Leaseholder information and services

Your lease

What is a lease?

A lease is a legal agreement or contract between you and the person who owns the land and the building your home is in. The lease sets out both parties’ rights and responsibilities. The lease also sets out your rights and the procedures you must follow if, for example, you want to sell (assign) your lease, alter your home, or sublet it.

Your lease is a type of tenancy that allows you to live in your home for a set period of time; usually this can be for a period of 99 years or 125 years, starting from when the first property in your building was sold. The set period of time is known as the lease ‘term’. If you bought your home on the open market, the seller will have transferred the rights and responsibilities to you under the lease for the rest of its term. Your lease sets out the services the council provides and how it can recover the cost of those services through service charges.

Why do you need a lease?

A lease will legally protect you and the council if there is a dispute, for example, about repairs, service charges or shared areas. What if the terms of the lease are broken? If we have failed to meet our obligations under the terms of your lease, please tell us and we will try to put things right.

How to get a copy of your lease?

The Land Registry will provide you with a copy of your lease for a small fee.


Ground rent

As your lease is a type of tenancy, you have to pay rent for the ground your property is built on; this is known as ground rent. We normally send you an invoice for your ground rent in June every year.


Your rights and responsibilities

As a leaseholder you have the right to live peacefully in your home. In return, you must meet the obligations of your lease. These include:

  • paying the ground rent, insurance premium and all service charges due, including your share of the costs of all major works carried out on your building and doing all repairs that are your responsibility, renewing or replacing all the fixtures, fittings and services to your home.
  • not making any structural alterations or additions until you have our written permission. This includes moving or   removing internal walls. See the section ‘alterations and improvements’ for more information
  • not causing a nuisance or annoyance to your neighbours. Not harassing or causing offence to others, including staff
  • using your home only as a private residence
  •  informing us if you plan to transfer the lease or sublet your home
  • keeping your home in good repair and condition
  • allowing us into your home to do repairs to your home, or to other parts of the building, or to neighbouring properties, as long as we give you 48 hours’ notice in writing (except in emergencies)
  • allowing us into your home to do repairs to your home that are your responsibility, if you have not done them yourself within a reasonable time. We will charge you (recharge) the full cost of such work, including VAT and any administration costs
  • being responsible for any water leaks and for the cost of repairing any damage caused
  • not putting up a TV aerial or satellite dish outside your flat or on the building without our permission
  • not displaying an estate agents’ board outside your home or in a window of your home
  • not using your home for running a business
  • not using your home for immoral or illegal purposes

You are responsible for looking after everything that is inside your home or that relates only to your home. This includes:

  • inside walls that are not part of the main structure (e.g. dividing walls) and plaster work
  • ceilings and floorboards or flooring, but not ceiling or floor joists (beams)
  • decoration and general repairs to the inside of your home
  • doors and door frames (including your own entrance door to your home)
  • window glass, but not window frames
  • toilet, sink and bath fixtures and fittings
  • tanks, pipes, plumbing, wiring and drains supplying water, gas and electricity to only your home
  • individual central heating and hot water systems and radiators
  • individual private garden area (if you have one)

Leaseholder repair responsibilities

As a leaseholder,  under the terms of your lease, you are responsible for the general repair and maintenance of everything inside your property.  Some of your responsibilities are listed below:

  • window glazing (but not the frame)
  • ceilings (but not the joists or beams or concrete floors)
  • all plaster and other surfaces to all floors, walls and ceilings in your property
  • the entrance door and frame to the property and any other external doors and frames
  • any water tank serving the property alone (if the water tank serves other flats, we are responsible)
  • heating systems, flues, plumbing and electrics that serve only your property
  • kitchen units, sanitary ware (toilets, sinks and baths) and all other fixtures and fittings 
  • all internal decoration


The Council's repair responsibilities

The Council is responsible for repairing and maintaining the main structure of the building and communal areas, and for providing services including:

  • all structural walls, roofs, window frames, foundations, shared drains and external decorations
  • communal services to the block, such as entry phones and communal lighting
  • all internal and external communal areas of the building, such as internal decorations to communal areas and repairs to fences, footpaths and boundary walls

Report a repair

Call one of the following numbers to report a repair or maintenance problem for which the Council is responsible:

  • Telephone: 0208 498 8000 - this is a landline number
  • Freephone: 0800 393994

These phonelines are available Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm, except public holidays.

Leaseholder major works

Major works are large renewal, repair and maintenance programmes which we plan in advance.  Examples include:

  • external works
  • roof renewal
  • window replacement
  • internal works

Under the terms of your lease, you must contribute towards the cost of the major works. Further information is available in the Leaseholder major works guide which includes the consultation procedure.

We will send you a consultation notice advising you of our proposal to carry out major works.


Current consultations on major works

There are currently no consultations on major works.

If you require any further information regarding proposed major works please contact us.


Leaks and building insurance

Our frequently asked questions address some of the queries leaseholders have about leaks. However, please note that these are for guidance only. We recommend that you consult the buildings insurance policy documentation for full details of the exact cover and exclusions of the policy. We also recommend that you take independent advice on issues about your liability or the liability of other residents or the council in relation to particular incidents.

Leaks and building insurance FAQs

What should I do if my property is damaged as a result of a leak?

If the leak is from another property (tenanted or leasehold) you should try to ask your neighbour to stop the leak. If the leak doesn't stop, or if it is from a communal part of the building, you should contact our repairs contractor, MEARS, by telephone 0800 393994 or by email We will try to contact the resident that lives in the property where the leak is coming from and ask them to stop the leak. If we cannot contact the resident, we have the authority to force entry into the property and carry out the work to stop the leak.

If the structure or fabric of your flat is damaged you should make a claim to ASPEN under the building insurance policy. If your property is damaged by a leakage of water or from another cause originating from a different property (such as an upstairs flat), you will still need to submit a claim in your own name to ASPEN for the damage within your flat. You may also make a claim against the Council, and the Council's insurers will consider your claim. If your contents and personal belongings (such as carpets and furniture) are damaged, you should make a claim on your contents insurance policy, as the building insurance does not cover your contents.

If you don't have contents insurance and you feel that your neighbour is responsible, you can only make a claim against them if you can prove they have been negligent. This means that if the leak was an accident or you cannot prove it was the result of negligence then you will not be able to make a claim.

Is the council responsible for damage from a leak to my flat caused by a council tenant or a tenanted flat?

If a council tenant causes damage to your flat, for example by an overflow from a sink or bath, the council would not be responsible for repairing the damage. You should make a claim on the buildings insurance and your contents insurance as necessary. If you think the leak has resulted from a problem in the tenanted flat which is the responsibility of the council to fix, you should make a claim on your buildings and/or contents insurance. However, if you think the council has been negligent, for example in not carrying out a repair within a reasonable time once it had been made aware of it, you should still make a claim from your buildings insurance. You can make a claim against the council and the council will consider it.

What if I cause damage to another leaseholder's property?

If you damage the structure/fabric of the property, the other leaseholder should make a claim on the building insurance. If you damage the contents, the other leaseholder can claim on their own contents insurance if they have contents insurance. If their contents insurers think that you have been negligent, or they do not have contents insurance, they may seek to recover costs from you. You should notify your contents insurers of any claim made against you, and also if you are sub­-letting.

What if I cause damage to a tenanted property?

If you damage the structure/fabric of property owned by the council and occupied by a tenant of the council, it is the council's responsibility to repair the property. We will recharge the cost to you if you have acted in a negligent manner. If you damage the tenant's contents they can claim on their own contents insurance. If their contents insurers think that you have been negligent, or they do not have contents insurance, they may seek to recover costs from you. You should notify your contents insurers of any claim made against you and if you are subletting.

Aspen Community Residential Buildings Insurance Policy


Fire door information

If the front door to your leasehold property opens into a communal area it must meet fire safety standards. Our Asset Management Team has created a front door leaseholder guide on the features that a front door must have to help leaseholders identify if their door is compliant or whether it needs upgrading. 

If you wish to apply for permission to install a replacement front door it will have to have a full 30 minute fire resistance in accordance with the Building Regulations 1995. This regulation applies to all parts of the door and frame. A fireproof letterbox should also be fitted along with a slow door closer.


Leaseholder alterations policy

Your lease sets out certain areas where you must first obtain the council’s permission before taking any action. The most important of these is when you want to carry out work affecting the fabric of the flat such as an alteration of the internal layout.

Replacement of window frames or flat entrance doors by leaseholders also require the council’s prior consent. You must first put your request in writing to the council with your plans and specifications from the company who will manufacture and install the windows or doors. Your plans will be considered by our technical team who will need to satisfy themselves that the proposal meets the council’s requirements. Both the health and safety aspects and the general design of the windows proposed are considered at this stage. The council must ensure that any windows installed will not detract from the overall appearance of the block in question.

Where permission is granted and the installation takes place, the windows, window frames and doors will then become the responsibility of the leaseholder.

If you have  you carried out alterations previously without having obtained the permission of the council or wish to make any alternations, you need to apply for permission under the Leaseholders Alterations Policy The policy sets out the types of alterations we will approve, the appropriate charges and the process you need to follow.


Freehold and lease extension

As a leaseholder, you have the right to:

  • buy the freehold of your house, known as enfranchisement
  • extend your lease by 50 years

There is a qualification criteria around both extension and enfranchisement to your home. You can find detailed information in the Residential Leaseholders guide to rights and responsibilities booklet.


Antisocial behaviour 

If you are suffering antisocial behaviour try to resolve the matter yourself first by talking to the person responsible. If this doesn’t solve the problem, or you don’t feel able to talk to the person responsible, contact us for help and advice.  We may ask you to write to us or email us with all the details. We will only act in a dispute between neighbours if there is a clear breach of the tenancy or lease conditions.

As a leaseholder, you are responsible for the behaviour of everyone living in or visiting your property, including children and subtenants. You are responsible for their behaviour in the property, in shared areas and around the property. Living in flats means you will be living close to your neighbours and sharing some areas of
the property. Many of the things you do may affect your neighbours.

Nuisance, including noise nuisance, is an unwelcome feature of modern life. The person causing the nuisance may be unaware of the problems they are causing. In a building, sound travels very easily from one home to another. Please be aware of this and try to minimise noise from your home. Here is some general advice about avoiding noise nuisance:

  • don't lay laminate flooring in your home if you live in a flat or maisonette. Hard flooring increases noise from your home, so the noise from general living may be loud enough to disturb your neighbours
  • don't play loud music. Be considerate of your neighbours at all times
  • don't let your visitors make a lot of noise when they are leaving your property
  • don't use your washing machine or vacuum cleaner early in the morning or late at night.
  • tell your neighbours if you are planning a party and be reasonable about how long it lasts

If your neighbours say you are making too much noise, listen to their complaints and respond in a reasonable way.


Keeping the communal areas clear

You must not keep any of your personal belongings in a communal hallway as they may be dangerous or block the escape route if there is a fire. We will ask you to remove any belongings you have left in the hallway and if you do not, we will dispose of them.


Disposing of rubbish

It is everyone’s responsibility to dispose of their household waste in the correct manner; please ensure that your refuse is bagged in appropriate refuse sacks and placed in the refuse facilities provided. Do not leave your refuse in communal area or on the floor of the bin shed as this attracts vermin and may cause a Health and Safety issue. If you do not comply with the above you will be recharged for any costs incurred by the council for tidying and disposing of your refuse.

Please ensure you dispose of any recyclable material in the correct bins and do not leave any material on the floor by the bins.

If you have any bulky waste, furniture or white goods to dispose of, you should:

  • Ttke it to the Reuse and Recycle Centre in Chigwell Road, Woodford Bridge IG8 8PQ. Telephone 0800 389 9918
  • arrange for a free Bulk Waste Collection through the councils cleansing department or by calling 020 8554 5000
  • if the item is in good condition and can be reused, please contact: TCL Reuse, Uphall Road, Ilford. Telephone 020 8553 5880 or The British Heart Foundation on 0808 250 0030
  • alternatively you can contact us and make arrangements for a collection if you require assistance: Telephone 020 8518 2400

Failure to comply with the above, may lead to prosecution under the Environmental Protection Act. If you are found to be responsible for dumping bulky waste items, white goods, and furniture or building waste etc, you will be recharged for the removal and disposal. It is unsightly and a Health and Safety risk to you and your neighbours.

As a resident you pay for the cost of removing any bulky or fly tipped waste dumped on your estate; please let us know if you are aware who is causing these problems.

Help us to keep the environment of your estate clean and tidy!


Selling your home as a leaseholder

Repaying your discount when selling your home

If you sell within five years of buying your property under the Right to Buy scheme, you will be required to repay part of your discount. You may be required to
pay this in quantities of thirds if you sell within three years or on the following basis:

  • within one year, you must repay all of the discount
  • in the second year, you must repay four fifths of the discount
  • in the third year, you must repay three fifths of the discount
  • in the fourth year, you must repay two fifths of the discount
  • in the fifth year, you must repay one fifth of the discount
  • after five years you will not have to repay any discount

If you sell within five years of buying your home, the amount of discount you must repay will be based on the resale value of your home, regardless of the value
of any improvements made to it.

If before you buy your home or within the discount repayment period you agree to transfer your property to someone else in the future, you will have to repay the appropriate amount of your discount. You do not have to repay your discount in the first three or five years after buying it if:

  • you sell your property to your husband or wife as part of a divorce settlement ruled by a court, or
  • you sell as a result of a Compulsory Purchase Order from the council

Landlord's right of first refusal

Normally, leaseholders who wish to sell their homes within 10 years of purchase are required to first offer to sell their home back to their former landlord or to another social landlord at full market value. The market value must be agreed between the leaseholder and the landlord. If the value can’t be agreed, the District Valuer will decide (the cost of the Valuation will be paid by the Government). If the former landlord or another social landlord does not accept the offer within eight weeks, the leaseholder is then free to sell their property on the open market.

You can read more about selling your home and repaying discounts from the Government’s‘Your Right to Buy Your Home’ booklet.

Selling your home

You must ensure that your purchaser is aware of the conditions in the lease and all matters affecting the property that you have become aware of during your ownership.

It is important, therefore, to keep all consultation papers, service charge invoices and miscellaneous correspondence concerning the management and maintenance of the property in a safe place. If you fail to divulge information that you are aware of to a prospective purchaser, you may be liable under the terms of your sale contract.

You must make sure your purchaser is aware of the conditions in the lease and all matters affecting the property that you have become aware of during your ownership.

During the course of the sale, your purchaser’s solicitor is likely to require a great deal of information relating to the property and in particular the financial position of possible works in progress and your current liabilities. The council will not enter into any correspondence in these circumstances with anyone other than you or your solicitor, unless you authorise us to do so. We strongly recommend you ask us fora sellers pack. The sellers pack contains essential information about the property that your buyer will want to know, including:

  • the last three years' service charge statements
  • money owing for service charges and major works
  • buildings insurance
  • planned future major works
  • current major works that we have not yet billed you for

We can give the sellers pack to the solicitor acting on your behalf; the fee for this can be found in our fees and charges.  Your solicitor should write to us asking for a pack, enclosing the fee. Once we have received the request and fee, we will post the pack to your solicitor, normally within 10 working days. We recommend that your solicitor asks for the sellers pack as early as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays. The solicitors will be responsible for agreeing how any unpaid charges are dealt with as part of the sale – we cannot get involved. Sometimes, solicitors will want tohold b ack some money if:

  • estimated charges are included in the balance on the account
  • major works have been done but we have not yet billed you for them

This is known as retention. Again, the solicitors must make such arrangements.

After the sale is complete

We need to update our records once a sale is complete and there is a set procedure for this. The new owners’ solicitor must send a Notice of Assignment to the council’s legal department, plus the correct fees. This is a condition of the lease and notices must be sent within a month of the sale completing. We can only update our records to show the names of the new owners if the legal department has received and acknowledged the notices. We cannot change our records without this, even if, for example, the new owners have already notified another department of the council, such as the council tax.


The leaseholder forum and getting involved

The leaseholder forum meets every quarter  (6.15pm to 8pm) to discuss general issues affecting leaseholders. Meetings are currently be held remotely via Microsoft Teams.

New members are welcome. Email to find out more.

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