Staircasing Process

Staircasing is when you buy more shares in your shared ownership property, something you can normally do after 1 year. The advantages are that you own more equity and your rent gets smaller but note that your buildings insurance, ground rent and service charge are unchanged.

You can normally buy tranches of 10% or 25%; buying up to but less than 100% is called partial staircasing and buying to 100% is called full staircasing, and there’s no further rent to pay! What you’ll pay out for your new share depends on a full current market valuation of your property, known as a staircasing valuation, which you have to pay a RICS surveyor to carry out.

The staircasing process can feel daunting, especially after the normally slow and complex conveyancing experience you had when you purchased your shared ownership property. The good news is that the staircasing process is simpler than when you bought and can be completed following a straightforward process. The key stages are:

  • Getting the Memorandum of Staircasing from the Housing Association
  • Remortgaging to finance the staircasing costs
  • Conveyancing work to buy your new share

The following is a step-by-step guide which explains the process of what you need to do, staircasing costs (including the solicitor costs) and the average time it takes to complete your staircasing.

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What do you need to do first?

    Inform the Housing Association
Before your conveyancing solicitor can get underway you need to first contact your Housing Association to tell them of your intention to staircase. The Housing Association will then send you their intentions to proceed form.

How much can you staircase?
You can usually staircase up to three times, 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%).


A qualified RICS surveyor will need to be instructed to provide a Staircasing valuation (read more about Staircasing Valuations). The valuation lasts 3 months so you'll need to complete your staircasing during this time, otherwise another valuation may be requested by the Housing Association.

We have a nationwide network of local RICS surveyors so please call us on 0333 344 3234 to book your staircasing valuation.

You need to choose a solicitor to handle the legal work involved in your staircasing, and potentially your remortgage (read more about remortgage of the property). The details of your solicitor and copies of your valuation (often 2 copies req.) are sent back to your Housing Association along with your signed Request to Proceed form.

The majority of staircasing cases are completed alongside a remortgage of the property. A staircasing mortgage can be obtained directly from your existing mortgage lender, or you can go to market yourself, or through a mortgage broker to see what mortgage products are available. The process for remortgaging is the same as when you purchased and you'll need to pass through eligibility and affordability checks to get your mortgage in principle. You will then need to value the property with a mortgage valuation and then finally you'll receive a mortgage offer if the mortgage lender is satisfied.

We have mortgage brokers who have access to the whole of the market. Book an online mortgage appointment here or call 0333 344 3234.

    Budget the costs
The costs of staircasing can pile up as you'll need to pay: premium to staircase, RICS valuation, mortgage product fee, mortgage valuation (can't be used by the Housing Association), solicitors fees and disbursements. The average cost excluding the premium is £2,000, so make sure you factor these into your calculations - we go into costs in more detail below.

What does your solicitor need to do?

    ID Checks and Proof of Funds
Your solicitor will need to prove who you are through their ID checks - this will include anyone who is currently listed as a legal owner and anyone else who is going to become a legal owner of the property.

If you are paying the staircasing costs out of your own money, and not from a mortgage, then your solicitor will need to confirm the source of the funds you are using (read this article on How to prove source of funds).

    Official Copies of the Register and Copy Lease
The Official Copy of Register Title are obtained from the Land Registry at a cost of £3 per title. The Official Copies state who the current legal owners of the property are, what restrictions are on the title and what charges are registered.

    Memorandum of Staircasing
Your Housing Association will issue the Memorandum of Staircasing, once they have your:

  • signed 'Request/Intention to Proceed' form;
  • solicitor details; and 
  • valuation report.

The memorandum of staircasing confirms the amount you need to pay to staircase and needs to be signed by you and returned to the Housing Association.

    Mortgage Offer
If you are getting a new mortgage then your mortgage lender issues their mortgage offer to your solicitor. Different mortgage lenders will have different requirements for their solicitor to adhere to. Whereas some won't ask the solicitor to do anything more than their obligations under the CML, some mortgage lenders request additional information to be provided to them before they will agree for the mortgage to be issued. For example, Paragon Mortgages require the solicitor to provide copies of planning permission, building regulations and rights of way, however Santander Plc doesn't require this.

If there is an existing charge registered on the property, then the solicitor requests the mortgage lender to provide a current mortgage statement in order to discharge the balance on completion.

If you are adding someone to the title while staircasing this will also occur additional costs because this will involve a transfer of equity. You will also need to get consent from the Housing Association to do this.

If you are getting a mortgage then review the Remortgage Process Explained article about the additional work required.

    Order local authority search or indemnity insurance (mortgage only)
Different mortgage lenders have different criteria with regards to the local authority search. Some mortgage lenders are happy for you to take out local authority search indemnity insurance, some will not and expect you to obtain either an official local authority search or a personal regulated local authority search (read to find out the difference between official and personal).

This affects you both in the cost and in the time it takes to obtain the desired information. For local authority search indemnity insurance the policy is usually issued within minutes and the costs are as stated in the table to the right.

The cost of a regulated local authority search is fixed at £124, however the cost of an official local authority search obtained direct from the council can range from £60 up to £300.

There are also some mortgage lenders who require you to provide environmental searches, chancel indemnity and water and drainage searches.

    Send off the certificate of title, OS1 and Bankruptcy check(mortgage only)
The solicitor will take our an OS1 priority search to freeze the title of the property from being able to have any changes applied to it and then complete a bankruptcy search on you. The OS1 costs £3 per title and the bankruptcy search costs £2 per legal owner searched.

The solicitor will be in a position to complete once they are in receipt of:

Staircasing with a mortgage Staircasing without a mortgage
  • ID documents
  • ID documents
  • Mortgage offer
  • Mortgage lender consent 
  • Satisfactory title checks for mortgage purposes (mortgage only)
  • Send off signed Memorandum of Staircasing
  • Send off signed Memorandum of Staircasing
  • Proof of funds for consideration
  • Proof of funds for consideration

If there is a mortgage they will then send off the certificate of title to the mortgage lender requesting the release of the mortgage funds in time for completion.

    Completion & Staircasing Costs
The solicitor sends you a financial statement before completion detailing the costs and disbursements. This is an example of a costs statement for a staircasing transaction with a remortgage:

£ Description

Mortgage advance from new lender


Mortgage to redeem


Staircasing cost to Housing Association


Stamp duty (read more below; click to use our stamp duty calculator)

Solicitors' Legal Fee Incl. VAT


Land Registry


Local Authority Search Indemnity Insurance


Online ID check


Official Copy and title plan


OS1 & Bankruptcy

£1,243* Balance to be paid to complete

* Leasehold financial statements would need to include a notice fee payable to the freeholder to confirm change of ownership and any new registered charges.

Once your staircasing mortgage advance is received by your solicitor and you and your solicitor are ready to complete, then your solicitor will redeem your existing mortgage, pay the consideration due to the Housing Association, settle their invoice and any disbursements (online ID check, official copy costs and OS1/bankruptcy). The balance, if any, is then repaid to you. The only amounts left will relate to the Land Registry fees and any costs due to the property being a leasehold.

    Post completion
The process for discharging the old mortgage and registering the new mortgage/owners at the Land Registry can take between 1 to 6 months after completion. The time delay is linked to the Land Registry having a backlog of work. This can be extended further for leasehold properties if the freeholder/managing agent delays in releasing the notice. Delays can be worsened if you service charge and/or ground rent are in arrears so make sure that you have settled these prior to remortgaging otherwise you may have a stand-off with your freeholder not releasing your notice until your service charge account is settled (read more about What happens after completion).

What stamp duty is payable when staircasing?

The stamp duty on staircasing is different to standard conveyancing transactions. For example, if you staircase for any amount less than 80%, then you do not have to pay any stamp duty, although you can do so if you wish to.

You can read more about staircasing stamp duty here.

You should consult your solicitor or the HMRC if you are unsure of your stamp duty position or if this changes prior to completion because you are liable for any payment due to the HMRC. You can read more about Stamp Duty Land Tax: shared ownership property)

For Example: John and Mary are not married and decide to separate. They own a £350,000 house with a £250,000 mortgage. John is going to buy Mary's 50% share in the property. As John isn't married to Mary, and half the mortgage (£250,000 / 2 = £125,000) added onto the consideration of £50,000 equals £175,000, then stamp duty is payable.

Will you become a freeholder when you fully staircase?

This depends entirely on the specific lease conditions in your contract. For a flat, the property stays leasehold. For a house, it's highly likely that you'll become a freeholder (NB, 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.

*Fixed Fee – No Sale No Fee – On all Major Lender Panels


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