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The Older Persons Shared Ownership Scheme

Posted 3 January 2023 by Keith Osborne

Government-backed schemes aren't just aimed at younger homebuyers. WhatHouse? takes you through a purchase scheme specifically for people over 55...

The Shared Ownership scheme continues to grow throughout the UK, and so does a related initiative called the Older Persons Shared Ownership scheme (OPSO).

We've put together some more information about this government initiative aimed at older people...

What is the Older Persons Shared Ownership Scheme?

This scheme is specifically aimed at people aged 55 and over who want to buy a new home but cannot afford a suitable one on the open market. OPSO works the same way as the main Shared Ownership scheme, with the initial share that can be purchased between 25% and 75% of its market value. A subsidised rent is paid on the remaining share, which is owned by a housing association.

What is the difference between Shared Ownership and Older Persons Shared Ownership?

The main difference is that although buyers can purchase further shares, the maximum they can purchase is 75% (as opposed to 100% in the main Shared Ownership scheme), with the remaining 25% staying in the ownership of the housing association. However, with OPSO, when the owner gets to 75% ownership, they don’t have to pay any rent on the remaining 25%.

Am I eligible for the Older Persons Shared Ownership Scheme?

You have to be aged over 55 to qualify for this scheme, although some OPSO schemes will allow a couple where the main applicant is 55 or over, and a second applicant is 50+. Otherwise, the criteria is the same as that for the main Shared Ownership scheme. The maximum household income allowed is £80,000 outside London and £90,000 inside London, and you must be unable to purchase a suitable property without assistance. You must also be able to put down a deposit of 5% of the property price. There are also a number of other criteria needed, such as being able to secure a mortgage, or have enough savings to be able to pay the share in full. You cannot own another property, if you do, this must be sold before using the scheme to purchase a new home. You must also have a good credit rating.

How do I increase my shares?

In a process known as ‘staircasing’, you will be able to purchase more shares of your home, and therefore pay less rent. The amount of rent you pay will be based on your landlord’s share. 

For example, if you own 40% of your home, and pay £700 in rent on the 60% that the landlord owns, then purchase an additional 30% and own 70% of the home, the landlord will own 30%. Your rent will be half as much as it previously was, because now the landlord owns half as much as they did before, so you would pay £350 a month.

You will usually be able to buy shares of 10% or more at any time. Some new leases will allow you to purchase shares of 5%.

How do I apply for the Older Persons Shared Ownership scheme?

In order to apply for this scheme, you need to contact your local Help to Buy agent in your area. This government-appointed agent can see if you qualify as well as giving you other information such as suitable properties in your area. They can also inform you of properties specifically designed for OPSO that have additional care and support services.

Click here for more information about Shared Ownership.


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