Leasehold handbook - Frequently asked questions

I'm a joint Leaseholder and wish to transfer the Lease into my sole name?

You will need to consult a Solicitor about performing a Transfer of Equity. A joint leaseholder must be legally removed from the lease before your account can appear in your sole name.

I have purchased a Leasehold property, can I sub-let it?

Your lease permits you to sub-let your property. Please refer to the section on Subletting for more information.

What happens if I intend to sell the flat/maisonette?

You must ensure that your Solicitor contacts the Home Ownership Section so that your share of the Service Charge can be re-calculated up to the date of sale. If you, have, over-paid, a credit, will be refunded, to your Solicitor. All outstanding monies must be paid, before completion, otherwise the Councils Legal Section will not accept any Notices transferring the property to the new owner. More information on Right to Buy

What happens if I don’t agree with what I have been charged for within my Service Charge?

You should firstly contact the Home Ownership Section to try and resolve matters. If you still do not agree with your service charges, you can ask for the matter to be looked at by the Service Charge Decision Panel. Please refer to page 79 if you are not getting a service that you are paying for or do not agree with the service charges. You may consider taking the matter to the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (see contact details on page 82). Either you or the council can apply to the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber to settle a dispute over charges.

Can I install my own windows?

Yes, Leaseholders are permitted to install their own windows after consent has been obtained from the Council. There is a charge for consents, details of the up to date charge and an application form can be found on the Councils website at Resident Alteration Guidance Leaflet. Alternatively you can get an application form from Contact Harlow

Can you discuss my account with a relative/partner?

Under the Data Protection Act it is not possible to discuss your account with a third party, unless we have written permission from yourself.

How do I report a communal block repair such as a broken light within the stairwell?

You will need to contact the Repair Centre and give full details of the repair. They will then, raise a report and give you a reference number. This number can be quoted, in case of any queries at a later date or for you to be able to track the repair. You will also be supplied with an estimated timescale for the repair to be carried out.

I have an issue with my neighbours, what can I do?

In the first instance please try to resolve the matter with your neighbour, however, if you are not happy to contact them, you would need to contact the Housing Management team giving full details of the problem and they will then investigate the matter on your behalf.

What will the Council do about dumped rubbish in the communal areas?

You will need to report this to Contact Harlow 01279 446655 giving details of the items that have been dumped. They will then raise a report for the appropriate department. If this concern is ongoing please contact the Housing Management team.

What is a Leasehold property?

When a flat or a maisonette is sold by the Council under the right to buy they are usually sold on a long lease of 125 years as the property/land remains in the ownership of the Council who are the freeholders. Your Lease gives you the right to live in the flat/maisonette for the term of the lease and you are able to sell the flat at any time. The lease will also detail the agreement between yourself and the freeholder regarding any obligations for repairs, payment of service charges and any other general conditions. 

How can I pay my annual service charge bill?

Every year, in March, you will receive an estimated invoice for the next 12-month period, which starts on the 1st April. The total can vary from year to year due to changes in the cost of providing materials and services.

Payments can be made by direct debit; standing order, online, by telephone or if you prefer to pay in cash you can make payments at Contact Harlow Please refer to page 16 for full details of payment options Large items expenditure called major works are invoiced after the work is carried out.

I have just received my Annual Service Charge Invoice and can't afford to pay this in full, can I pay in instalments?

Yes, you may pay by twelve equal monthly instalments and the account must be paid in full by the 31st March.

I want to pay by direct debit can you take my details over the phone?

No, you need to complete a direct debit mandate and return it to us.

Can my direct debit be taken from my account on the 21st of each month?

We have three payment dates for direct debits the 5th, 15th or 25th of each month, but you can set up a standing order for any date of your choice.

I've received an Invoice for Major Works, what are my repayment options?

Please refer to pages 25, 26, 27 and 28 for full details of payment options.

What’s the difference between Service Charges and Council Tax?

Every household must pay Council Tax to cover the cost of providing community facilities such as parks and street lighting and for local services such as the police. Service charges are housing-related costs for the block where you live. They are not the same and you must pay both.

What do I need to do if I want to change my name?

You will need to send the Home Ownership section documentary evidence of your name change before any changes can be made on our systems.