Leasehold Property - what are you letting yourself in for?

 

Living in a leasehold property (and in particular an apartment) is a lot more onerous than many might realise.

You’ve already realised it’s a bit different before you moved in. For starters your solicitor sent you a load of financial documents and something called a lease to review before you moved in and, perhaps like me when I bought my first property (before I was in this industry!), you just blindly signed it not knowing what you had let yourself in for.

Of course, now you know that the lease was really quite important. You thought you had freedom to do what you wanted right? Not quite.

The lease contains a set of rules that dictate the way you live in your home including what times you can play music, whether you can hang your washing on the balcony and how often you have to paint it. It might also prohibit you from making alterations, adding extra radiator or putting your spare room on AirBnB.

The language that is used is difficult to understand and the resources to assist you limited. Perhaps solicitors need to offer better advice to their clients on their obligations. I know from my own experience, there were no guides, no advice and no explanations as to what I was about to encounter.

And then there’s the elephant in the room – service charges.

Unlike living in a freehold property, the decision on what to pay towards and how much you should pay isn’t set by you.  The lease (that we all blindly signed) lists the repairing obligations, frequency and who pays for it. Invariably it’s you as the lease will make the freeholder responsible but the leaseholders have to pay.

Costs get wrapped up in to an annual budget and charged out, usually in advance, with payment due on particular dates. Whether costs are reasonable is a whole other debate (and not one to answer here).

Many costs are unavoidable due to the structure of the lease, the obligations within and the legislation surrounding leasehold property. For example, you simply cannot avoid H&S, statutory and accounting costs to name but a few and ultimately the freeholder, via a managing agent, has a duty to undertake repairs and maintenance which you might otherwise not chose to do if you owned a freehold property.

Living in a leasehold property has loads of advantages though, and at POD we have put together a set of guides to help leaseholders understand their obligations, how budgets are put together and all in a language our customers understand. We recognise that it’s our job to simplify things and make living in a POD managed block easy. It the POD way!

 
David Goldberg