Many expats, like myself, live in the UK. Once you feel settled into the country and start making long-term plans, eventually you might want to purchase your own home. However, can you apply to purchase a property in the UK if you are on an EEA Family Permit?
The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – it depends on how long you have left on your visa. For those are unfamiliar with the EEA2 Family Permit, it’s a 5 year residence card which allows non-European Union citizens who are family members or extended family members of European Union (EU) citizens to live in the UK.
I first qualified for my EEA2 Family Permit in November 2011. Via a mortgage broker, I purchased my house in London with my French partner (now husband) on November 2013 without any issues. However, when we tried to purchase another investment property in November 2015, my mortgage application got declined by the bank as my visa was, at the time, expiring in 11 months.
To overcome this issue, my mortgage broker told me that I had two options:
1) Renew my EEA2 Family Permit once the 5 year period had expired, or
2) Apply for my UK permanent residency after I had lived in the UK for 5 consecutive years.
Additionally, my broker advised that we should wait until our one year fixed mortgage interest rate had passed so we would not incur any large fees for breaking the mortgage term early. After this, I can be added as a joint owner on the the title deed by a solicitor – for a fee, of course. The calculation of this fee is dependent on the original purchase price of the property.
Furthermore, we would also have to reapply for a new loan from the (same) bank to add my name on the mortgage contract. This means the bank needs to access if I am eligible for the loan as a joint owner by assessing my credit rating, personal savings and employment status.
Additional stamp duty fees may also have to be paid if new owners are added to the mortgage contract. This amount is dependent on the original purchase price of the property. Your solicitor can advise you of any stamp duty owed.
Remember, paying a share of the deposit does not legally make you a joint property owner if your name is not on the mortgage contract and title deed
Remember, even if you are an EEA family permit holder with rights to live in the UK, and have paid for part of the deposit with your partner, friend or family member, you don’t legally own the property if your name is not the mortgage contract and title deed. Despite being clearly aware of this, I still decided to purchase one of our apartments with my partner as we, at the time, were planning to get married (we are married now) I believe this is a decision you can only make for yourself.
To help safeguard your deposit if your name is not listed on the mortgage contract and title deed, you can get a solicitor to form a contract between you and your partner, friend or family member which states how your share of the deposit and any potential capital gain will be divided if a future dispute arises.
Laws will change when the UK officially leaves the European Union (EU)
Note that at the time of writing, the UK has not yet officially left the European Union (EU). Once the UK leaves the EU, a whole set of new immigration rules and visas will be introduced so make sure you consult with a solicitor and/or broker for the most up-to-date details.
Please note, though I own a few properties, I am not a legal, financial or professional property expert. I’ve written this post to share my personal experiences and would love to hear your opinions and views.
So, what have been your experiences with purchasing a property in the UK whilst on an EEA visa?
Sign up for more weekly property investment tips