Shared ownership

Shared owners own part of a 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 Your Lease.

Below you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about shared ownership. If you cannot find the information you require, please contact us and ask to speak to a member of the Leasehold Team.

Can I buy more shares?

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 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 your Leasehold Officer 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. 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. 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 arrange for the RICS valuation report and the administration fee made payable to Orbit Group Limited to be sent to us. The leaflet has information on how to get a RICS valuation.

Please contact your Leasehold Officer if you have any questions.

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.

We will ask you to ensure that you have all the relevant planning and building regulation permissions and may need to see copies. We will not unreasonably withhold permission but some leases have certain restrictions.

Depending on the complexity of your proposals, we may charge an administration fee to cover the cost of work involved in considering your application. A visit from our surveyors may be necessary.

It is important that you obtain our consent before carrying our works. If you come to sell your property and consent hasn't been granted for alterations, or if we find works have been completed in an unsafe manner, you may have to return the property to it's original state at your own cost. 

Please fill in and return the alterations request form or contact your Leasehold Officer if you want to change or improve your home.

What 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.

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.

Please contact us to report a repair or service issue affecting the communal areas or external structure of the block. You can do this via email to; through the My Account portal or via our customer service centre on 0800 678 1221.

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

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.

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. There is an administration charge if you sublet your home.

For more information please read this subletting leaflet

Please contact your Leasehold Officer if you have any questions.

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; please contact us for further details.

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?' or contact your Leasehold Officer 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.

What are service charges?

You’ll have to pay a service charge if you live in a flat, or a house with the use of 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.

We will provide you with an estimated budget of how much we think the services will cost each year and this is what your monthly service charge payments will be based upon. Then, after the end of the financial year when the actual costs are known, we will prepare an annual statement of account and send this to you with a covering letter telling you if the amount paid is enough to cover the actual costs or not. 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 or here.

What if I'm having difficulty paying my rent and service charge?

If you are having difficulty paying your rent and service charge, it is important that you contact us straight away, to avoid large arrears building up. We may be able to advise you about benefits, or work with you to make a realistic agreement for you to clear the debt.

If you do not contact us or fail to keep to the agreed payment arrangement, we will normally have no alternative but to contact your mortgage lender or apply to court for a County Court Judgment against you. Any costs incurred by the Association will be charged to you. Ultimately Orbit must consider invoking the forfeiture clause in your lease and you could risk losing your home.

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.

Do I need to get buildings 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 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 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 insure the contents of your house, this is your responsibility. However, we have negotiated a Contents Insurance scheme available for Orbit residents. 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.

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.

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 for providing this certificate.

Speak to your Leasehold Officer to find out more.

What should I do if I'm unhappy with the service offered by Orbit?

Should you have a dispute with Orbit, we will refer you to our complaints procedure to help resolve the situation. If there are still problems, even when you have exhausted the complaints procedure, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service, known as the Independent Housing Ombudsman. We can tell you how to do this, but if your dispute is over certain matters connected to your lease, for example, the level of service charges or your liability to pay them, then there are other routes of complaint and you should seek appropriate legal advice.