’s really important that you get advice.
If you're struggling with your mortgage you must keep your lender up to date with your situation. You can get specialist advice for leaseholders from a solicitor or the Leasehold Advisory Service who offer free, independent advice.
Defects in your new home
Defects in your new home
When you move into a new-build property you usually benefit from a defects period, normally the first 12 months after completion of the building.
During this period the contractor is responsible for rectifying urgent repairs such as:
- heating or hot water breakdowns
- electrical faults
- easing / adjusting doors and windows
- plumbing repairs.
At the end of the year we will carry out an end of defects inspection with you and the contractor. Decorative items including shrinkage cracks will be reviewed at this time so there is no need to report these earlier.
If you experience any problems with appliances that were in the property when you moved in, you should contact the manufacturer directly as these will be covered by a warranty. You'll find the details in your handover pack.
To report defects please contact our customer services team. Please don't report defects directly to operatives on site as we need to know about any problems you're having.
What about problems after the defects period?
After the defects period you will be responsible for items within your home unless they are covered by a long term building warranty. You can find more information about responsibilities in the repair responsibilities tab.
National House Building Council (NHBC) warranty
Most of our new build properties benefit from a long term building warranty provided by the National House Building Council (NHBC) They provide a ten to twelve year policy and regulate the developer’s work.
They inspect the quality of the building work free and if the build work is not to a good enough standard they will make sure it’s put right. If NHBC agree there's a problem that is the builder’s fault, they will help to arrange the repair.
In buildings less than one to two years old, the investigation and repair is free of charge.
In buildings over two years old the homeowner has to pay an excess. These vary in price (they’re linked to a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors' index) and can be as much as £1000.
Your lease is a contract between us defining who is responsible for which repairs. Generally as a homeowner, you must keep your home in a good state of repair. You are responsible for the internal repairs within your home and the safety of gas and electric fittings.
If you live in a house you are also responsible for the repairs and maintenance to the exterior and structure of your house. If there are shared gardens or landscaped areas, or shared car parks, they will be maintain by West Kent or a managing agent if we don't own the land.
If you live in a flat and West Kent is the freeholder we'll keep the structure, common parts and the outside of the flats in good repair. In some cases a managing agent for another freeholder may be responsible for repairs.
For repairs within your home that fall under your responsibility, you should arrange for a qualified contractor to carry out the work and you'll be responsible for the cost.
In certain situations, such as a serious leak that is causing damage to other properties, or where there is a health and safety risk, we may ask you to carry out the repair immediately. If you can't do so, we may arrange for a contractor to carry out the work on your behalf and charge you for any costs we incur.
You can report repairs that are our responsibility to us through My West Kent.
You can make minor changes like decorating, laying flooring and fitting wardrobes without our consent. You must get our formal consent before making any of the following changes:
- Fitting new kitchen
- Fitting new bathrooms
- Changing the windows
- Loft conversions
For fairly minor changes we will not charge a fee. For more involved works our fee is £150 + VAT and we will issue a Licence for Alterations.
We will not unreasonably withhold consent but some changes are prohibited under some leases. You can check your lease or talk to us.
If you are thinking of funding the work by increasing your mortgage please refer to the section on this page called 'I want to re-mortgage'.
Paying for works or services
Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (amended by section 151 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002) says we must consult you about some of the works and services your lease says you must pay for.