Routes to outright ownership 

This page gives a technical overview of the different ways of buying a place outright.
Most of the leaflets in our series on how disabled people can buy housing deal with one specific method. This leaflet provides an overview of the different ways to outright ownership.

The ways of becoming an outright owner include:

  • Direct inheritance of family home usually on demise of surviving parent
  • A family purchase a property during their lifetime and then give it to son/ daughter
  • Purchase outright using Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) up to a maximum loan of £200,000
  • On death of parent or other relative the estate left is sufficient to purchase a suitable property
  • Someone able to earn a reasonable, regular income takes out a mortgage and buys a property in the normal way possibly in conjunction with a gift or inheritance.

In addition to outright ownership someone with a learning disability may become:

  • A shared owner
  • A joint owner.
(There are separate factsheets on these.)

How to access

Buying or inheriting a property is normally driven by the circumstances of the individual and their family.

The key exception is using SMI (see separate leaflet). In the latter case although in theory a loan up to £200,000 is possible in practice mortgages available are much less at present and seldom go much beyond £100,000. Adult Social Care and/ or Supporting People will usually need to agree this route to housing where they will ultimately be responsible for funding care or support in the individualís own home.

Being an owner in no way disqualifies the disabled person for this help. They should be assessed under Fair Access to Care alongside any other disabled person.

Pros and cons


  • All the same benefits as any other owner including control, choice, self-esteem and status. Possible appreciation in value. Most options provide choice now and in the future
  • Can live as wish – share or not
  • Best security of tenure
  • Can adapt and tailor property to requirements and wishes. No constraints set by landlord as in for example rented or shared ownership housing.


  • Not eligible for housing benefit as not paying any rent, consequently no financial assistance with maintaining and repairing property as would be in rented or most shared ownership situations
  • Responsibilities of ownership
  • Have to deal with complexity of purchase (unless gift or inheritance) as well as organising on-going maintenance and repair – including being able to contract for these
  • Some options require an amount of cash to meet legal, valuation costs of moving and similar fees
  • Support for Mortgage Interest is not a guaranteed source of income and can be subject to change. It is important that further advice is taken from your benefit advisor and/or financial advisor.

How the money works

This will depend on which of the routes to ownership is followed. If property is gifted or inherited as a definite plan by the family, ideally some thought should also be given as to how long-term maintenance and repairs will be organised and funded.

Two possibilities are:

  1. To put an additional sum aside probably in a Discretionary Trust to meet these future costs
  2. If acceptable sublet one or more rooms or part of the property producing an income. This could be to another person with a learning disability but does not have to be.
Note: in some circumstances a Disabled Facilities Grant or other grants for repairs and adaptations may be available. Support for Mortgage Interest (see separate leaflet) can occasionally also be used for repairs.

Other issues

It is clear there is a wide range of possibilities. How practical each is will depend on the individuals and their families (or other relatives) circumstances. The series of leaflets does not deal with every single possibility. Some choices would apply to only a few people. A book Ownership Options (forthcoming) to be published by Housing Options with the support of the DH may be a useful further reference or consult a solicitor for further advice.

Mencap may also be able to offer some guidance particularly in relation to inheritance and Discretionary Trusts.

Note that:

  • Legal capacity is not required to inherit property as no contract is involved
  • Property can be inherited directly, it may however be better in some circumstances to put the property in a Discretionary Trust (see separate leaflet).
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Learning Disability England
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Learning Disability England
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