• What is a leaseholder?

    A leaseholder is someone who owns a lease but does not own the land around their home or the building that their home is in. If your home is a flat or maisonette, it is part of a larger building which is divided into individual units. There will usually be another property above, below or next to yours, but still within the same building.

    Each property is not independent, and shares the roof, the foundations and the entrance halls and stairs of the building.

    Newcastle City Council owns the land and the building that your home is in and is the Freeholder of your building. They are required to maintain the exterior of the building and any common areas. You must pay towards the costs of managing and maintaining your block, which means that you will be charged for any repairs carried out to the structure or communal areas of your building.

  • What are your responsibilities as a leaseholder?

    You must:

    • pay the ground rent, service charges and major works costs, when requested
    • keep your home in good repair and condition and maintain any garden which you are responsible for
    • not do anything which might cause damage, be a nuisance or disturbance to other residents in your building, or neighbouring buildings
    • not make any structural alterations or additions unless you have permission, in writing, from us first
    • allow us into your home to carry out repairs to your flat or other parts of the building, or to neighbouring properties
    • take responsibility for any overflows
    • not put up a TV aerial or satellite dish outside your home or on the building
    • not use your home for running a business
    • not leave your property empty for more than 30 days
    • tell us if you are going to sublet your property
  • What you must do

    You must:
    • Pay an annual ground rent and service charge in advance of each financial year
    • Pay a management fee to cover the cost of running the leasehold service
    • Inform us if you are going to sublet your property
    • Ask for landlords permission before carrying out certain works to the property
    • Buy any loft space that you wish to use separately because it is still owned by Newcastle City Council and is not included in this lease
    • Maintain any garden that you are responsible for
    • Carry out all internal repairs and decoration to the property
    • Not cause nuisance to your neighbours
    • Not leave your property empty for more than 30 days

    This is an overview of the lease terms and is for guidance only. We recommend that you make yourself familiar with the full terms and conditions contained within the lease document. A Plain English version of your lease is available below: Click Here to download a copy of your Plain English lease.

    The Plain English Lease is intended as a guide only. The legal wording in your actual lease would be used in law if there was a disagreement over the terms of your lease.

  • What we must do

    • Send you an actual service charge invoice at the end of each financial year
    • Carry out all external repairs and major works and recharge a share of the cost of us doing so to you
    • Arrange the buildings insurance for your property and recharge the premium to you
  • What is the lease?

    The lease is a legally binding contract. When you purchased your flat or maisonette you bought the right to live there for 125 years. If you bought your home on the open market, the seller will have transferred their rights and responsibilities to you under the lease for the rest of its term. The length of the lease reduces over time from the date when it was originally granted.

    The lease sets out the relationship between the landlord and the leaseholder and details each parties rights and obligations. The lease is between you (the Leaseholder) and Newcastle City Council (the Landlord) and Your Homes Newcastle manage your property on behalf of your landlord. It contains similar conditions to the tenancy agreement for our tenants, to make sure that the actions of residents do not cause a nuisance to others or cause damage to the building.

  • Where do I go to for advice?

    The Leasehold Advisory Service is funded by the Government and provides free advice to Leaseholders. There is a lot of useful information on their website about owning a Leasehold property which you might find helpful. If you have concerns or issues relating to your property, Your Homes Newcastle has a complaints process where we would fully investigate any issues that you raise with us, but if you are unsatisfied with the outcome, you can approach the Leasehold Advisory Service for advice on the situation.

    They also offer a mediation service which provides a way of resolving a dispute that you might have without the need to go to court or to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). You can contact them in the following ways:

    Telephone: 020 7832 2500 Online: www.lease-advice.org In writing:

    Leasehold Advisory Service Fleetbank House 2-6 Salisbury Square London EC4Y 8JX

  • What is the first tier tribunal?

    The First Tier Tribunal (property chamber), formally known as the leasehold valuation tribunal (LVT), is part of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. They are an independent body who can help with disagreements about:

    • insuring the building
    • how much you are being asked to pay for service charges
    • the quality of services you have received.

    At the tribunal, a panel of three people, normally a lawyer, valuer and a layperson, will hear the case. It usually includes an inspection of the property and can take one or two days. Following the hearing, the tribunal will send out its written decision. The decision will either change the amount the leaseholder has to pay, by more or less, or will agree with the charges the leaseholder was asked to pay.

    There is an application fee, which can vary between £300 and £500. The First Tier Tribunal doesn’t have the power to award costs, so if you decide to employ professionals such as surveyors or solicitors to help your case, you will have to cover the cost of their bills yourself.

    You can contact them in the following ways:

    In writing:

  • What is the freeholder responsible for?

    The freeholder is responsible for a number of different things under the lease terms, however because Your Homes Newcastle are the managing agents on behalf of the freeholder we will assume these responsibilities on behalf of the freeholder.

    We are responsible for the main structure of the building, the shared parts and any shared services to your building or estate. These will depend on where you live and the type of property in which you live, but may include:

    • Outside walls
    • Inside structural walls
    • Roofs, foundations, timbers, joist beams, chimney stacks, gutters, rainwater and soil pipes
    • Window frames
    • Lifts
    • Door entry systems
    • Estate lighting
    • Block lighting (entrance halls, stairways etc)

    We also must:

    • Send out annual service charge invoices
    • Arrange the buildings insurance for your property and recharge the premium as part of the annual service charge
    • Carry out all external repairs, maintenance and major works and recharge a share of the cost of this work to you
  • Who is responsible for keeping the shared areas of the block clean and tidy?

    Everyone living in the block has a duty to keep the shared areas of the block clean and use them properly. You pay a share of the cost of maintaining shared areas so if you see someone causing damage to or misusing stairways, landings, parking areas, drying areas, rubbish chutes, security doors and other shared facilities tell us.

    If you can get evidence of who caused the damage we can charge them for it so that none of the cost will fall on you in your service charges.

    If you live in a flat or maisonette in a block that has one, two or three storeys and where there is no cleaning service, you and your neighbours are jointly responsible for keeping the shared areas clean and tidy.

    If a repair needs doing to one of the shared areas in your block, tell the Repairs Centre. Do not assume that someone else will do it. If the lights are out on the stairs, please report this immediately.

  • I am suffering from noise nuisance what can I do about it?

    You have the right to enjoy your home in peace and quiet, and your neighbours have the same right. It is important to bear in mind that what you do affects your neighbours. So please remember:

    • not to make too much noise, especially at night or early in the morning
    • to help keep the shared areas clean and tidy
    • to take care to keep pets under control
    • to be a good neighbour. If you cause a nuisance or annoy your neighbour you are breaking the terms of your lease agreement.
    You may also be breaking the law. If you have a problem with your neighbour the first thing you should do is talk to them. They may not realise that they are causing you a problem – so be friendly and do not lose your temper.

  • I am suffering from harassment – what can I do about this?

    If you or anyone living in your home is suffering harassment from a neighbour let us know. You may need to collect evidence in the same way as we described for noise nuisance above.

    You must also make sure that you, your family or any visitor to your home does not cause harassment to your neighbours. This includes:

    • violence or threats of violence
    • abusive or insulting words or behavior
    • damage or threats of damage to property
    • any actions which interfere with a neighbour’s peace, comfort or convenience
    • racial harassment - you risk prosecution if you, your family or any visitor to your home, threaten, abuse or insult your neighbour in a racist way. In serious cases you could lose your home. We will help any council tenant or leaseholder who is the victim of racial harassment. If you are the victim of racial harassment, tell your housing officer. You should also think about telling the police.
    • vandalism and graffiti - you should report any incident to your housing officer (we will treat all reports confidentially) and to the police.

    Vandalism is a crime. It costs money to repair damage and remove graffiti. It also makes your estate or your road a less pleasant place to live for everyone.

  • How can Your Homes Newcastle help solve a noise problem?

    If you cannot sort out your problem by talking to your neighbour then you should talk to us. In most cases we will ask a housing officer to talk to your neighbour about the problem. They can also send a written warning if they feel it is needed and will help the situation.

    If the situation is serious you will need to keep a diary recording the nuisance. The housing officer can give you an incident diary.

    In nuisance cases we usually need these records as evidence if we are to go to court.

    We will always try to take action where there is evidence of a serious nuisance, and where a tenant or leaseholder is the victim or the cause of the nuisance.

    It is vital that you record incidents of anti-social behaviour at the time they occur so that the evidence is as accurate as possible.

    Remember, if you don’t tell us what is happening then it is unlikely we will be able to stop any anti-social behaviour.

    Legal action is the last resort in serious anti-social behaviour cases as it could mean that the person causing the nuisance is evicted from their home or subject to an anti-social behaviour order.

    For more information on anti-soocial behavior please click here

  • Am I allowed to keep a pet within my property?

    If the only way to get into your property is through a communal entrance you are not allowed to keep a cat, dog, or any other animal in your property, except for example, a blind dog.

    However as long as your pet does not cause a nuisance or excessive noise, we will not take any action against you although specific permission to keep your pet will not be given.

  • Am I responsible for maintaining the garden area?

    If your flat has a garden that has been included within the area that has been leased to you, you are responsible for keeping it tidy.

    You should not allow rubbish to build up as it may cause a health hazard and encourage mice and other pests.

  • Glossary of leasehold terms

    • Assignment: This is the sale of the lease to another person
    • Block: This is the building where your home is located. All leaseholders are responsible for paying a share of the running and management costs for the block
    • Breach of covenant: This is the term used when a condition set out in the lease is broken
    • Collective enfranchisement: This is when a group of leaseholders buy the freehold of the block
    • Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002: This is a law which gives leaseholders more rights to buy the freehold, to be consulted on works and contracts, and be given information about money that is spent on the building
    • Common parts: These are the areas which are shared with other residents and includes entrance areas, corridors, lifts, staircases, bin stores, communal gardens and any other parts within the block and outside which are intended for the use of the residents of that block
    • Consents: This is the written permission leaseholders require from the landlord when they are considering making alterations or additions to the property.
    • Consultation: This is the process that we go through when we tell you about expensive works and contracts and in some cases let you suggest contractors to carry out the work
    • Covenant: This is a legally enforceable promise, for instance a leaseholder's covenant to pay the service charge.
    • Demised premises: This is the definition of the property being leased. This is set out in the fourth schedule of the lease and includes the surfaces of floors and ceilings, but excludes joists and subfloors. Lofts and cellars are also excluded from leasehold sales as these form part of the structural areas which the landlord maintains. You should also look at the lease plan when checking the leased property.
    • Enfranchisement: The process by which leaseholders, individually or as a group may be able to buy the freehold of the block.
    • First Tier Tribunal Tribunal (FFT): This is an independent and impartial body which makes decisions about service charge and other leasehold disputes. The panel is normally made up of three members: a lawyer, a layperson (which may be a leaseholder) and a valuer.
    • Forfeiture: This is where the lease is ended by a formal legal process because the leaseholder has broken the lease. This course of action only takes place for substantial breaches of the lease and following a decision of a court or the First Tier Tribunal.
    • Ground Rent: This is the rent paid to the landlord by a leaseholder. It is £10 per year.
    • Lease: This is the document which sets out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the leaseholder and forms a contract between them.
    • Section 125 Notice: This is the notice you are sent during the Right to Buy process giving you the purchase price and sets out major works costs for the first five years of the lease, and how much you could have to pay for the works.
    • Service Charge: This is the charge that is paid for the services provided by us. It is variable and is due annually.
    • Sub-letting: This is when you let your home to someone else. You will then become a landlord and will then have legal responsibilities for your tenants. You must let us know if you sub let your home.
    • Term: This is the number of years of the lease paid for by the leaseholder. The length of a standard lease is 125 years.