Local authorities should be wary of reserving contracts for local suppliers, as recommended by Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 11/20. Other contracting authorities may want to maximise their use of this
“The revamped Right to Buy scheme was launched in April and offers 2 million council tenants and 500,000 housing association tenants increased discounts of up to £75,000 when buying their home. The ethos is to reward long-term tenants with the security of owning their own home.
“For tenants who are considering buying a flat, the extra service charge becomes a factor and it is important to ensure that the inclusion of these charges is communicated properly. As with the private sector, the buyer purchases a ‘long lease’ and the overall block is still owned by the council or housing association. The seller remains responsible for the upkeep of the building and tenants pay a service charge towards this. Should major work be required, this could cost thousands of pounds.
“Whilst in the private sector these outgoings are a well-known necessity, for public sector tenants many are becoming leaseholders without the full knowledge of future costs that home ownership may bring. This is becoming a bigger issue now that more people are exercising the Right to Buy, and although it may not be officially their job, landlords should try to ensure that details on service charges are effectively communicated to minimise difficult conversations/challenges in later years. In both sectors people often find that owning their own home is not worth the pay out for service charges, as they face the burden of financial responsibility with little control over costs.
“By law, service charges need to be included in the lease, stating clearly when and for what services. However, a tenant may not read or appreciate the detail of the contract that they are signing and the potential financial implications. Whilst a solicitor should advise potential Right to Buy leaseholders of the requirements when they apply, many do not discuss the details in enough depth and tenants are still caught massively short by a service charge bill.
“With even more social housing tenants expected to become Right to Buy leaseholders in the coming months, it’s important for housing associations to set expectations at an early stage. By consulting with their residents in advance of carrying out expensive work, and highlighting the prospect of service charges to any potential buyers, landlords can retain a positive relationship with the resident and avoid a potential Leasehold Valuation Tribunal challenge.
“Whilst the prospect of large costs may be intimidating for leaseholders, if the home is bought through Right to Buy, a tenant is given an estimate of charges at the beginning of the lease and cannot be charged more than this for the first five years. This predictability, at least in the early stages, will help the new leaseholder to factor the charges into their annual budgeting and avoid the shock of a large bill.
“By creating effective communication strategies in this area and arranging a discussion with potential buyers about the Right to Buy scheme, housing associations will be able to strengthen their relationship with current tenants, whilst also easing the transition for tenants choosing to buy their properties.”
Most housing practitioners have perhaps been waiting for this news since the latest lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister on 4 January 2021.
Climate change and biodiversity is an area where significantly faster changes are needed on a global and local basis.
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In their 3rd podcast of the series, Chris Lloyd-Smith and Maria Ramon discuss a number of problems with and difficulties that can arise in mediation and the mechanisms they use to overcome them.
Our previous round-up began by sharing the news that two vaccines had shown very promising test results. Here we are, not even a month later, and the first vaccines have already been administered!
The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated that there is great resilience and innovation in the housing sector across Greater Manchester, it has also brought shortfalls and other priorities sharply into foc
For part 5 in this series of short podcasts, Chris Lloyd-Smith interviews associate Kadie Bennett on how she has been coping during these unprecedented times.
The first report of Donna Ockenden and her team into the review of maternity services at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has been published today.
The Family Solutions Group (FSG) recommends a shift away from adversarial family proceedings, to a child-centred, holistic approach to family separation.
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