Last month, we featured an article about the National Leaseholder Survey, launched by LEASE (www.lease-advice.org), where leaseholders can comment on the levels of satisfaction of their sector. The survey is still ongoing until the end of March, but it would be good to refresh our memories about being a leaseholders and the difficulties they might face.
As a leaseholder, you do not own the land surrounding your home or the building it is in. However, you have bought the right to live in your home for a fixed number of years (your lease will state the term). In this role, you will be responsible for contributing towards the cost of repairs and maintenance of any internal/external common areas and the provision of communal services, which come under service charge costs. These responsibilities may seem small, but service charges can raise potential problems for leaseholders.
If the leaseholders are in a position to choose how their block is managed, they can arrange to have help to look after communal areas of their leasehold property from managing agents. This will especially come in handy when it comes to block management. Leaseholders can also opt to manage the block themselves, through the Right To Manage (RTM) scheme. But without a managing agent this direction may be too much to handle for some leaseholders, particularly if they are managing a property with more than ten tenants, and dealing with issues with more people can prove more of a headache for some. To look at the advantages and disadvantages of a RTM, please refer to this article featured on this site in September last year that can help you decide on whether to take up the scheme is right for you.
Another issue leaseholders can come across is having disputes over service charge costs with the landlord or managing agents of the property. You may feel, as a leaseholder, that you are being charged unreasonable fees, and want to argue this point with whoever else may be in charge. A solution to this an action that can be taken on your behalf; the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). The FTT can arbitrate if you can’t reach an agreement through negotiation and their decision is binding. The FTT can also help the leaseholders with other matters that cannot be agreed, such as to get an extension on the lease if the property at a fair price.
As leaseholders participate in this survey, matters discussed in this article will be available to comment on in the survey, such as service charges, block management, and about fellow residents’ management company (RMC) directors and managing agents. The sector urgently needs your honest and forthcoming feedback in your thoughts regarding the standard and future of leasehold, as this could affect how properties are managed and services are dealt with in future.