Leasehold Services Section:
- Provides advice and guidance to leaseholders and anyone interested in buying a leasehold property where the Council owns the Freehold.
- Co-ordinates the calculation of service charges for leasehold properties.
For further information on Leasehold Services please contact Leasehold Services on 01543 462621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaseholders live in flats where they own the leasehold of the flat but the freehold of the block belongs to Cannock Chase Council. When you buy a leasehold flat you sign a contract called a lease. The lease explains your rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of your landlord. You are the leaseholder and Cannock Chase Council is the landlord. Not all leases are the same. Your own lease will give you details that apply to you and your home.
The Council has published a leaseholder handbook which provides information on the following
- Your lease - rights and responsibilities
- Repairs and improvements
- Service charge cycle
- Selling or letting out your flat
- Collective enfranchisement (buying the freehold)
- Extending your lease
- Service standards
- Disputes, disagreements and complaints
- Useful contacts
You should, however, remember that the handbook is only a guide. It is not meant to give a full interpretation of your lease or the law. If you require specific information about your own particular situation, we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.
Please see below:
Under the terms of your lease you are required to pay a service charge. Your service charge is the money you pay towards the day-to-day running costs of the block in which your flat is situated aswell as your share of any major repairs/improvements. We also charge management and administration costs. This charge reflects the cost of managing and administering the services we provide, raising service charge bills, etc.
We also arrange buildings insurance on your behalf. The cost of this is included in your annual service charge. To keep your insurance valid you need to let us know of any changes to your property that might affect your policy, eg. you let your home to tenants. Please fill in a Leasehold Management and Buildings Insurance Alteration Form (available below) and return it to us. You may not be able to claim on your insurance if we are not told about these changes as they happen. Please remember that it is your responsibility to arrange contents insurance cover (ie. your own possessions).
Every year in April - at the start of our financial year, we will send you an invoice for the estimated service charge and ground rent for the year ahead. (The ground rent is the money you pay to Cannock Chase Council for your right to occupy the land as the leaseholder of the building). Details as to how to make payments will accompany the invoice.
Cannock Chase Council must tell you if they want to do major work that is likely to cost more than £1,000 per block.
The service charge year ends on 31 March. Cannock Chase Council will send you a statement showing what it has spent on your property each September. If the Council has spent more on your property than it had estimated you will be sent an invoice for the difference, if it has spent less, you will be sent a refund unless you are in the reference period (the first five years from when the lease was first purchased) in which case the account will not be settled until the end of the five year period. If you think your service charge is unreasonable please let us know and we will check the charges. If we have made a mistake we will put it right. If the charge is correct we will explain why.
Repairs and Maintenance for Leaseholders
Cannock Chase Council is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the structure, the exterior and communal areas of your block.
- Structural walls
- Guttering and roofs
- External decorations
- Window frames (but not the glass)
- Communal grounds
- Drying areas
- External doors - this includes front doors to flats
- Drains, within the curtilage of the property
- Communal doors
- Communal stairways
- Door entry system, if fitted
- Waste and soil pipes
- Communal lighting
The Council also owns and maintains the following:
- The pipes supplying the mains water from the relevant water company's stopcock in individual flats
- Gas pipes within the block, up to but not including the gas meter
- Wiring for any communal TV aerial within the block, up to and including the aerial socket.
How to report a repair
There are several ways to report a repair.
- By phone on 01543 462621 - Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
- In person - at the housing office or at the Hawks Green depot
- By letter - send written details of your repair problem to the Housing Maintenance Manager
- To any Housing Officer (when they call)
- By email - Housingrepairs@cannockchasedc.gov.uk
When you are reporting a repair, please make sure that you include your unique property reference, the address at which the repair is needed, access arrangements and a contact phone number.
If an emergency occurs and you need to call us outside of normal office hours, please ring 01543 462621.
When you report a repair it will be given one of the following priorities.
Priority 1 - Emergency repairs (same day)
Priority 2 - Urgent repairs (within three working days)
Priority 3 - Essential repairs (within five working days)
Priority 4 - Routine repairs (within 38 days)
Wherever possible we will try to offer an appointment for your repair work to be undertaken or inspected. We can offer four appointment slots:
- All day or
- Between school run
The repairs appointment system will give a choice of dates when an employee with the required skill is available within the priority deadline. If for some unexpected reason we find we cannot keep our appointment with you, we will contact you and give you the next alternative appointment date that is convenient to you.
If you find for some reason you cannot make your appointment, please contact the Repairs Reporting Centre on 01543 456816 as soon as possible to rearrange it. We would much rather you call us, even if it is just before we send an employee out to your home, than not at all.
External Works Programme for Leaseholders
This is a survey orientated repair programme which may include:
- External/communal redecoration
- Rainwater pipes and gutter replacements
- Repointing brickwork
- Roof repairs
- Chimney repairs
We will tell you in writing in early April if your property is one included in the external works programme for that year, giving details of the proposed work and the estimated cost.
Permission to carry out your own improvements
You can redecorate internally in your flat without permission but you must not carry out your own major repairs without written permission.
Some examples of when you would need our permission would be:
- Renewal of front doors
- Removing walls
- Installation of new windows
- Satellite dish
- Changing the internal structure/layout of the flat
- Roofspace - you have no right to carry out any repairs or improvements within the roofspace and you have no right of entry into the roofspace without permission.
To obtain the necessary permission to carry out any type of improvement you need to contact us (in writing). You should include as much detail as possible. If you do not obtain our permission your buildings insurance cover may be invalid.
Cannock Chase Council has agreed a set of service standards with its leaseholders. These can be found in the service standards leaflet, available to download above.
Please let us know if you feel the standards have not been met. We will monitor our performance through the annual leaseholders satisfaction survey and publish a summary of the results.
If you are not happy with the service provided you should follow the complaints procedure. Details of this are included in your issued leaseholder handbook.
Leaseholders living in flats
If you live in a flat, you will live closer to your neighbours than other people in houses and you may share communal areas. Living so close together means that you must show consideration to your neighbours concerning noise, cleaning and using the entry phone system.
Noise travels easily between flats and you can annoy neighbours without realising it, so please keep your radio, stereo and television down to a reasonable level, especially late at night. Children playing on the communal areas can also have a serious effect on a large number of people and spoil the enjoyment of their home.
In blocks of flats with communal entrances, we are responsible for looking after the communal lighting, redecorating and maintenance of the communal areas (although we recover the cost of doing so through the service charge) but, residents are jointly responsible for cleaning the stairs, landings, foyers, etc.
Please use the bin facilities provided. If you have any bulky items to dispose of you should contact us on 01543 462621 to arrange collection. (Please note there is a charge for this service). Items such as old furniture should not be dumped next to bin stores or in the inner communal areas of the block under any circumstances.
Door Entry System
If your block is equipped with a door entry system so you can control who enters the block, do not let anyone in unless they are visiting you and you know why they have called. It is important that you co not prop communal doors open.
Selling your flat
If you want to sell your property there are some things you will need to know:
The Council will charge Solicitors for any enquiries they make about the proposed sale. All enquiries require the collation of information from a variety of departments which may in some cases cause delays.
Repayment of discount
If you bought your home under the Right to Buy, you can sell it whenever you like but if you wish to sell within the discount repayment period you will usually have to repay some or all of the discount. The amount you repay will depend on when you made your application to buy.
If you applied for the Right to Buy before 18 January 2005 and sell within 3 years of buying your home, you will have to repay some or all of the original discount as follows:
Year 1 - whole discount
Year 2 - Two-thirds repayable
Year 3 - One-third repayable
If you applied for the Right to Buy on 18 January 2005 onwards and sell within 5 years of buying your home, you will have to repay some or all of the original discount as follows:
Year 1 - whole discount
Year 2 - four-fifths repayable
Year 3 - three-fifths repayable
Year 4 - two-fifths repayable
Year 5 - one-fifth repayable
In addition, the amount of discount to be repaid if you sell within 5 years of purchase will be a percentage of the resale value of the property, disregarding the value of any improvements.
Certain sales or transfers are exempt from the requirement to repay discount, eg. transfers between certain family members. In addition, if you would face hardship by having to repay discount, we may decide not to ask you to pay some or all of what you owe.
If in advance of your purchase, or within the discount repayment period, you enter into an agreement to transfer your property to a third party in the future, then this will trigger repayment of your discount. (Discount repayment is triggered from the date that you enter into the agreement. So, for example, if you enter into such an agreement before you have bought the property or during the first year after buying it, you will have to repay the full amount of the discount you received.
Right of first refusal
If you purchased your home under the Right to Buy scheme and you wish to resell or dispose of it within 10 years, you will be required to offer it to back to your landlord or to another social landlord in your area at full market value. If your offer is not accepted within 8 weeks, you will be free to sell the property on the open market.
When you sell your property, your solicitor should make an arrangement with the buyer's solicitor over any outstanding service charge or any refund of service charge that might be due to you. This often involves a fairly complicated calculation that your conveyancer should do for you. It may mean that when you sell you will have to accept a small reduction in the amount you receive if it is plain that the buyer may have to pay additional service charge in the future or it may mean that the buyer will have to pay you an additional amount if it is clear that the charges already paid will relate to the time after you sell the flat. Apportionments are part of the private deal for the sale and purchase of a flat. The Council will not calculate how much should be apportioned to each party and will not collect arrears or pay refunds to persons who are not leaseholders at the time of the collection/refund.
If you have been advised of major works that will affect your flat, you must ensure that this information is passed to your purchaser via their solicitor. If you have not received the invoice for the work when you sell your flat, it is essential that your purchaser is advised of their future liability towards these costs.
It is the responsibility of your purchaser's solicitor to make sure the Council receives a copy of the Notice of Assignment.
The Council has no objection to you subletting your flat, however, there are some points you should consider:
- You should seek the consent of your bank or building society as it may be a condition of your mortgage that you are living in the property.
- You should also tell the Council that you are subletting so that they can tell the insurance company to prevent any claim you make being nullified.
- You should seek the advice of your contents insurer - to make sure that any claim you may make isn't null and void.
- You are responsible for paying the service charges. You must therefore always tell the Council of the address to which it should send the invoices. If the bills are not paid, proceedings will be taken against you and not the occupiers.
- You are responsible for your sub-tenant and the Council will contact you or your managing agent if any problems arise from their behaviour.
- The restrictive covenants will still apply while you are not living at the property and should there be a breach, the Council will seek remedy from you not your sub-tenant.
- You will need to tell the Council's Insurance Manager if your property is to be vacant for any length of time.
What to do if you have financial problems
If you are experiencing problems in paying your service charge bill, please contact our Accounts Receivable Section on 01543 462621 to discuss the problems and agree a payment plan.
If you do not pay your service charges you are breaking the terms of your lease and the Council could (in extreme cases) apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) or the Court for forfeiture of the lease. This is very serious as you would not only lose your home but also any equity you had built up in it.
If you become unemployed or your income reduces substantially, you should immediately contact your local office of the Department for Work and Pensions. You may also seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau. If you become eligible to receive Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance you may receive help with your mortgage interest payments.
You may also be entitled to help if you are aged over 60 - please contact the Department for Work and Pensions for further information.
If you need more advice on dealing with your debts, you can phone:
The National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.
Alternatively, for advice based on your own circumstances, please call:
The Money Advice Line on 0300 500 5000.
Last Updated: 21/09/2018