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Leaseholder services

Leasehold Rights & Responsibilities

What is a leaseholder? Toggle accordion

If you have purchased a former council flat or maisonette, either through Right to Buy or on the open market, it is likely that you are a leaseholder. You will have a legal agreement with the council (as the freeholder) called a lease. Your lease will outline how long you will own the lease on the property.

Owning the leasehold on a property means that you have the right to live in the property for a set period of time.  This is usually 125 years.   After this time, the property will belong to the council again. However you will have the option to extend your lease when it is coming to an end.

Lease Agreement Toggle accordion

Your lease is the legal agreement you have as a leaseholder with the Council (the freeholder).

The lease will outline all of the aspects of the contractual agreement so that each party understands their rights and responsibilities. You and the Council must abide by the terms of the lease as failing to do so is a breach.

Your lease agreement will explain:

  • How much the ground rent you have to pay and when
  • When service charges are to be paid
  • Which parts of the building have been sold to you
  • Who is responsible for repairs

This is not an exhaustive list and each individual lease can vary, therefore it is important that you check your lease. Should you not have a copy of your lease, you can contact the solicitor who acted on your behalf during the sale. Alternatively the Council can provide you with a copy upon a fee.

Leaseholder Rights & Responsibilities Toggle accordion

You have a number of rights as a leaseholder. Some of these are included below, but for full details you will need to refer to your lease.

  • You can request a repair to the building or communal areas

  • You must pay your service charges and ground rent in the time specified

  • You can challenge your service charges where you feel necessary

  • Be formally consulted on planned or major works that will cost you more than £250

  • Be formally consulted on long term agreements which will last more than 12 months and cost you more than £100

  • You can carry out alterations to the inside of your home. Providing you are not removing any structural walls or altering external or shared parts of the building. In most cases you will need to obtain written permission from the Council

  • To live in your home peacefully without nuisance

  • Sublet your property upon notifying the Council. We still need to contact you and you must notify us of your correspondence address

  • Sell your property and keep the Council informed

  • Extend your lease, providing you meet the required criteria

  • Purchase the freehold, providing you meet the required criteria

  • Vary the lease if things such as repairs are not covered properly. However the leaseholder and the Council must agree to the terms of the lease to be varied

The Council’s Rights Toggle accordion

The Council as the Landlord has a number of rights. Some of these are included below, but for full details you need to refer to your lease.

  • Make decisions and carry out the necessary repairs and maintenance to the building and communal areas, and in some cases improvements

  • Make decisions about charges

  • Make decisions about management of the building

  • To enter your property to carry out repairs if there is a danger to other residents. You will be recharged for these repairs

  • To charge you for the services provided to the building and communal areas

  • To charge you a management fee

  • To charge you ground rent

  • To insure the building

Help & Support for Leaseholders Toggle accordion

In addition to the terms set out in your lease, as a leaseholder you are protect by a number of Acts of Parliament. If you are unsure about your rights you can:

Should you feel you need help settling a dispute with the Council, you can apply to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). This is a panel of independent professionals who listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision. If you make an application to the FTT you will be required to pay their fee.

Please visit their website to see areas of disputes they deal with.

Selling your property

Can I sell my leasehold property? Toggle accordion

Yes. You can sell your leasehold home at any time.

If you bought your property from us under the Right to Buy and you want to sell within 3 or 5 years (depending on when you bought your home) then you will have to repay some of the discount you received. The amount will be set out in your lease.

If you sell part way through an accounting year you may be liable for charges not yet demanded relating to the period that you owned the leasehold property, which is the date up until you legally complete on the sale.

You will be asked to settle all outstanding debts before the sale is completed. Even though you are planning to sell, you should pay the service charge as normal. As we are not party to sale agreements, any apportionment of service charge or ground rent is worked out between the two solicitors on completion. A ‘retention’ may also be set aside as agreed by the solicitors acting in the sale and purchase, in order to cover service charges incurred during your period of ownership but billed after completion of the sale.

Does my solicitor need any information? Toggle accordion

Yes. When selling your leasehold property, it is recommended that your solicitor obtains a Leasehold Information Pack (LIP) from us. However, please note that there is no legal requirement to obtain the Leasehold Information Pack and a sale can complete without it.

The LIP that we now provide has been developed and approved by the Law Society and RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) and all the major trade bodies in the sector. Therefore, the information contained in this LIP should be sufficient for the property to exchange contracts without the need for additional enquiries to be raised.

The LIP will also be accompanied with a fire risk assessment as well as an asbestos report of the common parts (where applicable). 

It is advised that your solicitor requests the Leasehold Information Pack (LIP) as soon as possible to avoid undue delays. 

Are there any fees to provide the LIP? Toggle accordion

Yes. The charge for the Leasehold Information Pack (LIP) is £175. Please note that this fee is not subject to VAT at present. If additional enquiries are to be raised to us as the landlord our fees for dealing with each additional enquiry is £25. Please note that this fee is not subject to VAT at present. We will answer these additional enquiries after payment is made and a request for additional enquiries are made in writing (emails accepted to housing.leasehold@stalbans.gov.uk)

If you are remortgaging your home your solicitor may request similar information. We provide a Remortgage Leasehold Information Pack (RLIP). The charge for a RLIP is £99. Please note that this fee is not subject to VAT at present.

Keeping the Council Informed Toggle accordion

It is a requirement of your lease that we are informed of the sale of your property within one month of completion. Usually your solicitor will inform us of this. Once the sale has completed and service charges cleared, on receipt of the Notice of Transfer/charge and the registration fees, we will amend and update our records accordingly.

Our fees Toggle accordion

ServiceFee
Leasehold Information Pack (LIP)£175.00
Remortgage Leasehold Information Pack (RLIP)£99.00
Notice of Transfer and Charge£150*
Notice of Transfer£75*
Notice of Charge£75*

*Unless stated otherwise in your lease

Subletting: Can I rent out my home? Toggle accordion

Yes. Your property can be rented (sublet) out in single occupancy (one family). You will be required to inform the Leasehold Team and provide your correspondence details in case of any emergencies.

It is also required as part of the Buildings Insurance policy that we are notified of any subletting and certain exclusions may apply when a property is sublet. Please refer to the policy cover and in particular; insured peril 4 Malicious damage (page 11), insured peril 9 Theft or attempted theft (page 12), and insured peril 14 Extended accidental damage (page 14).

Even though you have let your property, you will still be responsible for:

  • Paying all Leasehold invoices

  • Ensuring that the person living in your property complies with the terms of the lease

  • Making sure that all electrics in your home meet NICEIC regulations

  • Providing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to your tenant

  • Informing your mortgage lender that you are renting your home

  • Letting to a single person, couple or a family. It must not be sub-let to separate, unrelated individuals e.g. students or on a multi-room basis.

If you claim against our buildings insurance policy your claim may not be valid if you did not inform us that you intended to rent your home.

Repairs and Maintenance

Understanding who is responsible for carrying out certain types of repairs – whether it is the council or the leaseholder – is an essential part of owning a home. Being able to know when you can initiate a repair can save you time and, in some cases,, further damage to your property. 

What are my repair responsibilities as a leaseholder? Toggle accordion

Your lease will require you as a leaseholder to keep your property in good repair and condition including fixtures and fittings.

Please check your lease for a specific list of your repair obligations. Generally, you are responsible for:

  • All areas inside your home including services you use

  • Ceilings (but not joists or beams)

  • Floorboards and screeds, but not joists

  • Interior plaster or other surfaces of the ceiling and exterior walls of the dwelling

  • Interior non-structural walls

  • Entrance door(s) and door fastenings (but not the door frame), internal doors, frames and fastenings**

  • Tanks/cisterns*

  • Pipes, wiring, cables and conduits supplying water, electricity and gas*

  • Pipes, guttering, drains and sewers removing waste water and sewerage*

  • Anything installed for the supply of central heating and hot water*

  • Fixtures and fittings e.g. bath. wc, gas fire, fireplace, kitchen units etc

  • Plaster work and internal decoration

* The leaseholder is responsible for these things inside or outside the flat if they serve only the leaseholder's property.

**Please note there are many variations to St Albans City & District Council's leases and therefore your lease may be different to the lease of your neighbour or another property that the Council owns a freehold interest in. It is important to check your lease for your specific repair obligations.

What are our responsibilities as the Council? Toggle accordion

As the landlord we are generally responsible for:

  • The main structure of the building including the foundations and roof

  • The communal services to the building including communal pipes, wiring, lifts and refuse chutes

  • The communal areas of the building including communal staircases and communal fixtures

  • The communal parts of the estate including grounds maintenance, fences, lighting and paths.

How can I report a repair? Toggle accordion

Please call our Repairs Contractor, Morgan Sindall on 01727 819256 (8:45am to 5:15pm Monday to Thursday. 8:45am to 4:45pm on Friday)

You can also Email to report a repair at stalbansrepairs@morgansindall.com

For emergency repairs outside office hours:

  • Phone our emergency repairs line on 01727 811155 

  • If you phone this number and our contractor attends when it is not an emergency, we will charge you a call-out fee.

  • Emergency repairs will be covered in more detail below.

You will be invoiced your portion of the cost of the repair in accordance with your lease.

Response times for repair requests Toggle accordion

Once a repair request has been successfully logged, priority and response times will usually be categorised as one of the following:

Priority 1: Emergency

Work to be attended to and made safe within 2 hours and rectified within 24 hours. Examples of Emergency Repairs include the following*:

  • Severe leaks

  • Electrical failure

  • Break-ins where insecure etc.

  • Fire

  • Full water failure (after establishing not common to local area) as we have blocks with pumps

  • Exposed raw sewage (not blocked toilet but overflowing)

*This is not a complete list of emergency repairs. Please call the repairs team and provide as much information as you can so that they can determine if the repair request can be categorised as an emergency.

Priority 2: At resident’s convenience

Work to be completed at the Resident’s convenience. The Contact Centre will ask the Resident for their preferred appointment slot and will book this in.

This will cover all other non-emergency housing repairs and will normally be completed within 28 days unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you are not offered an appointment at the point of calling, you should be called to book an appointment within 48 hours of your request.

Other useful telephone numbers:

Thames Water Utilities Ltd - 24-hour leak-line 0800 714 614 to report a leak. To report an urgent sewer-related matter, call the customer service team on 0800 316 9800 (24-hour).

Affinity Water Emergencies 24-hour line 0345 357 2407 (local rate).

For Gas & Electricity emergencies – National Grid (Gas) 0800 111999, UK Power Network 0800 31 63 105. Calls to this service are free of charge from a landline. Calls to 0800 Freephone numbers may not be free from some mobile phones, so please check with your provider.

Buildings Insurance

Buildings insurance covers the structure of the building and the shared areas we as the landlord must maintain. We own the freehold to your flat/maisonette and are responsible for insuring the building. This is a blanket policy that covers all leasehold properties where we own the freehold. 

What am I covered for? Toggle accordion

You are insured against loss of or damage caused to the building by:

  • Fire, explosion, lightning or earthquake

  • Smoke

  • Riot, civil commotion, strikes, labour or political disturbances

  • Malicious damage

  • Storm or flood

  • Escape of water

  • Falling trees or branches

  • Theft or attempted theft

Please note this is not a full list. For a full list of things you are covered against, please refer to your policy document.

This policy does not cover loss or damage to your contents. You will need to take a separate contents insurance if you wish to cover your household items.
  
If you have any further questions regarding Buildings Insurance, please contact the Insurance Department on 01727 819235 or email john.foster@stalbans.gov.uk

How do I make a claim? Toggle accordion

Please telephone 0800 026 1841. For non-urgent incidents please call within normal office hours or email homeclaims@uk.zurich.com
  
You will need to quote policy number 10/006460/05500423

When you call the 24 hour help line you will deal directly with the insurance company regarding your claim. Please be advised that depending on the type of claim you make, you may be required to pay an excess.

Note: repairs to communal areas or services of the block in which you live should still be reported the Council’s Housing repairs contractor on 01727 819256. 

Service Charges Toggle accordion

Currently under review and information will be uploaded soon.

Leasehold Alterations Toggle accordion

Policy and procedure currently under review information will be uploaded soon.

Section 20

What is section 20? Toggle accordion

As your landlord, we are required by law (Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) to carry out formal consultation with you when:

  • We intend to carry out works which will cost you more than £250

  • When entering into a long term agreement for the provision of goods or services which will cost you more than £100

This clause is intended to protect leaseholders from paying large sums for works without any involvement or input, and to allow the landlord to carry out any necessary works or services and be able to recover costs from leaseholders.

What is involved? Toggle accordion

As you will be aware St Albans City & District Council has entered into a long term agreement for repairs and planned with works with Morgan Sindall. The contract between St Albans City & District Council and Morgan Sindall includes works which they will cover under the agreement.

Where works have been specified under the agreement, this means you will only receive one notice. This notice will include:

  • Details of the works to be carried out

  • Why it is necessary to carry out these works

  • An estimated cost for the works

  • An invite for you to put any comments you may have on the works and estimate in writing

This consultation period will last for 30 days from the date of the notice.

Where works have been identified and have not been specified in the contractual agreement between St Albans City & District Council and Morgan Sindall, you will be consulted in the following way:

Stage 1: The Notice of Intention

This is the first part of the consultation process. You will be served with a Notice of Intention which sets out the works we intend to do and why the work is required. It will invite you to make any comments on the works planned. You will also be given the opportunity to nominate.

Stage 2: Notice of Estimates

This will be the second notice you receive upon expiration of the 30 day stage 1 consultation period.

This notice will outline details of a minimum of two estimates that have been obtained for the works. If you nominated a suitable contractor to undertake the work, they will too have been contacted for an estimate. Also included will be a summary of any written observations received within the stage 1 consultation period.

Any estimates received will be available for inspection by leaseholders and you will be informed of details of when and where the estimates may be inspected. Again you will be invited to put any comments on the estimates in writing within 30 days.

Stage 3: Notice of Reasons

A stage 3 notice is only required if the chosen contractor did not provide the lowest quote.

If the chosen contractor did not provide the lowest quote, then you will be notified of the reasons why the chosen contractor was awarded the contract to undertake the works.

*As good practice, you will also be invited to attend a consultation meeting. This will be your opportunity to discuss the works and any concerns you may have with officers who will be involved in the scheme of works.

Related documents

Contact information

Email: housing.leasehold@stalbans.gov.uk

Telephone: 01727 819578