If you buy a house, you will buy the freehold and will own the property outright. If you buy a flat or maisonette, you will usually buy a long lease. Leasehold means the right to live in a property for a fixed number of years. All flats sold to our tenants under the Right to Buy scheme are sold on a long lease (125 years). A tenant with a long lease (a long leaseholder) has bought the right to live in his or her property for the length of the lease. The council still owns the building that contains the flat, along with the internal and external communal areas.
At the end of the lease, the council becomes the legal owner of the flat again, unless the leaseholder exercises his or her legal right to buy a new, longer lease. In some circumstances, long leaseholders in the same block of flats have a legal right, as a group, to buy the building from the landlord.
As a leaseholder, you only have to pay us a small token rent (known as a ‘ground rent’) of £10 a year. But you will also have to pay service charges. These can be several hundred pounds each year, or much more if the block needs major repairs or maintenance, such as a new roof or new windows.
The lease is a legal contract between you, the leaseholder, and us, the council and it sets out both parties’ legal obligations.
We strongly advise you to read the lease carefully and seek legal advice before you buy. It is important that you understand fully what you are taking on.
Your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder
You have the right to:
- Have possession of your flat for the life of the lease (provided you keep to the terms and conditions of the lease)
- Use communal areas and facilities, as set out in your lease
- Ask your landlord to keep the structure, exterior and common parts of your block in a fit state of repair (for example, the roof, gutters, drains, window frames and communal entrances and lighting)
- Be consulted about major work and improvements that you pay a share of the cost for
- Make alterations to the inside of your flat, as long as you do not remove structural walls or cause damage to the building (but you must get our permission for alterations and replacement of fixtures before starting work)
- ‘Quiet enjoyment’ of your home (you have the right to live peacefully in your flat without interference from your neighbours or landlord)
- Expect your landlord to deal with problems in your block, such as neighbour nuisance
- Sell your flat, rent it to someone else, or leave it to someone in your will
You are responsible for:
- Complying with the terms and conditions of your lease
- Repairing, maintaining and keeping in good order and condition the inside of the flat (this includes cisterns, boilers, wiring, gas and water pipes, plastering, glazing, window catches
- Maintaining to a reasonable standard any garden area (including hedges) leased with your flat
- Paying your share of the cost of managing, repairing, maintaining and improving your block and its communal areas
- Keeping communal areas clean and tidy
- Not doing anything that is likely to cause damage to the structure of the building or its shared services (such as plumbing, gas or electricity supplies or drains)
- Getting our permission, planning permission and/or building regulation approval for alterations you plan to do inside your flat, as the law requires
- Paying your service charges
- Allowing your neighbours quiet enjoyment of their homes
- Notifying the council, within 21 days, if you sell your flat and giving us details of the buyer and copies of legal papers
Our rights and responsibilities as your landlord
We have the right to:
- Make decisions about managing your block
- Make decisions about repairing, maintaining and improving your block and its communal areas gain access to your flat in emergencies
- Make you comply with the terms and conditions of your lease
We are responsible for:
- Keeping the structure, exterior and common parts of your block in a fit state of repair (for example, the roof, gutters, drains, window frames and communal entrances and lighting)
- Repairing and maintaining other communal areas (such as drying areas, gardens and parking areas)
- Insuring the building, including your flat and its fixtures, but not the contents (your personal possessions)
- Consulting you about any major work or improvements costing any leaseholder more than £250
- Charging you for ground rent, management costs, repair, maintenance and improvements to your block and its communal areas and other services (service charges)
- Ensuring you pay your service charges
- Consulting you about changes that will affect our service
Finance and Leasehold team
Tel: 01522 873280