Leaseholder have contractual rights, as should be stipulated in the lease document. The leaseholder should expect the landlord to maintain and repair the building, including any buildings or grounds not granted to the leaseholder but to which they have rights of access.
Responsibilities of the Leaseholder
Usually, the leaseholder is required to keep the flat in good order, and make sure all occupation costs are met.
These include Council Tax, electricity, gas and other bills.
Leaseholders are also expected to pay part of the maintenance cost of the building, to act in a neighbourly fashion and to seek the consent of the landlord for all alterations.
The landlord should have an obligation to ensure that the leaseholder complies with such responsibilities for the good of all the other leaseholders.
These rights and responsibilities will be set out in the lease. Some times in older style leases certain obligations may not have been included and this can be rectified by the lease being altered through the completion of a Deed of Variation.
What other rights do leaseholders have?
Leaseholders have more rights than you think. There are many rights set out in the legislation and advice is available readily. When a dispute is ongoing, you ought to ask the managing agent for full details and/or an explanation.
Information: the landlord should provide his name and a contact address within the UK which must be stated on every demand for service charges. Leaseholders can demand service charge summaries, insurance cover details and have the right to inspect accounts and any other documents.
Consultation on major works: the landlord is unable to carry out major works to the building without initially consulting the leaseholders in an appropriate fashion. Should he fail to do this, he may not recover all the costs.
Consultation on long-term agreements: the landlord cannot enter into certain agreements or contracts for any service over 12 months without first consulting the leaseholders.
Challenging service charges; leaseholders may apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) to seek a determination of how reasonable the charges are and whether they have already been paid or not.
Challenging administration charges: leaseholders may apply to the LVT to seek a determination of how reasonable other charges arising from the lease are as well as how reasonable the service charge, such as, consents for alterations and sub-letting, or fees for providing information on resale.
Right to manage: if leaseholders want to change the management of property whether it is effective or not. They can do so by using the right to manage. This is a 'no fault, no compensation' process that will allow leaseholders as a collective to decide the management arrangements for the property. This right does not apply to local authority landlords.
Appointing a manager: if the landlord's management is deficient, then leaseholders can apply to the LVT for the appointment of a new manager (except for housing associations and local authorities.)
Extending a lease: an individual leaseholder who meets certain conditions can demand a new lease from the landlord, with the price to be agreed between the parties. If that is not possible the price can be set by the LVT.
Buying the freehold: groups of leaseholders who meet certain conditions can get together and enforce the purchase of the freehold, again with the price being agreed between the parties. If that is not possible, the price can be set by the LVT.
More information on buying the freehold.
Right of first refusal: where the landlord proposes to sell his interest in the building, first he must offer it to the leaseholders or he can be prosecuted (except for housing associations and local authority landlords).
All these rights are covered in various publications available from LEASE.
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