What is a leaseholder?
As a leaseholder, you have bought the right to live in your property for a fixed number of years - initially up to 125 - called the 'term'.
Although the term is fixed at the start, it decreases every year until it expires and the ownership of the property returns to us, unless you apply to extend the lease.
As a leaseholder, you will normally own and be responsible for everything within the four walls of your property, with the exception of pipes and drains that also serve other properties. As your landlord (or 'freeholder' or 'lessor'), we remain the owner of the overall building and the land it stands on and remain responsible for the maintenance and repair of the structure and exterior of the building.
As a Leaseholder however you have a responsibility to contribute towards the cost of repairs and maintenance to any internal and external common areas and parts and any services provided.
How do you become a leaseholder?
There are two ways you can become the leaseholder of a flat where the council is the freeholder:
1. through the right to buy. This gives most existing council tenants the right to buy the property they live in at a discounted price which is based on how long you
have been a tenant in the public sector (local authority, housing associations etc); or
2. by buying the lease from the current leaseholder, who may or may not have originally bought the flat from us.
In both cases, you should get a solicitor or other suitably qualified person to act for you.
As the lease agreement is legally binding on you, it is important to understand its requirements and the charges you will be expected to pay. If you are buying the lease from existing leaseholders, your solicitor or adviser should make sure they have paid all the amounts due from them before the sale. If not, you may have to pay some of the charges they owed.
If you buy the flat from an existing leaseholder, you should tell us straightaway, as we have a right to know who is responsible for the property. We will then register your interest in the property. If you are the new owner, you will have to pay us a fee to register the transfer of the property to you and to record any interest that the bank or building society granting you a mortgage has in your property.
For further information on the services we provide to leaseholders please contact us on 0191 643 7540 or email the Leasehold team.