Buying your home
We appreciate that when you are considering buying a property from us you need to make sure it is the right choice for you.
This section includes information you might need at this stage. It is for guidance only and does not replace the terms of the lease for any property you may buy.
We encourage you to discuss your housing options with friends and family and to seek independent advice, support and representation as appropriate. Once you have found a property you want to buy it is important that you appoint a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to advise you professionally.
Home ownership options
We offer a mixture of options for home ownership including the following:
- Outright ownership – where you buy the lease for a property at full market value.
- Shared equity – where you buy the lease for a property at 70% of the full market value. You do not pay rent on the 30% share you do not own.
- Shared ownership – where you buy the lease for a property at a percentage of the full market value. The percentage you buy may vary from property to property and you will pay a monthly rent on the share that you do not own. The rent payable is subject to annual increases.
- Exclusive home ownership courts – some of our courts only contain properties for sale.
- Mixed tenure courts – some of our courts have a mixture of properties for rent and properties to buy.
All of our properties are sold on a leasehold basis, which means that you own a lease (a contract) giving you the right to occupy a property exclusively for a defined period of time (the term). The length of lease varies from property to property so it is important that you check for the particular property you may want to buy.
The length of lease for properties being resold will have diminished by the length of time the previous owner/s has/have owned it. You have the right to extend the lease back to its full term and beyond – a premium must be paid by you to do this and it is worth noting that the premium increases if the lease has fewer than 80 years remaining.
The lease is a contract, which means there are a number of terms and conditions with which you must comply. This may be very different to properties you have owned before as many of the facilities on our courts are shared with other residents and the lease sets out how this arrangement is managed. It is really important that you understand the implications of sharing the building, the services and the costs.
For example, the lease may specify the type of floor covering you are allowed to have so that you do not cause a nuisance with noise to the property below and, where there are communal areas, it is likely that smoking will be prohibited in parts of the building.
We have the right to terminate a lease if payments are missed or if any of the leaseholders' covenants are breached (e.g. as a result of anti-social behaviour). We cannot terminate leases summarily (a court order is required) and will always act reasonably before initiating the termination process (i.e. we will try to resolve any issues through mutual agreement before taking any enforcement action).
When living in one of our properties there are a number of charges you will have to pay.
A service charge is payable for all Housing 21 properties. This is usually reviewed annually and paid monthly in advance. The lease will tell you what services are included in the service charge and how frequently it must be paid.
A service charge budget is calculated at the start of each financial year, which sets out the sum payable by leaseholders during that year.
At the end of each financial year a service charge account is prepared based on the actual spend incurred at the court.
We hold an annual meeting with leaseholders to discuss the service charge accounts and answer any questions. We also discuss what services you would like to see during the coming year so that we can use this information to set the budget at the start of the next financial year.
The service charge budget is calculated with reference to the costs in the previous financial year and the likely costs, where these are known, for the coming year.
The service charge required for future years is wholly dependent upon the level of expenditure in those coming years. It is also dependent upon the balance of monies within the sinking fund (see section on sinking funds).
We give leaseholders at least 28 days’ advance notice of the service charge for the following financial year.
Any surplus or deficit in one year will be reflected in the charge set for the following year.
If there is a significant failure in the provision of any service covered by the charge, we will make alternative arrangements to deliver the service and/or adjust the service charge for the current or following year as appropriate.
Registered housing providers are not required to hold service charge funds in trust but they are held and accounted for separately from other accounts.
A breakdown of the service charge is readily available for any property you may be thinking of buying.
What does the service charge cover?
Each court varies, but our service charge will normally cover the following items:
- The employment of a Court Manager / Housing and Care Manager including salary and related costs. On some courts the court manager may live on site.
- A 24/7 emergency alarm call system so you can call for help.
- Buildings insurance covering the structure of the building. You are responsible for arranging your own contents insurance. As with many insurance policies, there is a “policy excess” to pay in the event of a claim. We choose the value of the excess to keep the premium affordable.
- Lighting and heating for communal areas, including entrances, corridors, laundry and guest room(s).
- Cleaning of all communal areas.
- External window cleaning (the extent of cleaning varies at different courts and may exclude bungalows).
- Maintaining communal gardens.
- Maintenance contracts for equipment in communal areas, such as lifts and fire alarm systems.
- Management fee, which is the Housing 21 charge for the administration of the court. For more information please request a copy of the Management Services for Homeowners booklet.
- Utility charges may apply.