Leasehold ownership of a flat simply means a long tenancy, which is the right to live in and use the flat for a long period - known as a the 'term' or lease.
The lease is the formal contract between you and Stroud District Council. Both you and the council have a duty, by law, to keep to this agreement. By signing the lease, you and we are accepting the responsibilities that are described in the lease.
Under the terms of the lease we can raise the service charge to cover costs we incur in providing services, however, we must be reasonable at all times and be able to prove the costs we have incurred, consulting with you in advance for any major costs or changes.
Other than this, we can only change the conditions of the lease if you agree or a First Tier Tribunal or court decides upon application, that it is reasonable to do so and gives permission accordingly.
It is your responsibility to read and understand your lease or to ask someone to explain it to you. If there is something in the lease that you don't understand contact us and we will help.
There are two areas of law that control service charges. The first is the lease itself, which explains your responsibility for paying service charges and the second is any relevant national legislation.
Sections 18 to 30 of he Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 are the most relevant but this and other Acts can be amended from time to time. The Landlord and Tenant Act explains what a service charge is and your rights as a leaseholder in relation to the service charge. The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (CLaRa) empowers leaseholders further and includes further legislation on Section 20, major works and consultation.
Visit Communities and Local Government's website for more information.
If more than three-quarters of the properties in your block are leasehold, you and other residents may be able to buy the freehold of the block as long as you meet the necessary legal conditions. this is called collective enfranchisement. You should contact a solicitor for more advice
Your rights as a leaseholder
- to use your legal rights and your rights under the conditions of the lease
- to live in your property peacefully
- to be consulted on major work to the block or estate that your flat is in
We must do the following:
- Maintain the structure and outside of your property, the services to the building, and all shared areas of the building and estate, including any communal entry doors.
- Ensure that the building is insured against damage, loss or vandalism (this does not include the contents of your flat) and give you a summary of buildings insurance cover
- Ensure service charges re reasonable and explain how we have worked them out
- Consult you before carrying out any Major Work costing more than £250 for each flat in a block
- Consult you before entering into a long term agreement (more than 12 months) which may cost you over £100 in any one year
- Respect your right to live in and enjoy your home
You must do the following:
- Pay your service charges, ground rent and Council Tax on time. For ways to pay your service charges and ground rent visit pay an invoice or see ways to pay your council tax
- Maintain and repair your home and all the services used in your home. It is also your responsibility to ensure that relevant fire safety standards are complied with in respect or any fixtures and fittings and appliances (e.g. smoke detectors).
- Allow us into your home to carry out any work that is needed to the property or the block
- Use the premises only as a private home. You cannot run a business from your home
- Give up the property at the end of your lease
You must not do any of the following:
- Carry out any structural alterations to your property without our permission in writing - for example, you must ask us if you want to put in a new heating system. Please contact us if you are planning to make any changes
- Cause any nuisance to or annoy your neighbours or allow any other persons who reside with you or any visitors to your home to do so
As long as you do not break the conditions of your lease, you have the right to stay in your home for the duration of your lease.
If you break the conditions of your lease, we will write to you and try to sort out the problem with you. If you continue to break the conditions, we may take legal action and ultimately may seek to end your lease.
If you sublet your property, it means that you rent your home to a sub-tenant but you are still responsible for paying the service charges and ground rent, and for damages and repairs. You can sublet your property as long as your tenants keep to the conditions in your lease.
You would need to give the Right to Buy team your new contact address in writing, email address and telephone/mobile number, in case of emergency.
You may also need permission from your mortgage provider and your insurance provider before you can sublet your property.
Responsibilities of sub-tenants
You are responsible for the behaviour of your tenants and you may have to pay our costs if we have to get involved in any disagreements arising from nuisance caused by your tenants.
You must have a written tenancy agreement with your tenants so get advice from a solicitor about this. We would advise you to take up references before you choose a tenant.
You will need to tell all the necessary utility companies (e.g. gas and electricity suppliers) and give them your tenant’s name.
Make sure your tenant understands the responsibilities of living in a block of flats.
To avoid the risk of a serious explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning it is important to ensure that regular servicing and maintenance of gas equipment is carried out.
If you are a landlord, any gas appliances (e.g. boilers and heaters) within your property must be inspected annually by a registered gas engineer. When an inspection and/or maintenance/repair work is carried out, the gas engineer will issue you with a Landlords Gas Safety Record (LGSR). This is in line with regulatory standards laid down by Gas Safe, the government system of registration for gas engineers.
The electrical wiring in your property must be safe and in good working order throughout. You should have an inspection carried out every time you let your property (to ensure that your previous tenant hasn't made any changes). Contact and electrician approved by the NIC/EIC or NIC/IEE and check that you are meeting all current regulations.
Keep a record of all electrical testing reports.
Make sure your tenants know how to use the door-entry system and are aware of any parking restrictions. You are also responsible for making sure that all your furniture and furnishings meet current safety regulations.
Be a good neighbour, as a sub-tenant, by remembering that when you live in a flat, you need to consider other people in the block. You are responsible for the behaviour of:
- anyone who lives in your home
- anyone who visits you
- your visitors when they arrive or leave (e.g., if they are noisy), especially very early in the morning or very late at night
- any pets that belong to you or your visitors
- anyone who lives with you when they use the shared areas (e.g., the stairs, landings, hallways and shared gardens)
If you decide to transfer or sell your lease to someone else, you must notify our Right to Buy team as soon as possible to ensure that all your invoices are paid and your account is clear. We will also need to calculate final service charges on your lease. You must tell us about the transfer within one month of exchange of contracts or parting with possession.
We can only end your lease by taking legal action. We will usually only do this when you have broken the conditions of your lease, for example if you do not pay your service charges.
Purchasing your flat under Right to Buy
If you bought your flat under the Right to Buy scheme after 18th January 2005 and you sell it within five years of buying it, you will have to pay back some or all of the discount you were given. You should discuss this with your solicitor. Also, if you want to sell your property within ten years of buying it, you will have to give Stroud District Council first refusal to buy it. You should also discuss this with your solicitor.
Re-selling your flat
If you are buying another of our leasehold properties, make sure your solicitor writes to us to check whether there is any money owed on this new property's account.
When you sell your property, give the buyer all the documents that are relevant to your property. This includes any instruction booklets for appliances in your home, the written permission you had from us for alterations, and any window and door keys.