Living in a leasehold flat

Moving from a house to a flat can feel a little strange. Neighbours should respect the need to consider each other when living side by side or on top of each other and sharing communal facilities. Below are a few tips which we hope you will find of use.

There is not a standard lease, they vary widely and can also be interpreted in many ways. It is worth spending time reading your lease to see what you are and are not responsible for. If in doubt speak to a solicitor.

The leasehold ownership of a flat usually relates to everything within the four walls of the flat, including floorboards, plaster to walls and ceilings, pipes that solely benefit the flat and maintaining and repairing the windows. The structure and common parts of the building and the land it stands on are usually owned by the freeholder, who is also the landlord. The costs of maintenance and repair to these common areas are recoverable through the service charges and billed to the leaseholders.

As a leaseholder you will be expected to keep the interior of your property in good repair and to pay a proportionate share of the costs of running the building in your service charges which is payable by the date determined by your lease. Please note that the Service Charge will vary from year to year.

Please pay your service charge on time as this will help to maintain the cash flow needed to provide the services and repairs that you and your neighbours require.

You will be responsible for the payment of a rent (Ground Rent) to the Landlord which will be specified in the lease.

Most leases require the landlords permission to carry out alterations and improvements (e.g new kitchen or bathroom). Failure to do so could lead to complications and delays if you decide to sell.

If you have a problem with a neighbour over noise or other anti-social behaviour try and solve it between yourselves. The management company/agent have very little power to take action for anti-social behaviour. If the dispute continues approach the local authority or police for assistance.

Water leaks are the most common cause of damage and insurance claims in blocks of flats. If you are going away for a long period of time turn off the water at the stopcock in your flat. It would be helpful if you provide us with contact details of an emergency keyholder in case there is a leak whilst you are away.

The building will be insured by the landlord. You will need to insure your own contents making sure it includes cover if a leak from your flat damages the contents of other flats, because you will be liable.

Please do not store petrol, paraffin or calor gas heaters in your flat or balconies and communal areas. Do not light barbecues on a balcony.

Please do not block landings and hallways with personal belongings such as bicycles, prams, toys, shoes, etc. They are a fire and trip hazard.

Please put your rubbish in the refuse/recycling bins provided. If you have large items to dispose of ring you local council – they will usually dispose of it for free.

Keep information such as leases, service charge, ground rent demands, annual accounts and consultation notices in a safe place. You will probably need these if you decide to sell.

Please keep to your allocated car parking space(s) and let your visitors know the rules about parking so they do not upset your neighbours.

Always ensure the main door to your block is locked. Do not let strangers through a door entry system or provide them with any code.

Please check your lease for any restrictions on pets. You will usually need to get permission from the landlord or management company.

Most leases do not allow the fitting of satellite dishes by leaseholders. If you have not checked with the previous owner or their solicitor, speak to your managing agent and they should be able to inform you whether there is a communal dish or cable TV.

Do not assume that you own or have the right of access to any loft space over your flat. Always check your lease.

If you want to sublet your property you will need to obtain permission from your landlord, along with your letting agents contact details and a copy of your tenancy agreement. Please make sure that your tenant is aware what they are responsible for under the terms of your lease.