Wealden District Council
You are using an unsupported version of Internet Explorer.
Parts of our website may display incorrectly or not work at all. Please consider downloading an up to date browser such as Chrome or Firefox.

Right to Buy Leaseholder Handbook

Contents

  • Welcome
  • Living in your home
  • Getting on with your neighbours
  • Your rights and responsibilities Costs including service charges
  • Maintaining your home including repairs Resident involvement
  • Moving on Support services Consultation
  • Compliments, complaints and FAQ’s
  • Introduction
  • A Bit More About Wealden District Council
  • Your Leasehold Agreement
  • How to Contact us
  •  Key Contacts

Welcome

This handbook outlines everything you need to know about living in your home and tells you how to find out more information should you need it.

Introduction

This Handbook describes your rights and responsibilities as a Leaseholder of Wealden District Council. It also gives details of Wealden District Council’s responsibilities and the services they provide.

This Handbook is for information and does not replace your Lease. Any details in the Handbook can only be regarded as a general guide. If you have any queries regarding your Lease you will need to consult with your legal representative.

As a Leaseholder you should keep a copy of your Lease as this sets out your rights and obligations and is the legal agreement between you and the Council. A copy should be obtained from your solicitor, if this is not possible you will need to contact the Council’s Leasehold and Right to Buy Officer who may be able to provide you with a copy. There is a minimum fee of £15.00 for this service.

If you have any enquiries regarding any of the matters contained in this Handbook, please contact the Council’s Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer.

A bit more about Wealden District Council

The Council continues to own and manage it’s own housing stock of around 3,000 homes.

The Council also manages approximately 80 sheltered leasehold properties and just under 200 leasehold properties sold under the Right to Buy.

Your Leasehold Agreement

  1. The lease to your property is in a set format issued by Wealden District
  2. The ownership of the flat usually relates to everything within the four walls of the flat including floorboards and plaster, walls and ceilings but does not include the external or structural
  3. Wealden District Council owns the structure and common parts of the building and the land on which it

How to Contact us

By phone

Our office is open 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday and can be reached by calling 01323 443322.

To report a housing emergency only outside of these hours call us on 01323 410051.

By email

housing@wealden.gov.uk for general emails.

In writing

Housing Services, Wealden District Council, Vicarage Lane, East Sussex BN27 2AX.

In Person

Our office is located at Vicarage Lane, Hailsham, BN27 2AX and is open 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday. Please always try to make an appointment prior to visiting the office; as if you visit the office without an appointment the appropriate person to deal with your enquiry may not be available.

Appointments can be made by calling Housing Services on 01323 443322.

For more information about our services please visit: www.wealden.gov.uk

Key Contacts

Housing Income Team Leader – overall responsibility for leasehold service charges: housing@wealden.gov.uk.

Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer – who deals with queries on accounts, sales etc.: housing@wealden.gov.uk.

Finance Officer – who deals with payment arrangements and queries: housing@wealden.gov.uk.

Tenant Involvement Officer – is the key contact for all forms of resident engagement: housing@wealden.gov.uk or email tenant.involvement@wealden.gov.uk.

  • Insurance
  • Buildings Insurance –
  • Claims – Contents Insurance –
  • Security
  • Fire Safety
  • No Smoking
  • Communal Areas
  • Rubbish Disposal
  • Keeping Pets

Insurance

Buildings Insurance Cover

The Council insures the building against loss or damage by fire and other risks as necessary to the full rebuilding cost. The cost of the buildings insurance is recoverable from you on an annual basis in advance under the terms of your lease.

A summary of the main features of the buildings cover provided by Arthur J. Gallagher Housing Limited for your premises, together with a policy schedule is supplied annually to you. The Wealden District Council policy number is 14/RSL/10249A/L&G, further copies of the policy summary can be obtained from the Finance Department at Vicarage Lane.

Claims

In the event that you need to make a claim against the policy please contact Arthur J. Gallagher Housing Limited on 01245 341200 who will arrange for the appropriate form to be sent to you for completion.

The leasehold policy is insured by Legal & General Insurance Limited and underwritten by Zennor Ltd.

Contents Insurance

The Council does not insure your furniture and belongings against theft, fire, vandalism, burst pipes and other household risks. It is therefore important that you take

out Home Contents Insurance. This may be done with an insurance company of your choice and you are advised to shop around for the best deal.

Security

If there is a communal door to the block of flats in which you live, when entering the main building please ensure that the door is closed properly behind you and do not wedge it open. Please do not let strangers into the block or anyone else that you do not know including those presenting themselves as “officials” as this poses a security risk to other residents.

Fire Safety

Should you wish to discuss any matters relating to

general fire safety in the home, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are happy to offer expert advice including home visits. To contact them visit www.esfrs.org

Living in a flat is a greater responsibility than a house in many ways as your actions can affect your neighbours safety – and vice versa. We have listed below some things you can do to live together more safely.

No Smoking

The shared areas of our flats are ‘no smoking’ areas, this includes all corridors and stairwells and in addition all bin stores, drying areas, etc. outside the building.

Corridors and Meter Cupboards

These must not be used for storage, for bicycles, mobility scooters, etc.

Please do not put up pictures or curtains and do not lay carpet or doormats.

Communal Areas

Do not leave any personal belongings in internal and external communal areas, as this is a health and safety risk.

Rubbish Disposal

Normal waste (including items that can be recycled such as paper, plastics, tins and cardboard) is collected. However if you have large items such as furniture to dispose off please take them to a waste disposal centre or contact the Council to arrange for a special collection Q) – please note that

there will be a charge for this service.

Keeping Pets

If you keep a pet it must not cause a nuisance or be a danger to others.

 

  • Acceptable Behaviour
  • What we expect from you
  • What to expect from the Council

Getting on with other residents is not always easy; however it is essential for a happy and peaceful life for both yourself and others.

Acceptable Behaviour

With residents we have agreed the following definition:

“Acceptable behaviour is behaviour that is considerate and responsible; empathises with the individual circumstances of our neighbours and is respectful of our community”.

What do we expect from you?

It is expected that residents will be considerate of one another. Anti-Social behaviour means different things to different people, and what might appear to be acceptable behaviour for one resident, may not be acceptable to another.

With regards to issues which could cause ASB, your lease states that:

  • Occupants are required to avoid causing a nuisance to other Sometimes people, especially those not used to living in flats, can forget that it is

necessary to have consideration for their neighbours. This is particularly relevant for noise nuisance and people having their televisions, radios or stereo systems too loud. Others forget that if they are coming home late at night, it is important to be quiet especially in corridors and on staircases.

We also ask that you:

  • Please be sensible when using communal parking bays and if you have more than one car user living in your property be considerate to others who may need to park at your block.
  • Do not park any untaxed or un-roadworthy vehicle in a parking The Council will take action to remove the vehicle if you do not do so within a reasonable period of time and the cost of this will be recharged to you.
  • Show respect and consideration for their Some noise is inevitable: the odd party or bit of “Do It Yourself” is a part of life and will happen occasionally. If, however, you are subject to unreasonable behaviour you may wish to consider the following:

Wherever possible, you should try to have a quiet friendly word with your neighbour.

This usually achieves the right result and avoids future bad relationships. If this approach fails, try contacting the housing officer who covers your area, they may intervene and try to help you resolve the problem.

You can, of course, always contact the Police if a Breach of the Peace or serious crime is occurring.

What to expect from the Council

If you are unable to resolve the issue yourself by approaching the resident/s concerned then contact: housing@wealden.gov.uk.

  • What is a Right to Buy lease?
  • The Law
  • Your responsibilities as a Leaseholder

What is a Right to Buy lease?

As a leaseholder you have bought the right to live in your property for a fixed number of years. The first flat sold in a block will have a lease for 125 years. For all subsequent sales in the block the lease date and term of 125 years will start from the date of this first sale. The flat can be bought and sold during that term.

The Lease (your leasehold agreement) is a legal contract that contains your rights and obligations as a leaseholder and the Council’s rights and obligations as the owner of the Freehold.

The Law

There are several Laws and Acts of Parliament protecting your rights as a leasehold tenant. Your legal representative can advise you of your rights or you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The main Acts of Parliament covering Leasehold Tenancies are: –

  • Housing Act 1985.
  • Landlord & Tenant Acts 1985 & 1987.
  • Housing & Planning Act 1986.
  • Leasehold Reform, Housing & Urban. Development Act 1993.
  • Housing Act 1996.
  • Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002.

Copies of these Acts will be available at the main public library. In addition to your lease your legal rights are listed below: –

  • The right to information about the
  • The right to seek recognition for a Recognised Tenants Association (RTA).
  • The right to information about service charges and the right to challenge the reasonableness for those charges.
  • The right to be consulted about major works and long term agreements.
  • The right to information about
  • The right to a management

Your responsibilities as a Leaseholder

It is a condition of your lease that you must not:

  • Carry out any structural alteration to your home without first obtaining Wealden District Council’s written consent.
  • Do anything or allow anything to be done that may be a nuisance or inconvenience to Wealden District Council or your
  • Use your home for any trade, profession or
  • Use your home for any illegal, immoral or improper
  • Display any trade, profession or business notice or advertisement on the outside of your flat or on part of the common entrance hall, staircases, landings or passages.
  • Place any window boxes or plants on windowsills or balconies without our written.
  • Fix any external wireless or television aerial including television satellite dishes or other apparatus to the outside of your home without the prior approval of Wealden District Council.
  • Play any musical instrument or equipment to cause annoyance to your neighbours.
  • Park any vehicle, caravan, boat or the like within the precincts of the buildings except a vehicle in any parking space designated by Wealden District Council.

The terms of your Lease should not be confused with the conditions of the Wealden District Council tenancy that you may have had prior to your home purchase.

Those conditions no longer apply and you should refer to your Lease for full details of your rights and obligations.

If you change your name or marital status you will need to contact your legal representative and Wealden District Council.

Please forward the relevant details to the Council’s Legal Services at Vicarage Lane, Hailsham, so that the records held by the Council can be amended. If the change is because of a marriage please forward a copy of your marriage certificate. A fee will not be charged for this service.

As a leaseholder, you have to pay your flat’s share of the Council’s costs of maintaining the block and providing services to all its residents.

  • Your Account
  • The Service Charge
  • How is the Service Charge Calculated?
  • Ways to pay your service charge
  • Difficulties making payments on your mortgage

Your Account

Leaseholders have to pay their flat’s share of the Council’s costs of maintaining the block and providing services to all the residents in it. This is called the leasehold account. The leasehold account is made up of service charges and administration costs.

The Service Charge

Service charges are payments by the leaseholder to the landlord for all services provided to your block of flats and are payable yearly in advance within 21 days of receipt of your bill. Your service charge includes your contribution for Communal Lighting, Cleaning of Communal areas, Grounds Maintenance (apportioned pro-rata on size of grounds), Your service charges do not subsidise tenants in any way. You will also receive an invoice for Ground Rent in April, this is rent charged to every leaseholder by the council. It is due yearly in advance and is written into your lease as a fixed sum of £10.00. The Service Charge also includes an element for each of:

Itemised Repairs

  1. These are the costs for day-to-day repairs and administration carried out to the structure and communal parts of the building.
  2. A list of repairs and service items will be supplied with your statement on 1st October. Works charged are from 1st April of previous year to 31st March of current
  3. If you sell your property, the actual account for the last financial year and the estimated account for the current financial year will need to be paid in full and the solicitors involved in the purchase and sale of the property will apportion the estimated account if required.

Painting and Pre-Painting Repairs

In some instances a set amount each year is charged for cyclical painting and re-decoration

Management Charge

The management charge for the year will be 10% of the service charge cost per leaseholder. This is to cover the following costs:
  • Staff (Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer and time spent by Housing Officers on leasehold issues).
  • Proportion of the costs of raising repairs and inspecting communal
  • Preparation and issue of accounts
  • Preparation of estimates/statements.
  • Accountancy and reconciliation of accounts and payments
  • Dealing with correspondence and enquiries
  • Consultation
  • Insurance Administration

Insurance

Annual buildings insurance for the property which protects against loss or damage by fire and other such risks generally contained in a policy.

How is the service charge calculated?

  1. The service charge is calculated so that every leaseholder pays a proportion of the total costs for their own block of flats. For blocks of four flats, leaseholders will pay a quarter and for blocks of 2 flats they will pay a half share.
  1. The accounts are sent out in two invoices. The estimated account in April for the current financial year and the actual final charges for the last financial year are corrected in the reconciliation account and sent by the end of September.
  2. Some leaseholders query why their service charges bill is different to that of a neighbour. Each account will vary depending on:
  • Whether it is still in the five-year protected period (if purchased directly from Wealden District Council).
  • If the estimated charge for the last financial year has been over or underestimated
  • Major works required

Conditions of Lease following purchase under Right to Buy

  1. The service charge is estimated for a period of five years from when Wealden District Council grants the This is notified in what is known as a Section 125 Notice. The estimate is calculated from previous actual costs. If any major work is planned within the five years, such as re- roofing or replacing windows, these costs are also taken into account.
  2. During that first five-year period the Council cannot charge any more than the amount shown in the Notice, plus an allowance for inflation.
  3. After the five-year period the Council calculates the charges annually and recovers the costs through the service charge. An estimated charge for the current financial year is sent out in April and a reconciliation account for the last financial year by the end of September.

Credits & Adjustments

  1. This will be for amounts you may have paid separately or if we have adjusted your account due to an over-charge in a previous year. Also if your total account is over the maximum estimated amount and you are still covered by the five year Right to Buy protected period.
  2. Adjustments are amounts that the Finance, Estates or Property Services Department have agreed to remove from your charges.

How to Pay

  1. You will receive an estimated invoice for your service charge at the beginning of April for the current financial year (1st April to 31st March) and an actual charge by the end of September for the previous financial The actual account will be a reconciliation statement. Any under or over estimation on the estimated account will then be adjusted on this statement.

Loans

If your lease is less than 10 years old you are entitled by law to a loan for major works (which cost more than £250.00 per property) that are carried out by Wealden District Council. You will have been notified of these works in a “Section 20 Notice”. This is paid back by direct debit over a negotiated term and will incur a maximum administration charge of £100.00. Please contact the Leasehold and Right to Buy Officer for details of how to arrange a loan.

Ways to pay your service charge

Direct Debt

This is the preferred and easiest method of paying your service charge/ rent. If you have a bank account you can set up a direct debt by contacting us for a form to complete. Payments are made by 12 monthly instalments on 1st or 15th of each month.

Standing Order

A standing order is an agreement between you and your bank where you agree to pay a set amount of money on a specific date to someone. Unlike a direct debt if there is a change in the amount of rent/ service charge you need to pay you will need to contact your bank to update your payment amount. Payments are made by 12 monthly instalments on a date of your choice.

At post offices

You can pay at any Post Office with a payment card, which we will send to you when you move it. Payments for rent and service charges are due weekly or monthly but service charges can be made in a single, twice-yearly, monthly or weekly instalments.

By Post

You can send a cheque or postal order made payable to Wealden District Council.

By Telephone

You can make a debit card payment over the telephone Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5.00 pm. Or you can pay by debit card using the Council’s automated telephone payments line; just make sure that you have your rent payment reference

Difficulties making payments on your mortgage

If you experience problems making your mortgage payments at any time, please contact your mortgage lender or the Citizens Advice Bureau immediately.
  • Your Rights
  • Access to your Property
  • Building Repairs
  • Safety and Security
  • Your Neighbourhood
  • Employing Contractors
  • Reporting Repairs
  • Satellite dishes
  • Pests Gas leaks Condensation Energy Efficiency
  • Asbestos

Your Rights

Wealden District Council must repair and maintain the structure of the building of which your home is a part. This includes foundations, roof, walls, external doors, (including flat entrance doors on to communal landings) window frames and communal glass (but not the glass of the windows in your flat) and any such parts of communal outbuildings.

Wealden District Council must also maintain communal cisterns, tanks, drains, gutters, pipes and wires (except those that are for the sole use of your flat).

Wealden District Council must maintain communal areas and items such as lighting, corridors, door entry phones and systems, pathways and stairs. The Council will also maintain communal fencing and gates (except those that are marked in the lease as your responsibility).

If you have concerns about any of the items listed above or wish to report a repair, then please call the repairs team

Access to your property

There may be occasions where we need to gain access to your flat. This may include in emergencies for example to carry out urgent repairs that may affect other parts of the block, in these cases we can gain forced access if necessary and would use our contractors, carpenters and locksmiths to carry out the work and repairs. In non-emergency situations where we need to gain access we will, of course, try to give you reasonable notice.

Building Repairs

As a leaseholder you will have to pay for your flat’s share of any of the building repairs. If you have just purchased your lease under Right to Buy then the Housing Act 1985 requires Wealden District Council to give you an estimate of repair costs which will be included in the service charge for the first five years of the lease. The estimates plus any inflation allowance is the most we will charge you for repairs during the first five years.

Also see Section on ‘Consultation’.

Your Responsibilities

Leaseholders own and are responsible for the maintenance and repair of everything inside their home or which relates solely to it. Responsibility also extends to ensuring the health and safety of their own appliances and they should ensure that their gas appliances (boiler, fires etc) are serviced on a yearly basis by a registered engineer. In addition a qualified NICEIC Electrician should carry out electrical repair checks.

Remember that unsafe appliances pose a risk to your neighbours as well.

In addition leaseholders are also responsible for:

  • Doors in your home
  • Internal repairs and decoration of your flat
  • Glass in your windows (damage due to vandalism may be claimable under the leaseholder insurance) but not window fames
  • Fixtures, fittings, pipes, tanks, cisterns, plumbing and wires used exclusively by your flat
  • Letterboxes, locks and window catches, unless UPVC Council installed windows under a 1 year guarantee
  • Internal walls, ceilings, floor surfaces and plasterwork including Artex.
  • Gardens and steps if they are for your sole Any alterations to the outside of a leaseholders property such as fitting of replacements windows and doors or erecting a satellite dish requires the Council’s written permission and may possibly require planning permission/ building regulation.
  • New front doors must conform to current legislation including Section 72 of the Building Act and have a fire resistance of at least 30 minutes. Replacement windows must conform to the current legislation details of which are available from the Planning Department of Wealden District Council.

Safety & Security

Your Responsibilities

  1. It is important that door entry systems on blocks of flats are not fixed open and that you only let people in if they are visiting your flat. Please be certain that they are a genuine caller.
  2. In the event of lost or broken keys to the main communal front doors you should contact our Repairs Team  for a replacement. Identification is required to obtain replacement keys.

Your Peace of Mind

Wealden & Eastbourne Lifeline is a 24-hour alarm system that can be installed in your home and linked through your telephone system to the Lifeline Control Centre. In an emergency you can contact the control centre who will be able to help you. They can contact a relative, friend, doctor or the emergency services on your behalf. Please note that there is a charge for this service. For more information please contact Lifeline

Your Neighbourhood

Your Rights

  1. We will maintain communal grassed areas. The Council has Contracts for grass cutting. The Council supervises these contracts and regular grass cutting is usually carried out between April and October. The timing of the cuts is weather dependent.
  2. We will remove dumped rubbish/fly tipping when reported to the housing officer for your Please help us try to identify the perpetrators if you can, so that we can re-charge them for this work.

Your Responsibilities

  1. Please be sensible when using communal parking bays and if you have more than one car user living in your property be considerate to others who may need to park at your block.
  2. You should not park any untaxed or un-roadworthy vehicle in a parking The Council will take action to remove the vehicle if you do not do so within a reasonable period of time and the cost of this will be recharged to you.
  3. Your Lease requires occupants to avoid causing a nuisance to other residents. Sometimes people, especially those not used to living in flats, can forget that it is necessary to have consideration for their neighbours. This is particularly relevant for noise nuisance and people having their televisions, radios or stereo systems too loud. Others forget that if they are coming home late at night, it is important to be quiet especially in corridors and on staircases.

See section 3 on ‘Getting on with your Neighbours’ for more information.

Employing Contractors

Since you are responsible for many repairs it may be necessary for you to employ a trade’s person at some point. For your own safety it is essential that you employ someone with the correct insurance and qualifications. How can you ensure this:

Buy With Confidence

East Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards Service run a “Buy With Confidence” scheme which puts local consumers in touch with approved traders who have agreed to provide high standards of customer service, including dealing promptly with any complaints.

How does it work?

Approved traders are vetted before they join and agree to:

  • ensure that staff are properly trained for their work
  • respond promptly and correctly to customer complaints
  • get Criminal Records Bureau clearance for all staff who carry out work in people’s homes

In addition, Trading Standards will provide a mediation service if there is a dispute that cannot be resolved between the parties concerned.

For more information including details of local traders visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk and use the search facility to search for “buying with confidence” or alternatively call East Sussex County Council

Reporting Repairs

If you need to report a repair which is not your responsibility

e.g. communal repairs please call the 24 hour repairs line.

If you have a problem which is your responsibility then you must find your own contractor/s as our repairs team will not arrange the repair for you.

Satellite dishes

Before installing a dish you must get our written consent and also check with the Planning Service to ensure that you are not restricted from doing so.

Pests

For advice on dealing with mice, rats, cockroaches or other types of pest in your home, contact the Pest Control Officer at the Council. Please note that there may be a charge for this service.

If the pests are within the communal areas then the Council is liable to deal with the problem, in which case please report it to our repairs team.

Gas leaks

If you smell gas act quickly, call Transco – freephone:

  • Turn off all gas appliances.
  • Do not smoke, use naked flames, or touch any electrical switches.
  • Open doors and windows.

Condensation

In most cases reports of damp and mould are due to condensation. Effects of condensation can be improved or eliminated by changes in lifestyle. It is important to maintain a balance between warmth and ventilation. By keeping a low background heat and using vents helps achieve this balance. For further advice on condensation please telephone us or visit our website: www.wealden.gov.uk/ Wealden/Housing/Housing.aspx

Energy Efficiency

In order to keep down your fuel costs, make your home warmer and help protect the environment it is important to use energy efficiently.

For advice on energy efficiency visit our website: www.wealden.gov.uk

For advice and information on energy efficiency and on grants/loans available please call us.       .

Asbestos

Some properties contain asbestos; however this is generally bound within another material, such as asbestos cement sheeting or board, and is only harmful if damaged or disturbed. You are responsible for any asbestos contained within your property.

The Council adhere to the recommendations of the Health & Safety Executive by identifying and managing all materials containing asbestos, encapsulating or removing them if they deteriorate or as part of other works but we are only responsible for asbestos found in the communal areas of the flat which you own (if there are any).

We maintain an asbestos register and can provide details on request. In addition we carry out regular surveys to ensure we hold current details on the condition of these materials. You can contact the Council for details about asbestos or you can obtain your own expert independent advice.

  • Resident Involvement and Improving your Community
  • Resident Involvement Team
  • Recognized Tenant’s Association
  • Resident groups across the District
  • Range of ways to get involved
  • Community and Environmental Budget
  • External Funding

Resident Involvement and improving your community

Wealden wants to involve as many residents as possible in what happens in their area. We therefore aim to encourage and facilitate opportunities for every tenant/resident to become involved in the decision making process to the degree and level they choose.

Resident Involvement Team

Wealden employs a small team to help residents to become involved in their area, including help with setting up resident associations or with community surveys or applying for funding to deliver community projects.

Recognised Tenant’s Association

You have the right to join or start up a Recognised Tenant’s Association for your block. In order to be recognised the association must:

  • Have a minimum membership of sixty per cent of Leaseholders in a particular block
  • Submit a membership list
  • Have a formal constitution and regular meetings
  • Submit a written request for recognition to Wealden District Council, Council Offices, Vicarage Lane, Hailsham, BN27 2AX.

Recognised Tenant’s Associations can challenge specifications of proposed works in a Section 20 Notice or nominate specific contractors to Wealden District Council.

If you would like to discuss setting up a tenants association contact the Resident Involvement Team

Resident groups across the district

There are a number of existing resident groups across the district set up to work together to improve their neighbourhood. If you would like to get involved or to find out if there is a group in your area please contact the Resident Involvement Team

Range of ways to get involved

Depending on your interest and the time you have available there are various ways in which you can get involved which include:

  • Joining a Resident Group
  • Attending a focus group for tenants on a particular subject
  • Completing phone and postal surveys and/or questionnaires
  • Scheme inspections/walkabouts.
  • Involvement in selecting contractors who carry out works to our properties
  • Developing the Housing Compact
  • Helping us monitor delivery of contracts

Community and Environmental Budget

Each financial year Wealden’s Housing Service set aside a pot of money which tenants/resident associations and the tenant’s umbrella group can apply for to fund improvements to their neighbourhood. This can include funding to enable works to be carried out to improve security and lighting or to support community projects such as play areas, community gardens and garden plots.

External funding

For larger projects in addition to funding from the Community and Environmental external funding may be required. The Resident Involvement Team work closely with residents to identify and bid for such funding. If you would like to know more please contact the Resident Involvement Team  or at tenant.involvement@wealden.gov.uk.

  • Selling your Property
  • Letting your Property
  • Enfranchisement
  • Remortgaging

Selling your Property

Your Responsibilities

You may sell your home whenever you like. You do not need the Council’s permission but you must inform the Council of the change in ownership and the purchaser’s solicitors must send a Notice of Transfer giving the new owner(s) details together with a payment of £25 for the registration fee. This should be sent to the Council’s Legal Department at Vicarage Lane, Hailsham, BN27 2AX.

For sale signs are only allowed with permission from the Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer.

All sellers are required to get an energy performance certificate (EPC), showing how energy efficient a property is, within 28 days of putting their home on the market.

For properties purchased on or after 18th January 2005 If you purchased under the Right to Buy on or after 18th January 2005 and sell within five years of buying you will have to repay some or all of the discount that you received.. The repayment discount will be a percentage of the market value of the property when it is resold within five years of purchase. This figure disregards the value of any improvements you may have made.

Also, if in advance of your purchase or within the five year discount repayment period you enter into an agreement to transfer your property to a third party then this will also trigger the repayment of your discount from the date that you enter into the agreement.

After five years you can sell or transfer your property without having to repay any discount.

Additionally, properties purchased on or after 18th January 2005 being sold within 10 years have to be offered back to Wealden District Council, although properties are unlikely to be re-purchased.

For properties purchased before 18th January 2005

If you purchased your property before 18th January 2005 and sell within three years of buying you will have to pay the whole or part of the discount. After three years you do not need to repay any discount.

In addition if you sell to a husband, wife or another member of your family who have lived with you for more than twelve months then you do not need to repay your discount.

Employing a Solicitor

When your sale has been agreed we recommend you use a local solicitor with specialist knowledge in public sector leasehold conveyancing. Your solicitor will need to provide the buyers solicitors with information about your service charges, whether any major works are planned and your balance.

Please note it is a legal requirement that you reveal any Section 20 letters you have received. Your administration fee does not cover these costs so we charge a fee (current charge available from the Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer) to whoever asks for the information. We need at least three weeks to provide all the information so ensure you request it as soon as possible after your sale has been agreed or your sale could be delayed.

Once your sale has been completed you must notify the Council’s Legal Department at Vicarage Lane, Hailsham, BN27 2AX. You must also make a payment of £25 for the Council’s registration fee.

Letting your Property

Your Rights

You are entitled to rent out (sub-let) your property with the permission of the Council and your mortgage lender.

Your Responsibilities

If you are not occupying the property yourself this is classed as sub-letting and you will need to have a short-hold tenancy agreement in place. Even if you are not collecting rent and only sub-letting to friends or relatives you still need to register your property as sub-let. This is very important for insurance purposes and not doing so could be a breach of your lease.

You must register your intention to sub-let your property with the Council’s Legal Department. A registration fee of £10 is charged and a copy of the assured short-hold tenancy agreement would be required.

You must also notify us of your address if you live somewhere other than your leasehold property or if you move.

If you sub-let you will still be responsible for paying your ground rent, insurance and service charges.

If you sub-let your property then you become a Landlord yourself. This gives you additional responsibilities. As a landlord there is a legal requirement for ensuring that gas fires and boilers are in good order and serviced every twelve months.

You are also responsible for ensuring that your tenants keep to the terms of your lease, in particular not causing a nuisance to other residents in the block. You must make sure any garden area is always kept in a tidy condition and employ garden services to do this if necessary. It may be a good idea to give your tenants a copy of the Leaseholder Handbook.

Enfranchisement

Your Rights

Leaseholders now have the right to buy the Freehold of the block as a group if they, and the building qualify. This is known as enfranchisement. To qualify certain conditions have to be met:

  • The block must contain two or more flats
  • No more than 25% of the internal floor area must be used for non-residential purposes (e.g. as a shop or office).
  • At least two-thirds of the flats in the block must be held on long leases of greater than 21 years.
  • Leaseholders wishing to exercise the Right to Enfranchise have to be part of a Right to Enfranchise Company (a private company limited by guarantee).

Members of the company must hold at least half of the long leases in the block. Where there are only two flats, both leaseholders must be members of the company.

Other rules apply once the basic terms exist. The most important of which is that no more than four people can be joint owners of one Freehold.

Your Responsibilities

It is essential that you seek legal advice if you are looking to buy the freehold.

Further information is available online at www.gov.uk including a booklet called ‘Residential Long Leaseholders, a Guide to your Rights and Responsibilities’.

If you buy the freehold you are then responsible for managing the building and it is up to you to decide how best to do this.

Remortgaging

Your Responsibilities

Wealden District Council needs to be notified of any mortgage or re-mortgage relating to your property. The Solicitors or Mortgage Company dealing with the mortgage will need to send to the Council’s Legal Department a Notice of Mortgage giving details of the name of the mortgage company, their address and the mortgage account number. A payment of £25 is required for the Council’s registration fee for this service.

Making a Will

It is important to remember to make a Will to ensure that your estate (your property and any other assets or money that you have) is dealt with how you would like when you die.

What happens if I die whilst a leaseholder?

If the lessee dies they can leave the property to whoever they wish. The best way to do this is to make a will settling out who will inherit the property.

  • Wealden and Eastbourne
  • Lifeline Other Support Services
  • Adaptations

Wealden & Eastbourne Lifeline

Wealden & Eastbourne Lifeline can provide a 24-hour alarm system as well as a wide range of other products that offer independence, security and peace of mind for a charge. To find out more call them

Other Support Services

There are a range of support services available to help people to live independently within their own home. To find out more contact East Sussex County Council or visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk

Adaptations

As an owner occupier if you or a person living with you is disabled, you may qualify for a Mandatory Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to adapt your property to enable the disabled person to live as independently as possible.

The DFG must be for a person who is registered, or could be registered as a disabled person. The disability can be caused by physical illness or injury, a major sight, hearing, speech or mental-health problem, or a learning disability.

In order for works to be carried out it is necessary for the person to undergo assessment by one of East Sussex County Council’s Occupational Therapist, who will advise the Council what works are considered necessary and appropriate for their needs. To arrange an assessment call to arrange.

If the works required would costs more than £5,000, the grant is registered as a local land charge against the property. The charge will last a maximum of 10 years, and is limited to a maximum repayment of £10,000. The level of grant is means tested by looking at the income and savings of the disabled person and their spouse or partner and so you may have to make a contribution towards the cost of any works.

For more information please visit: www.wealden.gov.uk or call us

  • What must we consult on?
  • How will we consult with you?
  • Your Comments on the Estimates
  • Exceptions

The legislation concerning consultation is extremely complex. Below we have given a brief outline of the basic requirements.

What must we consult you on?

The Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002 requires the council to consult with you before it begins any major repairs, maintenance or improvements for which you have to pay a share, and which will cost any leaseholder in the building/bungalow more than £250.

You must also be consulted on certain long-term agreements, or contracts lasting more than 12 months, which the council intends to enter into, and will cost you more than £100 a year. When existing long-term contracts are due for renewal we will also carry out consultation with all leaseholders in line with current legislation.

How will we consult with you?

Works with new contractors

You will be written to with an outline of the proposed works (known as a ‘notice of intention’) and ask if you wish to nominate a contractor. We will allow 30 days for written comments.

Or if the contract for services, supplies or works exceed the set thresholds and we are legally required to publish invitations to tender in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), you have no right to nominate a contractor but we will write to you telling you about our intentions.

In each case we will give you 30 days to reply.

Housing Services will invite the contractors who have been nominated by the majority vote of leaseholders to quote

or in the case of OJUE we will select a shortlist from those contractors who apply in response to the advert. The contractors will, as a minimum, have to meet the Wealden District Council criteria for finances, health and safety and workmanship.

Works with existing contractors

On major works to the Development where we have an Existing Long Term Agreement with a contractor we will provide you with details of the works we propose together with a reason why the works are required and an estimated cost. This is classed as a section 20 notice.

Your Comments on the Estimates

We will invite your comments on the proposed works (notice of intention) and on the estimated costs.

You will be invited to send in written observations on the estimates within 30 days. Housing Services must have regard to these written comments. We will then award the contract.

However, we do not have to write to you again if the chosen contractor has been suggested by a leaseholder, or has sent in the lowest estimate.

Exceptions

In exceptional circumstances we can carry out emergency or urgent works, for example if a roof has collapsed. This will be without consultation with leaseholders in advance, although the costs will still be charged to you providing we have gained permission from the First Tier Tribunal (who is able to decide on a variety of leasehold disputes). We will notify you as soon as is practicable of the costs.

 

  • General Complaints
  • Complaints/Disputes about Service Charges
  • Giving a Compliment
  • Room for Improvement
  • Your Opportunity to Have Your Say
  • Frequently Asked Questions

General Complaints

Wealden District Council has a procedure for complaints about our services. The procedure, which has a leaflet and form, is called ‘I Want to Make a Complaint’. The procedure is also detailed online at: www.wealden.gov.uk.

The leaflet explains fully the procedure to follow; there is no requirement for complaints to be made in writing. You can provide feedback to any member of staff who will log and action it accordingly or alternatively you can visit our website and log the details at www.wealden.gov.uk or you can:

Telephone, Email, Write or visit us at our office.

The formal complaints procedure is intended to deal with specific situations such as mistakes, delay or inefficiency.

Complaints/Disputes about Service Charges

We also have a procedure for formal disputes that Leaseholders may have with their Service Charge. Simply mark on the job description list and/or account the items you are disputing and forward it to the Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer. If there is a need to consult with another member of staff then the Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer will advise you of this and arrange to telephone you back or contact you in writing when the answer is at hand. We will aim to answer your query, in full, within two weeks. You will still need to pay for the items on the account that you are not disputing.

If you are not satisfied with the decision you can request a review by the Chief Executive of Wealden District Council. If you remain unsatisfied at this point then you would need to take your case to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) created in 2013 to replace the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT).

The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) covers the following in relation to leasehold properties:

  • Some disputes about residential leasehold management, including the payability of service charges.
  • valuation for enfranchisement and lease extension. For an application form and details on fees visit: justice.gov.uk/tribunals/residential-property.

The Leasehold Advisory Service offer free initial telephone advice to Leaseholders be found on their website www.lease-advise.org.

A Citizen’s Advice Bureau may be able to help you with advice and your local Library may have useful information for Leaseholders .

Giving a Compliment

If you are pleased about something that we have done or the service we provide please let us know .

Room for Improvement

If you have a suggestion for how we can improve one or more of the services that we provide, please let us know

Your Opportunity to Have Your Say

Your Rights

Leaseholders are invited to set up their own Leaseholder Group. Setting up/joining a group provides opportunity to discuss issues which affect you as leaseholders. If you are interested in this please contact the Resident Involvement Team  for more information.

Your Frequently Asked Questions about…

Housing and Estate Services

Q. Why are the residency conditions different for leaseholders and tenants?

A. Leaseholders conditions of residency are covered in their lease and handbook and tenants in their conditions of tenancy and handbook. If you feel you have been treated unfairly please contact the Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer in the first instance.

Q. What should I do if the windows aren’t being cleaned/ grass isn’t being cut?

A. If a service isn’t being delivered make sure that you complain about it.

You can do do, in writing or by calling the Leasehold & Right to Buy Officer but be sure to complain on the day or as soon as possible after the work has/should have been done, otherwise it is not viable for Wealden District Council to send someone out to inspect it.

Q. Who resets time clocks and deals with small estate issues?

A. You should contact the Council’s Repairs Team in the first instance

Income Collection

Q. Who decides what charges I am given?

A. Wealden District Council is liable to recharge for maintenance to common parts of your building in accordance with your lease. These are known as your service charges. If you are a Leaseholder you pay a proportion of these charges. Tenants also contribute towards these costs.

Property Services

Q. What should I do about long standing repairs that have not been carried out or unsatisfactory repairs to a block that are the Council’s responsibility?

A. Contact the Repairs Team issues who will look into your issues