Staircasing Process with SAM Conveyancing
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Our solicitors specialise in buying more shares in your shared ownership property. We can help whether you are staircasing up to 100% or buying a smaller share.

We offer the complete service from RICS valuation surveyors to staircasing solicitors at competitive rates.

Shared Ownership Staircasing

(Last Updated: 26/06/2024)
7 min read
Shared ownership staircasing is the process where you buy more shares in your shared ownership property from your housing association.

With shared ownership staircasing you can normally buy additional shares of 10% or 25% but you can staircase up to 100%. The starting point for any staircasing is to get a current market valuation to confirm what the additional share will cost.

Shared Ownership Staircasing Process

How much can you staircase?

The housing association will normally allow you to staircase on 3 occasions, with the third time taking you up to 100% ownership. The minimum share you can purchase is specified in your lease but is usually 10% or 20% (unless it's the final share, which may be less or more than the minimum share in order for you to staircase up to 100%).

If you staircase up in small tranches then it can be costly because you have to pay for the valuation and legal costs for every stage.

What are the staircasing costs?

The professional costs to buy more shares in your property doesn't vary whether you staircasing to 100% or if you just buy 10%. These are the estimated costs to help you budget:

RICS Staircasing Valuation
The valuation is suitable for housing associations for staircasing, it is completed by a RICS surveyor and the report delivered on company headed paper. Valuation reports last for 3 months however a desktop revision can be provided if this time lapses for a reduced rate.
Staircasing solicitor's legal fees

Staircasing Stamp Duty Land Tax
Stamp duty can be paid on the amount you are staircasing, however you don’t have to pay any stamp duty until your ownership exceeds 80%. If you have previously elected to pay stamp duty on 100% of your shared ownership property's value, then you have no further stamp duty to pay.
You are responsible for paying the correct stamp duty based on your own circumstances. You should call HMRC for help with Stamp Duty Land Tax queries and to confirm your own personal liability on 0300 200 3510 Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (closed weekends).
Land Registration
The Land Registry cost is based on the full price. Read about the land registration charge.

£20 - £240
Local authority search indemnity (if remortgaging)
(Unless your mortgage lender instructs otherwise, we will obtain local authority search indemnity insurance on your behalf – Click to see which searches your mortgage lender needs – CML Handbook)

Online ID Check

£15 per person
Official Copy of Register & Title Plan (per title)

Priority and Bankruptcy Land Registry Searches

Official Copy of the Lease

Notice to freeholder
When buying a leasehold property your solicitor will need to give notice to the freeholder that you are the new owner of the leasehold property after you complete. The freeholder will charge a notice fee, and potentially an engrossment fee, for doing this and your solicitor will confirm the cost of this to you once they receive the management pack from the seller's solicitors.

Transfer freehold Title
All staircasing applications relate to leasehold properties which can be apartments/flats or houses. If the property is an apartment, once you have purchased 100% of the shares in the property, the property will remain leasehold with a landlord in place who will own the freehold. You cease paying rent although any service charge will still have to be paid. If you wish to sell the property you do not have to give the housing association the opportunity of marketing the property.
If the property is a house and you have staircased to 100% you may be able to go on and buy the freehold from the housing association but this is a separate transaction, it is NOT automatic that buying the 99th share turns the house into a freehold. Speak to your Housing Association to find out if they own the freehold and if they do if they will agree to transfer the freehold to you. The freeholder may charge you a premium and you may have to pay their legal fees.
If you want to transfer the freehold then our solicitor can handle the drafting of the freehold transfer documents and charge a fee for doing so. If you choose not to transfer the freehold then you own 100% of a leasehold and housing association remain the freeholders with all the responsibilities of a freeholder under your lease.
£180 INC VAT
(only payable on freeholds when staircasing to 100% and you have agreed with the freeholder for the transfer into your name)

Frequently Asked Questions

The process to buy more shares in your home is easier than when you first purchased, less legal work and no seller, but there is still a process to follow.

It will take around 8 to 12 weeks for your to staircase. The main delays rae:

  • Issuing the memorandum of staircasing - this can often take 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Staircasing Mortgage - this can take between 2 to 4 weeks from start to getting your mortgage offer.

We can work with any housing association including (but not exclusively):

  • L&Q (London and Quadrant)
  • Notting Hill Genesis
  • Clarion Housing
  • Southern Housing

The valuation only last 3 months.

It can take 3 months. One of the longest parts of the process is getting the Memorandum of Staircasing from the housing association.
For shared ownership staircasing you do not have to pay stamp duty until your share reaches more than 80%.
Once your share is over 80% you need to fill in a SDLT form confirming (if you have a solicitor they will do this for you):
  • the transaction that took you over 80%
  • any further transactions
The amount of Stamp Duty Land Tax due to HMRC is based on the total amounts you’ve paid for the property so far. This is because the transactions count as linked transactions for SDLT. It needs to be paid within 14 days of completion.
This depends entirely on the specific lease conditions and who owns the freehold.

Staircasing a flat to 100%

When you staircase a flat to 100% the freehold won't be transferred into your name.

Staircasing a house to 100%

When you staircase a house to 100% then you may be able to transfer the freehold into your name however this isn't automatically done and it may not actually be able to be transferred.

Why? The housing association may only own the leasehold for your property, however the freehold is held in another party's name. When staircasing a house, the housing association is only able to staircase the lease they own and can't agree to transfer the freehold to you because they don't own it.

You should find out who owns the freehold. If the housing association own the freehold then agree with them to transfer this into your name when staircasing to 10%. If the freehold is in another party's name then contact them and find out if they will agree to transfer the freehold into your name. They will often want to be paid a premium to do so and you'll often have to pay for their legal fees to do so.

A freeholder no longer has to pay ground rent, however small this might be). This is not always the case, however, and sometimes there may be a stipulated time period - for example, 3 months - before the freehold title passes to you: your solicitor will advise you further about this.

If you're changing ownership from leasehold to freehold, then you'll have to arrange your own buildings insurance. Quite often, your lease will contain a clause which forces you, if you sell up within 3 months of full staircasing, to give the housing association any difference between the price your home is sold for and the amount determined by the open market valuation. You can normally remove this clause after 3 months.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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