Responsibility for repairs in leasehold flats and houses

Find out who has to organise repairs and who pays for them when you have a leasehold flat or house.

Who pays for repairs in a leasehold home?

Leaseholders must pay for repairs that the lease says they are responsible for. This applies even when the freeholder is responsible for getting repairs done.

You usually pay for repairs through service charges.

Sinking funds for repairs

Leaseholders may pay into a sinking fund or reserve fund over a number of years. This can be used to pay for major repairs such as replacing a lift or roof.

If you sell your home, you won't get a refund of money you pay into a sinking fund.

Buildings insurance

The freeholder's buildings insurance may cover all or part of the cost for example if damage is caused by an accident.

Each leaseholder usually has to pay a share of the total cost if anything isn't covered by insurance.

Freeholder responsibility for repairs

The freeholder is usually responsible for arranging repairs to:

  • the building's structure, including the roof and guttering
  • shared parts of the building, such as lifts and communal stairways

The freeholder should arrange buildings insurance to protect the entire building from accidents and disasters such as fire or flood.

Leaseholder responsibility for repairs

Most leases say that the leaseholder is responsible for looking after the part of the building they lease.

This usually includes repairs to:

  • internal plumbing
  • wiring
  • plasterwork and floorboards

Leaseholders are also normally responsible for:

  • the paintwork and decoration of their flat
  • any carpets.

Leaseholders are responsible for the maintenance of their furniture and appliances.

Leaseholder's right to be consulted 

The freeholder has to consult leaseholders before carrying out any repairs or building work that will cost more than £250 per flat.

You may not have to pay all the costs if the freeholder doesn't consult you properly.

Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service for advice if you think your freeholder has not consulted you properly.

How to report repair problems to the freeholder

Write to your freeholder as soon as there are any problems:

  • give details of the repairs needed that they are responsible for
  • give the freeholder a realistic deadline for carrying them out
  • date your letter and keep a copy

If the freeholder refuses to do repairs

Your freeholder is breaking the conditions of your lease if they refuse to carry out repairs they are responsible for.

Get advice if you are in this situation. You may be able to take your freeholder to court to force them to do the work. The court may also be able to order them to pay you compensation.

Report the problem to  the council's environmental health department if disrepair means that your home is dangerous or damaging to your health. The council can order the freeholder to do the work.

Find details of your local council.

If your freeholder still doesn't get the work done, you may be able to carry out the work yourself and claim the money back from the freeholder.

If leaseholders refuse to pay for repairs

The freeholder can arrange for repair work to be done even if one or more leaseholders refuse to pay for essential repairs. This usually applies even if a lease says that the freeholder doesn't have to organise the work until the leaseholders have paid for it.  

The freeholder can include the costs in the service charge as long as they have consulted the leaseholders about the work and the costs are reasonable.

If any leaseholder refuses to pay the service charge, the freeholder can take them to court.

The freeholder can't ask any leaseholder to pay more than their share.

Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service for advice if you are having disputes about repairs.

Last updated 07 Jan 2016 | © Shelter

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