House sales scheme
The House Sales Scheme gives eligible tenants of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) or registered housing associations the right to buy their property from their landlord at a discount.
Are you eligible?
You may be eligible if you have a minimum of five years as a secure tenant with the NIHE, a housing association, or another qualifying body - periods totalling five years with any of the above count towards eligibility; and you live in accommodation which is not:
- a sheltered dwelling unit
- a dwelling which is part of a group housing scheme
- a single storey or ground floor dwelling (other than a flat) with no more than two bedrooms
Some tenants who have not had a tenancy for the full five years may still be able to buy their home - for example, if your partner or parent was previously the tenant. You can find more information including a full list of qualifying landlords in the links below:
- Sales to tenants (including equity sharing) - DSD website
- Guide to house sales (PDF 490 KB) - NIHE website
- Help with PDF files
You will not be eligible if:
- NIHE or the housing association has taken or plans to take legal possession of the property
- you are a squatter
Applications to buy made by secure tenants who are in rent arrears will not be rejected on those grounds - but will be allowed to proceed to completion stage. However, no sale will be completed until all arrears whether for rent or any other payment due from them as a secure tenant has been paid.
The amount of discount depends on how long you have been a tenant. A tenant with the minimum required five years, receives an initial discount of 20 per cent of the market value. This increases by two per cent per year to a maximum of 60 per cent or £24,000 whichever is lower.
Should you sell your home within five years of buying it, you must pay back the entire discount received and if you decide to sell within 10 years the property must be offered to the original landlord.
Where the landlord does not wish to repurchase the property, but there is an acknowledged housing need, they will engage with other housing associations to see if they may wish to buy the property.
How to apply and next steps
If you wish to apply to buy your Housing Executive home, you must complete and return an application form:
If you wish to apply to buy your housing association home, you should contact your housing association for more information and an application pack:
Your home will then be assessed by an independent valuer. If you disagree with the price given for your home you can ask for a valuation by the Land & Property Services' District Valuer. The District Valuer’s decision is final - so if it is found that the value of your house is higher than the one given by your landlord you must stick to it.
Buying your home
You must make your decision about whether you want to go ahead with buying the property within six weeks of receiving the offer. It is advisable to get independent financial and legal advice as well as getting a survey.
You may need to arrange a mortgage to pay for the property and you will need a legal representative to help you draw up contracts. You should be aware that there are many additional costs involved in both the homebuying process and owning a home so always make sure you get independent financial and legal advice before you make the decision.
If you want more information on the House Sales Scheme you should contact NIHE or your housing assocation:
More useful links
- Home and housing options (people with disabilities section)
- Citizens Advice Northern Ireland (contacts section)
- Local Councils in Northern Ireland (contacts section)
- Housing Rights Service (contacts section)
- Law Centre (NI) (contacts section)
- Planning for buying a home - Money Advice Service website
- Dont wait. Insulate - Northern Ireland Water website