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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Ballymena couple recommend ‘Rent to Own’ scheme as smart start move to home ownership

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

Pamela and Mark Surgenor with their daughters Bella aged 5 and Bonnie aged 3.

Pictured is Pamela and Mark Surgenor with their daughters Bella aged 5 and Bonnie aged 3.


A Ballymena couple have found a helping hand onto the property ladder and purchased their own family home through the unique 'Rent to Own' scheme which was launched by Co-Ownership in 2016 with funding from the Department for Communities.


Since the scheme launched, three out of four tenants have gone on to become homeowners, either with Co-Ownership’s shared ownership product Co-Own, or exclusively with a mortgage lender.



Rent to Own is available across Northern Ireland to those who need support to improve their ‘mortgagability’ and address barriers such affordability, employment status, or credit rating.


Applicants choose a new build property anywhere in Northern Ireland up to the value of £190,000. Rent to Own purchases the property on their behalf, renting it back to them at a market rate over three years.


During this period, tenants can improve their ‘mortgage-ability’ and at the end of the tenancy receive a 20 per cent refund on the rent paid to use as a mortgage deposit.



Pamela and Mark Surgenor, from Ballymena, successfully applied to Rent to Own in 2016. Both were starting out their careers as teachers and were yet to secure permanent employment – one criterion then required by lenders to approve mortgage applications.


Mark Surgenor, Pamela Surgenor, Bonnie Surgenor aged 3, Bella Surgenor aged 5 and Charles O’Neill, Director of Product Development at Co-Ownership.

Pictured L-R is Mark Surgenor, Pamela Surgenor, Bonnie Surgenor aged 3, Bella Surgenor aged 5 and Charles O’Neill, Director of Product Development at Co-Ownership.


Pamela said:


“My husband Mark and I had just got married and as we were both in temporary teaching roles we couldn’t get approved for a mortgage. We applied in March 2016 and were thrilled to be accepted – within six months we received the keys to our brand-new home.


“We were able to choose an area where we both wanted to live and start a family. After three years of renting the property from Co-Ownership, and two permanent jobs and two children later, we were in the position to purchase the home as we had a healthy deposit when we received 20 per cent of our rental payments back.



"It was the start we needed at the time and looking back, I’m not sure we would be in the position we’re in now were it not for Co-Ownership’s support.”


Many Rent to Own customers choose to buy their home with Co-Own – Northern Ireland’s shared ownership product -which helps people buy the share of the home they can afford,between 50 per cent and 90 per cent, through a mortgage lender. Co-Ownership covers the remaining share. As they become able to, co-owners increase their share bit-by-bit until they own all of their home.


Charles O’Neill, Director of Product Development at Co-Ownership, explains that in recent years there has been more demand for alternative routes to home ownership.



He said:


“In Northern Ireland many people aspire to become homeowners but may not be able to meet the criteria set by mortgage lenders. Our vision is to help as many people as possible into home ownership, and we develop and provide alternative and affordable routes to achieve this.


"We continue to be motivated by the fact that home ownership has a hugely positive benefit on society and since 1978 we’ve supported more than 32,000 people to become homeowners. We’re tremendously proud of the success of Rent to Own, and in today’s climate, with property prices high and the cost-of-living impacting affordability, we’re more motivated than ever to continue to bring more solutions to the market.”


For more information visit www.co-ownership.org

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