This page provides general information about your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder.
We have tried to include as much information as possible but this is for guidance only as it is not a full interpretation of the lease or law. As each lease is unique we cannot provide a comprehensive guide to your rights and obligations contained in your individual lease.
What is a lease?
Your lease is a legally binding document between you (the leaseholder) and the Association (your landlord). It sets out your rights and responsibilities and those of your landlord. It gives you the right to live in the property for a fixed period of time as long as you comply with the conditions set out within it.
Before you purchased your property your solicitor should have explained the terms and conditions of your lease to you. If you have any queries please contact us, or alternatively you may wish to seek independent advice, for example from Citizens Advice, the Leaseholder Advisory Service (LEASE) or your own solicitor. Your mortgage lender should keep the original copy of your lease and copies can be obtained from them. We may also be able to provide you with a copy, but there may be a charge.
If you do not have a mortgage you should keep the original copy of your lease and ensure it is safely stored.
Who is a leaseholder?
A leaseholder is someone who has bought the lease of a property, usually a flat or maisonette. It is simply a long-term tenancy giving the right to use and occupy your home for a long period.
The period is a fixed number of years, usually 99 or 125 years, which decreases year by year. If you sell the lease, the buyer takes over the remaining period of the lease. When the lease runs out, the property will revert back to the freeholder; however you will almost certainly have the right to a lease extension.
Who is a freeholder?
The freeholder owns the land the property is built on and may charge a ground rent.
The Association is usually the freeholder for our leases and is responsible for looking after the structure, exterior and common areas.
The lease can be held in the joint names of more than one person. Each joint leaseholder has equal rights and is responsible for meeting the obligations of the lease.
Where there is a dispute between joint leaseholders we recommend that you seek legal advice from a solicitor, Citizens Advice or a Housing Advice Centre.
- As a leaseholder you have the right to:
- Live in your home for the length of your lease.
- Quiet enjoyment of your home. This means to live peacefully without unnecessary interference from your neighbours or the Association as long as you keep to the terms and conditions of your lease.
- Expect your landlord or the freeholder to repair and maintain common parts.
- Use any common areas included in your lease.
- Be consulted about major repairs for which you will have to pay a share of the cost.
- Decorate and maintain the inside of your home. However, if you wish to make any alterations or improvements you must first obtain the Association’s consent and, in some cases, you may need to obtain planning and/or building approval. This is particularly relevant to flat doors.
- Sell the lease on your home (for the remaining years) to anyone you want to, or leave it to someone in your will or give it to someone as a gift. Please consider asking a solicitor to help you with this to make sure it is done legally. You must also inform the Association if you sell your lease or transfer it. If you purchased the property under the Preserved Right to Buy or Right to Acquire schemes you may need to repay some or all of the discount you received.
- Take in lodgers or rent the property to someone else. You will need to make sure the property is not overcrowded and your lodger or sub-tenant does not breach the terms of your lease. Please advise the Association so our records are up to date and we send important information to you, not to your lodger or tenant. Please also advise your mortgage lender if you rent your property.
- As a leaseholder you are responsible for:
- Paying any ground rent due.
- Paying service charges due. Your landlord has a legal duty to charge you for your share of the costs of managing and maintaining your block and you have a legal duty to pay them.
- Only using your property as a private home.
- Keeping the interior of your home in good repair, decoration and condition, including servicing appliances and installations in line with current regulations (for example annual gas safety checks).
- Allowing the Association access to your property to carry out any necessary inspection or work.
- Obtaining written permission from the Association before erecting any aerials, signs or notices outside the property.
- Obtaining written permission from the Association before keeping any dogs or other animals at the property.
- Not causing any nuisance or annoyance to neighbours.
- Not causing any damage, hazard or obstruction to the building, any communal areas or neighbouring properties.
- Sending the Association legal notice of any change in ownership.
- Informing the Association in writing of your correspondence address if you are not living at the property.
- Insuring all contents and possessions contained in your home.
If you live in a flat
If you live in a flat the Association’s main responsibilities are to:
- Maintain and repair the main structure of the building and exterior of your home. There are several ways to report repairs.
- Maintain the communal parts of the building.
- Consult you about any extensive works.
- Insure the building, for which you are required to pay your contribution.
- Provide you with an annual statement about your service charges.
Please note that the above information does not cover all rights and responsibilities and you must always refer to your lease.
Breach of lease
If you break a condition of the lease the Association may take action against you. This can include taking action through the courts and, in very serious situations, we can ask the courts to make an order for forfeiture, which means your lease could be terminated.
Varying the lease
The lease can only be varied by a written legal agreement signed by you and the Association, or by an order issued by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.
This will normally only be granted if the lease is proven to be defective.
Buying the freehold
In certain situations leaseholders of flats may have the right to buy the freehold of the building as a group. The group of leaseholders can then decide how to manage their building. This is known as collective enfranchisement as it cannot be done in isolation.
Further rights for leaseholders following Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002
- The right to extend your lease.
- The Right to Manage. This means that you can take over the management of the building from us. Certain conditions must first be met and a detailed procedure followed to exercise these rights. Please contact us if you would like further information about this.