Leasehold handbook - Repairs and maintenance

Repairs and maintenance are carried out by Harlow Council in communal areas. Please see the table for a summary list of repairs and who is responsible for carrying them out. If you are in any doubt please contact us.

As a leaseholder you are responsible for all repairs inside your flat. Harlow Council, as a landlord is responsible for maintaining the structure of your building and any common areas with you, as a leaseholder, contributing your share of these costs.

The exact responsibilities for repairs and maintenance may vary according to the contents of your lease.

What are my responsibilities as a leaseholder?

The Council owns the structure of the building in which you live, you own and are responsible for the interior of your property. You are generally responsible for the repair and maintenance of everything inside your home. For example, you are responsible for the following items:

  • Individual heating systems and appliances
  • Internal doors
  • Sanitary fittings
  • Plumbing and pipe work within the property up to the main stopcock
  • Internal fixtures and fittings and equipment
  • Internal decorations including the plaster covering on the walls
  • Floor coverings, including floor tiles and screeds (the layer on top of the concrete floor, under the tiles)
  • Non structural walls (non load bearing, internal walls)
  • Ceilings, including ceiling battens
  • The window glazing (but not the frame)
  • Individual front doors

You must supply and maintain your own dustbins and dustbin cupboard/area (where applicable) as well as door fittings such as hinges, letterboxes, handles, bells and doorknockers to your property.

There are some exceptions. For example, if the Council installed a communal central heating system, controlled entry system or communal TV aerial and socket (Tower Blocks Only) – the Council will maintain these and you will be responsible for contributing towards the cost of maintenance.

Telephone cables not belonging to British Telecom or another supply company are also your responsibility.

Although you are responsible for replacing window glass, in the event of breakage, the Council will carry out repairs with your agreement for safety reasons. You will then be billed for the repair.

At what stage do I take over the responsibility for items such as pipes and wiring?

The Council owns and will maintain the following:

  • The pipes supplying the mains water, from the water company’s stopcock outside the block, up to and including, the main stopcock in individual flats; or, where there is a communal water storage tank for the whole building, the gate valve in the flat
  • Gas pipes within the block, up to but not including, the gas meter in flats
  • Electricity cables within the block, up to but not including, the electricity meters in flats
  • Wiring for communal TV and radio within the block, up to and including, the aerial socket(s) provided in the flats (Tower Blocks Only)

If the Council supplies the flat with heating and hot water, from a centrally located boiler, the Council owns and maintains all of the heating and hot water system. A proportion of the costs of supply and maintenance are recharged to leaseholders who benefit from this service.

A proportion of any costs paid out by the Council when maintaining and repairing the building and structure will be passed on to the leaseholder.

What happens if I don’t repair and maintain my home?

The Council may require you to carry out repairs for which you are responsible. If you do not carry out these repairs within a given period, representatives of the Council may enter your property to complete the work. You will then be recharged for any costs incurred and there will be an administration cost added.

The Councils right to enter your home

The Council have the right to enter your flat to carry out work (or someone working on our behalf such as a sub-contractor) as long as reasonable notice is given to you. The type of work that may be needed is inspection, renewal, replacement or maintenance work to pipes, cables, wiring and communal heating and hot water systems. Also work to any internal structural walls.

Our staff, contractors or agents have identification – please ask to see this before letting anyone into your home.

What work will the Council be responsible for?

The Council owns the structure of the building and must upkeep the following:

  • Foundations, drains
  • Roofs and gutters
  • External fixtures, fittings and equipment
  • External walls
  • Communal grounds and paths
  • Window frames and external painting
  • The drying area (if any)
  • Communal TV and radio aerials and equipment (Tower Blocks Only)
  • External doors to the block but not individual front doors

What about communal areas?

The Council owns and maintains the common parts of the block, which can include the following:

  • Communal doors
  • External entrance doors and door furniture
  • Communal stairs, walkways, passages and paths
  • Waste pipes and soil pipes
  • Communal lighting
  • Refuse disposal chutes and communal dustbins
  • The lifts (if any)
  • Internal structural walls, load bearing walls, and walls dividing the flat or maisonette from other common parts of the building and adjacent properties

Individual cases

Either the Council or leaseholders may be responsible for some items in certain cases, depending on the location of the item or the extent of the property leased. These items are shown on the sale plans, attached to your lease. Some examples:

Individual gardens

Some gardens, particularly those associated with ground floor flats and maisonettes and which can be accessed only from the individual property, are included in the lease and the leaseholder is therefore responsible for their upkeep.

Fences, boundary walls and garden gates

If gardens are included in the lease, the responsibility for the maintenance, repair and renewal of fences, walls and gates marked with an inward facing ‘T’ on the lease plans is with the leaseholder. A leaseholder must make the appropriate contributions in accordance with the lease provision, towards the cost of the work done and services provided by the Council.

In other words, once you become a leaseholder you will be asked from time to time to pay an amount to the Council for the type of works and services that were previously covered in the weekly rent (if you were formerly a tenant).

The Council is responsible for painting and decorating the exterior of the building and the communal areas in accordance with its planned works programme. The timing of the work may on occasion vary depending upon the condition of the areas to be painted.

Should the need arise you may of course report and request repairs to communal areas and any items of a structural nature for which the Council is responsible. You will be liable to make a contribution in accordance with the terms of your lease as and when work is undertaken.

How do I ask for a repair?

You can ask us to carry out a repair by

  • Telephoning: Repairs Centre on 01279 446666 Monday to Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm, please also use this number to report emergency repairs on a 24 hour basis
  • Visiting: the Civic Centre, where a free phone service is available direct to the Repairs Call Centre
  • Emailing: repairs@htsgroupltd.co.uk
  • Writing to: HTS ​(Property & Environment) Limited, The Repairs Centre, Mead Park Depot, River Way, Harlow CM20 2SE​

Emergency Out of Hours – repair requests

Please note: Services currently previously delivered by Kier Harlow Ltd are now being provided by HTS (Property & Environment) Limited. We prioritise our repairs in order of urgency using the following.

  • Emergency: If your repair is an emergency, the Councils contractor will aim to attend within two hours to make safe and eliminate danger. Emergency repairs are those repairs that could cause danger to the health and safety of the occupant or serious damage to the property Examples of an emergency are:
    • Dangerous structures
    • Dangerous wiring
    • Burst supply pipes

Emergencies can be reported 24 hours a day

  • Urgent: To attend and complete the repair within five working days. Urgent repairs are those items that are a serious inconvenience to people living in their homes or have a potential to affect the security of the property or create a hazard.
  • Standard: To attend within 20 working days. These are repairs, that cause, minor inconvenience and have little effect on the property if the repair is not undertaken in the short term.
  • Planned response maintenance: To attend and complete the repair within one year. These repairs are generally planned or larger works which may require statutory consultation before works can be carried out. These items of work are more cost effectively grouped together to obtain economies of scale.

Long term programmed maintenance work

Work that does not fit into the responsive repair categories are usually put into our long term planned maintenance programmes as this is the most cost effective way of working. Here are some examples of the work we mean:

  • Communal stair nosing’s (Note: will be considered as urgent if a H&S issue is identified);
  • Communal and property window sills (Note: will be considered as urgent if a H&S risk is present);
  • Communal storage/refuse cupboard doors and shared out buildings;
  • External decoration and common areas
  • Communal electrical re-wires
  • Minor structural repairs - priority will be determined by works required;
  • Fitting replacement windows
  • Renewing the roof to your block

Right to Repair

The Right to Repair Scheme gives tenants and leaseholders the right to have a small emergency or urgent repair carried out quickly and to be paid compensation if the Council fails to meet this obligation. To fall within the Right to Repair Scheme a repair must be what is known as a "qualifying repair". The criteria for this are as follows:

  • The repair has an estimated value of less than £250;
  • It is classed as an emergency or urgent repair by the Council.

Compensation becomes payable if the Council fails to complete a qualifying repair within target times. When this occurs the leaseholder is entitled to £10.00 compensation immediately plus a further £2.00 per day for every working day the repair remains outstanding. There is a maximum compensation of £50.00

Table below illustrates the classification and timescales under the Right to Repair scheme which landlords must adhere to.

Table: right to repair classification/timescales

Description of Right to Repair Target in working days
Total loss of water supply 1
Partial loss of water 3
Total loss of gas supply 1
Blocked communal flue to boiler 1
Total or partial loss of space or water heating between 31 October and 1 May. Where connected to a communal heating system 1
Total or partial loss of space or water heating between 30 April and 1 November. Where connected to a communal heating system 3
Blocked or leaking foul drain, communal soil stack (where there is no other working toilet in the dwelling-house) 1
Leaking water or heating pipe, tank or cistern. Where connected to a communal heating and hot water system 1
Leaking roof 7
Insecure external window 1
Door entry phone not working 7

 

Right to repair exceptions

The Right to Repair does not apply where:

  • The leaseholder chooses to have a repair carried out by appointment;
  • The estimated value of the repair is above £250;
  • The leaseholder has not provided access for inspection or for the repair to be carried out, despite being given a reasonable opportunity to do so; and
  • The repair is the leaseholder’s responsibility.

Damage caused by you

If you neglect or damage your home, either accidentally or on purpose, and we, have to carry out repairs, as a result, then we will charge you the cost of the work, and an administrative charge to cover the full cost.

Damage caused by someone else

If someone else damages your home, either through crime or vandalism you must report it to the police and obtain a crime incident number before we will carry out a repair.

Damage by Council employees or contractors

If you believe that loss or damage has been caused to your property due to actions by a Council employee or one of its contractors, you should immediately contact the Council’s Insurance Section. You will be given an Advice Note, which will help you complete your Letter of Claim. Please note, any compensation or insurance claim awarded as a result could be used to offset any debt you may owe the Council. Some damage may be covered by your home contents insurance and if this is the case then we would expect you to make a claim on your insurance.

General emergencies and problems

In an emergency you need to act quickly to keep problems under control and minimise damage, whether the repair is your responsibility or ours. If possible, stop the immediate problem and then call for help to put it right.

If your water, electricity or gas supply fails totally, call the appropriate supplier to check whether there has been a general supply failure. In the event of a general emergency, look in the phone book for the right numbers to notify the authorities and alert your neighbours if it could be dangerous for them.

Water leaks

If possible, turn off the water at the mains stopcock (stop valve), which may be located inside your property or in the common parts hallway. Stopcocks should be clearly labelled to help in identification. We suggest that you check where the stopcocks are before you have a problem. Please note, there may be more than one if the leak is your responsibility, call a reputable plumber. If, it is our responsibility, please call our repairs service on 01279 44 6666.

Gas

If you suspect a gas leak, call The National Grid immediately on: 0800 111 999. There is no charge for calls to this number or for investigating gas leaks.

  • Do not:
    • Turn electric switches on or off
    • Smoke or use a naked flame
  • Do:
    • Call Transco’s Gas Emergency Service
    • Turn off your gas supply by turning off the tap at the meter
    • Open doors and windows to get rid of the gas
    • Put out naked flames
    • Check that the pilot light on the boiler is out
    • Keep people away from the area affected
    • Listen to your gas supplier who will advise you on what further action you should take

More information on Gas, electrical and fire safety

Important note about gas appliances

It is very important that your gas appliances are properly maintained. We strongly advise you to have them serviced annually. You may consider having a service contract with a reputable Gas Safe approved contractor, which will provide regular servicing, and maintenance for any gas installation.

You may also consider the installation of a carbon monoxide detector. You should obtain advice from your gas supplier. If you sublet your property please see the information under subletting.

Electricity

If you have an electrical fault, check the fuse box. If you have a modern fuse box with switches, check which circuit has tripped off. If you had just plugged in an appliance it may be that the appliance is faulty. If you do not know what to do, then call a competent electrician. If your electricity supply has failed completely call your electricity supplier.

The Council as your landlord is responsible for the communal electrics within your block and will recharge you a proportion of the cost of any maintenance to these. The Council has been working on a programme to renew the communal lighting to all of the Council owned blocks within the town.

As leaseholders you are classed as homeowners and are responsible for the electrics within your flat. It is recommended that you:

  • Arrange for an electrical inspection (known as a domestic electrical condition inspection report) to be carried out every five years if the property is sub-let & ten years for leaseholders.
  • Don’t create possible dangers by overloading sockets, and never ignore warning signs like burning smells, sounds of arcing (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping.
  • Make sure all electrical equipment in your home is maintained and used properly (in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions).

You should also ensure all repairs and installation work is safe and meets the building regulations. Always use an electrician registered with one of the Government-approved schemes. Registered electricians will work to the UK national standard BS 7671 (requirements for electrical installations), and will issue you with a safety certificate to confirm that their work has been designed, built, inspected and tested in line with that standard. They will also arrange for you to receive a certificate that confirms the work meets the building regulations. The five Government-approved schemes are:

There are a number of leaseholders who are landlords and rent their properties out.

As a landlord you are required by law to ensure:

  • That the electrical installation in the property is safe when the property is let.
  • That the electrical installation is maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy, and
  • That any appliance provided is safe and has at least the CE marking - this is the manufacturer’s statement that it meets all the requirements of European law.

In order to meet the requirements you will need to carry out regular basic safety checks to ensure the electrical installation and appliances remain in good working order. If you sublet your property please see the information under subletting.

Smoke Detectors

We recommend that you consider installing at least one smoke detector in your home. It is worth taking advice on the type of smoke detector to install and where to locate it/them. If you have a smoke detector please remember to change the batteries regularly and ensure the detector is in working order. More information on smoke alarms

Summary of repair responsibility

Type of repair Responsibility
Ours Yours
Front door to flat
Door frame Yes Yes
Door   Yes
Door handles   Yes
Door locks   Yes
Windows
Window frame Yes  
Window casement Yes  
Window panes   Yes
General
Check after water penetration from communal area or tenants flat Yes Yes
Communal lighting Yes  
Burst pipe within the flat (not communal heating)   Yes
Water supply to the flat Yes  
Communal pipes Yes  
Main storage tank (in communal area serving more than one property) Yes  
Balconies Yes Yes
Structural works Yes  
Drains
Blockage to drainage Yes  
Blockage within the flat   Yes
Unblocking gulleys (drains) Yes  
Roofs Yes  
Gutters Yes  
Walls
Internal non-structural walls (flat)   Yes
Structural walls Yes  
Structure of party wall Yes  
Internal plaster   Yes
Ceilings (intermediate floor)   Yes
Walls to communal areas Yes  
Floors within the flat   Yes
Joists Yes  
Concrete screeding Yes  
Internal decorations   Yes
Decorations to communal areas Yes  
Communal facilities
Car parking areas Yes  
Communal gardens and grassed areas Yes Yes
Communal laundry & facilities Yes  
Communal TV aerial (Tower Blocks only) Yes  
Entry phone system and lifts Yes  
Communal path and gates Yes  
Store sheds in communal areas Yes  

 

Please refer to your lease for clarification