Major works - frequently asked questions for Leaseholders
Question: Why do I have to have this work
Answer: The Government has set a standard called
the Decent Homes Standard and requires all Councils to bring their
property up to that minimum standard by 2010.
Question: But I own my home
so why are you doing the work?
Answer: You have bought your home on a leasehold
basis which is very different from owning the freehold of a house.
Newcastle City Council still owns the building in which you live
and you have bought the right to live in that building for a
specified number of years.
Question: Why can’t I do the
Answer: In some cases where the work is
non-structural, you can carry out the work yourself however you
must apply for Landlord's Permission from Newcastle City Council.
Where the work affects the structure, your lease states that
Newcastle City Council or its representatives must repair maintain
and re-instate where necessary the structure and exterior of your
Question: Can I opt out of
Answer: Wherever possible we will allow you to opt
of out work (e.g. in a low rise property you may be able to opt out
of windows and doors). Some work is not optional as we need to
ensure that we maintain the structural integrity of the
Question: I can get the work
done cheaper myself...
Answer: You are not allowed to use your own
contractors to do the work as you would be in breach of your
Question: Why are the costs
higher than my local builder?
Answer: Your Homes Newcastle has to appoint
reputable contractors using a competitive tendering process on the
basis of best value (i.e. quality as well as cost). To enable us to
deliver the Government's Decent Homes initiative YHN appointed
established contractors that are capably of carrying out large
scale refurbishment and repair works and who will meet all health
and safety requirements and provide long term guarantees for the
quality of their work. This inevitably involves slightly higher
costs in the short term but is likely to be better value in the
Question: Why do I have to
pay and the tenants don’t?
Answer: The cost of maintaining the building is
intended to be included in the rent paid by tenants. You have
bought the lease of your property which states that you have to pay
for external work. You have a financial interest in the property
whereas tenants don’t and you can sell your home at any time at
open market value.
Question: You have got a
grant from the Government to do this work so why charge me?
Answer: The Decent Homes grant that we have
received only covers our tenanted properties and cannot be used to
pay for leaseholders work.
Question: What do I pay
buildings insurance for if I am then going to have to pay for this
Answer: Your buildings insurance on your annual
service charge only covers risks such as storm damage, fire, flood
etc. and does not cover major work required because of general wear
and tear of the building.
Question: Who has surveyed my
Answer: We have appointed an independent surveyor
to do surveys for Decent Homes work to leasehold properties.
Question: Surely you need my
permission to survey my property...
Answer: We will fully consult with you prior to
the start of any work, however, as Newcastle City Council own the
building in which you live we have the right under the terms of the
lease to access the property for surveys or work that we feel is
necessary provided we give reasonable notice.
Question: I wasn’t told about
this work when I bought my flat...
Answer: The terms of your lease which you
signed up to when you bought your flat state that service charges
would be payable for these types of work. If the legal advice which
you received before you bought your home was not adequate you may
wish to discuss this with your citizens' advice bureau and you may
wish to take independent legal advice on the terms of your
Question: I cannot afford to
pay for this work...
Answer: There will be a number of payment options
available; however you should always seek your own independent
Question: This work wouldn’t
have been required if you had maintained my property properly over
Answer: The fabric of any building will
deteriorate over time, even if it has been well maintained. The
Council have always tried to adequately maintain the exterior
of its properties; however the Government has now set certain
property standards that public sector housing now has to reach. The
condition of property purchased under the Right to Buy will have
been taken into account when it was valued and reflected in the