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Northern Irish property system

Learn about the basics of how to buy a home in Northern Ireland, from schemes for first-time buyers to stamp duty charges.

In this article
First-time buyer schemes Leasehold properties in Northern Ireland
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 look 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

While Help to Buy equity loans aren't available in Northern Ireland, there are a couple of schemes that could help you get onto the property ladder. 


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: are you ready to buy your first home?

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. 

Since December 2014, these rates have been tiered, just like income tax, meaning you pay different rates on different portions of the property price.

If you are buying a home you intend to live in as your primary residence and have owned a property before, 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.

First-time buyers buying a property for £500,000 or under are exempt from paying any stamp duty on the first £300,000, and pay 5% on any portion of the property price that's between £300,000 and £500,000.

If you're buying your first home but it costs more than £500,000, you'll pay the same rates as home movers.

Those buying second homes or buy-to-let properties will be subject to a 3% surcharge on each tier of stamp duty.

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

More on Scottish And Northern Irish Property Systems