Publication - Advice and guidance

Open Market Shared Equity (OMSE) administrative procedures: 2014

Published: 18 Jul 2014

Provides detailed operational guidance for agents who administer the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government. Now superseded.

Open Market Shared Equity (OMSE) administrative procedures: 2014
Section Two

Section Two

Assessing, approving and paying grant

2.1 This section describes the procedures which Registered Social Landlords must follow when assessing, approving and paying grant under the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme.

Standard application form

2.2 Registered Social Landlords must issue the standard application form at Annexe C to applicants to the scheme. The only amendment that Registered Social Landlords must make to the form before issue is to the areas listed in Part 1, question 1. Individual Registered Social Landlords must make sure that the form they use only specifies the areas where that Registered Social Landlord is administering the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme.

2.3 If incomplete forms are returned, Registered Social Landlords must ask applicants to provide any missing information before the application is assessed. Applicants must be made aware that their application will not be considered until all the necessary information is supplied.

Initial assessment

2.4 Registered Social Landlords must use the guidance set out in Annexe C to assess the level of resources that an applicant is able to put towards the purchase. Once verified, the 'agreed' level of resources should be expressed as a percentage of the relevant maximum price ceiling for the size of property that the applicant would be entitled to buy in the area of their choice. If the percentage is at or below 90 per cent of the maximum price ceiling, the applicant may be entitled to receive a 'passport' to look for a property (see section 2.1 above). Annexe D contains the standard form of passport letter that Registered Social Landlords must issue to applicants.

Passport letter

2.5 The passport letter gives applicants 12 weeks from the date of issue to search for a property and to have an offer to purchase accepted. However the date of entry can be a later date subject to entry being taken before the end of each current financial year.

2.6 The passport letter must clearly record the size of property that an applicant can search for. Applicants will not be allowed to buy a home which is more than one apartment size larger than their current need [1] , unless there are exceptional reasons - for example due to disability or family breakdown. Applicants will not be allowed to buy a larger home even if the value of the property is within the threshold prices set out in their passport letter . This means that ordinarily a single person household will be entitled to buy a three apartment property, as will a couple. A three person household will be entitled to buy a four apartment property, a four person household a five apartment property and so on.

2.7 In the case of someone with particular housing needs arising from a disability, professional advice should be sought to determine any need for larger accommodation over and above this limit. In the case of family breakdown, the number of people in the household may include children who only spend part of the time in the property due to parental shared access. Evidence would need to be provided, however, to demonstrate the need for larger accommodation in such cases.

2.8 The passport letter must also record the price of property that an applicant can search for in their area of choice (expressed as a range). Maximum price ceilings for 2 apartment to 6 apartment properties in different areas are published on the Scottish Government's website and will be updated as necessary - Annexe E shows the maximum price ceilings as at 2010. Applicants cannot buy a property that costs more than the published maximum price ceiling for their needs in the area in which they wish to buy. The only exception to this is in the case of priority groups or applicants with particular housing needs arising from disability where additional flexibility can be applied to the price of properties that can be purchased.

2.9 Registered Social Landlords must ensure that each passport letter they issue is recorded in their standard monthly report to the Scottish Government (see section 6).

Property check

2.10 If an applicant finds a property, the Registered Social Landlord must:

  • check that it is within their area of operation and whether the golden share will apply;
  • check the schedule of sale to see if the size of the property is within the guidelines set out above and, if this is the case, check that the independent valuation, whether under a Home Report [2] 2 or where necessary under a valuation obtained by the purchaser from an independent professionally qualified valuer who is registered with the RICS, is within the relevant maximum price ceiling;
  • check that the requirements of the grant offer in connection with the valuation are met in every case.
  • check the level of financial contribution that the applicant can put towards the purchase (against the criteria set out in Annexe C); and
  • check that the level of equity stake that the applicant can afford is within acceptable limits - normally between 60 per cent to 90 per cent of the valuation for Open Market Shared Equity.

Property purchase

2.11 If the application complies with the above criteria, the Registered Social Landlord should let the applicant know that they can proceed to instruct their solicitor to issue a formal offer to purchase. At the same time, the Registered Social Landlord should liaise with Scottish Government Solicitors in terms of template correspondence to ensure that the matter progresses in an orderly manner. The purchase log form (see Annexe H) should at that time be e-mailed to the applicant's solicitor.

2.12 The instruction letter which the Registered Social Landlord issues to the applicant records the amount of grant which the Scottish Ministers will be contributing towards the purchase price, and the corresponding equity stake that the Scottish Ministers will have in the property.

2.13 Annexe C shows how these sums must be calculated and the methodology set out therein must be followed for each purchase through the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme.

Standard styles of legal documentation

2.14 Annexe A contains the standard styles of legal documentation that must be used when operating the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme. These are:

  • Standing Instructions that Registered Social Landlords must complete and send to solicitors acting for applicants; and a copy Purchase Log Form (set out in Annexe H) should be sent along with a copy of the Standing Instructions. A copy of the purchase log form must be completed by the purchaser's solicitor and returned to the Registered Social Landlord prior to completion.
  • Minutes of Agreement ('Shared Equity Agreement') - these documents set out the basic arrangement between the owner and the Scottish Ministers. There are two versions - one where the Scottish Ministers are not retaining a Golden Share and one where they are ;
  • a Standard Security - this document sets out the legal right to enforce the Shared Equity Agreement by re-possessing the property if the owner is in default; and
  • a Ranking Agreement - this document sets out the relationship between the owner, the Scottish Ministers and the primary lender who has a security over the property.

2.15 Following discussions with the Law Society of Scotland, it has been agreed that applicants and Scottish Ministers should be separately advised in connection with the Shared Equity Agreement, the Ranking Agreement, and the form of the Standard Security. However, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of legal work, the applicant's solicitor will be asked to carry out all necessary title and property due diligence on the Scottish Ministers' behalf. Annexe A therefore contains standing instructions to solicitors acting for applicants in connection with the completion of the Standard Security in favour of the Scottish Ministers together with style certificate of title to be provided. Registered Social Landlords should ensure that any matters reported to them by the purchaser's solicitors are appropriately and properly dealt with having regard to the terms of paragraphs 52 and 53 of the Standing Instructions. This includes ensuring that the matter has been reported in similar terms to the primary lender. Settlement must not take place unless the certificate of title has been received by the Registered Social Landlord.

2.16 Authorised officials of the Scottish Government Housing Supply Division must sign every Minute of Agreement and Ranking Agreement on behalf of the Scottish Ministers. This will be dealt with by Scottish Government Solicitors who will liaise with Registered Social Landlords as required.

2.17 The standing instructions to solicitors acting for applicants set out provisions for the payment of fees (paragraph 56 of the standing instructions). The applicant's solicitor must attend to the registration of the Standard Security and Ranking Agreement whilst Scottish Government Solicitors will deal with the registration of the Shared Equity Agreement in the Books of Council and Session.

Grant payment

Registered Social

2.18 Claims for Grant should normally be submitted once a week on the electronic version of Appendix F, which is included as a paper document for information only. The Grant Claim Form should itemise all sales that are due to complete in the week after next. It should be attached to an email originating from a recognised email address within the claimant's organisation. Electronic claim forms (in Microsoft Excel format) are available from which is also where completed claims should be sent. Please send a copy of the grant claim form to the relevant Scottish Government Housing Supply Division official and to

2.19 Registered Social Landlords should note that it is not necessary for them to wait until the applicant's solicitors have submitted their Certificate of Title before the Grant Payment Form is submitted by the Registered Social Landlords to Scottish Government. Administering Agents should be aiming to submit their grant claim forms at the earliest opportunity in advance of the anticipated completion date to ensure that the funds will be released by Scottish Government and made available in time for the proposed settlement date, having regard to the timescales which apply within Scottish Government for processing and making payments.

2.20 Release of funds to the applicant's solicitor must not take place unless (1) the Certificate of Title has been received and (2) the Registered Social Landlords has received confirmation from Harper Macleod that all necessary documents are satisfactorily in place. The Registered Social Landlord will agree with the purchaser's solicitors a settlement date.

2.21 All claims for the grant must be signed by a signatory approved by the Registered Social Landlord's management committee or other governing body.

2.22 Registered Social Landlords must return a completed purchase log form (see Annexe H) to the Scottish Government.


2.23 The Registered Social Landlord must ensure that the form at Annexe G is submitted to the Scottish Government within seven days of the date of settlement. The Registered Social Landlord must also ensure that the property purchase is recorded in its monthly report to the Scottish Government (see section 6).