Details of being an owner with Stonewater should be explained to you by your solicitor as part of your purchase. However, below is a handy reminder about the key requirements of owning a Stonewater home.
About your home
We have a large number of shared ownership and Homebuy schemes. The way that your rent is assessed depends on the particular type of shared ownership scheme and lease used at the time your property was completed.
Your lease may state that your rent is fixed by the Rent Officer. The Rent Officer is independent from Stonewater. Leases originally granted before 1988 would require the rent to be registered every two years in this way.
Leases originally granted after 1988 can be set by Stonewater without registration, however the terms and mechanism of the increase will be specified in the lease. This method of rent increase is calculated annually in line with inflation.
How to pay your rent
Your rent is due on the first day of the month and is paid in advance. The rent is payable by Direct Debit from your Bank or Building Society Account. Banks and Building Societies do not charge for this service if your account is kept in credit.
The way that your rent is assessed depends on the particular type of shared ownership scheme and lease used at the time your property was completed.
If you cannot pay your rent you must Contact Stonewater immediately and make arrangements to clear your debt. You may also be required to let your mortgage lender know. We will consult your lender if you are in arrears with your rent.
Ignoring rent and service charge arrears may result in additional charges being incurred such as late payment fees, interest and court fees. Further non payment of these arrears may result in you losing your home. If you need help with your arrears, you can always obtain confidential help from Stonewater by telephoning 01454 204035 or by contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you are a leaseholder, the landlord is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the external and communal parts of the building and/or estate where your leasehold property is situated.
A proportion of the cost of this work is rechargeable to you as a service charge in accordance with the terms of your lease. Your lease explains this in specific detail.
As the cost of some works can be significant, the law requires us to carry out formal consultation, in particular circumstances, with leaseholders who may be affected by the works.
Repairs over £250 per property
If the cost to you is likely to be more than £250 (plus VAT), we must provide you with certain information about the works that we intend to undertake, their cost and the reasons why we consider it necessary to carry out the works. In addition, should we propose to enter into a long term contract where you are likely to pay more than £100 in any year, we must also provide you with certain information about the contract, the cost and the reasons why we consider it necessary to enter the contract.
Notification of these works and contracts are often referred to as ‘Section 20’ consultation. The phrase ‘Section 20 consultation’ relates to the law in this area: Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 first introduced the requirement on landlords to consult their leaseholders about works. The law has been amended since 1985, and the current rules regarding Section 20 consultation are now contained in Section 151 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002.
As a landlord, we have an obligation to carry out repairs and maintenance on some of our schemes. Whether we carry out repairs depends on the ownership type of the property and the legal covenants included in your lease or transfer.
Repairs and maintenance
As a landlord, we have an obligation to carry out repairs and maintenance on some of our schemes.
Whether we carry out repairs depends on the ownership type of the property and the legal covenants included in your lease or transfer.
Repair responsibilities for houses and bungalows
If you live in a house or bungalow, you’re generally responsible for all of the repairs to your home – regardless of whether you own part or all of the property.
If you live in a newly-built property, the developer who built your home may be responsible for some repairs for a limited period of time. For more details, see the information on new homes below.
Repair responsibilities for flats
As your landlord, we’re generally responsible for keeping the structure and outside of your home and block in a good state of repair. The exact details of our responsibilities will be detailed in your lease. Here’s a few examples:
If you live in a new home, the builder who built the home may be responsible for some repairs for a limited time after your home was completed (usually 12 months). This is called the ‘defects liability period’, and we’ll tell you the date this period ends.
The builder has to put right any defects in workmanship which may appear within the 12 month period of the property being built and any services such as the services such as heating, plumbing and electrics. Nearly new homes may have teething problems and we will assist you to resolve such issues.
It is very important that you contact us to report any faults in your property or shared areas to us as soon as possible. We will then contact the builder to arrange for them to rectify any problems.
Please note, no alterations or decoration should be carried out to your new home during the defects liability period, as this may affect the defects warranty on the property and increase the risk of settlement cracks.
At the end of the defects liability period, we’ll inspect your property with the builder. We’ll agree what outstanding repairs (if there are any) will be the builder’s responsibility. The builder’s responsibility ends when they complete these repairs.
After the defects liability period has ended, you may also be able to claim the cost of repairs against the National House Builders Council (NHBC) cover, provider by the contractor. This cover is different to your buildings insurance cover.
The NHBC policy covers your property for some items for 10 years from the date your property was built. The full details are set out in the NHBC policy manual. If you’d like a copy of this policy manual, want to make a claim, or would like more information about this, contact the NHBC direct.
You’re responsible for arranging and paying for all repairs to your home. We’re responsible for arranging repairs to the shared areas that are not the responsibility of the local authority, for example some street lighting and car parking areas.
Improving or altering your home
You’re responsible for the internal decoration of your home and you do not need our permission to decorate or carry out other minor improvements to your home. However, if you do wish make major improvement, such as adding a conservatory or replacing the windows your need to contact us.
Before you make any improvement or alteration to your home you must advise us in writing and provide details of the works you wish to carry out. You may need our permission to carry out the works dependent on clauses contained within your lease (if you’re a leaseholder or shared owner), or in your transfer document (if you’re a freeholder).
You may also need planning permission and must comply with relevant Building Regulations.
In most instances, we’ll approve your request and will only withhold permission if we have a good reason. For example, if the improvement or alteration will:
Should your improvement or alteration require planning permission or building regulation approvals you’ll need to provide us with copies of these letters before we’re able to give you permission to you to carry out the works. In most cases we’ll charge a fee for this permission.
Alterations to your home
An alteration is any change that affects the structure of your home or adds value to the property.
For structural alterations, we may need our property surveyor’s advice before we approve your alteration. We may also require our property surveyor to check that the work is done to a good standard, once it is complete. If we need to arrange this, we’ll charge you an additional fee for their home visit and inspection. Of course, we’ll tell you beforehand how much this cost will be and get your approval before involving our property surveyor.
If you make an alteration without our approval, we may ask you to put your home back to its original state.
Adapting your home
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), we have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people with communal areas. For example - installing temporary ramped access.
We’re not required to alter or remove any physical feature, such as widening a doorway or installing a permanent ramp.
When we’re required to make reasonable adjustments, this would be at the home owner’s expense. If the adjustment is no longer needed, we may need to remove it at cost to the home owner.
It’s the home owner’s responsibility to undertake aids and adaption’s to their home.
Stair Lifts could be considered a temporary adjustment and one which we may give permission for. We’d first need to evaluate the impact on other residents, for example; the suitability of the stair well to accommodate a stair lift.
In addition, there would be on-going costs to maintain and service the stair lift, which would not be appropriate to charge to other residents.
If you require a stair lift to be installed, please contact us in the first instance. If permission is given, you’ll also need to pay a fee.
Keeping a motorised scooter
If you require the use of a motorised scooter please contact us as we’ll need to assess the layout or nature of the scheme, consider storage arrangements before giving our permission.
We cannot normally allow you to store any scooter in our shared corridors because of health and fire safety rules.
Subject to suitable access arrangements, you may be able to store and charge smaller battery scooters in your own property.
Should permission be given, you’ll need to pay a fee and also provide us with a copy of your public liability insurance cover annually.
You’ll also be expected to pay the costs of any damage caused by your scooter to the shared areas, such as corridors, doors and carpets.
Aerials and dishes
You’ll need to get our permission before erecting any television or radio receiving equipment to the outside of your property.
If you want to install an outside television aerial, satellite dish, or radio receiving and transmitting equipment, you must get our permission and pay a fee before going ahead. Please write into us. We don’t allow individual aerials in flats if there is already a shared aerial.
Using your home as a business
If you wish to run a business or work from your home, you must get our written permission first. We don’t allow business which requires planning permission to operate from home, or any proposals that may cause nuisance to neighbours. Please contact us before you set up your business and we can confirm if we’re able to grant you permission. If we give you permission, you’ll have to pay a permission fee.
As a home owner, you’ll have an individual agreement with us which is unique to your property which will either be known as a ‘lease’ or ‘transfer document’.
It’s important you know the type of agreement you have with us, so you understand the services we’ll provide and your rights and responsibilities. You’ll either be a Leaseholder or a freeholder.
Am I a leaseholder?
If you hold an agreement which entitles you to exclusive possession of your property for a fixed period of time, such as 99 or 125 years, then you are a leaseholder. A lease is a legal contract which sets out the legal relationship between you, the leaseholder, and the landlord (Stonewater).
There are different types of leaseholders, which include:
Shared ownership leaseholders
A shared ownership lease is a type of lease which entitles you to live in your homes as a home owner with all the associated right and responsibilities. However, you do not own all of the shares in the property. You may own a percentage of the property.
Your lease outlines your responsibilities for repairs, as well as details of any rent and service charges.
Leases for retirement homes
These are properties which have been designed and built for people aged 55 and over. Your lease may include:
Leases for homes sold under Right to Buy or Right to Acquire
If you bought a Stonewater house, flat or maisonette as part of these government schemes, your lease will cover the building, any communal areas and land in and around your home.
Am I a freeholder?
If you don’t hold a written tenancy / lease agreement with us for a fixed or cyclical period you’re a freeholder. As a freeholder, you’ll own your home and any land outlined in your deed.
You may also have an obligation with us to pay certain costs such as contributions to estate services. These obligations will be contained within your property ‘transfer document’.
Your agreement with us is an important document – please read it thoroughly.
Adding or removing a joint leaseholder
You can add an extra leaseholder or remove a leaseholder from the lease if all existing leaseholders agree. Please note – your service charge and/or rent account must be paid in full before we can do this. You’ll need permission from us, and your mortgage lender in both cases. You’ll also need to pay our permission fee.
You’ll need to appoint a solicitor to deal with the transfer of the lease. This means there will be legal costs for you to pay.
If you hold a joint lease with a partner and the relationship ends, one of the partners can take on the lease. You’ll need our permission and the permission of your mortgage lender. We’ll try to help and give permission where we can, however we’ll not give permission if we think the remaining leaseholder cannot afford to pay their mortgage, service charge and other costs. The service charge and/or rent account must be paid in full before we’ll give permission. You’ll also need to pay our permission fee.
If you cannot agree who should take on the lease, you must ask a court to decide.
Changing the names(s) of the leaseholder
If you wish to change the name on the title register, you’ll need to instruct a solicitor. In order for us to update our records, you’ll need to provide us with proof of the change. Examples of proof may include a copy of a marriage certificate or a copy death certificate. If you’ve changed your name, we may also need you to provide either a letter from a responsible person, a statutory declaration or a deed. Please contact us if you have any questions about making changes to your lease.
Extending your Lease.
All leases have a fixed term, typically a term of either 99 years or 125 years. The term begins when the lease begins, which will normally be the date the property was originally sold or developed to be sold. These details will be written in your lease document.
Some lenders will only lend against properties with a certain number of years remaining before the end of the term. In this case, the lease may need to be extended.
In most cases you’ve a legal right to extend your lease and can serve notice on the Association that you wish to do this. Stonewater has a policy of considering requests for lease extensions without the need for legal notice to be served on a voluntary basis, so please contact us first if you are considering extending your lease.
You’ll need to make sure you can meet the costs of;
The conditions of the old lease will usually stay the same.
Disputes between leaseholders and landlords
Applying to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).
The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) helps to resolve disputes between leaseholders and landlords. Landlords can also change lease terms via a First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) if they agree there are just grounds.
Find out more information about the work of the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) from the Leasehold Advisory Service.
Further guidance on leases
Find more information and get independent advice from the Leasehold Advisory Website at www.lease-advice.org.uk. Impartial advice can also be obtained from the Citizens Advice on your lease as well as advice on debt and financial issues.
Information about finance
Whether you can sublet your home – and the process involved – depends on your type of lease and ownership. Please note that if your lease says that you need our permission to sublet your home, we’ll charge you a fee.
Leases for shared owners generally do not permit subletting. However, there are some situations in which we can give you permission. Please contact us to find out further details on our subletting policy.
In most cases you cannot sublet a retirement scheme home without our permission. If you’re considering subletting your property, please contact us. We’ll require your request in writing, and your lease may require that you need our written consent before you can proceed.
In most cases you cannot sublet your home without our permission. If you are considering subletting your property, please contact us. We’ll need your request in writing.
If you let your home to a tenant, please let us know as soon as possible. You must provide a correspondence address for us to serve Notice of Estate Charge on. You’ll also be responsible for ensuring your tenants adhere to the conditions of the ‘transfer document’.
Selling your home
If you’re a Stonewater homeowner and you’d like to sell your lease, you must contact us as you’ll need our consent to go ahead with the sale.
Once you’ve made the decision to sell your share of the property please contact us and we’ll advise you on the next steps.
In most cases, the Shared Ownership Lease will allow Stonewater a nomination period to find a suitable purchaser, within this time Stonewater Homes will advertise your property with the Help to Buy Agent and via our website. If a suitable purchaser is not found within the period then you will be able to advertise your property with an estate agent. Buyers must be eligible for shared ownership, and they’ll need to be assessed to ensure they can afford the ongoing rent and service charges.
Remember, when you sell your home you’ll only be entitled to receive the value of the share you’ve purchased. For example, if you own a 50% share in your home you’ll be entitled to 50% for the full value from the sale (less any administration / legal fees and other money you may owe).
You must not sell your share for more than its current market value agreed by you and valid at the exchange of contracts. To ensure a fair valuation, we’ll together with yourself, appoint a qualified valuer.
Some properties have a clause in their lease restricting re-sale to local people only, particularly in rural areas. You must check whether this restriction applies to your home.
As soon as you’ve agreed a sale, you should instruct a solicitor or licensed conveyancer. The solicitor will arrange to transfer your home to your buyer. Your solicitor will ask us for certain information before the sale. Under the conditions of your lease, we’re entitled to charge you a fee for providing this information.
Before you’ve completed the sale, your solicitor must contact us and arrange for you to complete and sign any necessary documents and settle your account with us.
We won’t update our records or recognise the change of ownership until this is done. Where solicitors are involved in the sale of your home, you’ll usually be responsible for paying their fees too.
Other leaseholders and freeholders
Once you’ve placed your property with an estate agent, please notify us of your intention to sell.
Your solicitor will contact us with a questionnaire about the building or estate and any charges levied. We’ll charge you a fee for providing this information. We may also need to sign and agree a deed of transfer.
If you own 100% of the equity, there will not normally be any restriction on who you can sell your property to, or the price that you put the property on the market for.
If you have recently bought or acquired the property through the Right to Buy or Acquire scheme you may have to repay some of the discount agreed if you sell within the statutory repayment period.
All residents contribute to the cost of providing services, maintenance and management through a service or estate charge. Your lease will set out what proportion of the total cost of running the scheme that each owner has to meet.
We operate variable Service and Estate Charges which means that we estimate costs for the forthcoming year in advance and then balance the account at the end of year adding any credits (surplus amount) or debits (deficit) to the following years estimate.
By law, we have to consult all Leaseholders about any proposed expenditure that is likely to increase the service charge substantially and we must take your views into account.
All monies paid by homeowners relate solely to the scheme that they occupy and are accounted for separately. Reserve fund monies for long term maintenance and renewals are held in trust and interest from that investment is credited to the fund.
You are entitled to inspect the accounts, including receipts/invoices, relating to your home and to take copies. You are also entitled to apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a ruling if you believe that the service charge is unreasonable.
The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) can determine the reasonableness of service charges, including costs and standard of works, and the adequacy and cost of buildings insurance.
You will receive a Service Charge Guide with your annual bill which will explain the charges for your scheme in more detail. Please contact us if you have any queries about your Service Charge.
Some schemes have a reserve fund sometimes referred to as a sinking fund. The purpose of a Reserve Fund is to collect an annual contribution each year from Leaseholders to build up a fund in order to pay for future major works to the scheme such as window or roof replacements as well as cyclical decoration to the block. This avoids the need for Leaseholders to make one off large payments as part of their service charge demand when these works are required.
Reserve Funds are held in trust by the Landlord and attract both interest and Trust Tax. If you have a reserve fund set up for your scheme we will send you an annual statement with your service charge demand and notify you of your annual contribution to the fund which is collected as part of your Service Charge demand.
If you’re a Leaseholder or Shared Owner under the terms of your lease, we’re responsible for insuring the building. Specific arrangements about the insurance are detailed in your lease.
As a leaseholder, you have the right to:
Building insurance is paid as part of your monthly service charge in accordance with the provision in your lease.
Buildings insurance covers major claims such as damage to the building caused by fire, flood, storm, wind, vandalism or structural failure. It does not cover damage to walls or fences or the contents of your home.
You’re responsible for insuring the contents of your against fire, flood, storm, theft and accidental damage. This should be arranged as soon as you move into your new home.
If you’re the Freeholder of a house or bungalow it will be your responsibility to insure the building you own.
Making a claim
Should you need to make a claim, you’re responsible for phoning the buildings insurance company direct (currently Zurich Municipal), using their 24 hour helpline: 01252 387249. You’ll need to quote the following policy number: JHA22S6230013 when making your claim. The helpline operator will then be able to assist you in making your claim. They’ll record the details of the claim and pass onto a claim’s handler to progress. They’ll advise you what happens next in terms of dealing with your claim and arranging repairs.
Please note, the insurance policy has an excess, which is your responsibility to pay, and will deducted from any claim. You’ll be required to pay the excess directly if the claim relates to works that you are responsible for arranging. There may also be time limits to apply so if you think you may have a claim, it's important you make contact with the insurers as soon as possible.
If the works are carried out to common areas then the excess will be added to the scheme service charge.
Buildings insurance does not cover your belongings in your home. We recommend you take out your own home contents insurance.
Home Owner Administration Fees
On a number of occasions we carry out work for individual home owners which is not covered by any management fee you may pay. On these occasions we’ll charge a direct administration fee which is payable in advance of the work undertaken.
We’ll charge these fees in order to cover our costs. This includes the administration and stationary costs, the staff time involved in carrying out the work and our wider business overheads such as the costs to operate from our offices and maintain our computer systems.
Our fees are benchmarked with similar organisations providing similar services and are reviewed on an annual basis.
Please be aware there may be clauses within your lease which supersede the fees quoted below especially in respect of the cost of selling a share in a shared ownership home, we would therefore advise you to check your lease before proceeding.
VAT is charged to all of the fees quoted.
Buying & selling your home
Re-Sales Admin Fee
When you advise us that you’re selling your home we’ll make an administration charge for the work involved in updating our systems and accounts. This fee is as follows:
Shared Owners £240 inc VAT
Leaseholders £120 inc VAT
Retirement £240 inc VAT
We’ll charge an enhanced fee for our retirement properties to cover the additional costs of the work involved in approving potential buyers to ensure they meet the criteria required to live in the scheme.
Solicitors Enquiry Pack
During the selling or buying of a property your Solicitor will contact us with a list of questions relating to the property and wider scheme. This can involve a lot of administration work and may involve a number of staff from different departments to answer all of the enquires made. Our fees for dealing with such enquires are as follows:
Shared Ownership House £240 inc VAT
Shared Ownership Flat £300 inc VAT
Freeholders £240 inc VAT
Leaseholders £300 inc VAT
Retirement £300 inc VAT
We’ll charge an enhanced fee for leaseholders due to the extra questions relating to the maintenance and insurance of the building and scheme.
If after answering the routine enquiries normally made by solicitors your solicitor requests additional information we’ll make an extra charge of £60 inc VAT for dealing with the supplementary enquires.
This applies to shared owners only and covers the costs involved in legally registering a new owner. The charge is £120 inc VAT.
Buying further shares
IIf you are a shared owner and wish to buy further shares in your home we’ll charge you a £240 inc VAT administration fee to cover our costs of dealing with the transaction.
Have you considered the benefits of buying further shares in your home and increasing the amount of equity that you own? We can easily guide you through the process. Further information can be found here. Why not contact us and talk to one of our Sales and Services Coordinators who will be happy to help.
If you are a leaseholder your lease will have a term. This term is typically 99 or 125 years from when the property was originally sold or developed to be sold. If your lease term reduced to zero then you’d have to hand the keys back to us at the end of the term.
In practice this rarely, if ever, happens and most leaseholders have a legal right to extend their lease by serving notice on the Landlord and paying a fee agreed by an independent specialist surveyor. When the number of years remaining on your lease runs down to around 80 years this can affect the value of your home and if you were to sell or re-mortgage your home the lender involved would usually insist that you extend the term of the lease.
We’ll voluntary extend your lease for a lower fee at any time upon application without the need for you to serve legal notice on us whether you have that right or not. Our administration fee for extending a lease is as follows:
Statutory Legal Notice £360 inc VAT
Voluntary Negotiated £240 inc VAT
We charge less for a voluntary negotiated lease extension as the procedure is less complicated and there are no imposed time scales on issuing counter notices.
You should note that this is the administration fee only and does not include the cost of the valuation or the actual cost of extending the lease.
If you’re a leaseholder or shared owner and think your lease is getting close to only having 80 years term left to run we would advise you to take independent advice as soon as possible. The sooner you extend your lease the more cost effective the transaction will be.
Please note, if you do not adhere to the terms of your lease and advertise the property with an estate agent without first completing the nomination period, Stonewater reserves the right to refuse the purchaser or charge a retrospective consent fee of £120 inc VAT.
There are a number of occasions where your lease or freehold transfer will require that you obtain our permission first such as carrying out alterations to or sub-letting your home. Our fees for granting consent are as follows:
Leaseholders £180 inc VAT
Retirement £240 inc VAT
We charge an enhanced fee for our retirement properties to cover the additional costs of the work involved in approving your tenant to ensure they meet the criteria required to live in the scheme.
If you’re a shared owner you’re prohibited from sub-letting your home under the rules of the shared ownership scheme.
Simple £120 inc VAT
Complex £240 inc VAT
Surveyors Visit £120 inc VAT (This is an additional fee to the above)
Retrospective £120 inc VAT (This is an additional fee to the above)
Upon application we will rate the complexity involved in the alterations and advise you of the fee. If a Stonewater Property Surveyor is required to visit your home then we will make an additional cost for this service.
Please note where consent is requested for more than one item at the same time the following additional fees will be payable:
Simple £30 inc VAT per additional item
Complex £60 inc VAT per additional item
Where there is a mix of simple and complex items being requested at the same time the base rate will be the complex item i.e. £240 inc VAT.
If you have carried out alterations without Stonewater's consent when you come to sell your home the buyer’s solicitor will ask for proof of consent and you will need to apply to us retrospectively. We will make an additional charge for this. If you do carry out alterations to your home without our consent where required you are in breach of your legal agreement and could be at risk of legal action.
If your lease requires that you need our consent to change your mortgage lender, mortgage product or to obtain a further advance against the property our fees for considering our consent is £175 inc VAT.
Late payment charges
If you don’t pay your Service Charge on time and we’re required to send you a reminder we’ll apply an administration fee of £30 inc VAT. Please also note that your lease may allow us to charge interest on any debt outstanding. We’ll also recharge any legal costs incurred in pursuing outstanding debts owed to Stonewater Homes.
There follows a list of other fees that we charge in addition to the management fee:
Copy of Lease or Transfer Document £48 inc VAT
Deed of Postponement £120 inc VAT
Deed of Covenant £100 inc VAT
Removal of Land Registry restriction £240 inc VAT
Notice of Transfer £100 inc VAT
Lease Variations £300 inc VAT
Copy Documents £30 inc VAT
Certificate of Compliance £100 inc VAT
Transfer of Equity fee of £120 inc VAT
Commercial Unit Leases £240 inc VAT
Boundary/Ownership Enquiries fee £120 inc VAT
If you require any of the services described above or would like further clarification of our fees please contact us.