Your council lease
Selling your Home
You do not require the Council’s permission to sell your flat or property, although if you bought your flat under a shared ownership scheme, you must offer it back to the Council first.
Kingston Council must be informed of any change of ownership and this usually happens when a purchaser’s solicitor serves a “notice of assignment” on the head of legal services.
If you sell your flat within five years of buying it from the Council under the Right to Buy Scheme, you will usually have to pay back some of the discount given to you when you purchased it as follows:
- Within one year of purchase - all of the discount
- Within two years of purchase - 4/5 of the discount
- Within three years of purchase - 3/5 of the discount
- Within four years of purchase - 2/5 of the discount
- Within five years of purchase - 1/5 of the discount
There are some circumstances where the discount does not have to be repaid, for example if the sale is to your husband, wife or another member of your family who has lived with you for at least 12 months. In such cases, you are strongly advised to seek independent legal advice.
When a flat or maisonette is sold, any outstanding amount on the service charge account remains with the property. As a result, if the seller does not pay the service charge at the time of sale, it becomes the new leaseholder’s responsibility to pay. This is also true of any pending charges that are invoiced after the property has been sold but that were incurred during the seller’s period of ownership.
If you are selling your flat you or your solicitor may apply in writing to the Service Charge Accounts (Finance Operations) Team for a Pre-Sale Enquiry Pack. This will provide information regarding current and pending balances as well as copy service charge accounts, building insurance and planned maintenance information. An administration fee is payable for each pack. Pre-Sale Enquiry Packs are produced by the:
Service Charge Accounts (Finance Operations) Team
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
3rd Floor Guildhall 2
Kingston upon Thames
Tel: 020 8547 5468
Kingston Council will not split the service charges between the seller and new leaseholder when a transfer takes place.
The Council is not usually in a position to repurchase flats sold under the “right to buy” although if you purchased your flat from the Council after 18 January 2005 and wish to sell your property within ten years of buying it you must first offer to sell it back it to the council at a mutually agreed price or a price determined by the district valuer.
Letting out your Home
You must request permission from the Council before letting your property.
If you own only part of your property and the remainder is owned by the Council (under a shared ownership arrangement) you will not be allowed to let your property.
If you own your whole property as a leaseholder you will usually be granted permission to let out your flat provided that:
- You provide your phone number so we can contact you immediately in the case of an emergency such as a water leak from your property.
- If you are living abroad you must provide an emergency contact in the UK who is able to arrange access to the property at short notice.
- You tell us your contact address so that we can write to you about your service charge, repair issues and to advise you about major works programmes.
- You must ensure that your tenants comply with the terms of the lease, as you are responsible for their behaviour. This will include noise Nuisance and other forms of anti social behaviour.
You are responsible for the safety of your tenants. If you have gas in the flat you must by law make sure that gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe. You must ensure annual maintenance checks, and resultant repairs, are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and that you have a current Landlords Gas Safety Record (LGSR) certificate. Please supply a copy of the certificate to:
Housing Compliance Surveyor
Asset Management Team Tadlow Housing Office
Kingston, KT1 3JL
In some of our earlier leases the Council remain responsible for the supply of hot water and heating and we will recharge the costs through your service charge.
Letting out your flat may affect the buildings insurance premium and the risks covered.
If your flat is left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days, you are no longer insured for a number of risks including:
- Malicious damage
- Theft or attempted theft
- Loss of water from any fixed pipes or tank
If you fall behind in your mortgage payments you could risk losing your home and become homeless.
If you fall behind with your service charges or breach the terms of the lease the Council can take legal action and this could result in the Council seeking forfeiture of the lease unless you remedy the breach.
As soon as you get into difficulty with your payments, it is essential that you seek help. The earlier you ask for help, the greater chance of resolving the matter and coming to an arrangement with your mortgage company.
The Housing Advice Service can offer help if you experience financial difficulties or you have a specific housing problem, for example, if your mortgage lender is threatening to repossess your home.
Please refer to the useful contacts section at the end of this handbook for details of the Housing Advice section and other agencies, which may be able to assist you.