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About your lease

When you buy a flat from the council you buy a leasehold interest in your home. We continue to own the freehold.

As a leaseholder you have bought the right to live in your property for a fixed number of years. Typically, this will be 125 years from the date of sale of the first property in the block. The length of the lease reduces over time from the date it was originally granted.

The lease is a complicated document – we cannot give a precise interpretation of the lease because it is specific to your property. You should therefore read your own lease for information about your particular situation and consider seeking legal advice.

The lease describes the property you own, and the plan attached to your lease shows the areas that are included in your home. The plan may also show any communal areas that you may be entitled to use.

Useful documents

Landlord responsibilities

We are responsible for the main structure of the building, the shared parts and any shared services to your building or estate.

We have a duty to:

  • Repair, maintain and redecorate the structure and exterior of the property. Depending on your property this may include: external decoration, roofs, estate lighting, grounds maintenance, door entry systems and window replacement
  • Keep the building insured
  • Manage your block or estate in a proper and reasonable manner
  • Advise leaseholders of the Council’s yearly service charge for their flat

Your responsibilities

You have a duty to:

  • Observe all the terms and conditions in your lease
  • Pay the ground rent and service charge costs as demanded
  • Pay a reasonable proportion of any major works carried out to your block
  • Not to make any alteration to the structure of the building without the Council’s prior written approval
  • Advise the Council’s Legal Services section of any transfer of the lease, mortgage, assignment etc
  • Keep your home in good repair
  • Not to do any illegal act or thing which may be or become a nuisance or annoyance or cause damage to residents or any part of the building
  • Not to play loud music causing a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours

Leaseholder legislation

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 are the two main pieces of legislation that detail the rights and responsibilities of landlords and leasehold tenants. The 2002 Act introduced important changes to the law on service charges and leaseholder consultation, as well as clarifying and extending leaseholder rights in other aspects.

Ground rent

Because leasehold is a tenancy, it is subject to the payment of a rent (which may be nominal) to the landlord. Ground rent is a specific requirement of the lease and must be paid on the due date, subject to the issue of a formal and specific demand by the landlord.

Service charges

When you buy a flat in a building owned by the Council, you buy the leasehold interest in the property. This means you are legally responsible to pay a proportion of the running costs and management costs of your block. These costs are called service charges. More information on service charges can be found on the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) website: Service Charges and other issues and Service Charges - summary of tenants’ rights and obligations.

Selling your property

If you are in the process of selling your property this transaction is known as an assignment. The Solicitor acting for you in the sale will require information from us about your individual property as well as the block and estate in which it is sited in order to answer questions raised by potential purchasers. For instance, how your property’s annual service charge is calculated and details of the current years estimated and previous years actual charges.

We provide as much information as we can about future planned major works and any outstanding service charges and loans which must be cleared on completion of the sale. Ipswich Borough Council is not party to your sales transaction and is not bound by whatever agreement you make as the vendor with your purchaser on the apportionment of outstanding service charge invoices.

Therefore liability for all outstanding charges up to the date of completion must be agreed as part of the contract of sale. Your Solicitor will be able to exercise his/her discretion, based on the information provided, on whether or not to hold a retention sum (this charge and any major works charges which have not been invoiced). You have an absolute responsibility to disclose to your purchaser any information you may have received by way of notice or otherwise telling you of likely future costs.

Notifying Ipswich Borough Council of your sale

It is extremely important that we are notified of the assignment as soon as possible as until this is done we will not be able to amend our records to show the details of the new owner. This means that correspondence will still be addressed to the former leaseholder who will still appear to be responsible for any liabilities attaching to the property.

It is advisable to inform us of your sale, and if possible, to provide the name of the Solicitors acting on behalf of the purchaser. This will enable us to chase the appropriate documentation if required.

Right of First Refusal

If you bought your flat prior to 18 January 2005, you do not need our permission to sell your flat. However, if your flat was bought on or after 18 January 2005, and you wish to resell or dispose of it within ten years of purchasing, you will be required to offer it back to Ipswich Borough Council. This is because under the Housing Act 2004, we are required to insert a covenant into the lease that gives us or another Registered Provider (RP) nominated by us, the right of first refusal.

Repayment of discount

If you sell your flat within five years (after 18 January 2005) under the Right to Buy scheme, you will have to pay back a proportion of the discount, unless the sale is an exempted sale.

Home insurance

As the freeholder, we insure you against loss of, or damage caused to, the building in which your flat is situated. You are charged a proportion of the insurance costs relating to your flat through your annual service charges.

Please note that the insurance included with your service charges only covers the structure of the building, including fixtures and fittings. You must make your own arrangements to protect your contents and personal possessions.

If you wish to make a claim under the buildings insurance, you should in the first instance contact our insurance section on

Repairs and alterations

How to report a repair that is our responsibility

You will be responsible for the maintenance of everything within the four walls of your flat.

Ipswich Borough Council remains responsible for the external fabric of the building and for any shared services such as bin areas, shared stairways and paths.

If you wish to report a repair that is our responsibility you can telephone our Repairs Team on 01473 432000.

Carrying out your own alterations

As a leaseholder you have the right to improve your home, but for some improvements you will need written permission from us. This is because, as a landlord, we have an investment in the block and a responsibility to the other tenants. We will not refuse permission unless we have a good reason. You may also need to get planning permission and building regulation approval before starting work.

We do not need to know about minor work such as decorating, but we do need to know about any addition or change to the structure in your home including alterations, which affect walls, windows, doorframes, and anything, that alters the outside appearance of the property. We will also need to know if you wish to erect aerials or satellite dishes.

In order to obtain permission you must complete and submit the form Request for permission to carry out alterations or an extension. A building surveyor may need to visit your home to see what you intend to do, before we can make a decision.

Please note that the permission we give you to go ahead is not the same as planning permission. You are responsible for getting any necessary planning permission or building regulation approval. We will normally make it a condition that you do this when we give you permission for the work. You will have difficulties in selling your flat if you cannot show this written consent.

Housing Services Reasonable Adjustment Policy

The Council is committed to making sure that disabled tenants and leaseholders are not disadvantaged when getting access to or using our services. For this reason we will make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people.

A copy of our Policy can be found here.

This policy does not explain how we will approach every situation. It provides general information on our policy and:

  • confirms our commitment to improving tenants' and leaseholders' access to our services
  • defines what a reasonable adjustment is, when and how we will make them, and how you can ask for them, and
  • what we will consider when dealing with requests for reasonable adjustments.

 We can provide a copy of this policy in alternative formats (for example, in large print or Braille, as an audio file, or on coloured paper). Please contact us to arrange. 

Further information