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Is equity release safe?

All of our plans meet the Equity Release Council standards and come with several assurances, including the No Negative Equity Guarantee

Am I eligible?

You could be eligible if you're:
  • A UK homeowner aged 55+
  • With a property worth £70,000+
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When considering equity release, it's natural to have questions like, "Is equity release safe?".

Watch our video to find out about the safeguards and protections Key lifetime mortgages come with.

You can also read our guide below for more information to help make a decision that's right for you.

What is equity release?

Equity release is a way for homeowners aged 55+ with a property valued at a minimum of £70,000 to release some of the tax-free funds from their home.

Equity release can play an important role in helping you take control of your later life finances.

There are two types of equity release: lifetime mortgages, and home reversions. All our equity release advice relates to Key lifetime mortgages only - a loan secured against your home.


When it comes to equity release, we all have questions.

What, for instance, is it exactly?
Equity release is a way for homeowners over 55, whose property is worth at least £70,000, to release tax-free cash from their homes. It is an increasingly popular way for people in, or approaching, retirement to boost their finances.

And will we still own our home?
Yes – and with Key’s plans you can stay in it for as long as you like.

Will we have to make monthly repayments?
No, not unless you want to. The loan, plus rolled-up interest, will be paid back when your plan comes to an end.

Could our family inherit the debt?
No – all of Key's plans come with a ‘no negative equity’ guarantee, so you’ll never owe more than your home is worth and there’ll never be a debt for your family to take on.

How much can we release?
This depends on your age, how much your house is worth and your general health. On average, Key customers have had access to £90,000.

What do people usually use the money for?
Key customers spend the tax-free cash on many different things, such as repaying existing debts, travel and home improvements.

So, what’s different about Key?
Because Key takes a personal and honest approach to equity release, it's good to know we can answer all your questions in a way that's right for you. By ordering our free expert guide, using our free online calculator, or by calling us.

Key - equity release that’s right for you.

Equity release benefits

Your specialist equity release adviser will explain:

  • You can unlock cash from your home, tax-free, to help meet your needs in later life
  • You’ll always retain full ownership of your home and can stay in it for as long as you wish with a Key lifetime mortgage
  • You can choose to make reduced or no monthly repayments to suit your circumstances
  • You’ll never owe more than your home’s worth with a Key lifetime mortgage
  • You may be able to remortgage your plan in the future to release further funds or secure a better interest rate, although this isn’t guaranteed and may be subject to early repayment charges

Potential drawbacks

Your equity release adviser will also outline the following important things to think about:

  • A lifetime mortgage is a loan secured against your home and subject to compound interest, meaning the amount you owe can grow quickly
  • Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits
  • Equity release may leave you with limited or no property equity remaining
  • Equity release will reduce your financial options in the future
  • A lifetime mortgage is a long-term financial product and is not designed to be fully repaid until the death or entry into long-term care of the last remaining borrower, otherwise early repayment charges may apply

How safe is equity release?

When considering equity release, it's natural to have concerns about its safety. Equity release products come with a range of safeguards and protections and are fully regulated. However, it's crucial to thoroughly research and seek professional advice before proceeding with any equity release product to ensure it suits your specific needs and circumstances.

Our plans meet the Equity Release Council standards

All of our lifetime mortgages meet the Equity Release Council standards, meaning you'll:

  • Have the right to move to another property

If you do wish to move, you'll have the right to take your equity release plan with you to a new home, subject to criteria

  • Have the right to stay in your home for life

With a lifetime mortgage, you still own your home. With a home reversion plan, you are the beneficial owner. Both give you the right to stay in your home for life.

  • Never owe more than the value of your home
The No Negative Equity Guarantee means you’ll never owe more than your home’s worth, so any debt accrued through equity release can’t be passed on to your loved ones.

It's important to note that a lifetime mortgage may leave limited or no equity in your property and it will reduce your financial options in the future.

Back to "What's in this guide?"

What is the Equity Release Council?

The Equity Release Council was founded in 1991. It's a trade body which represents its members to ensure high standards of conduct within the equity release market.

The Equity Release Council's code of conduct is designed to protect consumers in some of the following ways:

  • You must receive advice

This includes specialist equity release advice and legal advice as part of your equity release journey

  • You must meet with a solicitor

All customers taking out an equity release plan must have at least one face-to-face meeting with an independent solicitor 

  • There must be interest rate options

For a lifetime mortgage, interest rates must be fixed or variable - if they're variable, there must be an upper limit which is set for the life of the loan

It's important to note that not all equity release providers are Equity Release Council members. You can find a list of all members, which includes Key, on its website.

Back to "What's in this guide?"

What are my equity release product options?

While a lifetime mortgage is like a traditional mortgage in some ways, there are some key differences which can help you take and stay in control of your loan.

Your expert equity release adviser will make sure you clearly understand every stage of the process, how each product works and how they could impact the financial future of you and your family. However, you should always think carefully before securing a loan against your property.

Your equity release adviser will get to know you and your financial circumstances. They'll discuss specific product features which may benefit you, including:

  • Typically no monthly repayments

With a lifetime mortgage, there are typically no monthly repayments to make. The loan, plus compound interest, is typically repaid through the sale of the property when the last remaining applicant passes away or moves into long-term care

  • Fixed interest rates for life

All our lifetime mortages have fixed interest rates, so you'll always know how your balance will change throughout the lifetime mortgage term

  • You have the option to repay early

You can make voluntary, ad-hoc payments between 10-12% of the initial amount that you borrowed each year - this reduces the size of the loan on which you're charged interest, meaning that you'll repay less overall

Other product options to consider

You have two options when it comes to a lifetime mortgage, which are based on how you need to access your tax-free funds. This helps you control and manage the interest you'll repay on the loan. You can choose between a lump sum lifetime mortage and a drawdown lifetime mortgage.

A lump sum lifetime mortgage allows you to unlock tax-free funds from your home in a single lump sum. You can use the money you release for a variety of purposes, but you'll pay interest on the full amount from the moment you release your funds. 

Drawdown plans are a specific type of lifetime mortgage. They give you the option of setting aside a sum of money to draw from in the future following an initial lump sum, should you need to. These plans can be used to reduce the overall cost of your equity release plan, as you only pay interest on the amount you release, and give you more flexibility - this could potentially save you thousands over the course of your lifetime mortgage.

Is equity release right for me?

Equity release is a big decision, so it’s important that you have all the facts. All of our advisers follow strict rules and guidelines, ensuring you receive the right recommendation for you. If equity release isn’t right for you, we’ll tell you.

Equity release helps thousands of homeowners across the UK take control of their finances, so that they can live the later life that they deserve.

Explore how Key could help you put the life in later life.

Request your free, comprehensive guide today.

Back to "What's in this guide?"

Why choose Key as your equity release adviser?

It's a regulatory requirement for anyone considering equity release to get specialist advice before taking out a plan. So why should you choose Key as your equity release company?

We're regulated experts

Key is regulated and a proud member of the Equity Release Council

Trusted award-winners

We've won 80+ awards and 17,000+ excellent Trustpilot reviews, making us the UK's most trusted equity-release specialist


Highly experienced

We have over 20 years' experience in helping more than a million over-55s with tailored equity release advice on later-life products. Our knowledge means that, once we've taken the time to understand your needs, we’ll have a sound idea of what the right plan is for you, and our fixed £1,299 advice fee is only payable on completion

Customer stories


ⓘ Did you know...

Over the years, more than a million customers have benefitted from our expert advice, experience and professionalism from Key. We've been rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot and you can check out the great things our customers have to say about our equity release plans.

All members of Key I spoke to were helpful and friendly, nothing was too much trouble for them

Ms Kane

"I recommend Key to anyone looking to take out equity from their home. My request went through very quickly, I already have my money and am starting to do the projects I wanted the money for. I am very pleased with the outcome and Key's staff."

I must say that Key were very helpful and understanding through the whole process

Mr Griggs

"We were put under no pressure to complete and constantly told that we could back out at any point prior to completion. They fully explained all of the Implications and costs of what we were thinking of doing. We had our own adviser who was patient with us and explained everything to us. So if you are thinking about equity release I would recommend Key."

We used Key to provide funds to upgrade parts of our house

Mr Dennison

"The Company were professional, supportive and explained the process very clearly. The meetings with Key which were conducted on Zoom were informative and friendly and at no time did we feel pressured. It was a positive experience. We would recommend Key to anybody considering equity release."
Rest assured, you’ll be in safe hands. We’re dedicated to giving you all the information needed so you can make an informed decision, in your own time. We’re here to help you via email or phone on 0808 252 9170.  Lines open 9am-8pm Monday-Thursday, 9am-5:30pm Friday and 9am-5pm Saturday.

Our calculator can help you find out if equity release could be the right option for you. It'll give you an idea of how much you could release and let's you check if your property could be eligible for a Key lifetime mortgage. 
Calculate now

Back to "What's in this guide?"

Frequently asked questions

Making the choice to access the value of your home through equity release is a big decision. We understand that you may still have some important questions. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions on the safety of equity release.

If you're wondering whether releasing equity is a good idea, it's important to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks. Releasing equity allows you to tap into the value of your property and access a significant amount of money that would otherwise remain tied up.

The additional funds you receive could be used in a variety of ways, such as home improvementspaying off existing debt, or boosting your retirement funds. Equity release could also give you flexibility, allowing you to choose between a lump sum or regular withdrawals, whichever suits your situation. One advantage is that there are typically no monthly repayments involved.

It's essential to research and seek professional advice to fully understand the implications and costs associated with releasing equity before making a decision.

One common question is whether you have to pay tax on equity release. In general, releasing equity from your home is tax-free, as it is not considered income. The lump sum or regular payments you receive are not subject to income tax. However, it's important to note that using the released funds for investment purposes may attract tax liabilities.

Additionally, releasing equity could impact means-tested benefits or any entitlements you currently receive. To gain an understanding of the tax implications specific to your situation, it is recommended to consult with a qualified tax adviser who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances.

When considering equity release, you may be concerned about how it could impact your inheritance and beneficiaries. It's important to understand that releasing equity from your home will reduce the value of your estate, potentially affecting the amount you can leave behind for your loved ones.

The amount of equity you release and any interest accrued will need to be repaid when the property is eventually sold. Typically after you pass away or move into long-term care.

It's important to carefully review the terms and conditions of your specific equity release plan and consult with financial advisers. This ensures you have a clear understanding of how it will impact your inheritance and beneficiaries, and to explore any available options to mitigate any potential concerns.

More about equity release

Why equity release?

Could unlocking some of the tax-free cash tied up in your home help you get the things you want out of life?

Your journey

See what’s involved in your typical equity release journey from application to completion, including what we do for you

Is it right for me?

Find out all the facts and information you need to see if equity release is right for you with no pressure to go ahead

You're in safe hands

  • All of our plans meet the Equity Release Council standards
  • You have the right to remain in your home for as long as you choose

  • You can move to another property without early repayment charges (subject to criteria)

Page last updated: Wednesday 26 June 2024