Applicant criteria

Criteria as at 25th March 2024

Before you apply it’s important that you check out our criteria and make sure that you meet it. Once you apply, the first stage of your application fee, £100, will be charged and is non-refundable.

AgeAll applicants must be 55 or over to apply.
Residency statusYou must be resident in NI at time of application. You may be asked to provide evidence that you have adequate right to reside in Northern Ireland. You must live in the property as your only residence.
HomeownerYou do not need to be a homeowner now or have been one in the past to be eligible for Co-Own for Over 55s.

You can apply for Over 55s if you own the home which you currently reside in (which must be in Northern Ireland) and you intend to sell this at the same time as completing the purchase of your home through the Over 55s product.

If you plan to submit a joint application and both applicants have a property to sell, one property should be sold before your application is submitted. We can only accept one existing property per application.

You can’t apply for Over 55s if you currently own additional property which includes owning property or land, including commercial, or being named on any property, in Northern Ireland or elsewhere.

We may consider you if you have been or are a co-owner if you meet our qualifying criteria. We may take into account how your Co-Own property was or is managed and maintained, whether you kept or are keeping to (i) the terms of the equity sharing lease (including the payment of rent) and (ii) any other arrangements you had or have with Co-Ownership.

Who should applyJoint applicants – if you are married, civil partners, or couples living together or intending to live together in your new home, then you must apply together.

Single applicant – if you are applying on your own, we would expect that you don’t have joint accounts or joint finances with anyone else.

OccupiersPlease let us know the names of anyone who will be living in your new home with you, the applicant(s).
Income affordabilityWe take a decision after looking at all the evidence and assessing whether you can afford the purchase in the long term, based on your disposable income.

We cannot support applications from people who can afford to buy the property without our help because of their level of savings and/or income.

Your contributionYour contribution to the purchase of a property through Co-Own for Over 55s can be funded by savings and /or the proceeds of the sale of your current home or other assets. You may also use money that has been gifted to you to make up all or part of your equity. With the application, you must provide confirmation from the person making the gift, stating the amount and purpose.  You must be able to fund at least 50% of the property you wish to purchase.
SavingsYou can keep up to £26,000 in savings or housing equity. Anything above this must be put towards your contribution for the Co-Own for Over 55s home. Savings would include:

  • cash
  • National Savings certificates, premium bonds
  • stocks and shares
  • money in any bank or building society accounts, trust funds
  • other substantial assets

If you are selling your current home, you may allow £5,000 from the sale proceeds for sale expenses.

Outstanding property debtYou must not have any debt to any third party which was secured on a previous home. This does not include any mortgage finance which you may have on your current home.
OutgoingsYou must give full details of any monthly outgoings you have. These could include loans, credit/store cards, mail order, childcare maintenance, and other outgoings.
Previous relationshipsYou must have concluded any settlement arrangements from all previous relationships prior to submitting an application.
Credit AssessmentWhen you apply to Co-Own for Over 55s we will perform a full credit assessment to determine your affordability. Part of this assessment is to look at your credit file, not your score, using the Experian credit reference agency. We will look at your credit history which will include things like, if you have any credit cards or loans, the amounts of these, your repayments of these, and if you have any missed or late payments.

Your credit history shows how you have managed your credit up to now and is taken into account as part of our decision. We recommend you get a copy of your credit report before applying and check it. If you have a query about an entry on your credit report this must be shown as resolved before you apply.

Things that will affect your credit assessment include, but are not limited to:

  • The level of credit commitments that you have
  • Any late/missed payments
  • Any defaults
  • Court judgements, bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs).
Future borrowingYou will not be able to use your Co-Own for Over 55s home now or in the future as security for any mortgage or loan.
Debt managementBefore making an application to Co-Own for Over 55s, any of the following arrangements must have been settled (and be shown as settled on your credit file) for the stated period:

  • Debt Relief Orders – 6 years
  • Bankruptcy – 6 years
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangement – 6 years
  • Payday Loans & Home Credit (or equivalent products) – 12 months
  • Money Judgements – 12 months

The following arrangements also need to have been settled and will affect your credit score:

  • Debt Management Plans
  • Defaults
  • Missed or late payments

If you have had a minor default/debt management plan within the last 12 months we will take this into account in your credit assessment. If however the default(s)/debt management plan involved a higher balance or there were multiple defaults/debt management plans you must wait for 12 months after the last of these has been noted as settled on your credit file before making an application.

If you have had a missed or late payment within the last 12 months we will take this into account in your credit assessment. If however you have regular missed and/or late payments you must have 12 months clear payment history on the account.
Just remember that you can have no adverse credit at the time of making an Over 55s application.

Managing your bank accountWe will review 3 months bank statements as part of the application. If these show any unauthorised overdrafts, returned Direct Debits, or bank charges for unauthorised usage, you will not be eligible for Co-Own for Over 55s.

If you are heavily reliant on credit or an overdraft to pay your household costs and other outgoings, you may not be eligible for Over 55s.

EmploymentIt’s not necessary to have a job to be eligible for Co-Own for Over 55s. If you do have a job for it to be taken into account, in terms of affordability, the following types of employment are acceptable and lengths of employment are acceptable:

  • Permanent – normally 6 months plus
  • Fixed term – 12 months plus
  • Temporary – 12 months plus
  • Zero hours contract – 12 months plus
  • Self Employed – see Income section below

You must not be under notice of termination of employment or redundancy. If your position has changed from e.g. fixed term or temporary to permanent we may take this into account.

  • You must declare all income for the household at the time of application. We require evidence of the amount and nature of all income.
  • We require payslips for at least the last 3 months of employment (if applicable).
  • If you’re self-employed (for it to be taken into account in terms of affordability) you’ll need to provide SA302 summaries in Northern Ireland for the last full year and also the full tax return for your latest SA302. You will also need to have been trading with no breaks for at least the last 3 months. In addition, company directors must provide 3 months’ payslips. If you have experienced a significant change in your income/company income in the last 12 months we may not be able to support your application. You should contact us before applying to help us understand your current situation. We may require further information such as your last 3 months business bank statements.
  • We may accept income from more than one employment. Our general criteria apply to all jobs.
  • We accept income earned from overtime, bonuses, commission and allowances up to 50% where sustainable.
Other income
  • Pension – both private and state pensions
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit – for up to 2 children in the household if they are aged 14 and under at the time of application
  • Pension Credit
  • Employment And Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Child Benefit – for up to 2 children in the household if they are aged 14 or under at the time of application.
  • Universal Credit – can consider child and disability elements (if available).
  • Maintenance – we may accept maintenance payments from a former partner for up to 2 children in the household aged 14 or under at the time of application. This may be a private arrangement or court approved. You must provide evidence of the amount and payment history.
  • Carers Allowance
  • Foster Income

Sorry but we do not accept Housing Benefit as other income.

Lifestyle, spending decisionsAll applicants must prove they have been able to afford their current lifestyle. They must also prove they will be able to afford the commitment of owning their home through Co-Own for Over 55s from their current disposable income.
Applicant informationAll application information must be correct and true. Any fraudulent, false or misleading information, statements or omissions in respect of an application may be sufficient grounds for the application being cancelled. For further information see the Co-Own for Over 55s Terms & Conditions (Declarations) on our website.
Previous applicationsPreviously declined applicants can’t apply until 3 months have passed from the date they were told of an unsuccessful application. However, any fraudulent, false or misleading information or omissions in respect of an application or a vexatious application will mean that an applicant will not be able to make another application for any of Co-Ownership’s products for 12 months from the date of cancellation of the application.

Please remember that you will be charged for a new assessment when you apply again, so be sure to check that you meet all the criteria before submitting a new application.

Change in circumstancesIf your circumstances change at any stage during an application you must let us know about this. We will review your circumstances. This may result in your application being revised or withdrawn.
RetirementWe understand many of our Co-Own for Over 55s customers will already be retired. However, if you are not retired when you submit your application but are planning to retire or take voluntary redundancy within 12 months of the date of application you must let us know. We will review your circumstances and anticipated changes to income or capital to assess your suitability.
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