Leaseholder rights and responsibilities

Content owner : home.ownership@knh.org.uk Last updated : 17/09/14

Understanding your lease

Your lease is a contract between you and Kirklees Council. It gives you and your successors the right of possession of your flat for a long period, provided you keep to the terms of your lease.

The lease document sets out these terms and conditions and your solicitor should explain any questions you might have about your lease.

Your lease is a legal document. It is therefore written using specialist language that can be difficult to understand. When you purchase your lease you should ask your solicitor to explain anything that you don't understand or are not clear about.

If you would like your lease translated into plain language, please send us a copy of it (please do not send us your original lease) so we can determine what type of lease you have and provide you with a translation. Please note this does not replace your original lease and therefore is not the legal contract or document. Please note there is a fee for this service.

You should keep your lease in a safe place.


The law

Several laws and Acts of Parliament protect your rights as a leaseholder (copies are available at public libraries):

If you are not sure of your rights, seek advice from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureaux.



Your rights as a leaseholder

Repairs and maintenance

You have the right to ask your landlord to keep the 'common parts' of your block in a fit state of repair. You also have the right to be consulted about major repairs for which you will have to pay a share.

Making alterations

If you want to make any internal alterations to your flat that involves walls, windows, door openings or shared services, you must seek written permission before work begins. You may also require building regulation approval.


Selling your flat

You have the right to sell your lease to anyone you want to, but you must tell us when you sell it. If you bought your flat after 18 January 2005, you must first offer it back to the council. You can also leave it to someone in your will or give it as a gift, but you should get a solicitor to help make sure everything is done legally.


Lodgers and sub-letting

You have the right to take in lodgers or rent your flat to anyone you want to. You must request permission from your mortgage lender if you sub-let your flat. You do not have to ask us for permission, but if you sub-let you need to let us know so we can update our records in case we need to communicate with the new tenant.



Your responsibilities as a leaseholder

The responsibility of ownership

As a leaseholder, you effectively become a 'stakeholder' in the block you live in. This means you have a responsibility to pay your share of the costs of managing and maintaining your block. As the landlord's agent, we have a legal duty to charge you your share of the costs, and you have a legal duty to pay them.

Service charges

You must pay your share of the costs of managing and maintaining your block. This is a legal duty set out in your lease.

If you do not pay your share, you are breaking your lease agreement and we could apply to a leasehold tribunal and then to the courts to have your lease 'forfeited'. In these circumstances you could lose your home. See the section on service charges for more information.


Living with your neighbours

Living in a flat can be difficult. You may have people above or below you, and you may have to share landings and other areas.

It is up to you and your neighbours to get on together, but if you don't, KNH have policies and procedures to help deal with neighbour nuisance and harassment problems. See section on management of your block.



Our rights as a landlord

Repairs and maintenance

We have the right to make decisions about:


  • management of your block;
  • repairs to, and maintenance of the structure and shared areas of the block;
  • improvements to the block.

Charges

We have a right and a legal duty to make charges for:

  • ground rent (this is separate from the service charge);
  • management costs;
  • repairs to and maintenance of shared areas;
  • repairs to the block.

Right of entry in emergencies

In some circumstances, we have the right to enter your property to carry out repairs if there is a danger to other residents, for example, if you removed a structural wall or a leak in your plumbing is damaging other flats.


Our responsibilities as landlord

Repairs

We are responsible for keeping the building structure and shared areas of the block in good repair.

Consultation

We have a legal duty to consult you about any repairs to your block which are likely to cost £250 or more to each leaseholder.

We have to obtain at least two estimates for the work and give you at least one month to comment before we start the work (except in an emergency).

We have to consult you if we are negotiating a long term agreement or tendering for a new contract.

Charges

We have a legal duty to collect from leaseholders their share of the costs of managing and maintaining their block. If we did not do this, KNH tenants would be paying for your share in their rents, which would breach financial regulations.