Welcome to the Leasehold section of the South Essex Homes website.
Simply click on the titles below to view a wide range of information relevant to leaseholders.
When you become a Leaseholder you have a responsibility to pay your share of the costs of maintaining and managing the building.
South Essex Homes, as the managing agent, has a duty to maintain the Council's properties to a good standard. This means that we have to spend money on keeping them in a good state of repair. A proportion of everything we spend on your block of flats has to be charged back to you. Because we maintain several thousand homes we can, and do, obtain competitive quotes on our repairs contracts. Competitive tendering regulations also ensure that contractors give us value for money.
We will always be fair about service charges, we will explain how they are calculated and you can query any charges with which you do not agree.
Your service charges are made up of the following costs:
- Ground rent, currently set at £10 per year;
- Day to day minor repairs and maintenance of the block of flats;
- Electricity costs for communal areas;
- Grounds maintenance for communal gardens and/or areas around your block;
- Management charge (our costs in managing leasehold flats);
- Buildings insurance;
- Caretaking and cleaning services where provided;
- Entry phone maintenance where applicable;
- Lift maintenance where applicable;
- Refuse collection;
- Contribution to Renewals Fund (click on page tab entitled 'Renewals Fund' for more information)
These costs will be itemised on your service charge invoice. Normally you will get one invoice each year but in some cases, such as when a repair or improvement work has been carried out on your flat you may get a separate invoice.
For more information about service charges including how costs are apportioned and how to pay your bill please see the Leaseholders’ Handbook.
The contribution to Renewals Fund included in your service charge is calculated on the estimated costs of future likely large expenditure for major works. For example a new roof, replacement windows, redecoration of external and communal parts etc.
These items can be very expensive and the idea of the ‘Renewals Fund’ is to build up credit which can be used to offset these costs. The monies paid into this fund are attached to the property, not the person and therefore transfer to the purchaser if the property is sold. The funds can only be ‘spent’ as payment for items for which you receive a Section 20 Notice to carry out major works.
Major Works and the Section 20 Process
As a leaseholder paying a variable service charge, you are obliged under the terms of your lease to pay towards the cost of services, repairs maintenance or improvements to your building and estate.
Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires us to provide you with details and ask your opinions about intended works and services. This is known as consultation. Section 20 sets out the way we must consult with you. If we do not do this, we might not be able to charge you the full costs of the works and services.
The following information is provided to help you understand the consultation process. For further information you may wish to visit the website of the Leasehold Advisory Service which is an independent organisation set up by the government to provide advice on all leasehold matters.
What do we consult you about?
On behalf of your landlord, Southend-on-Sea City Council we must consult you before we do any of the following:
- Carry out work which will cost any one leaseholder more than £250 (known as 'Qualifying Works')
- Enter into a long-term agreement (more than 12 months) with outside contractors for work, supplies or services which will cost any one leaseholder more than £100 a year (known as a 'Qualifying Long Term Agreement')
- Carry out work under a long-term agreement where the work will cost any one leaseholder more than £250
Why do we use Qualifying Long Term Agreements (QLTAs)?
QLTAs are used because they provide an efficient way to get work done and are more cost-effective for our leaseholders. Giving contractors a longer contract helps to keep costs down.
What is the Section 20 consultation process?
The Section 20 consultation process generally has three stages:
• Notice of Intention
A notice of intention tells you that we intend to carry out work or provide a service that leaseholders will have to pay towards. We must serve this notice on any leaseholder who will be affected by the work or will receive the service. The notice will include information about what we plan to do and why and will give you a time and place where further description of the works may be inspected. The notice will give you the opportunity to comment on what is being planned and also to nominate a contractor. The consultation period will last 30 days from the date of the notice. Careful consideration is given to any comments and suggestions within the consultation period. Once the consultation period has finished we will invite contractors to provide estimates for the work.
• Notice of Estimates
After we have received estimates from contractors we must prepare two proposals. One of these must be from a contractor who is not connected with the council and we must also include the estimate from any contractor nominated by a Leaseholder.
A Notice of Estimates includes estimated costs from at least two contractors. The notice, as in the Notice of Intention, will give you a time and place where the details of the estimates can be inspected and will give you the opportunity to comment on the proposed work. Any comments are considered within the 30 day consultation period. Comments received in response to the Notice of Intention will also be summarised in this notice together with our response to those comments.
• Award of Contract Notice
You will only receive this notice if we awarded the contract to a contractor who did not offer the lowest price or if we did not award the contract to a contractor nominated by a leaseholder.
The Award of Contract Notice gives our reasons for awarding the contract to that contractor and provides a summary of any comments received in response to the Notice of Estimates and our response to those comments.
In what circumstances do we have to serve public notice?
If the total works contract is over £4,551,413 or the contract for the supply of goods or services if over £181,302 the proposed contract must be advertised by public notice in the Official Journal of European Union (OJEU).
What difference does serving a public notice make?
- If public notice is required the opinions and views of Leaseholders must still be invited however they do not have the right to nominate a contractor for these contracts. You can however suggest that a contractor looks on the website of the OJEU and to express their interest through the official process.
- In the Notice of Estimates we only need to give you one estimate. We will tell you the name of the contractor and the estimated costs.
- You will not receive an Award of Contract Notice.
Consulting you about work we do under a long-term agreement
We will carry out work or provide a service that is covered under a long-term agreement with a contractor, for example day-to-day repairs. We will have consulted you about the original agreement but we must consult you again if we are going to do work using a long-term agreement which will cost more than £250 for any one Leaseholder.
You will receive a Notice of Intention which will outline the planned works, advise you when and where you can inspect the plans, explain why the works are required, give the total estimated cost, invite you to make comments and give you the date the consultation period will end (30 days from the date of the notice). Any comments received will be considered and we will respond within 21 days.
What happens if we do not consult you?
If we do not follow the regulations we are limited to how much we can charge you for the work or service. The limits are £250 per item of repair work and £100 for services that we provide under a long-term agreement.
An application can be made to the First-tier Tribunal for an order to dispense with the Section 20 consultation process. The Tribunal can dispense with the consultation requirements in particular cases if satisfied that it is reasonable to do so. For example in a case where emergency repairs are needed.
The buildings insurance policy covers your flat and the block it is in. You must pay your share of this insurance. The buildings insurance policy does not cover your furniture or personal belongings and so in addition to this you should consider taking out contents insurance.
For queries regarding the buildings insurance policy, please contact Southend-on-Sea City Council’s Insurance department on 01702 215077 or email email@example.com
The current provider is Avid Insurance Services, who use Questgates Ltd as their Claims Administrator. If you need to make a claim on your Buildings Insurance Policy, Questgates can be contacted on 01204 860427. In the event of an Out of Hours Emergency, please call Avid directly on 0121 411 0535.
Please quote the reference 2021CP000180.
For more information, view the following documents:
Extending Your Lease
If you are thinking of selling your property over the coming years, it may be worthwhile checking the length of your lease.
All Southend-on-Sea City Council Leases were created for a term of 125 years. The creation date is normally indicated at the start of the Lease on page 1.
Why extend my lease?
The majority of Southend-on-Sea City Council Leases were created in the 1980s when the flats were sold via the Right to Buy Scheme. If you look to sell your property, many mortgage companies require leases to be at least 65 years in length. Furthermore, by extending your lease you are maintaining your home’s value and helping to ensure a hassle-free sale should you sell your flat.
How long can I extend the Lease for?
The Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended) can grant a lease extension of up to 90 years in addition to the remaining term of the Lease.
How would I begin the process?
Under the Act you can serve notice on the Landlord that you wish to extend the Lease, however there is a lot of preparation required to begin this formally. This can include checking eligibility, instructing solicitors/professional advisors, assessing the premium and establishing finance.
Where can I get assistance?
As always we would recommend seeking legal and professional advice prior to beginning lease extension procedures.
The Leasehold Advisory Service provides an excellent Guide on Lease Extension together with a list of their approved solicitors and surveyors. Their website also features a Lease Extension Calculator.
To contact them please visit www.lease-advice.org.uk or call 0207 832 2500.
How much will it cost?
In addition to the premium cost for an extension and your own legal fees you will also need to pay the Council's fees. These are currently:
- £600 for a Valuation
- £500 for Legal Fees
A further administration charge may also apply.
The Council’s Solicitors will get an undertaking from your solicitors that costs will be paid prior to proceeding with a valuation.
Repairs & Maintenance
Need to report a repair?
South Essex Homes, on behalf of the Council is responsible for keeping the 'common parts' of your block in good repair. You, as a leaseholder, can report communal repairs via our Customer Contact Centre on 0800 833 160 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What repairs are South Essex Homes responsible for?
In general terms, the following are the responsibility of South Essex Homes:
- Roofs, drains, gutters and pipes outside of the property
- External entrance doors
- Window Frames and communal glass panes
- External paintwork/decoration
- External Paths and Steps
- Stairs and Landings
- Installations/Fixtures and Fittings
- Shared water pipes
- Water tanks
- Gas pipes
- Electrical wiring
- Light Fittings in communal area
- Controlled door-entry system
As a Leaseholder what repairs am I responsible for?
Again in general terms, you are responsible for maintaining and repairing the inside of your property.
This can include:
- Plaster on the walls
- Ceilings and floor coverings
- Internal Wiring
- Internal Pipe Work
The above responsibilities are of course not exhaustive. If you have any doubts about who is responsible please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 833 160.
I have reported a repair, how long will it take?
We give all repairs a priority rating depending on how urgent they are. We will tell you which category this repair is in and a member of our Contact Centre will advise you the target date for completion. We categorise repairs into five grades:
Emergency: Where life is at risk - we will respond within 1 hour to make safe, with works to be completed within 24 hours
Urgent: Where there is no immediate danger to life or limb - we will respond within 3 working days
Semi urgent: Where a repair is necessary but no danger - we will respond within 6 working days
Non urgent: we will respond within 21 calendar days
Minor repairs: we will respond within 2 calendar months
A repair has recently been completed but the works have not been done properly - what can I do?
The cost of repairs will normally be shared between you, the Council and other leaseholders in your block. When repairs are carried out by our contractors, it is important that we all get value for money. On the rare occasion the job is not done properly, or is not done within the time set out above, please let us know by contacting us on 0800 833 160.
To report a repair please complete our online form or call our Contact Centre on 0800 833 160. Don’t forget to ask for the Job Reference Number and target completion date!
Carrying out your own alterations
As a leaseholder you have the right to improve your home, but in some circumstances you will need written permission from us. This is because, as the landlord, we have an investment in the block and a responsibility to the other residents, but we will not refuse permission unless we have a good reason. You may also need to get planning permission and building consent before starting work.
We do not need to know about minor works such as decorating, but we do need to know about any alterations which affect walls, windows, door frames, plumbing and electrical services before any work is started.
You have the right to make alterations to the interior of your flat, so long as you do not remove structural walls or cause damage to the exterior or shared parts of the building. Some alterations may require a variation of your lease, ie. installation of an extra room in the roof space, and there will be a charge for this.
For major alterations you must ask our permission before starting on any work. We may advise you that you need planning permission and building regulations approval. Such permission should be obtained from Southend City Council who will not unreasonably withhold or delay this process.
You must not do anything which is likely to cause damage to the structure of the building or to shared services, such as plumbing to the roof tank, electricity/gas/water/sewerage supplies.
For what sort of alterations do I need permission?
Any addition or change to the services in your home, including fixtures and fittings, such as:
- Heating and kitchen units;
- Dropped kerbs and hard standing;
- Aerials or satellite dishes;
- Outside decoration. The type of paint may need to be approved so that it is compatible with future paints that may be used by us.
How do I get permission?
You should write to the Leasehold Officer at South Essex Homes. You will need to say exactly what you want to do and include a drawing or plan. A building surveyor may need to visit your home to see what you intend to do before making a decision. There may be a charge for this. We will normally give you an answer within two weeks of receiving your request. If we refuse permission we will tell you why. You then have the right to appeal.
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 regulations approval. We will normally make it a condition that you do this when we give you permission for the work.
Will the Lease need to be varied?
If you change the physical layout of the flat the original lease plans will not correspond to the actual layout of the flat and so the lease will need to be varied. A deed of variation in this instance would normally take the form of an amended plan which is registered at the Land Registry. If you do not obtain a deed of variation you may experience problems if you decide to sell the flat.
Dealing with Condensation
Condensation is the most common kind of damp and is caused by moist air condensing on cold surfaces such as glass. It's mainly a winter problem, as at this time of year walls etc are much colder than the air inside your property. Condensation can be made worse by poor ventilation, and not heating the property to an adequate temperature.
You may notice water droplets on windows or walls, peeling wallpaper, see dark mould appearing and/or notice an unpleasant smell. If left untreated, condensation can damage paint and plaster in your property and cause respiratory problems.
How to reduce condensation in your home
One of the best ways is to make sure you heat your property to recommended levels, 21 degrees centigrade in habitable rooms and eighteen degrees in other rooms, and you also remove the condensation from your windows, and open your windows or use extract fans to ventilate your property.
to Control excess moisture:
- Close Kitchen and bathroom doors when cooking or bathing to prevent steam going into colder rooms, use the fans if fitted or open a window. Leave the window open or fan on for up to 20 minutes afterwards.
- Wipe down surfaces when moisture settles to prevent mould forming. When decorating the Bathrooms and Kitchen use paints suitable for these areas to prevent damage to walls.
- Do not block air vents and allow air to circulate around furniture and cupboards. Move furniture a few inches from the wall
- Leave open any trickle vents in your window frames if fitted.
- Dry Clothes outdoors whenever possible
- Cover pans when cooking
- If you have a tumble dryer or washing machine ensure that it is vented in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
If mould develops:
- Do not disturb mould by brushing or vacuuming
- Treat any mould you may already have with a fungicidal wash. These are readily available and ensure you choose a product which carries a Health & Safety Executive ‘approval number’. Always follow the instructions and don’t use bleach. Then do what you can to reduce condensation. This will restrict new mould growth.
- Dry-Clean clothes affected by mildew and shampoo carpets.
- After treatment, redecorate using a good quality fungicidal paint to prevent mould recurring. This paint is not effective if overlaid with ordinary paints or wallpaper.
If you wish to install an extractor fan at your leasehold property, permission will need to be granted by South Essex Homes first. Please write to the address below and include a plan of the proposed location:
South Essex Homes, PO Box 5817, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 9EL.
If you own a flat in one of the Tower blocks please be aware that you cannot connect electrical extractor fans to the chimney flues. If you have issues with condensation we also recommend using a dehumidifier.
Still Having Problems?
Give us a call on 0800 833 160, where a member of our customer contact centre can discuss further options available including a damp inspection at the property.
All property owners, including leaseholders, are legally responsible for ensuring their gas fittings and appliances are safe and in good working order – you are advised to have everything checked annually by a Gas Safe registered installer.
A major problem caused by defects is carbon monoxide poisoning, which can kill in less than two hours. It is a gas which has no smell or taste and is quite invisible, killing up to 50 people a year and causing hundreds of injuries.
If your gas appliance has not been checked for 12 months, it may not only be unsafe but you will also be in breach of your lease. You must have it inspected and serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered installer, and be able to provide evidence that your gas appliances are in good and safe working order. You can find a Gas Safe Registered engineer at www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
What you need to do...
Faulty gas appliances cause around 40 deaths a year - deaths that could be avoided. As a leaseholder it is your responsibility to have an annual gas safety check carried out on all your gas appliances.
- It is your responsibility to ensure that your gas appliances are safe and regularly serviced
- It is advised you get your appliances gas serviced every 12 months, which must be undertaken by a Gas Safe Registered Installer - you must also produce the certificate to South Essex Homes
- If you have any doubts about the safety of gas equipment it should be turned off immediately
Getting your gas appliances checked regularly will...
- Help to keep you, anyone else who lives with you and your neighbours safe
- Reduce the risk of your appliances breaking down
- Make sure your appliances work safely and efficiently
- Help to reduce the running costs of appliances
- Give you peace of mind
If you haven’t provided a Gas Safety Certificate to South Essex Homes in the last 12 months you will be in breach of your lease.
Please send a copy of the latest certificate to: Leasehold Services, South Essex Homes, PO Box 5817, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS1 9EL.
Alternatively you can scan the certificate and email it to us at LeaseholderServices@seh.southend.gov.uk.
What to do if you smell gas
If you smell gas or suspect you have a gas leak in your home, however slight, you should contact TRANSCO emergency on free phone 0800 111 999.
× Smoke or strike any matches
× Turn electrical switches on or off as they cause sparks
× Use any phone at your home to report the gas leak
- Put out any naked flames
- Open any doors and windows
- Keep people away from the area affected
- Turn off the meter at the control valve
Selling Your Property
Selling your home can be an incredibly stressful process and we hope the following information will beneficial to all leaseholders.
I have accepted an offer and instructed a solicitor, how can South Essex Homes help?
After an offer has been accepted the Purchaser’s Solicitor will normally request a Management Enquiry Pack or have a questionnaire prepared for the landlord to complete. The pack or questionnaire will request a variety of information which assists potential purchasers. This normally includes details of the Service Charge, Planned Future Works and other vital information that will be beneficial during and after the sales process.
South Essex Homes uses the Leasehold Property Enquiry 1 Form, a standard questionnaire pack approved by a number of professional organisations.
The key information includes:
- The last three years’ Service Charge Statements
- The last two years’ Statement of Accounts (details of Service Charge Payments)
- Copies of Section 20 Notices and other planned works that may be occur in the next 5 years
- Copies of Buildings Insurance Policies
- Details of Asbestos in communal areas
- The Communal Fire Risk Assessment
Does the Solicitor have to use this enquiry form?
The Leasehold Property Enquiry Form answers the most common queries that we receive and most Solicitors are happy with this. If they do have additional questions not included in the pack these can be sent to us.
On some occasions the purchaser Solicitors will have their own questionnaire prepared. South Essex Homes is more than happy to provide the information required in these instances.
Will South Essex Homes charge me for this Service?
South Essex Homes currently charges a fee of £98 including VAT for this service.
Cheques can be made payable to South Essex Homes and sent to the address below:
South Essex Homes
Southend on Sea
Essex, SS2 6FY
Upon receipt of the fee we will endeavour to process the enquiries within 15 working days.
Some Solicitors send their initial enquiries to Southend City Council. South Essex Homes compiles the vast majority of information. To save time, enquiries can be sent straight to us!
South Essex Homes have sent a completed pack to my solicitors. The purchasers have raised some additional enquiries, what happens next?
If your Solicitor sends these to us, we will do our very best to provide further clarity on the matter.
As always, if you have any further queries in respect of selling your home please feel free to contact the Leasehold Team on 0800 833 160 or email LeaseholderServices@seh.southend.gov.uk
Renting your Property
If you are looking to rent your property please complete and submit the online Sub-letting Notification Form
If you are considering letting the property we would advise that you review the Buildings Insurance Documents.
If you have a lodger and would like them to be able to report communal repairs, please complete and submit the Occupany/Lodger Notification Form.
Ways to get involved
Leasehold Focus Group
Since 2012, the Leasehold Focus Group has had great success in developing the service South Essex Homes provides to its Leaseholders.
Its key aims are:
- Improve Customer Satisfaction
- Improve communication and the provision of information
- Improve Value for Money
To date, its key successes have been:
- Introducing Leasehold events
- Promoting leasehold participation within South Essex Homes
- Developing and assisting with Leasehold Matters - the page in Insight devoted to Leasehold news
If you are interested in joining the Focus Group, raising agenda items or submitting an article in Insight please contact 0800 833 160 or email LeaseholderServices@seh.southend.gov.uk
Other ways to get involved
In addition to the Leasehold Focus Group, there are several other ways that you could get involved with South Essex Homes, including:
- Focus Groups
- Residents Associations
- Mystery Shopping
- Southend Tenants & Residents Association (STRF)
- Resident Scrutiny Forum
Who to contact with your query