Your rights and responsibilities

by The Gateshead Housing Company & filed under Owning your home, Owning your home - leaseholder - leasehold handbook, Owning your home - leaseholders.

Your rights and responsibilities – Gateshead Council leaseholders

Your leasehold contract is an agreement between you and Gateshead Council.

The Gateshead Housing Company (TGHC) is the managing agent acting for the Council and is responsible for maintaining shared parts and services connected to your home.

TGHC seeks payment, called a service charge, in advance from you every year, on behalf of the Council.

In general, your responsibilities are to:

  • Pay your service charges, including ground rent.
  • Keep your home in good condition and repair
  • Meet the living costs of your property such as council tax, gas, electricity and water rates
  • Use your home as a private flat
  • Be responsible for your visitors
  • Be a good neighbour by not causing annoyance
  • Repair and maintain the interior of your property
  • Arrange for all gas appliances to be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and send us a copy of your certificate
  • Be fire safe, by installing smoke detectors and having your electrics checked every five years
  • Ensure your property does not damage the structure and shared areas of the estate and ensure your home has a fire-rated door fitted if it opens onto a shared area
  • Keep all passages, staircases, fire escapes and shared areas of the block clear of obstruction
  • Not carry out any alterations to your home (other than fixtures and fittings) without written permission. If in doubt, ask us
  • Not put up aerials, satellite dishes and so on without our written permission
  • Get our written permission if you want to keep an animal in your home
  • Inform us if you wish to sublet your property and provide necessary certificates to ensure you are meeting your obligations as a responsible landlord
  • Repay the required amount of discount if you sell your home within five years if you purchased under the Right to Buy

Our responsibilities are:

  • Keep the condition and structure of your home in good repair including improvements to your block
  • Maintain the services to your flat and building; for example, by providing caretaking service in multi-storey flats
  • Give adequate notice if we need access to your flat to carry out works other than in an emergency
  • Ensure that the structure and communal areas in your block are insured against fire and damage
  • Ensure fire risk assessments are completed for the communal and shared areas of the block

Rights and responsibilities included within your lease are:

Paying service charges

Leaseholders need to pay annual ground rent and service charges. Service charges are a contribution towards services or works provided to the block or estate where your property is located. There are several ways to pay service charges.

Ground rent

This charge is a small rent fee payable each year for the use of the ground on which the building stands.

Subletting

You must tell us if you want to sublet your property and provide us with a copy of your tenancy agreement and correspondence address. You must also pay Gateshead Council’s registration fees.

You will be responsible for paying the service charge, maintaining the property and for the behaviour of your tenants, their family members and visitors. You will also be responsible for gas safety checks in your home and producing an annual gas certificate.

Alterations

Alterations to the structure or fabric of the property (both internal and external) cannot be made without obtaining written approval from TGHC. Our permission is needed before beginning any proposed alterations and you will need to complete the Alterations Application Form. You may also need planning permission and building regulations approval.

Access

TGHC staff or their contractors have the right to enter properties to carry out inspections, repairs and maintenance works, including for communal services that run through them. We will normally give you at least 48 hours’ notice before doing this. In the event of an emergency we may have to force entry.

Selling, purchasing and remortgaging

You can sell your property whenever you wish to. However, if a purchase was made under the Right to Buy scheme and the sale is within the discount repayment period, you will have to repay some, or sometimes all, the discount you received.

If you have purchased, then your solicitor must send us a Notice of Assignment and Charge (if applicable) within 21 days of the purchase.

Repairs

TGHC is responsible for maintaining the structure of the building you live in and for communal areas and you must pay your share of the cost. You are responsible for maintaining the inside of your property, including decorating regularly, maintain the internal plumbing, electrical wiring, gas pipes, boilers and central heating (unless you are connected to a communal heating system).

In addition, you must have a gas safety check carried out each year and provide a copy to leasehold@gatesheadhousing.co.uk

You can report a repair at our website.

Major works

From time to time we need to carry out major works to improve or repair communal and structural parts of your building. These will usually be planned one-off works

You have the right to be consulted about proposed works and service contracts that we set up with external contractors.

You will be notified in advance about any works we intend to carry out in your block, why we need to do them, and the consultation process. You will also receive early notification about when you will be billed for the work and be provided with a number of Major works payment options.

Insurance

Gateshead Council arranges insurance cover for the buildings TGHC manages. The cover provided by the Council is for the structure of your property and communal areas and includes accidental damage such as fire, storm, flood damage and subsidence.

You need to arrange cover for your contents. TGHC has worked with Gateshead Council and Royal & Sun Alliance to design a scheme just for leaseholders. It is a simple and affordable scheme which covers furniture, belongings and decorations.

ContentsInsurance booklet and application form should be returned to leasehold@gatesheadhousing.co.uk. The cost of the insurance will be included in your service charge and paid over monthly instalments.

Leaseholders who sublet their property are not eligible to join the scheme.

Nuisance

You must not cause a nuisance from your property. This includes things like playing televisions and radios at unreasonable levels, harassing neighbours, using the property for illegal purposes, failing to control any pets, and obstructing communal areas with any items. These can result in a breach of lease and may result in legal action.

Use of property

Your property can only be used for residential purposes. Holding a sale, auction or running a business from the property is not allowed.

Buying the freehold

If you meet certain qualifying criteria you have the right to buy the freehold of the building. This is called Leasehold or Collective Enfranchisement.

Statutory rights

We recommend that you read and understand the conditions of your lease. Leaseholders’ rights include:

  • Extending the terms of your lease
  • Setting up a tenants’ and residents’ association
  • Setting up a tenant management organisation
  • Viewing accounts and relevant documents used to calculate service charges

You can challenge service charges by contacting leasehold@gatesheadhousing.co.uk

You can also make an application to the First-tier Tribunal at rpnorthern@justice.gov.uk phone 0161 237 9491

This information is a summary and does not replace your lease. If any difficulty or dispute arises in connection with your lease you should seek independent advice.