Leasehold terms and conditions
A lease is an extremely important legal contract relating to the occupation and ownership of your home and sets out the legal relationship between you, the leaseholder and us, the landlord.
When you sign the lease or take over an existing lease you are agreeing to certain responsibilities and so are we. The lease grants you a number of rights but also serious obligations which you need to understand when you buy your new home.
It is essential that you seek legal advice prior to signing the lease and make sure that your solicitor goes through each clause of the lease with you. Ask your solicitor to provide you with a copy of your lease when you purchase your property.
Main terms of a lease:
The main sections of a lease give you details on the following:
- A description and outline plan of the property, defining the boundaries and areas you are responsible for
- Definitions of your scheme and your block or building are important as if a service charge applies, it will be based on these
- Rent and/or service charges you must pay
- How and when the rent and service charges are reviewed
- Items that may be included with your service charges including the types of services that will be provided. These are also important as your service charges are also based on these
- The lease is likely to tell you what proportion of the service charges you will have to pay but may not indicate exactly what you will be paying for or how much
- The lease details whether or not you are required to contribute to a Sinking Fund and if so how this will be paid. Some leases allow for collection of the Sinking Fund contribution as part of the annual service charge calculation and in others, the sinking fund contribution is collected when the property is re-sold
- The length of the lease. If it is a new lease it may run for 99 or 125 years. If it is an assignable lease it will start from the date the first owner bought the property. If this took place 15 years ago and the lease is 99 years, there will be 84 years left of the lease
- The lease will give details of the full market value of the property and the amount you have to pay depending on the share you are purchasing. You can only purchase the percentage that is up for sale. This could range from 25% to 100% depending on how much is being sold , and the age group the property has been built for. At our Leasehold Schemes for the Elderly the maximum equity share you can purchase is 70% and for our Older Persons shared ownership the maximum equity you can purchase is 75%.
- Details of rights, such as rights to use shared areas
- Details of when and why staff can come into your home
- Information about maintaining the scheme, block or building and inside of your home
- The rights and responsibilities of the landlord
- Your rights and responsibilities as the leaseholder
- The rights to end the lease in certain circumstances
- Rent. You are likely to have to pay a monthly rent if your share is 25% or 50% (and possibly 75% if the property is for general sale and not specifically for the elderly). The lease will indicate if you need to pay rent and your solicitor will confirm the amount, payment method etc. We will also provide you with this information.
- Information about ground rent. This varies from property to property. The lease will indicate if you need to pay a ground rent on your home. Your solicitor will confirm your obligation
- Details about buildings insurance
- Buying more shares in your home (staircasing).
The lease can only be changed in exceptional circumstances. In general, the conditions of the lease can only be changed if we both agree to the changes, and/or by the direction of a court or First Tier Property Tribunal.
There are specific procedures that need to be followed in these instances and you will need to get legal advice.
If the change or correction to your lease involves one of the clauses that the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) considers to be fundamental to shared equity home ownership, JJH will also need to obtain their agreement to the change.
For more information or advice about changing your lease please contact Johnnie Johnson Housing on: 0345 305 5335
Obligations vary from lease to lease, but cover such items as:
- Keeping the property in good repair
- Paying charges
- Not causing a nuisance
- Not altering your home without asking for permission from the landlord.
Please refer to your lease agreement for details of the specific obligations applicable.
Landlord obligations may include:
- Allowing you peaceable enjoyment of your home
- Arranging buildings insurance (but not contents insurance)
- Providing a warden call system (where applicable usually at schemes where residents are 55+)
- Arranging external repairs and replacements (in some schemes but not all).
Please refer to your lease agreement for details of the specific obligations applicable
Check your lease for specific restrictions applicable. These may include restrictions on keeping pets, putting up TV aerials, car parking etc. Please make sure you are made aware of these restrictions.
Your lease also details other things you may be able to do including buying more shares in your home or selling your share to somebody else if you want to move, and tells you how to do it. It may allow you to:
- Staircasing i.e. to purchase more shares in the property
- Sell your share of the property to someone else
- Transfer ownership, for example from a joint to single name.
Should you have a dispute with us, we have a complaints procedure to help resolve the situation. If there are still problems even when you have exhausted our complaints procedure, you can complain to the Independent Housing Ombudsman. However, if your dispute is over certain matters connected with your lease, for example the level of service charges or your liability to pay them, then there are other routes of complaint and you should seek appropriate legal advice or contact JJH for more information and advice.
We can only end your lease if you break some of the conditions of the lease. For example if you do not pay the rent or service charges.
If we consider that you have broken the conditions of your lease we will write to you. We will explain how you are breaking the conditions of your lease and what you must do to put it right. If you continue to break the conditions of your lease, we may ask a court to end your lease.
The court will ask us to prove that:
- You have broken the conditions of your lease; and
- It is reasonable for you to lose your home as a result.
Leases vary from scheme to scheme but most shared ownership leases will allow for staircasing provision up to 100% of the property. However, the leases for most of the Leasehold Schemes for the Elderly normally only allow leaseholders to purchase up to 70% of the equity in their home.
If you want to sell your home, the lease normally states that you must inform JJH first. You should inform us in writing that you want to move and we will undertake to find a purchaser for your share from our waiting list. This helps to make sure that as many people as possible benefit from shared ownership.