belfast city centre

Northern Irish property system

  • See what the process is for buying a house in Northern Ireland
  • Find out what schemes are available to first-time buyers
  • Discover what buying a leasehold property means
  • Read about stamp duty in Northern Ireland

Most elements of the Northern Irish property system are the same as in other parts of the UK, so it's worth taking a loot at our buying a house section for all our advice. 

But some of the schemes and regulations are different, so we have laid out what you will need to be aware of when buying a house in Northern Ireland.  

First-time buyer schemes

Although there is no Help to Buy equity loans scheme available in Northern Ireland to help first-time buyers and those on low incomes, those eligible can get a Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, which is essentially a normal mortgage, but with a guarantee from the government. This only applies to properties costing less than £600,000.

There are also a couple of alternatives that could help you get onto the Northern Irish property ladder. 

Co-ownership

Co-ownership allows you to part own, part rent a property. You can purchase between 50% and 90% of the property from the outset, and the scheme allows you to increase your ownership share in portions of 5% at a time.

The properties available to buy through this scheme are set within certain value limits by local councils. The maximum cost of property you can buy through co-ownership is capped at £175,000. Housing executive or housing association residencies are not included in the scheme.  

You can apply to buy a house using co-ownership through an estate agent or the Northern Ireland Co-ownership Housing Association (NICHA).

You can expect to pay around £400 in legal fees if you purchase via this scheme.

Right to buy 

Called the Statutory House Sales Scheme, tenants of a local authority, a housing association or housing executive usually have a right to buy their home after living in it for five years and a discount will be applied to the purchase price.

Up to four people can buy together if they have been living there for 12 months. It may also be possible to buy part of your home, as this scheme has been extended to include equity sharing. 

Find out more: First-time buyer mortgages - tips to help you decide whether you're ready to buy a house

Leasehold properties in Northern Ireland

If you buy a leasehold property, you'll have to pay an annual ground rent charge to the freeholder, which is typical in other parts if the UK, too. 

However, you will have the option to buy out the freeholder via an application to Land & Property Services.   

The cost of buying out the freeholder will be nine times your annual ground rent, plus an administration fee. 

Find out more: What are leasehold and freehold? - our short video explains all 

Stamp duty in Northern Ireland

Stamp duty rates in Northern Ireland are currently the same as in England and Wales. 

Since December 2014, these rates have been tiered, just like income tax. 

You won't pay any stamp duty on the first £125,000. You’ll pay 2% on the portion up to £250,000 and 5% on the portion up to £925,000. Between £925,000 and £1.5m, you'll pay 10%. You'll pay 12% stamp duty on anything over £1.5m.

Find out more: Stamp duty calculator - work out how much stamp duty you'll pay on your new property

More on this... 

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.