Read our Frequently Asked Questions below, or contact us if you have a question that is not answered here.
A lease is a contract between the leaseholder and the landlord giving conditional ownership for a fixed period.
The lease sets out the contractual obligations of the two parties: what the leaseholder has contracted to do, and what the landlord is bound to do. The leaseholder’s obligations will include payment of the ground rent (if any) and contribution to the costs of maintaining, insuring, and managing the building.
The lease will probably also place certain conditions on the use and occupation of the flat. The landlord will usually be required to manage and maintain the structure, exterior and common areas of the property, to collect service charges from all the leaseholders, insure the building and keep the accounts.
What a leaseholder owns is often defined in the lease as the “Demised Premises”. The leasehold ownership of a flat usually relates to everything within the four walls of the flat, including floorboards and plaster to walls and ceiling, but does not usually include the external or structural walls. A garden can be included unless it is a communal garden for the building.
Service charge is payable by the tenant to the landlord for the services the landlord is obliged to provide under the terms of the lease. They will be a variable amount from year to year depending on the costs the landlord incurs. These are usually split between leaseholders according to the lease terms.
They can include maintenance and repair, and sometimes improvement of: – the exterior, structure, roofs, foundations, window frames, guttering, communal drains and pipes and common areas, also insurance of the building and the cost of management. This list is not exhaustive, and leaseholders should check their lease for the full details of service charges payable.
If you can’t pay your service charge, or you’ve fallen into arrears, you should contact the accounts team to discuss your options for repaying the arrears. If you don’t take steps to deal with the arrears, this could result in court action.
Year end service charge accounts are typically prepared and issued annually to leaseholders for actual service charge income and expenditure. They are commonly referred to as accounts and legislation uses the term ‘summary of relevant costs. The lease will usually set out how service charges should be accounted for, the costs that can be recovered and the period the accounts should cover. The accounts should be issued within six months of the end of the service charge year.
A deficit/balancing charge for the year arises where the actual costs for the year exceed the service charges demanded. Virtually all leases will state that the deficit for the year should be collected from the leaseholders by way of a demand following the provision of the annual accounts detailing how that deficit has arisen.
Also known as a “sinking fund”, some leases allow the landlord to demand a contribution towards this via the service charge. The purpose is to build up a fund to pay for future larger scale works, such as repainting/redecorating the whole building or replacing window frames. This means leaseholders will not face such a large one-off bill when the work becomes necessary. Unless they agree to the contrary with their own buyer, the leaseholder will not receive any of this contribution back if they sell their premises.
As a leaseholder, you have the right to be consulted if the landlord/agent carries out major works for which you will be asked to pay. This consultation process has three stages:
- First stage – a notice of intention to do the works
- Second stage – notification of estimates obtained by the landlord
- Third stage – notification of award of contract (only required if the lowest quote is not chosen)
The front door of every individual flat needs to be a tested, and certified, fire door. They should be fitted with the appropriate intumescent strips, smoke seals and a self-closing mechanism. The minimum requirement is for an FD30 door to be fitted, providing 30 minutes fire resistance.
If you own your front door under the terms of the lease and the freeholder considers that it is not properly compliant to current fire safety standards, you could be asked to replace it. This will likely be as a result of a fire risk assessment or fire door inspection being carried out.
Yes, service charge is due when it is demanded, if you sell part way through the year then your solicitors should deal with any split in the service charge (apportionment) and reclaim service charge from the buyer for any period that you do not own the property.
Before we can update our system with the details of the new owner, we must receive a ‘Notice of Transfer’ or ‘Notice of Assignment’ from the buyers solicitors, this is the official notice to confirm change of ownership. There may sometimes be a delay in this process as it should be sent directly to the building owner and then to ourselves.
It is usually the case that there will be a provision in leases in relation to any changes (alterations) to a leasehold property. It is likely you will be required to obtain consent from your landlord or other party before proceeding with any works.
We have a legal obligation to manage the safety of communal areas and to make sure there are no obstructions that make it difficult to get out of the building, or anything that gives off smoke which may affect you or hinder the Emergency Services in their rescue duties.
We have a responsibility to make sure residents can escape in case of an emergency.
In order to make your communal areas as safe as possible, it is essential that you understand what you should not leave outside your property. It is important that all communal areas, including any cupboards, are not used for the storage of your possessions or as a place to leave unwanted goods.
We have a dedicated team who deal with out of hours emergencies, they can be contacted on 0203 370 9247 if you have this within your budget for the year.
It is usually the case that every leaseholder must contribute towards roof repairs as they are deemed to be common parts.
The responsibility on the leaseholder is simply to take all the steps any reasonable person would take to try and stop the leak and prevent or limit further damage. Knock on your neighbour’s door to try and establish the source of the problem and alert your property manager accordingly.
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