Waltham Estate RMO manages a number of properties on Waltham Estate that have been sold either with a lease or freehold with or without a service charge. This charter provides a general guide to our obligations as the landlords managing agents and your obligations as a homeowner.
What is a lease?
A lease is a legal agreement between the landlord (the freeholder) and the person buying the lease (the leaseholder). It gives the leaseholder rights over the property for a fixed term of years. For Right to Buy leases this is usually 125 years.
Buying a long lease on a property gives you the right to live in that property for the number of years that are remaining in the lease. During that time you are able to sell the lease of the property to another person/company. The lease sets out the obligations of both the leaseholder and the freeholder. Whether you purchased your home from another leaseholder, or from the council under the Right to Buy, you will have purchased the lease on the property.
Although you will own the lease for your property, there is still a landlord and tenant relationship between yourself and the freeholder. In some cases therefore, in documents and legislation you may find that you are referred to as a 'tenant'. At the end of the lease, the property will once again return to the freeholder. In most cases you can apply to have the lease extended and in some circumstances apply to buy the freehold property.
What repairs am I responsible for?
Leaseholders are responsible for maintaining the inside of their property. This includes, and is not limited to:
- Floor surfaces including floorboards
- Ceilings and plaster boards
- Plaster or plasterboards to the walls
- Glass in the windows but not the window frames
- All doors and frames inside the flat, including front and back doors
- Pipes, wires and cables that service your property
- Decorations inside the property
- All fixtures and fittings inside the property, including plumbing, sinks, bath and toilet
- Electrical and gas appliances
What repairs are the council responsible for?
- Repairs to structure of the property including your roof
- Repairs to the outside of your property and common areas
- Blockages to waste pipes external to your property
- Burst or leaking pipes external to your property
How do I report a repair?
Leaseholders can report a repair exactly the same way as council residents on the estate.
Why do I have to pay a service charge?
Service charges are collected to cover the running cost of the block in which your property is situated as well as common areas to the estate. These costs include:
- Leasehold management
- Estate cleaning
- Estate lighting
- Ground maintenance
- Pest control
- General maintenance
- Building insurance
What are 'rechargeable works'?
Work that is rechargeable under Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended). Section 20 rechargeable works are when we need to spend a lot of money to carry out repairs to meet our responsibilities under the conditions of the lease. This spending might include:
- The cost of a new roof to your building
- Putting a new lift in the building
- Replacing the window frames and windows of any flats in the building
- Repairing roads, paths and walkways on the estate
Section 20 rechargeable work is a service charge. It is work that costs more than a set limit. The limit is set by the Secretary of State and is currently: £250 or £50 multiplied by the number of leaseholders concerned; whichever is greater. We will bill you separately for Section 20 rechargeable work.
We, as the freeholder, are responsible for maintaining and repairing the structure of your flat and the shared areas in which the building is situated. We are also responsible for the estate that your house or building is on. We aim to provide estimates for Section 20 rechargeable work at least one month before the work begins.
Do I have to pay towards this work?
Under the conditions of your lease, you must contribute to our expenses in carrying out work that is recharged under a Section 20 Notice. We have to give you notice before we carry out this work to your building, block or estate.
We recognise that charges arising from this type of work can cause financial difficulties. Although you do not have to pay when you receive the estimate on the Section 20 notice, we will send you a bill once the work has been completed and you must pay this immediately. We are not allowed to run a sinking fund (this is a scheme where we charge homeowners a regular amount each month to help pay for work that is carried out over the period of the lease). You might want to think about how you will pay your share of the costs once we issue the bill. You should consider opening a building society account so you can save regularly for future large bills. Your savings will also earn you interest.
How much notice does the landlord have to give leaseholders?
Under Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended), we, as your landlord, must give you one month's notice (except in an emergency) before we start this work.
What about urgent work?
We still need to tell you about urgent work, but we do not have to keep to the time limits. So, we may start work immediately. However, we must show that we have acted reasonably.
What else is involved?
We, as the landlords managing agent, must get at least two estimates for the work, one being from a company that is not connected to us in any way. It is currently our policy to obtain at least three quotes for the work. Sometimes, not all of the companies actually send us back an estimate for the intended work.
We must also serve a notice on you that describes the work. We will also invite you to make comments about the proposed work. In the served Section 20 Notice, we tell you how you can make your comments. The notice gives a date by which any comments should be received. You are entitled to look at the estimates and tender documents. These are generally available by making an appointment at the estate office. You may make photocopies of the documents presented and there may be a charge for this service.
What if I disagree with the estimate?
You should contact the estate office within a one-month notice period. Your comments will be considered within this period.
What if I do not want the work to be done?
We will consider all views put forward by homeowners and tenants. However, it is part of our duty to repair and maintain the building, block or estate. For example, we could not normally consider requests for a leaseholder's flat to be excluded from a contract as under the terms of your lease you must contribute to the scheme. We must act reasonably as our decisions can be legally challenged.
Can I choose a contractor?
You do not have the right to nominate a contractor unless you belong to a recognised tenants' association. This is a recognised tenants' association under Section 29 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended). However, in the initial consultation, if you have specific preferences for a particular contractor we will consider your recommendations, but it is our policy only to use contractors who are on our 'approved list.'
When will I have to pay?
We will send you an invoice once the work has been completed and the accounts have been agreed.
How much time do I have to pay?
You must pay the invoice immediately. However, we currently allow you to pay within 28 days of the date of the invoice.
How is my service charge calculated?
Service charges are calculated in line with the method set out in your lease, using the rateable value of your home, block and estate.
We divide the rateable value of your flat (PRV) by the total rateable value of your building (BRV). We then multiply the result by the total annual cost of services and repairs to your block to get your charge.
The calculation is:
(PRV / BRV) X cost of contract = the cost for the property
Every March service charge account holders are sent estimated yearly charges for the new financial year. The financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March. The service charge account is debited on the first of every month. The yearly charge for ground rent is added to the first debit in April of each year. At the end of the financial year, the final accounts are prepared. These accounts show the actual spend in the previous year and the service charge account is amended accordingly.
How do I pay my service charges?
There are various ways you can pay your service charges. Please see our guidance leaflet "Paying your rent or service charges."
What is a freeholder?
A freeholder refers to the owner of the land in which the property is built. Generally freehold properties do not form part of a block but on Blenheim Gardens Estate this is not the case.
I am a freeholder; do I have to pay a service charge?
This will depend on the time you purchased your property. On Waltham Estate many properties have been sold freehold, but the owner is required to contribute to the up keep of the estate and rechargeable works. This however, depends on when the property was purchased and is not applicable to all freehold properties on this estate.
What service can I expect?
Staff at Waltham Estate RMO will provide all residents with the exactly the same high standard of customer service regardless if they are a resident, leaseholder or freeholder. Please refer to our "Customer care charter" in the estate office.