This page provides a range of useful information for leaseholders. If the information here does not answer your specific question, please contact the Home Ownership Officer on 01449 724765 or email Frieda.Hildebrandt@midsuffolk.gov.uk.
Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002
The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 introduced important changes to the law on service charges and leaseholder consultation, as well as clarifying and extending leaseholder rights in other aspects. Details can be found in the leaflet Leaseholder’s guide on changes brought about by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (PDF, 143Kb).
About your lease
When you buy a flat from the council you buy a leasehold interest in your home. We continue to own the freehold.
As a leaseholder you have bought the right to live in your property for a fixed number of years. Typically, this will be 125 years from the date of sale of the first property in the block. The length of the lease reduces over time from the date it was originally granted.
The lease is a complicated document – we cannot give a precise interpretation of the lease because it is specific to your property. You should therefore read your own lease for information about your particular situation and consider seeking legal advice.
The lease describes the property you own, and the plan attached to your lease shows the areas that are included in your home. The plan may also show any communal areas that you may be entitled to use.
We are responsible for the main structure of the building, the shared parts and any shared services to your building or estate.
We have a duty to:
- Repair, maintain and redecorate the structure and exterior of the property. Depending on your property this may include: external decoration, roofs, estate lighting, grounds maintenance, door entry systems and window replacement
- Keeping the building insured
- Manage your block or estate in a proper and reasonable manner
- Advise leaseholders of the Council’s yearly estimate of service charge for their flat
- Provide a statement at the end of the financial year showing the actual costs for service charges to your block of flats and your contributions towards them
- Consult with leaseholders before undertaking any major works to the building
You have a duty to:
- Observe all the terms and conditions in your lease
- Pay the ground rent and service charge costs as demanded
- Pay a reasonable proportion of any major works carried out to your block
- Not to make any alteration to the structure of the building without the Council’s prior written approval
- Advise the Council’s Legal Services section of any transfer of the lease, mortgage, assignment etc
- Keep your home in good repair
- Not to do any illegal act or thing which may be or become a nuisance or annoyance or cause damage to residents or any part of the building
- Not to play loud music causing a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours
- Inform us if you want to sub-let your property
You can let out your flat and become a landlord, as long as you let us know about it. If you have a mortgage you are advised to contact your mortgage lender before sub-letting.
You must keep us up to date on all the details and any changes to those details. You must make sure your tenants keep to the conditions of the lease, as you are responsible for their actions.
You will remain responsible for the payment of service charges and ground rent. You are also responsible for the way your tenant behaves.
As a landlord, you will have responsibilities under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. You will be legally responsible for making sure that the gas appliances, pipe-work and flues in the flat are safe and well maintained. You must arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered gas engineer each year and give your tenants a copy of the gas safety check record (CP12). You must also give your tenants a copy before they move in. Failure to meet these gas safety requirements can lead to criminal prosecution resulting in a large fine or possibly even imprisonment.
For more information on gas safety and your responsibilities as a landlord, you can visit the Health and Safety Executive's website (opens new window) or call their information hotline on 08701 545500.
Energy Performance Certificates
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives a rating for a building’s energy efficiency, which provides prospective tenants or buyers with information about how energy efficient a property is that they are considering renting or buying.
If you are planning to let your flat or there is a change of tenant you must provide your tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). EPC’s are valid for ten years and can be used as many times as required within that period. An EPC is not required for any property that was occupied before 1 October 2008 and continues to be occupied after that date by the same tenant. The Department of Communities and Local Government has produced a guidance leaflet available online Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and renting homes: A landlord’s guide (opens new window). This guide is also available from Communities and Local Government Publications, PO Box 236, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7NB, telephone: 08701 226 236 or email: Communities@capita.co.uk.
What other responsibilities will I have?
You must make sure that any electrical appliances that you supply are safe to use.
You will be responsible under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 for repairs to heating and hot water installations; baths, sinks, basins and other sanitary installations; and other parts of the flat or installations in it which you own or control and whose disrepair would affect your tenants.
All furniture and furnishings that you supply must meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1998. More information can be found on the Department of Trade and Industry's website (opens new window).
Because leasehold is a tenancy, it is subject to the payment of a rent (which may be nominal) to the landlord. Ground rent is a specific requirement of the lease and must be paid on the due date, subject to the issue of a formal and specific demand by the landlord.
When you buy a flat in a building owned by the Council, you buy the leasehold interest in the property. This means you are legally responsible to pay a proportion of the running costs and management costs of your block. These costs are called service charges. More information on service charges can be found by downloading the Annual Service Charge leaflet (PDF, 146Kb), the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) leaflet: Service Charges and other issues (opens new window) or Service Charges - summary of tenants’ rights and obligations (PDF, 208Kb).
Service charge loans
If you bought your property through the right to buy, you may have the right to a loan for service charges for repairs that we have carried out.
To qualify for a loan, the following conditions must be met:
- Your lease must not be more than ten years old
- Your total service charge bill must be more than £1,900 in any one year
- You may borrow the amount by which the service charges for the accounting period exceed £1,500, but you may only borrow in respect of charges for repairs. The amount of the loan must be between £640 and £25,250 (although these figures are subject to change)
- The loan must be for repair or maintenance charges – loans are not available for improvement work, ground rent, management charges or other regular annual charges
- When we send you your annual service charge bill, we will tell you if you have the right to a loan. You then have six weeks to apply for a loan
- If you are entitled to a loan, you will have to repay this over a period of three to ten years (depending on the amount you borrow) and we will charge interest at the local authority mortgage rate. Further details are available in the Department for Communities and Local Government leaflet Right to Buy – Service Charge Loans (opens new window).
Selling your property
If you are in the process of selling your property this transaction is known as an assignment. The Solicitor acting for you in the sale will require information from us about your individual property as well as the block and estate in which it is sited in order to answer questions raised by potential purchasers. For instance, how your property’s annual service charge is calculated and details of the current years estimated and previous years actual charges.
We provide as much information as we can about future planned major works and any outstanding service charges and loans which must be cleared on completion of the sale. Mid Suffolk District Council is not party to your sales transaction and is not bound by whatever agreement you make as the vendor with your purchaser on the apportionment of outstanding service charge invoices. Therefore liability for all outstanding charges up to the date of completion must be agreed as part of the contract of sale. Your Solicitor will be able to exercise his/her discretion, based on the information provided, on whether or not to hold a retention sum (this charge and any major works charges which have not been invoiced). You have an absolute responsibility to disclose to your purchaser any information you may have received by way of notice or otherwise telling you of likely future costs.
Notifying Mid Suffolk District Council of your sale
It is extremely important that we are notified of the assignment as soon as possible as until this is done we will not be able to amend our records to show the details of the new owner. This means that correspondence will still be addressed to the former leaseholder who will still appear to be responsible for any liabilities attaching to the property.
It is advisable to inform us of your sale, and if possible, to provide the name of the Solicitors acting on behalf of the purchaser. This will enable us to chase the appropriate documentation if required.
Right of First Refusal
If you bought your flat prior to 18 January 2005, you do not need our permission to sell your flat. However, if your flat was bought on or after 18 January 2005, and you wish to resell or dispose of it within ten years of purchasing, you will be required to offer it back to Mid Suffolk District Council. This is because under the Housing Act 2004, we are required to insert a covenant into the lease that gives us or another Registered Provider (RP) nominated by us, the right of first refusal. For further details please download the following information leaflet The Right of First Refusal (PDF, 100Kb).
Repayment of discount
If you sell your flat within five years (after 18 January 2005) under the Right to Buy scheme, you will have to pay back a proportion of the discount, unless the sale is an exempted sale.
As the freeholder, we insure you against loss of, or damage caused to, the building in which your flat is situated.
You are charged a proportion of the insurance costs relating to your flat through your annual service charges.
Please note that the insurance included with your service charges only covers the structure of the building, including fixtures and fittings. You must make your own arrangements to protect your contents and personal possessions.
If you wish to make a claim under the buildings insurance, you should in the first instance contact our insurance section on 01473 265595.
The Council is required by law to consult leaseholders on works where their share amounts to £250 or more or for goods or services under a long term agreement which will result in a leaseholder paying more than £100 per year.
Further information about how we will consult you can be found in the information leaflet Consulting leaseholders on major works and long-term agreements (PDF, 189Kb).
How to report a repair that is our responsibility
You will be responsible for the maintenance of everything within the four walls of your flat.
Mid Suffolk District Council remains responsible for the external fabric of the building and for any shared services such as bin areas, shared stairways and paths.
If you wish to report a repair that is our responsibility you need to report a repair in the same way as a Council tenant.
Carrying out your own alterations
As a leaseholder you have the right to improve your home, but for some improvements you will need written permission from us. This is because, as a landlord, we have an investment in the block and a responsibility to the other tenants. We will not refuse permission unless we have a good reason. You may also need to get planning permission and building regulation approval before starting work.
We do not need to know about minor work such as decorating, but we do need to know about any addition or change to the structure in your home including alterations, which affect walls, windows, doorframes, and anything, that alters the outside appearance of the property.
We will also need to know if you wish to erect aerials or satellite dishes
How do I get permission for alterations?
Write to our Legal Services section at Mid Suffolk District Council, 131 High Street, Needham Market, Ipswich, IP6 8DL. You will need to say exactly what you want to do and include a drawing or plan.
A building surveyor may need to visit your home to see what you intend to do, before we can make a decision.
The permission we give you to go ahead is not the same as planning permission. You are responsible for getting any necessary planning permission or building regulation approval. We will normally make it a condition that you do this when we give you permission for the work.
You will have difficulties in selling your flat if you cannot show this written consent.
Leasehold service standards
We are committed to meeting your needs and providing the best possible service for our leaseholders by setting out our Leasehold Service Standards (PDF, 101Kb).
Who should I contact for more information?
Enquiries about all leasehold issues can be directed to the Home Ownership Officer by calling 01449 724765, by emailing Frieda.Hildebrandt@midsuffolk.gov.uk or by writing to Housing Revenue Account, Mid Suffolk District Council, 131 High Street, Needham Market, Ipswich, IP6 8DL.
Useful information can also be found on the Communities and Local Government website (opens new window).
Not sure of your rights as a leaseholder?
The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) (opens new window) can help you. If you cannot find the answer to your question on their website at you can call one of their trained specialist lawyers for FREE legal advice. The service is Government funded and completely free to you. You can also write to them at: Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), 70 – 74 City Road, London, EL1Y 2BJ or call them: 020 7374 5380 or 0845 345 1993.
Transactions on this Page
Department for Communities and Local Government (opens new window)
Department of Trade and Industry (opens new window)
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and renting homes: A landlord’s guide (opens new window)
Health and Safety Executive (opens new window)
Residential Long Leaseholders - A guide to your rights and responsibilities (opens new window)
Right to Buy – Service Charge Loans (opens new window)
Service Charges and other issues (opens new window)
Shelter UK (opens new window)
The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE)(opens new window)
Annual Service Charge leaflet (PDF, 146Kb)
Leasehold Service Standards (PDF, 101Kb)
The Right of First Refusal (PDF, 100Kb)
Housing Revenue Account
Mid Suffolk District Council
131 High Street
Telephone: 01449 724765
Fax: 01449 724780
SMS Text Mobile: 07827 842833 (please note the SMS Text Mobile number replaces the old Minicom system for customers with hearing difficulties)