The following is a sample of frequently asked questions which have been raised by leaseholders.
If there is a question you would like answering then, please get in touch by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning the Leasehold Services Officer on 01543 456868.
Q. My service charge estimate includes repairs. I never have any repairs done.
A. Your service charge estimate includes an amount for any “responsive/emergency” repairs we may have to carry out throughout the year. The Council includes a nominal figure of £20.00 in respect of repairs to individual property and £50.00 in respect of communal repairs, which it considers to be the most reasonable way to estimate repairs costs because we are unable to predict what repairs will be necessary or their cost.
Q. I have a low confidence that the Council receives correct information from contractors in regard to major repairs tenders/quotations. I would like some reassurance as to how the process is audited to ensure VFM.
A. For all major works contracts the Council employs their own in-house surveyors to administer the contracts and undertake quality inspections during and on completion of the works. The Council also utilises the expertise of external quantity surveyors to manage the financial aspects of these contracts to ensure the contract terms and conditions are complied with and any completed works are appropriately valued in accordance with the terms of the contract.
Q. What can I do if I have a query about the amount of the charges in respect of Major works or the standard of workmanship?
A. Where a dispute occurs, the Council will try to resolve this via its own internal dispute process. This may include: the provision of a breakdown of costs with an explanation of the bill, face to face meetings with individual leaseholders to discuss issues and joint inspections of the works. If the dispute remains unresolved, leaseholders can follow the Council’s internal complaints procedure and, if necessary, be given information on possible routes for external dispute resolution.
Q. Why do leaseholders have to pay a service charge and tenants don’t?
A. Tenants do not pay a service charge because they pay rent and as part of their tenancy agreement they have the right to have their accommodation kept in a reasonable state of repair.
After a flat is sold under the Right to Buy Scheme or on the open market, the Council is still responsible for the upkeep of the structure, exterior and communal parts of the block and for providing services. Your lease will say what share of the overall charge for the block you will be asked to pay for and when. You may be liable to contribute towards the cost of services, even if you choose not to take advantage of them, eg. washing areas, communal footpaths.
Many of the Council’s blocks and estates have both tenants and leaseholders living in them. As a leaseholder you are not charged for the cost of repairs to tenants’ homes.
Q. I am not liable for the charges as they relate to the period before I bought the property.
A. Unfortunately this is not the case as the current leaseholder takes on responsibility for all leasehold costs.
When a leaseholder sells their property they transfer their lease obligations to the new owner. By doing this the buyer accepts all rights and responsibilities included in the lease and the previous leaseholder is released from any liability for debt or refunds, even if they relate to the period they owned the property.
It is the purchaser’s responsibility to ensure that any outstanding debts are cleared before completion takes place. We do not enter into any pro-rata agreements about liability for outstanding charges or refunds. Any such agreements are made solely between the buyer, the seller and both parties conveyancers.
The Council will continue to deal only with the current leaseholder as this is who we have a contractual relationship with. We will send invoices to the current leaseholder and any refunds will also be made to them.
Last Updated: 08/11/2018