Responsibility for leaseholder repairs

Find out more about getting repairs done to leasehold properties and what happens if repairs are needed to more than one home in the same building.

Who is responsible for repairs?

Your lease sets out who is responsible for carrying out repairs to your home and to any shared facilities.

Get legal advice if your lease does not say anything about who is responsible for a repair, for example fixing an external garage.

Repairs leaseholders are responsible for

Most leases say that the leaseholder is responsible for maintaining and repairing the inside of their home.

This usually includes repairs to:

  • all internal decoration, including carpets and paintwork
  • furniture and appliances
  • internal plumbing and wiring
  • plasterwork
  • floorboards

Repairs that freeholders are responsible for

The freeholder is usually responsible for repairs to:

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

Freeholders don't have to inspect their properties to check for repairs. Some freeholders make regular checks for repairs, particularly in large blocks of flats.

Write to your freeholder as soon as you aware of any problems. Give details of the problem. Date your letter and keep a copy.

The freeholder should complete the repairs within a reasonable period.

Paying for repair work on leasehold properties

As a leaseholder, you usually have to pay for repairs that the lease says you're responsible for.

The freeholder is usually responsible for arranging repairs to the building's structure or shared areas. You are normally billed for your share of the work through service charges.

The freeholder is usually responsible for taking out buildings insurance. This may cover all or part of the cost of the repairs, for example if the damage is caused by an accident.

If a repair isn't covered by insurance, for example replacing a worn-out lift, each leaseholder usually has to pay a share of the total cost. The amount you pay should be reasonable.

Sinking funds, or reserve funds, are often used to help cover the cost of major repairs. Many leaseholders are required to pay a certain amount every month or year to build up the amount in the fund. You usually pay this as part of your service charges.

If the freeholder refuses to do repairs

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

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

Your council's environmental health department may be able to help if the problems are a risk to your health or safety. They could order the freeholder to do the work.

Find your local council's contact details.

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

If other leaseholders won't pay

The freeholder can still get the work done even if one or more leaseholders refuse to pay for essential repairs. The freeholder can't use this as an excuse to put off the repairs. This is usually the case even if your lease says that the freeholder doesn't have to organise the work until the leaseholders have paid for it.

As long as the freeholder has consulted the leaseholders about the work and the costs are reasonable, the freeholder can include them in the service charge.

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

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

Consultation about repair work

You and the other leaseholders must be consulted by the freeholder if the cost of a repair they are responsible for will cost more than £250 per property.

If there is a tenants' association they must also be consulted.

Having a consultation does not mean that leaseholders are giving permission. It means that the freeholder has to:

  • tell you what they plan to do and why the work is needed
  • give you estimates for the cost of the work
  • allow you at least 30 days to make any comments you have in writing

You may not have to pay all the service charges for the work if the freeholder hasn't consulted you properly.

Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) or a solicitor for further advice.

Use the Legal adviser finder to find a legal adviser in your area.

Last updated 01 Nov 2016 | © Shelter

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