Your lease

Your property lease informs you of your duties and responsibilities as a leaseholder and the Council's responsibilities to you as your landlord.

When you buy the lease you do not buy the flat itself, you just buy a lease for a period of time not more than 125 years which gives you the right to live in the property for an agreed period of time.

Your lease will contain details of the property including a map showing your home, the block it is in, the estate where the block is located and any garden, shed or garage included in the sale.

The estate in the lease is your boundaries of responsibility and you will be expected to pay a proportion of all works carried out to the estate set out in the lease.

The lease informs you of your duties and responsibilities as a Leaseholder and the Council's responsibilities to you as your Landlord. Not all leases are the same, so you should always check the terms of your lease or seek independent legal advice if in doubt.

If you are a Leaseholder and break the terms of your lease, you could risk losing your home.

Extending the period of a lease

Leaseholders have the right to extend their lease under legislation. The process involves Leaseholders being given a new lease with a 90 year term plus the remaining term of the old lease.

If you need to know exactly how many years are left on your lease, your first port of call would be your sale documents. This should detail the date on which your lease started. Note this may not be the date you bought the lease for the dwelling as this is dated at the date the first property within that block was sold. 

If you do not have a copy of your sale documents then you can email homeownership@brentwood.gov.uk

Alterations and additions to the leasehold property

It is a requirement of your lease that you cannot carry out alterations or additions to the property without first putting your request in writing to the Housing team.

Examples of alterations include knocking through a wall, adding doors/windows. An addition would include building an extension or conservatory.

Brentwood Borough Council will either give consent or deny permission within 21 days of receipt of your request in writing.

If the Leaseholder has already carried out alterations before obtaining permission

If you have already carried out the work before obtaining permission, then you may be in breach of your lease and may have difficulty in selling the property, as the property may no longer comply with the requirements of the existing lease. Consent is required before alterations and additions can be made. If permission is denied, you may be required to return the property to its original condition.

Please note: That approval will be required separately for planning permission and/or building control for most alterations or additions.

Selling a leasehold property

You do not need our permission to sell your home but it does help to speed things up if you tell us as soon as possible.

Whoever buys your home will take over what is left of your lease, under the same terms that you had.

The Solicitor you assign will write to Brentwood Borough Council requesting several items of information and there will be a charge for supplying this information.

You may find it helpful if you provide your solicitor with;

  • a copy of your lease
  • 3 years' worth of service charges
  • details of any planned major works

When your lease is assigned, all service charge arrears including the quarter in which you move, and any deferred loans must be cleared on completion of the sale.

Brentwood Borough Council will not get involved in any apportionment of outstanding service charges between Leaseholders and purchasers.

It is your responsibility to make sure that your Solicitor resolves this and having done so, retains sufficient monies for charges not yet billed.

Right to buy discount repayment

If you bought the lease of your home with the help of the Right to Buy scheme and sell your lease within the first 5 years of the completion of the purchase, you will have to repay any discount you received through the scheme. The discount repayable will be reduced by one fifth for each complete year that has elapsed since completion of the purchase.

In addition, the amount of discount to be repaid if you sell within five years of purchase will be a percentage of the resale value of the property, disregarding the value of any improvements.

If you purchased your property after the 18th January 2005

Under the Housing regulations 2005, if you purchased your property after the 18th January 2005 then Brentwood Borough Council has the right of first refusal should you decide to sell this property within the first ten years of the date of completion of purchase.

In addition, any future purchaser of the property will be required to enter into a covenant with Brentwood Borough Council, whereby the property may not be sold on within the first ten years of the date of purchase without first being offered for sale to Brentwood Borough Council, who will have first right of refusal.

Leaseholder service charges

Leaseholders are required to pay an annual service charge to Brentwood Borough Council, the landlord. Brentwood Borough Council has recently adopted a new Service Charge Strategy pdf and Service Charge Policy pdf. The policy provides a detailed framework relating to service charging.

What do Leaseholders pay service charges for?

Brentwood Borough Council as landlord, provides services which include, but are not limited to; external repairs, improvements, communal heating, lighting, cleaning, external re-decoration and major works as required to it's leasehold properties.

Block leaseholder service charges

Repairs

These are day-to-day costs of repairs and maintenance to the communal parts of your block as shown in your lease agreement such as roof repairs, guttering, structural and lighting.

Brentwood Borough Council are not responsible for repairs and maintenance inside your property. However, we will carry out emergency repairs to prevent a problem in a leasehold property causing either a nuisance to other people or damage to the structure of the block and this work will be recharged to the leaseholder and not the block.

All of our repairs are subject to an administration charge to cover the cost involved in raising the repair, managing the contractors and premise/office expenses.

Major works

This is the cost of any major works carried out to the block. If any major repair amounts to more than £250 per unit, then consultation has to be carried out under Section 20 of the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002.

Below is a summary of the actions in consultation for major works;

  • Send a notice of intention
  • Allow 30 days for observations and nominations of a contractor
  • Obtain estimate
  • Issue a "Paragraph (B)" statement setting out estimated costs and summary/responses to any observations made
  • Serve a Notice specifying where the estimates may be inspected and inviting observations
  • Allow 30 days for observations on estimates
  • Enter into major works contract
  • Serve notice of reasons and summary/responses to any observations to all Leaseholders and RTAs within 21 days of entering into agreement.

Redecoration

This is the cost of redecorating the exterior/stairwells of the block and is subject to the above consultation if the cost per unit is more than £250. The cost of redecoration can be taken out of a reserve account. External painting is carried out under the terms of the lease, this means within a reasonable period or a minimum of every 5 years.

Cleaning

This is the cost of cleaning the internal stairwells of the block, and generally consists of a weekly sweep down and a monthly wash down and rotation of the bins if applicable. Monitoring the standard of cleaning is the responsibility of the Housing Officers, and any queries in regards to this should be directed to the appropriate Housing Officer. Please note, not all blocks receive cleaning.

Lighting

This is the electricity costs for lighting the stairwells/estate signed for in your lease and a quarterly charge for scouting (checking for faults) and light fitment cleaning. This category does not include lighting for adopted public roads which run through estates as this cost is met from Council Tax.

Landscaping

This is the cost for maintaining the grounds around your block such as trees/shrubbery pruning, grass cutting and weeding.

Individual Leaseholder service charges

Buildings Insurance

As required under most of our leases, we are required to insure the block in which you live and your proportion is based against the sum insured.

Heating

This only applies to our blocks that have communal heating with a boiler room and this charge is a proportion of the energy costs.

How to pay leaseholder service charges

We recommend that leaseholders pay their annual service charges by direct debit so you know how much you need to pay every month.

In September each year, every Leaseholder will receive a statement of the actual cost of service charges for the previous year, and estimates for the forthcoming year are issued in March of each year.

Invoices for service charges are issued annually.

You can pay your service charges by any of the following methods;

  • Direct debit
  • Payment on-line
  • 24 hour payment phone line
  • Credit/Debit card
  • Post Office or Paypoint

If you are a Leaseholder who is experiencing difficulty paying service charges then please contact the Housing team to discuss payment arrangements. Please remember, if you are struggling to pay it is essential that you contact the Housing team otherwise further action may be taken against you .

If you are of a pensionable age you may contact the Pensions Service on 0845 6060265 for advice. If you qualify for help they may be able to pay part or all of your service charge.

If you are under pensionable age and on income support you may contact the Department for work and pensions on 0845 6088575. If you qualify for help they may be able to pay part or all of your service charge.