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Introduction to your lease

When you buy a flat or maisonette, you do not buy the flat itself, you buy a lease from the landlord, which gives you the right to live in the flat for an agreed period of time. So, if you buy a council flat, the council will continue to be your landlord but you will not have to pay rent, except a small amount each year, known as ‘ground rent’. At the end of the lease period, the flat will go back to the council, unless you apply to extend the lease.

The lease is a legal agreement between you ‘the leaseholder’ and the council, giving details of the flat, a plan showing your home, the building it is in, the estate the building is on and any garden, shed or garage included in the sale. The lease will also explain your rights and duties and ours.

The council has two main types of lease:

Green maisonette lease

Copies of this type of lease are produced for tenants and printed on green paper. A ‘green’ lease applies mainly to houses that have been converted into two flats, one upstairs and one downstairs.

As well as ground rent and buildings insurance, you must also pay a service charge for electricity that is used in any shared areas (if this applies to your flat) and repairs to shared areas such as the roof, entrance door and so on. You must also pay a management fee for us to supervise the services and repairs. The costs are normally divided equally between the two flats involved unless they are very different in size.

We do not normally carry out routine services to flats sold on this type of lease except possibly to any shared lighting. Because of this, we do not estimate service charges in advance. We only charge you when we know the actual costs. At the end of each financial year we check to see whether any repairs or improvements were carried out to your ‘block’. We also find out how much electricity has been used in shared areas, before we charge you your share of the cost. We will send you details of these costs with your insurance bill in September, which is when your lease says it should be paid.

If your property was sold on a ‘green lease’ the lease does not say who is responsible for window frames, so we allow leaseholders of these properties to take responsibility for them. We will only repair, maintain or replace windows to green lease properties at the leaseholder’s expense, if the leaseholder fails to do so.

White block

We sell most council flats on this type of lease. It applies to blocks with more than two flats in them. You must pay a regular service charge in advance for repairs and services we provide to the flat, the block or the estate. You also pay a management fee for us to supervise services, deal with enquiries and manage the account.

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