Your council lease

A leaseholder is someone who owns a lease and does not own the land around their home or the building that their home is in.

A leaseholder is someone who owns a lease and 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.

In a flat or maisonette each property is not independent, they may share a roof, foundations, entrance halls and stairs.

Northumberland County 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, estate and grounds – this means that you will be charged for any repairs carried out to the structure or communal areas of your building.

For further information contact Marie Bradley, Leasehold Services Officer, on 01670 622906 or email marie.bradley@northumberland.gov.uk. Her usual working hours are Tues-Thurs 10am-5pm. 
The lease is a legally binding contract. When you purchase your flat or maisonette through the Right to Buy scheme,  you buy the right to live there for between 99 and 125 years.

If you buy your home on the open market, the seller will  transferred their rights and responsibilities to you under the lease for the rest of its term, Including the agreed service charges. 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 the landlord Northumberland County Council.

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.

Your responsibilities

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

Our responsibilities

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 must:
  • send out annual service charge invoices
  • arrange the buildings insurance for your property and recharging 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
  • leasehold service charges
Service charges are your share of the costs of services provided by us to your block. What you pay for depends on the location of the property and the different services provided to the building you live in. 

The service charge is based on our financial year, which runs from 1 April to 31 March. You will receive your estimated service charge invoice in March/April, which covers what we think your share of the cost of services will be for the coming year.  When you receive your estimated service charge invoice you need to pay this in full, or a payment plan needs to be arranged. Please contact your Leasehold Service Officer on 01670 622906 to arrange this.

Around September, we will send you your actual cost, from the previous year. This will show the difference between you estimated cost and the actual cost. Your account will be adjusted to reflect this.

Why do I pay an estimate?
We have to charge an estimate because we do not know in advance how much the cost of providing the services will be.  Some charges, for example, routine repairs, are difficult to predict because we do not know what repairs will need to be carried out, how many or how often.
If the estimated charge was more than the actual charge, we will put a credit on your service charge account for the difference. If the estimated charge is less than the actual charge, we will put a debit on your account which will need to be paid for.

The costs are shared equally among all the flats in the block. For example, if there are 10 flats in your block and seven of them are rented to council tenants and the other three are leaseholders, each leaseholder will pay a tenth of the cost and we will pay seven-tenths for our tenants.

What happens if my account is in credit?
Any credit will stay on your account; it will be offset against your estimated invoice when it is issued the following year. Alternatively you can request a refund.

Payments

How long do you allow me to pay?
You must pay within 10 working days of issue of your invoice. 

I can’t afford to pay. 
Payment plans can be arranged through your Leasehold Service Officer.

What will happen if I don’t pay?
If your invoice is not paid on time recovery action will be taken. If you are struggling with debts please tell us. It is important not to ignore the situation as non-payment is taken seriously and could result in a Court Judgement against you and loss of your home.

For more information on leaseholder service charges click here
We arrange the buildings insurance cover under a blanket policy for all our leasehold properties. It is a condition of your lease that we arrange the buildings insurance cover.

The insurance runs from 1 April to 31 March and the premium is based on the cost of rebuilding your flat. This is called the sum insured and is different from the market value.

If you sublet your flat or leave it empty for more than 30 days you must let us know as this could affect your insurance cover, it could make your policy invalid if you were to make a claim. Please contact your Leasehold Service Officer for a sublet form on 01670 622906 or download a copy here.

From April 1 2017 the policy is with Zurich Municipal policy number OLA-08U006-0013

Many leaseholders believe that the council automatically insures their furniture, belongings and decorations against fire, theft, vandalism or water damage such as burst pipes – this is not the case.  We strongly advises all leaseholders to take out household contents insurance.

To read our insurance policy click here

Who is responsible for repairs?

You are responsible for decoration and for repairs to all fixtures and fittings inside your home, for example, heating systems, kitchen and bathroom fittings, and doors and door frames.

We are responsible for repairs and maintenance to the structure of your home.

Any repairs that have been carried out to your flat or the building will be charged for and included on your actual service charge invoice for that year.

Repairs that we are responsible for:

  • roofs, drains, gutters and pipes on the outside of your home
  • outside entrance doors (but not the front doors of individual flats)
  • window frames and sills (not including glass)
  • outside paint work
  • paths and steps (back and front)
  • boundary fences (except some where you or a neighbouring owner are responsible)
  • chimneys and chimney stacks
  • stairs and landings
  • garages and outbuildings, including drying area
  • installations, fixtures and fittings
  • shared water pipes, water tanks, gas pipes and electrical wiring
  • light fittings in shared areas
  • controlled door entry systems
  • decorations in shared areas
  • central heating system or hot water where you do not have your own independent system
  • exterior brickwork
  • lifts
Repairs that you are responsible for:
  • All repairs to the inside of your flat, including your front door, glass in your windows and all fixtures and fittings, any boundaries marked with a ‘T’ on your lease plan.
  • If you have gas heating appliances you are responsible for getting them serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. We also require a copy of your certificate as proof of completion. NCC offer this service to Leaseholders £45.00 + Vat.
You can rent out your home to someone else, but you will remain responsible for the property. You must tell us the arrangements and give us an alternative correspondence address for you as well as details and contact number for your tenants in case of an emergency.

The insurance company need to be informed of any changes failure to do this could make a claim invalid. If you have a mortgage, it may be a condition of your mortgage, to get permission to let your home.

To inform us of a change you can download our subletting form here or contact your Leasehold Service Officer on (01670) 622906.

You are still responsible for payment of your annual service charges as well as making sure your tenants behave and do not cause a nusiance to neighbours.

If you sub-let your flat and it has any gas appliances in it, the Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998 apply to you. As a landlord this means, that you have a duty by law to your tenants, to ensure that a gas safety check is carried out every year, and that your appliances are properly maintained. NCC require a copy of your certficate.

NCC offers a Gas Safety check to leaseholders for £45 +VAT. 
You can sell your property at any time. It is known as assigning the lease. If you bought your home under the Right to Buy scheme, you may need to repay all or part of the discount you received, should you sell in the early years after your original purchase.

You must also ensure that any prospective purchaser is aware of the leasehold nature of the property.

For more information on selling your home please read our FAQs 
Please contact if you need to contact someone - 
0345 600 6400
01670 542424