If you have bought a flat, you have bought a leasehold interest. This means you have the right to live in your home for a certain period without having to pay rent, except for a small ground rent. The period is 130 years from 1 January 1981 and is set out in your lease. As a leaseholder you only buy the right to live in your own flat and so you also have to pay a share of the costs to upkeep and repair the building and the estate where your flat is situated. Tenants also pay their share of these costs through their rent to the council.
For an independent guide to your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder, read Living in Leasehold Flats (pdf) produced by The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE).
The lease is the legal contract between you and the council and is a very important document. You probably became a leaseholder by:
- buying your home from Ealing Council under the Right to Buy scheme
- buying your home on the open market from the previous owner
Once you and Ealing Council have signed the lease, you and the council both have to carry out your responsibilities as it sets out. There are some differences to the lease depending on the date you bought. You should always look at your own individual lease if you want to check something.
Your lease describes the flat that you have bought and has a plan showing the flat plus any garden, garage or shed. It also shows the building and the estate your flat is in. The council is responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, repair and improvement of the building and the estate as a whole but you are responsible for paying your share of these costs through your service charges.
You have the right to renew your lease at any point for a period of 90 years. The extension would be costed at the market value.
It is important that you understand your lease and the conditions in it. Breaking the conditions could have serious consequences. You should read your lease carefully and get advice from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau if there is anything you are unclear about.
Common terms used in the lease
Your lease is a legal document and so uses legal terms. Some of the more important ones are explained in the glossary.
The conditions of your lease
Sections in your lease are called schedules. Each schedule details the conditions (or responsibilities) you have as the leaseholder or the council has as the freeholder. Some of the most important conditions are set out below:
The council's responsibilities
- to insure the building, but not the contents of your flat
- to keep the structure and exterior of the building in good repair
- to maintain and repair all the communal parts of the building and estate
- to gain access to your home to carry out inspections or repairs
- to collect ground rent and make service charges to cover your share of the costs of the repair, upkeep and management of your building and estate
Please remember that while Ealing Council is responsible for carrying out repairs and managing your building and estate, you are responsible for paying your share of the costs through your service charges. You should not undertake any repairs or maintenance to the areas for which we are responsible. Please contact us if you think any work is needed.
- to pay the ground rent and service charges (which includes the costs of major works) as required
- to only use your flat as a private home
- to keep the interior of your flat, plus fixtures and fittings, in good condition and repair
- to repay some or all of the Right to Buy discount if the flat is sold within the repayment period. This could be three or five years depending on your purchase terms
- not to cause nuisance or annoyance to neighbours
- not to make any structural alterations or extensions without getting permission from Ealing Council
- to allow access for any inspections, repairs or work required to the building
Your rights as a leaseholder
As well as responsibilities, you have rights that are included in the lease. Your most important rights are:
- to live in your home without being disturbed by us as long as you pay all the charges you are responsible for under the lease and do not break any of the other conditions of your lease
- to use the shared parts of the building and communal parts of the estate such as communal gardens and, in some cases, car parking areas
What happens if you break a condition of the lease
If you break a condition of your lease, we can take action against you. This can include taking action through the courts and, in very serious situations, we can ask the courts to make an order for forfeiture which means your lease could be terminated.