FAQs

 

Q: What is a leaseholder?

A: A leaseholder is someone who owns a lease but does not own the land surrounding their home or the building that their home is in. If your home is a maisonette it will be part of a larger building which is divided into individual units. There will usually be another property above, below or next to yours, but still within the same building. Willow Park Housing Trust owns the land and the building that your home is in and is the freeholder of your building.

Q: What is a lease?

A: The lease is a legally binding contract. When you purchased your flat or maisonette under a long lease, you bought the right to live in the property for a fixed number of years, usually 125 years. If you bought your home on the open market, the seller will have transferred their rights and responsibilities to you under the lease for the rest of its term. The lease sets out the terms on which the landlord allows the leaseholder to occupy and enjoy the property described in the lease, provided that you comply with the terms of the lease. By purchasing a lease you have a financial interest in the property.

Q: What is a lessee?

A: A person who leases a property from its landlord. 

Q: What is a lessor?

A: The landlord of a property who leases it to another person. 

Q: What is the lessor’s covenant?

A: This covers how the landlord will manage the property.

Q: What is a breach of covenant?

A: This is the term used when a duty set out in the lease is broken.

Q: Can I make changes to my lease?

Your lease is a legal contract and can only be altered with the express agreement of you (as the leaseholder) and us (as the freeholder). It can be changed by a ‘Deed of Variation’ which may be approved by a court who can agree with, or challenge, any changes you want to make.

There is an application fee of £100 for a Deed of Variation plus any legal costs. 

Q: Can I extend my lease?

Most leaseholders have the right to buy an extension to the term of their lease. The usual extension term is 99 years for a flat and 50 years for a house. Any extension that is bought, is added to the term already remaining on the lease.

The cost of extending a lease depends on several factors. These include the term left on the lease, a current valuation from a RICS accredited valuer, and any rent that may be due.

A Chartered Surveyor will provide a calculation of the Premium (the cost to add the extra years) and an administration fee will be charged.

Q: Can the property be sublet?

A: Leaseholders have the right to sub-let their property. They do not have to ask permission, but they must inform us of their intentions. Subletting may affect the buildings insurance; therefore, the Leasehold Team must be advised and provided with the new contact address for the leaseholder. If you have a mortgage you will need to get permission from your lender.

Q: Who is responsible for repairs to my property?

A: As the Freeholder we are responsible for maintaining:

Communal blocks areas – staircases, corridors, lifts, gardens and pathways.

Structural and exterior repairs – foundations, outside walls, the roof, window frames, external doors and frames, service pipes and ducts. If you live in a cottage flat we maintain the external shell of the building only.

You pay a regular service charge to Willow Park Housing to cover the costs of this work and you may also pay for other services like caretaking.

Your service charge will also include a contribution to a sinking fund for your property. If the repair relates to a major component of the building any balance in the sinking fund can be used towards the cost.

You are responsible for any repairs to your home. Information about this can be found in your lease.

If your building needs a repair to a communal area, or there is a structural problem contact us.

Q: Who is responsible for Damage to my property?

If there is damage to a shared area and we know who caused it, we will look to recover the costs towards the repair from them.

However, where we can’t identify who caused it, or the costs cannot be reclaimed, then the cost of the repair will be shared equally by all the leaseholders. This is detailed in the terms of the lease.

If any damage is caused to your home because of an accident in an adjoining property, (for example a fire), then you can claim on the property insurance that we arrange. To do this, please contact the Leasehold Team and we will be able to tell you what you need to do. Please don’t start any repair work before the insurance company agree to pay for it, otherwise you may be liable for the full cost of the repair.

Please contact the Willow Park Leasehold Team for further information. 

Q: What is a service charge?

A: Service charges are payments made by leaseholders to the landlord (Willow Park Housing Trust) for all the services that are provided. This may include items such as repairs, lighting, cleaning or caretaking, where these apply to a block of flats. Leaseholders have to pay a share of the cost of these repairs and services, and these costs are called service charges. 

Q: What is a Sinking Fund?

A: A sinking Fund also known as a Reserve fund is an amount of money which is set aside to cover any major works which is needed on a property in the future. Sinking Fund Contributions are paid through the annual service charges.

Q: What if I don’t use my sinking fund?

The sinking fund will always remain with the property even if it is sold.

Q: Will I be consulted and notified about any major works or long term maintenance agreements?

A: As the Freeholder, we have a responsibility to consult you about any work done to your building where you are likely to contribute more than £250. You will be sent a letter from the Asset Management Team advising you of the work required to your block or property. Before the work commences you will be advised of the estimated cost and the options for repayment available to you.

Q: Can leaseholders replace their windows?

A: Yes, however leaseholders must ask permission from their Leasehold Officer before carrying out the work and provide a FENSA certificate on completion. A Deed of Variation will also be required to remove the responsibility for repair and renewal of the windows from the lease. The cost of this is the responsibility of the Leaseholder and further details can be provided as to the process.

Q: Can leaseholders replace their doors?

In certain properties Leaseholders can replace external doors, please contact the Leasehold Officer before carrying out any work and again this will be subject to approval and a Deed of Variation to the lease. If your flat is located in a communal block you cannot change the front door to the flat in any blocks with internal communal areas due to fire safety restrictions.

Q: What sort of alterations do leaseholders need permission for?

A: Any addition or change to the structure in the home, including internal/external fixtures and fittings such as gardens, heating, kitchen units and aerials or satellite dishes.

If you want to make structural alterations, we will need to see a plan from a structural engineer and assurances over the work. Before work starts you should, obtain and provide us with copies of the planning permission (if permission is required) and confirmation that the alterations and improvements conform to the current building regulations if required.

You can carry out minor home improvements such as decorating, replacing internal doors, or fitting bedroom furniture, without asking for our permission. 

Q: What are consents?

A: This is the written permission leaseholders require from the landlord when they are considering making alterations or additions to the property 

See the glossary of terms for more leaseholder terminology.

Find our more by contacting your Leaseholder Officer on 0161 946 9568 or email catherine.agbaje@wchg.org.uk