LEASEHOLD MANAGEMENT POLICY

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1 LEASEHOLD MANAGEMENT POLICY EG/Board Approval: November 2014 Responsible Board: Ocean Housing Ltd Next Review: November 2015 Responsible Executive: Managing Director of Ocean Housing Ltd 1.0 INTRODUCTION 1.1 This document is intended to illustrate the aims and objectives of Ocean Housing Ltd (OHL), when the organisation grants a long lease or Shared Ownership lease on a property for which it continues to provide landlord services. The lease will usually require the leaseholder to contribute to OHL for costs incurred in providing those services by paying a service charge. The lease may also require the leaseholder to pay a contribution towards OHL s costs for maintaining the property, the building in which it is situated, or the surrounding area. OHL is committed to meeting its responsibilities to leaseholders under the terms of their leases, and to providing them with high quality services in the management and maintenance of their homes. 2.0 BACKGROUND 2.1 OHL owns the freehold of approximately 127 leasehold flats sold under the Preserved Right to Buy or Right to Acquire for which Landlord services are provided, as well as approximately 276 (sold as at 30/9/14 ) Homebuy properties. While RTB sales have reduced significantly over recent years, the Homebuy market continues to grow. 2.2 For the purpose of this policy, Leasehold Management includes: Properties originally sold under the right to Buy or Right to Acquire; Shared ownership properties; Open market properties sold under a covenant to contribute to scheme maintenance charges. 3.0 POLICY AIMS 3.1 OHL is committed to: Meeting its responsibilities to leaseholders under the terms of their leases, and to providing them with comprehensive, high quality services in the management and maintenance of their homes. Providing the same standards of customer care and performance to leaseholders as to tenants. Ensuring all types of leaseholders know their rights and responsibilities. Ensuring that leaseholders are consulted in accordance with the requirements of legislation, regarding plans for major works and improvements and on any other proposed changes to policy or practice, that will affect the management or maintenance of their homes. Working with leaseholders, leaseholder representatives and leaseholder groups to consider issues such as leaseholder satisfaction with the level and quality of services provided and the way in which charges are determined. Providing leaseholders with a handbook. A summary copy of the insurance cover is provided annually as it is renewed. 4.0 POLICY CONTENT AND OBJECTIVES 4.1 The Lease (Type I, II, III, Shared Ownership Leases and open market leases) Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 1 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

2 4.1.1 OHL will be bound by the terms of the lease, whether granted directly by OHL or originally granted by Restormel Borough Council, and subject to which OHL acquired the freehold interest OHL will make available to all prospective leaseholders who are OHL s tenants, full and factual information relating to their rights and obligations as leaseholders, and emphasise the need for them to seek independent legal advice before committing themselves to purchasing the lease All new leases issued by OHL will include information regarding: The service charge to be paid, how it has been determined and when payment is due. Where it is a variable service charge, the arrangements for collecting contributions The procedures for leaseholders to assign the lease (re-sale) The grounds for OHL ending the lease by forfeiture or re-entry (taking account of the requirements of the 1996 Housing Act) The details of the respective responsibilities of the leaseholder and of OHL for repairs and maintenance to the property, the structure and common parts OHL will provide an easy to read handbook for leaseholders (which will also be available in other languages or formats if required). OHL also emphasises the need for prospective leaseholders to seek independent legal advice before committing themselves to purchasing the lease. 4.2 Changing the terms of a lease OHL can only alter the lease either by mutual agreement between both parties, through a solicitor, or by a Deed of Variation which will have to be approved by a court or a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT). Any mutual agreement can then only be overturned by the LVT. 4.3 Repairs OHL shall put in place appropriate arrangements to maintain the common parts of buildings in good repair in accordance with lease obligations. This shall include day-to-day repairs, cyclical maintenance and major works. Where appropriate, Section 20 consultation procedures will be followed Leaseholders may report appropriate repair requests for communal parts through OHL s repair line (or out of hours arrangements in the case of an emergency) Leaseholders of shared ownership properties will be expected to maintain and repair their property in accordance with the terms of their lease once outside of any defect period Periodic maintenance and major works shall be programmed to maintain the condition of assets on which leaseholders will be consulted in accordance with Section Service Charges (see also Service Charge Policy) OHL will prepare timely and accurate information about the cost of services for which service charges are due. It will provide to leaseholders a copy of the annual service charge accounts for each block within six months of the end of the accounting period. Leaseholders will have the right to approach Ocean regarding service charges in line with Section 22 Landlord and Tenant Act (LTA) 1985, and be supplied with supporting evidence/documentation to inspect. Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 2 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

3 4.4.2 Service charges will be set to reflect actual costs for each block and as far as possible they shall be calculated on a variable service charge basis. Where a surplus or deficit occurs over a particular financial year, OHL will carry it forward to the following year s accounts or add it to the following year s service charge as appropriate, unless otherwise specified by the terms of the lease. A general list of service charge elements is as below:- Communal Grounds maintenance Play Areas Maintenance and wear & tear Communal cleaning (including carpets) Fly Tipping (Skip Hire) Communal Window cleaning Communal bins & bin storage area Communal water Communal electricity Communal gas service Communal CCTV service maintenance and wear & tear Communal heating / boiler service maintenance Communal roads pathways and parking areas maintenance Communal carpet renewal (wear & tear) Communal furniture renewal (wear & tear) Communal aerials maintenance and wear & tear Communal rooms furniture and equipment Sewage treatment and pump facilities maintenance & wear & tear Lifts & lifting equipment maintenance and wear & tear Communal Stair lift maintenance and wear & tear Fire alarms / emergency lighting & equipment (including Sprinkler System) maintenance and wear & tear Door-entry systems maintenance and wear & tear Laundry equipment maintenance and wear & tear Communal white goods wear & tear Any other services This is intended as a general guide and not an exhaustive list. The actual elements to be charged will be determined for each leaseholder as contained within the lease Landlords are required to provide Right To Buy applicants with an estimate of any service charge they will have to pay during the first five years of their lease, and cannot charge more than this figure during the first five years, except to take account of inflation. 4.5 Ground Rent All leaseholders are required to pay ground rent annually on demand. In the case of properties bought under the Right to Buy/Right to Acquire this is fixed under the terms of the lease at 10 per year. In the case of shared ownership properties, the ground rent is set at a level which takes account of the share of property owned by OHL. In all cases the lease controls the ground rent charged by OHL and this demand will be sent annually, accompanied by a notice in the prescribed format (Section 166 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002). Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 3 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

4 4.6 Management Fees OHL reserves the right to recover the costs for managing its leasehold properties. Management Fees which may vary from time to time, will cover the costs of providing management and general administration on behalf of Leaseholders. 4.7 Service Charge Collection Leaseholders will be offered a variety of payment mechanisms for the payment of their service charges in accordance with OHL s Income Management Policy. Service charge demands will be accompanied by a summary of leaseholders rights and obligations in line with legislation (Section 153 notice). If works are to be charged for beyond 18 months from when OHL are invoiced (e.g. from Ocean Services) then leaseholders must be advised in writing otherwise the cost will not be recoverable Methods of payment: Standing order Direct debit By cheque By debit or credit card at our offices or over the phone Via the Ocean website 4.8 Service Charge Arrears Leaseholders are provided with statements of their service charges at regular intervals. Invoices are produced annually. Any Leaseholder falling behind with payments will be advised accordingly, as appropriate action for arrears recovery will be taken Shared Owners will receive quarterly statements of their rent and service charges (if applicable). Shared Owners will be subject to the OHL rent arrears procedure If arrears occur, the Leaseholders will be contacted and encouraged to either make an immediate payment to clear the full amount or to make an arrangement with OHL to clear the outstanding debt by defined instalments. Where the leaseholder is resident in the property with arrears, Ocean will consider carefully the granting of a concession to clear the arrears through an interest free instalment plan. Such plan to be structured that the sum due is cleared prior to the demand for the next years charge. Such concession can also be granted to a resident leaseholder upon receipt of invoice, and before arrears accrue, if financial hardship is clear. For the avoidance of doubt, such concessions shall not be available to non-resident leaseholders who shall be pursued for payment in accordance with Oceans standard policy approach and commonly accepted business terms Leaseholders may be offered advice about housing and other benefits which may assist them in maximising their income and/or meeting their service charge liabilities If the Leaseholder is unable to make sufficient payments to meet the terms of a repayment agreement, consideration may be given, with the lender, to reschedule the debt or undertake other appropriate courses of action. Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 4 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

5 4.8.6 Where other courses of recovery action have failed, consideration may be given to commence legal proceedings. Legal action may include money judgement orders, or following persistent failure to pay service charges, action for forfeiture (bringing the lease to an end), in accordance with leasehold legislation. This is subject to a breach being proven and a valid S146 notice being served. Forfeiture action cannot be taken for amounts of less than 350 in total, or that have been outstanding for less than three years, for service charge, ground rent and admin charges. 4.9 Insurance OHL will insure the buildings to their full reinstatement value and provide to Leaseholders, annually on renewal, details of the sums insured, perils covered and premiums. Leaseholders have the right to further information regarding their insurance (in line with Section 30a, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) Leaseholders must inform OHL of any changes in circumstances that may impact on the insurance, for example, sub letting which is subject to approval It will be the responsibility of the Leaseholder to complete and submit claim forms to the insurer where damage is the Leaseholder s responsibility to repair In the case of damage to the block or structure where liability is that of OHL under the lease, OHL will complete and submit claims to the insurer. Where the leaseholder is in possession of supporting facts or information they will be expected to provide this in support of the claim Leaseholders are responsible for arranging their own contents insurance. If requested OHL can provide details of a company that provides third party contents insurance provision for tenants and leaseholders Cost of Major Works (including Structural Works) OHL will aim to limit the proportion of the costs of Major Works, which it passes on to Leaseholders wherever possible, and as required by legislation. Ocean is required to observe Section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which specifies that service charges must be reasonable and that works must be of a reasonable standard OHL aims to recover from Leaseholders all monies due from them towards costs of major works in accordance with lease terms and legislation where consultation has been carried out or dispensation from consultation has been sought OHL may explore with the Leaseholder a range of alternative repayment mechanisms for meeting the costs of major works for which they are liable, if such costs are significant and would present hardship if demanded in one payment Where provided for in leases OHL will consider establishing sinking funds to provide for future major repairs, and so avoid large one-off service charge demands. We may also seek to establish sinking funds for other buildings on a voluntary basis Calculation of sinking fund contributions will be based on a professional assessment of the life expectancy of the building components It may be possible to offer internal works to individual Leaseholders which are not covered by the terms of the lease (for example, modernisation schemes offered to rented accommodation). However, such schemes will require a significant contribution in advance as agreed with OHL. Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 5 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

6 4.11 Consultation OHL will consult Leaseholders on services provided both individually and by service user forums as appropriate and in accordance with legislation OHL will consult Leaseholders on any proposed changes to arrangements for maintenance, management or service provision, which could have a substantial effect on them OHL will promote and recognise any Leaseholder groups established in the area. It will provide such groups with advice, support and assistance as necessary Reserve/Sinking Fund Where the lease allows, sinking funds may be established to provide an adequate amount of money for repair and improvement works required to the scheme without large changes year-to-year in the overall service charge to Leaseholders The contributions towards the sinking fund will be set at a level to enable the structure to be maintained to acceptable standards and at least that used for rented homes. Calculations of sinking fund contributions may be contained within the terms of the lease but in any case should be sufficient with regard to building components life cycles Leaseholder Improvements Any Leaseholder wishing to carry out improvement works to their home must first obtain the Landlords consent by contacting the Asset Manager at OHL. The Leaseholder is required to submit full details of the proposed work, including proof of planning permission and building control consent where this is applicable The decision to grant or refuse permission will be provided to the Leaseholder in writing detailing the reasons for the decision. Further clarification is detailed in the procedure document Breaches of the Lease Appropriate action will be taken whenever OHL becomes aware that a Leaseholder is acting in breach of the terms of their lease. Such breaches may include: Subletting Unapproved works Improper use Failure to maintain, or damage to, premises Refusal of access to the Company s officers Harassment or neighbour nuisance refer to Anti-Social Behaviour Policy Unpaid ground rent, rent (for Shared Owners) or service charges In all such cases, OHL will first seek to resolve the issue with the Leaseholder. This may include service of a notice on the Leaseholder requiring them to remedy the breach. If the breach continues, further action will be taken, which may include seeking an injunction, or as a last resort, taking action against the Leaseholder for the forfeiture of their lease. Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 6 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

7 4.15 Transfer of Leasehold Interests OHL will respect Leaseholders entitlements to sell their Leasehold interests to third parties and will deal with enquiring relating to such transfers in a prompt and efficient manner Leaseholders should notify OHL of transfers, providing OHL with current correspondence addresses OHL reserves the right to charge a fee for services and documentation provided. Such demands will be accompanied by a summary of leaseholders rights and obligations as required by legislation (Section 158 notice) Leaseholder Enfranchisement Should Leaseholders request to acquire the freehold of the block of flats, the Company will comply as required by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act OHL will make available, information relating to the right to manage to any leaseholder requesting it. For qualification conditions please refer to the procedure document Buy Back OHL may buy back leasehold property from Leaseholders, but only in exceptional circumstances. Each case will be assessed on its merits and Buy Back will depend on the money available for this purpose Customer Feedback: compliments, comments and complaints OHL will first seek to resolve any complaints at service level. If this cannot be done to the Leaseholder s satisfaction complaints may be escalated through OHL s formal complaints policy This does not take away either parties right to formally refer disputes to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) Sub-letting Subletting is permitted for Right To Buy leaseholders provided that both their lender and Ocean are advised and that OHL are kept informed of contact details for service charge purposes Shared owners are generally not permitted to sub-let under the terms of their lease. However, individual cases will be considered where this will be for a limited period. 5.0 CUSTOMER INVOLVEMENT AND CONSULTATION 5.1 OHL recognises the importance of working in partnership with our customers to develop and continuously improve our services and raise standards. 5.2 OHL actively involves all customers in at the beginning of decision making processes and ensures leaseholders are empowered to pay a part in wider consultation and involvement structures, as detailed in full in our Tenant/Resident Involvement Strategy. Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 7 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

8 5.3 To demonstrate this commitment, this policy: Involves Leaseholders in the monitoring and testing of service delivery standards laid out in this policy and relevant procedures Will be developed and reviewed in light of Leaseholder feedback, comments and complaints. 6.0 EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY 6.1 OHL recognises that it operates in a community within in which there is wide social diversity, and is committed to providing equal opportunities and valuing diversity. 6.2 In the delivery of our Leasehold Management service, we aim to treat all customers fairly, and with respect and professionalism regardless of their protected characteristics. 6.3 To enable all residents to have clear information and equal access to our Leasehold Management Service, OHL publishes clear information in a range of appropriate languages and formats and through a range of media on request. Feedback is also accepted through a variety of different routes to reflect individual customer s preferences or needs. A copy of this policy is available in large print, in Braille, in audio format and in other languages from our Customer Services department. 7.0 IMPLEMENTATION 7.1 Implementation of this policy will rest with the Head of Neighbourhood Services reporting to the Managing Director of Ocean Housing Ltd, and the Ocean Group Director of Resources. However, the Income and Leasehold Manager implements this policy on an operational basis. 8.0 REVIEW OF THE POLICY 8.1 This policy is usually subject to an annual review, however, should legislation change before the diarised review date, consultation with Leaseholders will take place regarding this document, and any changes will be reported to the OHL Board for approval. 9.0 RELATED DOCUMENTS Residents Handbook Asset Management Strategy OHL Complaints Procedure Rent Arrears Recovery Policy Leaseholder Improvements Request Procedure Collective Enfranchisement Request Procedure Tenant/Resident Involvement Strategy Equality and Diversity Strategy Services for Vulnerable People Policy 10.0 DEFINITIONS AND TERMS 10.1 Leaseholders include those who have purchased a flat through the Preserved Right to Buy or the Right to Acquire, or residents in Shared Ownership properties where OHL retains the freehold of the property. Major works are usually cyclical works to the structure or fabric of the building such as external painting or re-roofing, where the lease allows a recharge to be made to the Leaseholders to recover costs of the work. Homes & Communities Agency Reg No: LH4248 Leasehold Management Policy - Page 8 of 8 CB Society No: 30521R

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