Our Guide to Being a Leaseholder

Becoming a leaseholder is a common occurrence for property buyers – in fact, the majority of flats in the UK are sold under a leasehold agreement. But while leasehold dwellings accounted for 19% of dwellings in England in 2019-20, moving into a leasehold flat or house for the first time can have its surprises. This isn’t to say that living in a leasehold flat can’t be every much as pleasant as living in a freehold property – there are simply some extra considerations that leaseholders need to make in order to make their experience – and that of their neighbours – as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

If you have recently moved into a leasehold flat, the chances are you will have at least one close neighbour. In some cases, you may have neighbours to each side, as well as above and below you. It is therefore important to be aware of a number of things. That’s why we’ve put together a quick and easy guide to being a good leaseholder.

Always bare safety in mind

If you live in a block of flats, it is more than likely that you will share a number of communal spaces with other tenants. Think entrances, stairwells, lifts, and emergency exits. It is also important to remember that the safety of your flat can also affect that of the surrounding dwellings. Therefore, it is crucial that you bare the following things in mind:

Fire Safety – Following fire safety precautions is important in any property, but in blocks of flats this becomes even more crucial. Be aware of what you store in your flat and especially do not store petrol, gas or paraffin heaters. It is also recommended that you don’t light barbecues on your balcony. Be aware of fire exits and ensuring that these do not become blocked. Storing bicycles, prams, or rubbish in landings and hallways can be a trip hazard – particularly if there is a fire – and should be avoided.

Electrical Safety and Gas Servicing – Electrical faults caused by unsafe electrical wiring can contribute to the risk of a fire. If the wiring was done over 10 years ago, you should have a test carried out by a qualified electrician. You should also get your boiler serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer to reduce the risk of a gas leak.

Security – As we mentioned above, it is possible that you will share communal entrances with your neighbours. When entering and exiting your block, always ensure that you close the main door to prevent unauthorised persons from entering. Furthermore, do not allow entry through a communal entry door to person(s) you do not know.

Refuse – Be aware of the proper practice for disposing of your refuse and use the refuse bins provided. Improper disposal of your rubbish or storing refuse in communal areas can lead to health and safety issues.

Maintenance of your flat

While your landlord or block management company may be responsible for the communal areas of your block, there are certain things that you will maintain responsibility for within your own flat. Being aware of maintenance rules and responsibilities will help to ensure that you aren’t hit with any nasty surprises.

Water Leaks – Leaks are the single most common cause of damage in blocks of flats. It is good practice to turn off your water supply at the stopcock if you are going to be away from the property for two days. It will also likely be requested that you leave the block manager or landlord with the details of an emergency key holder. This way, access can be made to your property in the event of a water leak.

Get Insured – Your building may be insured by your landlord or the management company, but this insurance does not cover the contents of your flat. You should therefore take out contents insurance to ensure that your belongings are covered. It is highly recommended that you make sure your insurance cover you if a water leak from your flat damages the contents in another flat as you will be liable for damages.

Service Charges – Depending on the kind of block you live in you may be required to pay service fees. Service charges are used to fund the upkeep and maintenance of communal areas and any necessary repairs and services. Pay these fees on time to avoid complications or delays to any works.

Property Improvements – The majority of leases will require you to seek permission from your landlord or block manager before carrying out any alterations to your flat. This usually does not apply to minor cosmetic changes such as painting. Failure to ask for permission could lead to complications should you choose to sell your property.

Be considerate to your neighbours

Noise Levels – Excess noise is the top cause of disputes between neighbours in blocks of flats – and houses for that matter. Be aware of the level of noise you make and inform your neighbours beforehand if you expect there to be more noise than usual – for example, if you are carrying out any DIY jobs or have workpeople round. Also, consider your floor coverings carefully; carpets and rugs are the best option as they soak up sound. This may be a requirement of your lease.

Pets – Pets can also be the cause of disputes between neighbours, and between tenants and landlords. Leasehold properties usually have some restrictions when it comes to pets and you should seek permission from your landlord or the management company before moving one into your property.

Parking – In some blocks, parking spaces are allocated to each property. It is therefore essential that you use your own parking space and not those of your neighbours. If you are expecting visitors, inform them of the parking arrangements beforehand to avoid disagreements with neighbours.

Should a dispute arise between yourself and one of your neighbours, you should try to resolve this between yourselves. Taking the time to introduce yourself and get to know your neighbours can be a great way to set up a means of communication should any problems arise further down the line.

Reach out to your Block Manager

Moving into a leasehold property can leave you with a lot of things to consider (as this list clearly illustrates). But don’t worry, at Horizon Management, we are always happy to help with any questions or queries you may have about your lease agreement or property maintenance. If you would like to learn more, get in touch with a member of our friendly block management team today.


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