Leasehold properties are generally found in purpose-built blocks of flats, converted houses, or above commercial and retail premises. Leasehold ownership could be seen as simply a long tenancy, providing the right to occupy and use the property for a set term. In the lease, the “demised premises” outlines what is owned by a leaseholder, with the structure and common parts being owned by the freeholder.
Once you have moved in, we will invite you for a welcome meeting so we can talk through being a homeowner with Curo and answer any questions you may have. If you'd like to meet at our office please let us know. We are also happy to have a conversation over the phone or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A list of responsibilities will be detailed in the lease that you sign, and there are responsibilities for yourself as the leaseholder, as well as Curo as the landlord/freeholder. Typical responsibilities for leaseholders include the following:
- Paying service charges and ground rent, typically billed annually with monthly payments permitted.
- Repairs to the internal areas of your home, along with any item solely serving your property. This can include wiring or pipework beneath the floorboards or outside of your front door.
As the landlord, Curo is responsible for maintenance of the communal areas and external parts, such as the shared hallways and the roof.
Services charges are put in place by Curo to cover the day-to-day costs of managing and maintaining the building.
Leasehold customers can expect to receive their service charge estimate in February of each year, prior to the start of the new financial year in April. As stated within the terms of lease agreements, payment for service charges are due in full, in advance of the financial year.
Our customers are obligated to pay the service charge in full, however where customers are unable to pay the charge one installment, our customer offer is to split the charge over 12 months via Direct Debit from April to March.
Service charge reconciliations
Customers can expect to receive their service charge reconciliations in September of each year; these relate to the previous financial year. Once the invoice is issued, and if there is a balance to pay, this will payable within 30 days. If you are unable to pay the invoice within this time frame, you are encouraged to speak to the Commercial Accounts Team to discuss a payment plan.
There may be occasions where your account is in credit; if you require a refund, we ask that you contact us to request this. Alternatively, this can remain on your account and can be offset against future charges.
Curo has an obligation to maintain your building, for which the costs will be re-charged back to our customers, in accordance with the lease. When works are necessary, the process starts by Curo following a statutory consultation process, known as Section 20. On completion of the works, and once they have been signed off, an invoice will be issued. Where customers have a sufficient balance within their sinking fund, the cost of the works are covered from the sinking fund.
Where there are customers without a sinking fund or who have a shortfall within their fund, we will issue an invoice which will be payable within 30 days. If there are customers who are unable to pay the invoice in full, we can extend the payment terms by up to 24 months, subject to an income and expenditure form being completed and reviewed by the Commercial Accounts Manager.
A lease is granted for a defined term and, if not extended, will eventually expire and revert to the freeholder (in most instances, us). If the lease term dips below 80 years, the value of the property can drop dramatically. This is where lease extensions come in.
Once you have owned the property for two years or more, you have the right to extend it. The extension provides a further 90 years on the remaining term, and ground rent reduces to nil.
There is a premium payable to Curo, as well as solicitor and surveyor fees, which are payable by the leaseholder in accordance with the statute. Please contact us if you'd like to know more.
Deeds of variation
If changes are required to your lease, this can be done via a Deed of Variation. This is a legal document that sets out the amendments to the lease, either by inserting or removing clauses, or make changes to the plan. A solicitor will be required to perform this action, with their fees payable by the leaseholder. Please refer to our additional manage fee schedule for our administration fee.
The process typically starts once you instruct an estate agent to advertise the property for sale on your behalf.
During the sale process we are able to assist with the enquiries by preparing a sales pack. This includes detail on the rent and service charges, buildings insurance, planned works etc. A fee is payable for this service, which is shown in our schedule of additional management fees.
Once a sale has been completed, the buyer's solicitor should serve Curo with a Notice of Assignment. This states the parties involved, and the date of completion. On receipt of this, we close down the vendor’s account, and open one for the buyer.
Leases typically include clause to restrict various items from being done, either work-related or behavior. This may completely prohibit something from being done, or may allow it, providing prior consent in writing has been obtained. Please see our schedule of additional management charges for our fee for consent.
As a leaseholder you are permitted to sublet your property. However this must be under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), and for a minimum term of six months. Airbnb or holiday lets are strictly prohibited.
We would always recommend that you check your lease before agreeing to any let.
Arrears process for homeowners
When an account falls into arrears we will always try to make contact with the individual(s) named on the account so that they can make a payment or create a Direct Debit to bring the account up to date.
If we do not hear back following this initial contact, we will send an initial arrears letter to request that the account be brought up to date within seven days.
If we receive no contact or payment after the initial request, we will then send a secondary letter, which incurs a £45 administration fee. This letter advises that legal action will be taken if the account is not brought up to date or contact is made with ourselves.
The next stages of our arrears process is a Letter of Claim which is followed by a Fourteen Day Court letter, which leads to legal action that may incur court costs to the homeowner.
For independent homeowner advice: https://www.lease-advice.org/