LIFT for Local Authority and Housing Association Tenants
Want to buy a home on the open market but don’t think you can afford the full price? The LIFT (Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers) scheme could help.
Covid-19: Shared Equity Schemes operated by Link on behalf of the Scottish Government remain open, with staff working from home. Please check this web page regularly for updates.
If you are a local authority or housing association tenant, you could be eligible for up to 40% towards the cost of buying a home you have chosen, through the Scottish Government’s LIFT Open Market Shared Equity scheme.
The LIFT Open Market Shared Equity scheme has helped over 13,000 people to buy their own home since 2005.
LIFT helped us buy our first home. Council rent was £416 a month, mortgage is £230 a month! We will be able to pay more mortgage off, repay government money back, and own our own home.Kevin, LIFT scheme buyer
The Scottish Government contributes between 10% and 40% towards the price of a home you have chosen on the open market. For example, if you find a home for £100,000 and can afford to contribute £70,000 (through mortgage and deposit) as your share, the Scottish Government could provide the remaining 30% (£30,000). When the property is sold, 30% of the sale price would be returned to the Scottish Government.
In most areas you can increase your equity share to 100% over time if you choose to do so.
The Scottish Government’s contribution depends on the amount of mortgage you can get compared to the value of the property that meets your needs. Size and price thresholds apply.
When you buy through a shared equity scheme, you own the property outright. Find out more about shared equity.
Who is eligible?
As a social tenant, you have priority access to the LIFT Open Market Shared Equity Scheme which is open to the following groups:
- First-time buyers
- Social renters (tenants of a Local Authority or Housing Association)
- People with a disability who can demonstrate a housing need
- Members of the armed forces
- Veterans who have left the armed forces within the past two years
- Widows, widowers and other partners of service personnel whose partner has lost their life while serving in the armed forces within the last two years
- People aged over 60 who can demonstrate a housing need
If you can raise more than 90% of the value of the property, you will not be eligible for the scheme.
There is a similar scheme for applicants aged over 60.
- Over 60s
If you are aged over 60, and can demonstrate at least one of the following criteria, you can apply to the LIFT open market shared equity scheme. • You are living in a property that is too large and need to downsize. • You need to move closer to family or friends to receive care and support. • Your existing property is no longer suitable to meet your needs e.g. you can no longer manage the stairs. There is no requirement to take out a mortgage if you are aged over 60, but you must contribute as much as you can afford and a minimum of 60% towards the purchase price.
How do I apply?
Submit an online application to find out if you are eligible for the LIFT scheme.
We recommend that you speak with an Independent Financial Advisor or Mortgage Advisor before applying to the scheme as you are required to provide a Mortgage Promise or Mortgage Agreement in Principle along with your application.
If your application is eligible, you will be issued with a Passport Letter, which is valid for 12 weeks to give you time to find a suitable property.
Not ready to apply? Sign up for the LIFT mailing list to receive additional information on the scheme, including the maximum purchase price for a property in your area, via email.
What size and price of property can I buy?
Properties must be advertised for sale on the open market and be:
- Priced within the maximum threshold for the Local Authority area, and
- The correct size for your household.
A family of four (two parents and two children) could be entitled to buy up to a four-bedroom property (that is, five apartments including living/dining rooms). Check the size and price thresholds for your area here:
Advertised on the ‘open market’ means that the property has been advertised publicly e.g. on an Estate Agent's website or a social media site.
Once your application has been approved and you have found a home you would like to buy, simply send us the details we will assess whether the property meets the scheme criteria.
Frequently asked questions
Do you have a question about using the LIFT scheme? Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do I need a deposit to buy a property through the LIFT scheme?
You are likely to require a deposit when buying through the LIFT scheme, however, this is usually less than the deposit required when buying without the help of a shared equity scheme. The amount of deposit required will vary depending upon the lender and mortgage product. There may be some lenders or credit unions who do not require a deposit, so it is worth finding out what all of your options are.
- How much does an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) cost?
Many IFA's do not charge for their services so it is worth shopping around to find someone who does not charge and who has experience of using a shared equity scheme.
- I am not a first-time buyer, can I still apply?
Yes. The LIFT scheme was created to help first-time buyers; however, you can still apply if you are in one of the following priority groups: current social tenants, members of the armed forces, armed forces personnel who have left the Services within the last 2 years, those aged over 60 who can demonstrate a need to move, or those with a disability who have a need to move to more suitable accommodation.
- Can I apply with a Guarantor mortgage?
Yes. However, you must advise your lender that you are applying to a shared equity scheme as all lenders will have their own criteria.
- Is every applicant eligible for the maximum 40% funding?
No. The Scottish Government will pay the shortfall between your minimum contribution and the purchase price of the property, this will be between 10-40% of the purchase price. When you apply to the scheme your minimum contribution will be calculated based on your income, savings and the level of mortgage you can obtain.
- Is there an option to buy the property I currently live in?
If you are currently renting through a Local Authority or Housing Association you will not be able to buy the home you are living in through the LIFT scheme.
If you are private renting, you may be eligible to buy the home you are living in as long as the property is advertised for sale on the open market and it falls within the threshold prices set for that local authority area. Threshold prices can be found here.
- I am on a waiting list for a Local Authority property, does this mean I qualify?
No, you have a social rented tenancy (Scottish Secure Tenancy) to be eligible for the LIFT scheme.
- I am living in Local Authority temporary accommodation, can I apply as a priority group?
No, to qualify for priority access to the scheme you must be a permanent Local Authority or Housing Association tenant.
- I am renting a mid-market rented property from a Housing Association, does that give me priority?
No, mid-market rent tenancies are Private Residential Tenancies. To qualify for priority access you require a Scottish Secure Tenancy. However, you can still apply to the scheme if you are a first-time buyer or are in one of the other priority groups.
For more information about the LIFT Open Market Shared Equity scheme, please read the Buyers’ Information Guide, join our LIFT mailing list or contact us at email@example.com or 0330 303 0125. You can also check the Scottish Government’s website.