Leasehold Services. Welcome Guide

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1 Leasehold Services Welcome Guide

2 Contents Welcome 3 Service charge 4 Major Works 7 Subletting 10 Repairs 12 Gas safety 15 Insurance 16 Ways to get involved 18 Useful contacts 19 2

3 Over the phone Online In writing FREEPOST Lewisham Homes (no stamp needed) Important information My lease starts on My lease expires on My lease duration My service charge account number is Welcome This guide contains useful information about the rights and responsibilities of our leaseholders, and the services provided by Lewisham Homes. The freeholder of your property is Lewisham Council. Lewisham Homes is an arm s length management organisation (ALMO) that was set up by the Council in 2007 to manage, maintain and improve 19,000 homes on its behalf including 4,800 leasehold properties. We are a non-profit making organisation and the Council is our sole shareholder. We are governed by a management board of 15 directors including councillors, tenants, leaseholders and independents. 3

4 About your service charge Your service charge Your annual service charge bill pays for the services to your building and/or estate. The general terms of the lease sets out what we can (and cannot) charge for, and how your share of the charge is worked out. The cost of building insurance (for the shared areas, structure and outside only) is also included in your service charge bill. 4

5 Service charge when to pay Service charge estimate Each April, you will receive a service charge bill for the coming financial year (1 April to 31 March), this is based on the amount we estimate will be spent. The bill breaks down how much you pay for each service, giving both your share of the cost and the total cost for your building and estate. When preparing the service charge bills, we look at the amount we spent in previous years and the budget for the service in the coming year. We try to make your service charge bill as accurate as possible to lessen the difference that will be included in the next year s bill. The cost of day-to-day repairs is the most difficult charge to estimate and often the cause of large costs at the end of the year. Under the terms of your lease, service charges are due for payment within 21 days of you receiving the invoice. Actual service charge By October each year you will receive a statement of the actual costs. This tells you the actual amount spent on each service. We will work out the difference between the amount we charged you at the beginning of the year and the amount that we actually spent during the year. We then include this difference in April s service charge bill so you only pay the amount it has cost to provide the services. I m selling my lease, how much of the service charge do I pay? You pay April s service charge bill for the whole year, as normal, but you should let your solicitor know that you have done this. On the completion date, your solicitor should then collect, from the person buying your property, the percentage of the service charge they are responsible for. 5

6 Service Charge how to pay Debit/credit card Call / or, call our 24 hour automated card payment service You will need your 10-digit service charge account number. Direct Debit Set up a regular payment from your bank by calling / Standing order To make a regular payment from your bank by standing order. Complete the Instalment Request Form you receive with your bill. Cheque Send cheques made payable to the London Borough of Lewisham to FREEPOST Lewisham Homes (no stamp needed). Please write your service charge account number, name and leasehold property address on the back. Online Payment can be made online at Just click View all payments, Leasehold Charges and follow the instructions. BACS To pay London Borough of Lewisham quote account number and sort code You will need your 10-digit service charge account number. In person At PayPoint outlets (local stores and garages where you see the PayPoint sign) or any Post Office, using your plastic service charge payment card. If you have not received your payment card, please contact us to request one. By credit/debit card at our housing office (when using a credit card, a surcharge of 1.9 per cent of the transaction value will be added to the amount you pay. There is no surcharge for debit card payments). Struggling to pay? In most cases we can arrange for you to pay the bill by instalments. The whole bill must be paid by the end of the financial year. Return the Payment Options Form enclosed with your bill to FREEPOST Lewisham Homes (no stamp needed). 6

7 Major Works and repairs costs Leasehold Services Lewisham Homes is responsible for the maintenance of the communal and structural parts of the building and communal (shared) areas of estates such as roads, communal gardens and parking areas. As stated in your lease, the upkeep and repair of these areas is the responsibility of the freeholder. These areas are not included in your purchase because they are shared with other people. The cost of maintaining a building varies according to its age and structure. From time to time it will be necessary for Lewisham Homes to undertake major works to improve or repair the communal and structural parts of the building. These will usually be one-off works. If the cost of the repair or improvement is likely to result in a service charge bill of more than 250, then it is referred to as major works. We also use the term major works to describe external decorations and associated repairs. As a leaseholder, if you have concerns about the work, you should raise these as soon as possible. Do not wait until you receive your bill. It is much easier to sort out disputes with contractors when they are still on-site. 7

8 Major Works consultation Consultation We are committed to consulting with our residents, including leaseholders at all stages of a major works project. The type of consultation will depend on the works that we plan to do. For example, if we are planning a lot of work with major changes then we will organise meetings and give more information to residents than if we are carrying out regular external decorations to your building. Where work is going to cost more than 250 per leasehold flat, you have to be consulted about the work before it begins. This is in accordance with Section 151 of the Leasehold Reform Act You will receive a Notice of Intention letter outlining the works that we intend to carry out. You will be given 30 days to respond to this notice, with your comments about the scope of the intended work. In some circumstances you will have the right to nominate a contractor. Following this another notification letter will be sent with the estimated costs. You will have a further 30 days to give us your comments for consideration. We have responsibility under the lease to repair and maintain the building and common parts of the estate. You cannot refuse permission for the works to go ahead. Where works are considered urgent, it is not always possible to carry out the full consultation process before the works are carried out. In such cases, you will be given as much information and notice of the works as possible. 8

9 Major Works payment options Interest free payment options (resident leaseholders only) 24 months interest free for bills less than 3,000; or 36 months interest free for bills over 3,000 Borrowing from your existing lender If you have a mortgage on your home your mortgage lender may agree to have the cost of the works added to your mortgage. Re-mortgaging Leaseholders may wish to re-mortgage their home to take account of the cost of the works. Right to a Loan You may have the Right to a Loan from the Council if you purchased under the Right to Buy scheme in the last 10 years. It is secured as a mortgage on the property. Equity Loans These are designed to assist older homeowners release the equity value in their home, including schemes that guarantee no repossession. Benefits advice If you receive certain means-tested benefits you may qualify for assistance with some housing costs. Our case workers and welfare benefits advisors can assess if you are eligible and help make a claim. Reduction of charges The Council has the discretion to reduce the cost of major works so that it does not exceed 10,000 in any five year period. Each case is automatically considered against the criteria. Leaseholders are also invited to submit an application to have their case considered under exceptional hardship, with supporting evidence. Leaseholders who cannot afford to pay for the works or a loan If you are unable to pay please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances. This can be over the phone or you can make an appointment to visit us. Home visits can also be arranged if necessary. IMPORTANT! Lewisham Homes recommends that you seek independent financial advice before entering into any financial arrangements. 9

10 Subletting what you need to know You do not need our permission to take in a lodger or to sublet your home, but if you plan to sublet you must let Leasehold Services and the Council know. You must also inform us of your new postal address and/or the address of your appointed managing agent during the period of subletting. This is to keep you informed of: service charges Major Works consultation potential nuisance caused by your tenants potential damaged caused by your property to other properties While subletting you are still responsible for the ground rent, insurance and service charge and for taking action if your tenant causes a nuisance to others. If you fail to take action against your tenant, we may take legal action against you. Check list Before subletting your home, you must: Ask your mortgage lender for permission, if there is an outstanding mortgage on the property. This includes mortgages provided by the Council. Have a tenancy agreement that insists your tenant behaves in a way that does not cause a nuisance to other residents. Properly insure the property. You will need to tell your insurer that you plan to sublet. Write to the Council s Legal Services with details of the subtenant. You will also have to pay a registration fee. Provide Leasehold Services with your contact address. 10

11 Lewisham Council Legal Services 5th Floor, Laurence House, London SE6 4RU Leasehold Services Water leaks Water leaking from sublet properties is the most common cause of damage to other people s homes and communal areas. We will recharge you for the cost of repairing any damage caused by leaks from your property. You are responsible for having adequate insurance. You should provide us with your up-todate contact details so that any problems can be dealt with quickly. If we do not have your correct contact details it will take longer to fix the problem and your costs will increase. If you do not stop the leak we will: ask the Council to use its environmental enforcement powers to enter your property and stop the leak. We will pass the cost of court action and other costs to you; or seek a court injunction requiring you to carry out the repairs. We will also ask the court to award costs against you. Gas safety If you sublet your property, you are a landlord. As a landlord you are required (under the Gas Safety Regulations 1998) to annually service the gas appliances and provide your tenant with a Gas Safety Certificate (CP12). This is issued by the Gas Safe engineer carrying out the work. The servicing must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered contractor. Failure to do so puts your tenant(s) and their neighbours at risk from potentially faulty appliances and carbon monoxide poisoning. You could be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive. Failure to carry out the annual gas check is a serious offence. 11

12 Repairs inside your home Is Lewisham Homes responsible for repairs to the inside of my home? No. Apart from routine repairs to: entry phone handsets; and heating appliances from communal (shared) heating systems (where a service charge for heating is payable) and where work is required to the equipment inside your home. Do I have to pay for these routine repairs? Yes, you will be charged for the full cost of work carried out to equipment inside your home plus an administration charge of 10%. VAT will be charged as the repair is not to a communal (shared) area. Water is leaking into my home what should I do? If you are sure that the water is coming from a neighbouring flat: Talk to the resident of the flat where the water is coming from. They may be able to solve the problem if it is a faulty washing machine or a leak from a sink. If you cannot contact the resident of the flat call Repairs Services. You will need the house number of the property you think the water is coming from. If you do not know where the water is coming from or you think it is coming from an external part of the building call Repairs Services. Ask your insurance company for advice on making a claim for water damage. Will I have to pay for the work to fix the water damage? This depends on where the water is coming from. For example: You will be charged a proportion of the cost of the repair, (set out in your lease); if it is coming from the roof or guttering, an external wall or main storage tank. You should make a claim on your buildings insurance against Lewisham Homes if the water is coming from a tenant s property or against the leaseholder if it is coming from a leaseholder s property. 12

13 Repairs Services Lewisham Council Insurance Section Does Lewisham Homes carry out gas checks in leasehold properties? No, it is your responsibility to ensure that your gas appliances are kept in good working order and tested every year. Will Lewisham Homes repair problems with the electrical supply? No. The electrical supply inside your home is your responsibility. We are only responsible for the supply up to the point where it enters your property. Who is responsible for clearing blocked drains? You are responsible for clearing blockages inside your property or private garden. Lewisham Homes will unblock drains outside your home, but you will be charged for the repair if it is only your home that uses the drain. Lewisham Homes will unblock drains outside your home, but you will be charged for a proportion of the repair if your property and other properties use the drain. If you do not know where the blockage is please call Repairs Services to arrange an inspection. Who is responsible for repairing windows? You are responsible for repairing broken glass in the windows of your home. Lewisham Homes is responsible for repairing window frames, they are considered part of the structure and exterior. This is set out in the lease. Lewisham Homes is responsible for repairing the whole window if it is a double glazed sealed unit that was fitted by us. The cost of this will be included with your service charge. Lewisham Homes is responsible for repairing communal (shared) windows but you will be charged for some of the costs. 13

14 Repairs outside your home What repairs will I be charged for? Any repairs carried out to the structure and exterior of the building and to communal (shared) areas inside your block and on the estate. In most cases your share of the cost is apportioned by the number of properties benefiting from the work. How will I be charged for this work? An estimated charge for repairs is included in the service charge bill that you receive each April. The actual charge for repairs are calculated at the end of the financial year. The charge is included in the leaseholders actual cost and the service charge account adjusted for the difference between the actual cost and the amount charged at the beginning of the year. This applies to repairs that cost the leaseholder less than 250. Can I arrange for repairs to be carried out on parts of the building or estate outside my home or carry out the repairs myself? No, repairs to any of these areas should be reported to our Repairs Service. You must obtain permission from Leasehold Services before carrying out any work to the exterior of your property or structural changes inside your home. What repairs are covered by the insurance that I pay in my service charge? Only repairs to communal (shared) areas that are required as a result of an insured peril, for instance - fire, flood or storm, are covered. Insurance does not cover repairs required due to wear and tear. If you have any queries about what is covered please refer to the information in this pack about insurance or you can also contact Lewisham Council s insurance section. 14

15 Gas safety Quality Heating T-Brown Group Maintaining and servicing your gas appliances You are responsible for ensuring all gas appliances in your home are safe including the gas boiler supplying your central heating and/or hot water. Gas appliances should be serviced annually, by a Gas Safe approved contractor at least once a year to ensure that they are operating safely, efficiently and to give them a longer life. Lewisham Homes use two gas contractors that leaseholders are able to buy services from. Our contractors are: Quality Heating T-Brown Group You should also consider installing a carbon monoxide detector. Your gas supplier can advise and explain what these are used for and why you might want to install one, as well as answer any questions you have about them. 15

16 Insurance who is responsible? Demised premises You are responsible for insuring your leasehold property, defined as the demised premises in your lease. This is the flat and its contents and includes the fixtures and fittings inside the property. You can choose your own insurer but the insurance policy must: be with a reputable insurance company provide comprehensive cover for all insurable risks be in joint names of the Lessee and the Council be for the full reinstatement value and should take into consideration the cost of rebuilding, site clearance, alternative accommodation costs, professional fees etc. You must send a copy of the policy to Lewisham Council s insurance section. Lewisham Council has arranged for Ocaso Insurance to provide leaseholders with a quote for demised premises insurance. Please phone Ocaso and quote Scheme for Lewisham Leaseholders. You do not have to use this insurance company and may wish to obtain several quotes to make sure you are getting value for money. 16

17 Lewisham Council Insurance Section Ocaso Insurance Ocaso Insurance Reserved property The reserved property is the parts of the building not sold, i.e. foundations, roof, loft, outside walls, common parts. The Council arranges cover for the reserved property by a combination of cover with insurance companies and self insurance. All leaseholders are required to contribute towards the cost of insurance cover for the reserved property. This charge is included in the annual service charges. IMPORTANT! These are broad definitions of demised and reserved premises and lessees should refer to their lease for the precise meaning, particularly if the lease is not the Council s standard form of lease. Contents Insurance The Council does not provide any insurance cover for your home contents, you must arrange this separately. If you had previously been paying for contents insurance with your rent this automatically ended on the date that you became a leaseholder. 17

18 Ways to get involved Community Involvement Lewisham Homes provide flexible options for leaseholders to get involved, to suit people s different lifestyles and preferences. We welcome and actively seek your involvement to influence your housing services, help improve the area that you live in and bring your community together. To keep up-to-date with our latest opportunities please read Home, the quarterly resident magazine, or visit our website. Contact our Community Engagement team for more information about involvement opportunities. 18

19 Useful contacts Lewisham Homes or Leasehold Services Repairs Services Lewisham Council Main Switchboard Insurance Section Environmental Services Private Sector Leasing The Housing Ombudsman Designated Person (Complaints) London Borough of Lewisham Lewisham Town Hall London SE6 4RU Other contacts Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) First-Tier Tribunal Residential Property (formerly Leasehold Valuation Tribunal) Gas Safe Register 19

20 We can give you this information in any other way, style or language that will help you access it. Please indicate which language you require and provide your name, address and telephone number in the box below. Our services Nous pouvons vous fournir ces informations d'autres façons, dans d'autres formats ou dans d autres langues pour vous aider à mieux les comprendre. Veuillez indiquer vos détails ci-dessous. REPAIRS GAS RENT ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR ESTATE SERVICES LEASEHOLD SERVICES TENANCY or For other formats tick the appropriate box below: Large print Audio tape Braille Post to: Lewisham Homes FREEPOST (no stamp required) 20 Leasehold Services 2014

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