Information for Leaseholders

Introduction

As a leaseholder we hope you will find here a broad overview and general information about how your lease operates. If you require specific information on any points please do not hesitate to contact your Housing Services Officer who, after referring to your lease, will be able to give you more detailed advice.

The lease that you signed when you purchased your property is a legal document and forms a contract between you and us. The lease sets out your rights and obligations as the owner (lessee) and our rights and obligations as the landlord (lessor).

The lease gives you rights over land and buildings for a certain period. This period is known as the term of your lease. Leases can run for up to 999 years however most Aldwyck leases run for either 99 or 125 years.

Your lease will usually have a plan attached showing your property and the block in which it is situated together with gardens or out buildings included in the sale. The plan may also show the neighborhood your building is in (the estate) and any communal areas that you may be entitled to use.

The original copies of your lease should be kept by you and your mortgage lender and can be obtained from them. If you are unable to locate a copy of your lease, please contact the Housing Services team who may be able to help.

Subletting

We have no objections to you letting out your flat and becoming a landlord provided that:

  • your lease allows you to sublet
  • you let us know of any sublet and provide details of your tenant’s name, your forwarding address, contact

telephone numbers, any key holders or Managing Agents you have working on your behalf. This information is needed in the event of an emergency such as a burst water pipe

  • you must ensure that your tenants keep to the terms and conditions of your lease as you are responsible for

their actions and conduct. We recommend that you have a suitable tenancy agreement between you and your tenants and seek legal advice about preparing a tenancy agreement

  • if you have a mortgage you should inform your mortgage lender as you may need their permission to sublet your property
  • by law you must also ensure that your gas appliances, pipe work and flues (if applicable) are safe and well maintained each time you rent out your property to a new tenant. You are also responsible for making sure that the electrics in the property meet NIC/IEE regulations. These regulations require that all electrical work must be carried out by a qualified electrician.

Structural alterations and improvements to your home

You have the right to carry out alterations to your home providing you have our prior written consent to carry out such works. You should not start any work until our written permission is given.

We would not unreasonably withhold consent and would only refuse your application on grounds such as it may make the property unsafe, contravene safety regulations, devalue the property, cost us money or is not in keeping with the area.

We may need to visit your home to discuss your proposal as well as ensure that you have obtained all of the necessary approvals, such as planning permission or building regulation approval.

If your home is newly built, we may temporarily withhold permission to carry out alterations until the building defects period has expired. This period of defects liability is normally twelve months.

If you have an outstanding mortgage on the property you may have to get prior written consent from your lender before starting any work.

Dependent on the nature of the improvement works it may be necessary for you to vary the terms of your lease. In these circumstances you will have to meet all the costs associated with the variation.

The right to succession

When you die, your property can be passed on to any person in accordance with your wishes and your lease can form part of your will.

The person succeeding to your lease should notify us immediately so appropriate changes can be made to our records. They should also contact a solicitor to get good advice and ensure the correct legal procedures have been followed with regard to the lease and any outstanding or undischarged mortgage. Your insurers should also be notified of any changes in household composition.

Relationship breakdown

Where there is a dispute, we would recommend that both parties seek legal advice. In these cases only the Courts are able to transfer a lease to one of the joint owners. We therefore recommend that you consult a solicitor, Social Services, Law Centre or a Housing Aid/Advice Centre.

Operating a business

In accordance with your lease, and the grants we obtained to build your property, it states that your home is to be used for residential purposes only. However in certain instances we may permit you to run a business from your home; if you can demonstrate it is unlikely to cause a nuisance to your neighbours, does not result in traffic problems or entail the use and storage of dangerous materials. Prior to running a business from your home you must have our, your mortgage lender and building contents insurers’ written consent.

Condition of your home

It is your responsibility to keep the property clean, tidy, and free from vermin and pests.  Please contact your local authority Environmental Health Department for further advice.

You must not cause any obstruction or fire hazard in common areas. You must not store personal possessions in any common areas such as stairwells or leave any rubbish there or on the estate.  Your local authority may provide a collection service for a small fee.

Please note that when Aldwyck removes items of rubbish from an estate costs will be passed on to residents. Please do not store any rubbish, flammable or dangerous items in your home or garden.

Our access to your home

If repairs are required or an inspection needs to be made of your home, you must let our employees or our agents and contractors have access. We will give you reasonable notice of this, normally in writing.

Summary of legal rights

As well as rights and obligations contained in your lease, there is some important legislation that can affect

leaseholders which is summarised for you below. Please note that we have only given an overview of the legislation here. For more comprehensive information please contact the Housing Services team on 0300 500 6262.

Right to challenge service charges

You have the right to challenge a service charge or any part of it by asking a Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) to decide if the service charge is reasonable or payable. The RPT has wide ranging powers and can determine whether a service charge (or part of it) is payable, the amount payable, by whom and to whom. It can decide such matters whether the leaseholder has already paid the service charge or whether the costs are yet to be incurred.

Right to information about service charge expenditure

You have the right to a summary of all service charge income and expenditure for a financial year. This should be provided within six months of the end of each accounting year.

Right to information about insurance

You can ask for a summary of the insurance cover held by us for where you live. We have 21 days to provide it. In addition, you have the right to inspect the actual policy document and proof of payment of the insurance premium or the right to be sent copies of these. Again, we have 21 days to comply and a charge may be made for copies.

Right to challenge management charges

Management charges are charges payable by you under the terms of your lease. These charges are not service charges or ground rent. Typical examples are charges for permission to alter or adapt a flat, to sublet and interest or fees for late payments. You have the right to challenge any management charge at the RPT and ask the RPT to decide if the charge is payable and/or reasonable. You can challenge whether you have already paid the charge or not. If the management charge is calculated by a formula in the lease, you can ask the RPT for an order to vary the lease.

Protection against forfeiture

Forfeiture is a legal term for when a landlord seeks to repossess a home because there are arrears of ground rent and/or service charge. In the unlikely event we take this action; you have a number of rights. Forfeiture cannot be used for small debts under £350 or unless a debt has been outstanding for more than three years. Possession cannot be taken without an order from a court or RPT.

Right to manage

Leaseholders of a scheme collectively have the right to take over the management of their scheme. There is no need to prove fault and no payment of compensation has to be made to the landlord. A detailed procedure has to be followed and advice should be sought.

The Right of Collective Enfranchisement (Buying the Freehold)

This is the right for a group of leaseholders to compel the sale of the freehold of a scheme, irrespective of the landlord’s intentions. As long as certain qualification criteria are met, the landlord cannot refuse.

The leaseholders will have to pay a price valued according to a formula and should seek the advice of a qualified valuer.

The Right of Collective Enfranchisement (Buying the Freehold)

This right can be exercised in any building of two or more flats where at least two thirds of the flats are held on long residential leases. Leaseholders will need to form a Right to Enfranchise (RTE) company and the number of leaseholders participating must equal at least half of the total number of flats in the block.

Extending your lease

Most leaseholders in flats have the right to extend the lease for 90 years after they have owned the lease of the property for at least two years. In order to do this leaseholders must follow certain rules and there are legal costs involved.

As there is a specific legal process for extending a lease we recommend you seek specialised advice from a solicitor, law centre or the RPT.

In order to proceed you will need a surveyor’s valuation to establish the cost of extending your lease. Most surveyors will give a ‘high’ and ‘low’ price and the ‘final’ price is usually one based between the two. As well as paying for a valuation you will need to consider other fees such as legal fees.

If you require any further information regarding the extension of your lease please do not hesitate to contact Lea Valley Homes on 0300 500 6262.

Selling your home

You have the right to sell your home privately or through an estate agent.

Whilst you do not need our permission to sell your home or enter into an agreement to sell it we would recommend that you inform Lea Valley Homes that you are selling in order that the process runs as smoothly as possible and that we are aware of your forwarding address as well as any other important information.

If you purchased your home under the Right to Buy or Right to Acquire you may need to pay all or part of the discount back depending on how long you have owned the property.

Once you have found a buyer we recommend you use a solicitor or licensed conveyancers. During the sales process your solicitor should contact us and we will provide all the information they need in order to complete the sale. There is a charge made by us in respect of these enquiries and we also charge to register the Notice of Transfer on behalf of the purchaser. These charges are subject to VAT. Should you require any information regarding these, or any other charges, please call 0300 500 6262

Selling your home

Once you have exchanged contracts and completed the sales transaction you or the new owner must inform us of the change of ownership within one calendar month.

The purchaser’s solicitors should send us a ‘Notice of Transfer’ that shows who the new owner/s is/are and we request that you remind your solicitor that this should be sent within one month of completion to us. If we do not receive this legal ‘Notice of Transfer‘ we will not be able to terminate your service charge account.

This will result in service charges being added to your account, which you will be responsible for paying and not the new owner.

Prior to completion all arrears of service charge/ground rent must be paid in full. Any sale cannot be completed if your account is in arrears or we do not have an undertaking from your solicitors to discharge arrears prior to completion.

Useful Contacts

The Leasehold Advisory Service

Provide free legal and professional advice for all leaseholders.

Tel: 0207 383 9800

www.lease-advice.org

Residential Property Tribunal (RPT)

Provides a method of arbitration for both leaseholders and landlords.

Tel: 0845 600 3178

www.justice.gov.uk