What does being a leaseholder mean? 

When you buy your flat or maisonette under a long lease, you buy the right to live in your property for a fixed number of years. As your landlord, we (the council) keep the freehold interest and have a legal duty to enforce your obligations in the lease. We also have to maintain and repair the building that your home is in and all shared areas, grounds and services.

Your lease states that you must contribute towards the costs of managing and maintaining your block, estate and grounds, these costs are called service charges.

As a leaseholder you’re responsible for looking after your home by keeping it in good repair and condition internally. You should also maintain any garden area that’s included in your lease. Your boundary plan will show the extent of garden land, if any, included in your lease.

You’re also required to keep to the management rules and terms of your lease. You’ll need our permission before you can make any alterations, additions or improvements to your property or if you wish to sub-let the property.

The conditions of your lease

The lease sets out detailed conditions and responsibilities you have as a leaseholder or that we (the council) have as the freeholder. Some of the most important conditions are set out below...

Our responsibilities

We have a duty to...

  • Repair, maintain and redecorate the structure and exterior or the flat, including drains, external pipes and roofs
  • Repair, maintain and redecorate communal areas (if any) and maintain external communal areas and boundaries
  • Keep the building insured against fire, lighting, explosion and other such risks that it is prudent to insure against
  • Manage your block or estate in a proper and reasonable manner
  • Provide an annual service charge for work done to your flats
  • Consult with you before undertaking any major works or improvements to the building
  • We also have the right of entry to repair or maintain communal facilities, and to fix structural defects having given reasonable notice. In an emergency no notice needs to be given

Your responsibilities

As a leaseholder you are under a duty to...

  • Pay the ground rent, service charges and costs of major works/improvements as demanded
  • Not make any alterations or additions to the structure, including drains, external pipes and windows, without our written permission
  • Advise us of any transfer, lease or mortgage
  • Keep the internal part of the flat, including doors and windows, in good repair and condition
  • Observe the terms and regulations contained in your lease
  • Send a copy of any Notice affecting the property to us
  • Notify us of any changes in Ownership, Mortgage or when the property is sub-let
  • Not carry out any illegal act or do something which may be, or become, a nuisance or annoyance or cause damage to the residents or any part of the building
  • Not play loud music, which can be heard outside your flat between the hours at 11pm and 7am
  • You also have the right to receive information on service charges and the costs related to your block of flats, and to be consulted about major works affecting your block of flats

Living on your estate

Under the terms of your lease there are certain restrictions imposed on you as a resident of your flat and these are as follows...

  • Not to use the flat for any purpose other than as a private dwelling in the occupation of one family only, nor for any purpose that causes nuisance to the occupiers of the other flats in the building or other dwellings in the neighbourhood, not for any illegal or immoral purpose and not to use the garage (if any) for any purpose whatsoever except as a private garage in connection with the flat
  • Not to do or permit to be done anything which may render void or voidable any policy of insurance of any flat or garage in the building or may cause an increased insurance premium 
  • Not to deposit, scatter or throw dirt, rubbish, rags or other refuse into the sinks, baths, lavatories, cisterns or waste soil pipes in the flat or in or on the common parts of the building and to deposit all dirt, rubbish, rags or other refuse in the proper bins provided or in the vicinity of the building
  • Not to decorate the exterior of the flat
  • No musical instrument, television, radio, loudspeaker or other noise making instrument of any kind shall be played or used between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. Nor shall any singing be practised in the flat as to cause annoyance to the occupiers of any of the other flats in the building or so as to be audible outside the flat between the hours of 11pm and 7am
  • No name writing, drawing, signboard plate or placard of any kind shall be put on or in any window on the exterior of the flat or on the garage (if any) or so as to be visible from outside
  • No clothes or other articles shall be hung or exposed outside the flat. No flower box, pot or other like object shall be placed outside the flat except where provided by us and no mats or other articles shall be shaken out of the windows of the flat or in the common part of the building
  • No bird, dog or other animal which may cause annoyance to any occupier of any other flat in the building shall be kept in the flat

Letting your flat

We have no objection to you letting out your flat and becoming a landlord, but you must inform our Leaseholder Department, within Housing and Economy, of your intention to let. You can call the Housing and Economy Department on 01978 298993 to do this.

It’s your responsibility to...

  • tell us about any changes in your contract address and any Managing Agents address
  • make sure your tenants keep to the terms of condition contained within the lease, as you’re responsible for their actions
  • issue us with a copy of your formal letting agreement which should take the form of an ‘assured short hold tenancy agreement'

Although you’ll be ultimately responsible for all outgoings, ground rent, service charge and insurance premium recharge, these are usually included in the rental element of your letting agreement. It’s important we know who and where to send the invoices. Council Tax is payable by your tenant as well as their own personal bills for utilities.

Letting out your flat may affect the buildings insurance premium and can affect the risks covered.

By law you’re responsible for making sure that gas fires and boilers are kept in good order and checked for safety at least every 12 months. You must keep a record of these checks, which must be carried out by a CORGI registered contractor. 

We strongly recommend you seek independent legal advice if you wish to let out your flat before completing any agreement, you should also check the terms of any mortgage on the property.

Selling your flat

You don’t need our permission to sell your flat, however you must tell us about any change in ownership once the ownership has changed - without this information all invoices will be charged to you even after you’ve sold the flat.

If you applied for the Right to Buy on or after 18 January 2005 and sell within five years of buying your home, you’ll have to pay back a proportion of the sale price as discount. You’ll have to pay back the following if want to sell your flat within...

  • The first year of you purchasing it - a percentage of the new sale price reflecting the same proportion as your actual Right to Buy discount to the original market value
  • Two years of purchase - 4/5 of the repayment within first year of purchase
  • Three years of purchase - 3/5 of the discount within the first year of purchase
  • Four years of purchase - 2/5 of the discount within the first year of purchase
  • Five years of purchase - 1/5 of the discount within first year of purchase

If you sell within five years of purchase the amount of discount to be repaid will be a percentage of the resale value of the property, disregarding the increase of the amount attributed to any home improvements carried out by you since the date of purchase.

After five years you can sell without repaying any discount.

Right of first refusal 

If you applied to purchase your flat under the Right to Buy scheme and the application was received on or after 18 January 2005 and then wish to re-sell or dispose of your property within 10 years, you’ll be required to offer it for sale to us in the first instance, or secondly to another social landlord in your area at full market price.

The market value must be agreed between both parties, or, if they’re unable to agree, will be determined by the District Valuer.

If your offer hasn’t been accepted within eight weeks, we’ll issue a Notice to let you know that you’re free to sell the property on the open market.