Shared ownership

This section answers the most frequently asked questions about shared ownership.

We offer a range of shared ownership homes, including new builds.

A shared owner buys part of a home (through a mortgage or cash), and pays rent on the rest.

A shared owner is a leaseholder and has the same responsibilities for repairs and maintenance as any other home owner. We’ll repair any communal areas of the property, and recharge the leaseholder through a service charge.

Please contact the leasehold service team for more information.

Can I buy more shares?

Buying a shared ownership home is a great way of getting your foot onto 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 of your home that you own. 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 as the owned percentage of your home increases.

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 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 charge and the valuation report. Valuations must come from a RICS approved surveyor.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Can I sell my share?

You can sell a share of your home that you own by transferring your lease to another person. We can suggest who this person could be. To transfer your lease you’ll need to have your home valued 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. You can find out more about this in the Selling / assigning your shared ownership home leaflet.

Please fill in and return this leaflet to start the process of selling your share. Please also send details of your RICS valuation report and the administration fee made payable to Orbit Group Limited. The leaflet has information on how to get a RICS valuation.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

How can I pay?

You can pay by direct debit, online or by phone. Please visit the payments page for more information.

Please speak to your leasehold services officer if you’re struggling to pay your monthly charges. We can help you work out a household budget, talk to you about benefits that can help with housing costs and refer you to debt and benefit advice services.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Can I change, improve or add to my home?

You must get our permission before you change, improve or add to your home.

Please complete and return the alterations request form if you want to change or improve your home. Please send it to us, along with the money to cover the administration charge.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Which repairs and maintenance are my responsibility?

You must keep your home in a good state of repair. You are responsible for the costs of repairing and maintaining your home. Contact us if you don’t have the money to pay for essential repairs. You might also need our permission to do the work, depending on what it entails.

We strongly recommend all home owners get a gas-safe approved contractor to carry out an annual gas safety check if they have a gas supply to their homes. We don’t provide this service.

If you smell gas or fumes you should:

  • Step 1: TURN OFF the gas supply at the meter
  • Step 2: OPEN your windows
  • Step 3: PUT OUT all naked flames
  • Step 4: DON'T USE electrical switches
  • Step 5: CALL the National Grid on freephone 0800 111 999.

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

Please contact us to report a repair if we’re your landlord or management agent. You can do this by contacting us or through the online reporting form.

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

Can I sublet all or part of 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. We will charge you if you ask to sublet your home.

For more information please read this subletting leaflet

Please contact us if you have any questions.

What are service charges and ground rent?

What is a service charge?

You’ll have to pay a service charge if you live in a flat, or a home with communal areas. This charge covers the cost of providing communal services such as cleaning hallways, communal gardening and the cost of managing those services.

It also covers the cost of communal lights, door entry systems and lift maintenance. You may also be charged a contribution to a renewals fund to pay for larger work, such as renewing the door entry system.

You will pay a weekly charge based on an estimated annual cost.  These estimated costs are reviewed every two years for secure tenancy customers and every year for an assured tenancy customers. They are also reviewed if costs or services change significantly during the year.

Both customers on assured and secure tenancies are entitled to appeal against the charges. However, if you have a query over your service charges you should contact the Service Charge Team first.

If you are in receipt of housing benefit or Universal Credit, your service charge may be funded in full or in part depending on your circumstances and the services Orbit are delivering. We will inform you of any payments that you are responsible for.

For details of how to pay your charges see ‘How to pay’.

Appeals

Secure customers

You appeal in the same way as for rents. You can find out how by clicking the ‘What happens if my rent increases?’ question below.

Assured customers

If you’re paying a variable service charge, you can refer it to a Residential Property First Tier Tribunal service.

For advice about the tribunal process or about services charges contact the Leasehold Advisory Service. This is an independent agency funded by the Government that offers initial advice and provides guidance on applying for a tribunal.  

We will send you information on the actual costs you’ve incurred at the end of the financial year. You will also be given a summary of the services you receive along with a notice setting out your rights and responsibilities.

You can get more information on your service charges from the Service Charge Team.

Can I re-mortgage?

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 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 for agreeing to the re-mortgage and issuing formal consent to the lender.

Please read the re-mortgage and further advance leaflet for more information on re-mortgaging, or contact us.

Do I need to get buildings insurance?

We will normally be 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 rent payments, along with any service charge you might have to pay.

Please call Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA) if you want to make a claim. Their contact details are:

0330 102 4100 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) 0845 300 4006 (evenings, weekends or public holidays)

You should tell the advisor that you are an Orbit Group Limited leaseholder and give them the RSA Policy Number RTT283793.

RSA will help you if you need to make a claim. All claims should be reported as soon as possible. Full information needs to be provided within 30 days (7 days if you are claiming for riot or malicious damage). You must tell the police if you make a claim for theft or malicious damage.

In an emergency you should take any immediate action needed to protect your home from further damage. This might include boarding up your home or switching off gas, water or electricity supplies.

Please contact us if you need more information.

We don’t automatically insure the contents of your house – this is your responsibility – but we can help. Please contact us and ask for the insurance team if you want to find out more.

Will I have to pay an administration charge when I ask Orbit to do something?

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
  • for supplying information or documentation.

This leaflet has more information on our administration charges.

These charges are in addition to any management fee charges we make for managing services.

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