Your home, your handbook

Leaseholder specific frequently asked questions

Can the lease be changed?

The lease can only be changed in exceptional circumstances.

In general, the conditions of the lease can only be changed if we both agree to the changes, and/ or by the direction of a court or first-tier property tribunal.

There are specific procedures that need to be followed in these instances and you will need to get legal advice.

What are my obligations within the lease?

Obligations vary from lease to lease, but cover such items as:

  • Keeping the property in good repair
  • Paying charges
  • Not causing a nuisance 
  • Not altering your home without asking for permission from the landlord.

Please refer to your lease agreement for details of the specific obligations applicable.

Are there any specific restrictions in my lease?

Check your lease for specific restrictions applicable. These may include restrictions on keeping pets, putting up TV aerials, car parking etc. Please make sure you are made aware of these restrictions.

Your lease also details other things you may be able to do including buying more shares in your home or selling your share to somebody else if you want to move, and tells you how to do it. It may allow you to:

  • Staircase i.e. to purchase more shares in the property
  • Sell your share of the property to someone else 
  • Transfer ownership, for example from a joint to single name

What do I do if I think you are not complying with the landlord responsibilities within the terms of  the lease?

Should you have a dispute with us, we have a complaints procedure to help resolve the situation. If there are still problems even when you have exhausted our complaints procedure, you can complain to the Independent Housing Ombudsman.

However, if your dispute is over certain matters connected with your lease, for example the level of service charges or your liability to pay them, then there are other routes of complaint and you should seek appropriate legal advice or contact the Customer Service Hub for more information and advice.

Can Johnnie Johnson Housing end  my lease?

We can only end your lease if you break some of its conditions, for example if you do not pay the rent or service charges. It would be very rare for us to foreclose your lease and we would be required to prove the requirement to do so in a Court of Law. If we consider that you have broken the conditions of your lease we will write to you. We will explain how you are breaking the conditions of your lease and what you must do to put it right. If you continue to break the conditions of your lease, we may ask a court to end your lease.

The court will ask us to prove that: 

  • You have broken the conditions of your lease; and
  • It is reasonable for you to lose your home as a result

Can I purchase outright?

Leases vary from scheme to scheme but most shared ownership leases will allow for staircasing up to 100% of the property. However, the leases for most of the leasehold schemes for the elderly normally only allow leaseholders to purchase up to 70% of the equity in their home.

What is staircasing?

If you live in your home under the shared ownership scheme, but do not own all of your home and you want to buy an extra share, this is called ‘staircasing’. For example you may have initially purchased a 25% share, but find that your improved financial circumstances would now allow you to purchase a further 25% taking the share you now own to 50%. Since the rent you pay is calculated in relation to the share you do not own, by ‘staircasing’ not only do you increase your financial interest in the property, but also you reduce your monthly rent payment.

The procedure for staircasing is relatively straightforward:

  • The leaseholder must serve notice upon Johnnie Johnson Housing stating the percentage they intend to purchase
  • Johnnie Johnson Housing will obtain a valuation, and notify this to the owner within 21 days of receipt of the above notice
  • The valuation will disregard any improvements made by the owner. 
  • The leaseholder may choose to obtain an alternative independent valuation if they do not agree with the initial valuation
  • The alternative valuation must be agreed with Johnnie Johnson Housing 
  • This agreed valuation will be binding on both parties
  • The leaseholder is responsible for all valuation costs, even if the staircasing transaction does not proceed
  • Johnnie Johnson Housing advise the owner of the sum payable for additional shares in the property and the revised rent which would be payable upon the purchase of additional shares 
  • Upon receipt of the valuation the owner may, at any time within three months, pay us a sum equal to the share being purchased
  • Apart from the valuation fees, which are the owners’ responsibility, each party is responsible for meeting their own legal costs associated with the staircasing process
  • At completion the owner will also be responsible for paying any arrears of rent and service charges, valuation fees and any other outstanding amounts due to us
  • Upon completion of the staircasing we will notify the owner of the new rent payment which will apply. The owner will be responsible for completing the Memorandum of Staircasing annexed to the original lease, which we hold with the solicitor

What do I do when I want to sell?

If you want to sell your home, the Lease normally states that you must inform Johnnie Johnson Housing first. You should inform us in writing or by email that you want to move and we will undertake to find a purchaser for your share from our waiting list. This helps to make sure that as many people as possible benefit from shared ownership.

We will inform you in writing of the charges that will apply on completion of the sale.
The majority of leases contain a clause giving Johnnie Johnson Housing the right to nominate a prospective purchaser from our waiting list; if, however, we do not have anyone interested in purchasing your home then we will give permission for the property to be sold on via an Estate Agent. If an Estate Agent is instructed we must be informed when a purchaser is found and we will need to complete an assessment with them to ensure they meet the allocation criteria applicable.

Can more than one person purchase a lease?

Two or more adults can hold a joint lease. You are a joint leaseholder if you bought your home with another adult and both of you signed the lease. In this case you would also need a joint mortgage if required. The rights, responsibilities and other conditions contained in the lease apply to each of the joint leaseholders equally.

You will also need a solicitor to deal with the transfer of the lease. You will have to pay all the legal costs.

What happens if my relationship  breaks down?

If you hold a joint lease with a partner and the relationship breaks down, one of the partners can take on the lease. You will need our permission and the permission of the mortgage lender. We will try to help and we will give permission if we can. We will not give permission if we think the remaining leaseholder cannot afford to pay the mortgage, service charge and other costs.

If you cannot agree who should take on your lease, you must ask a court to decide.

What happens to the lease if I die?

You may be able to pass on your lease in your will. If you are a joint leaseholder, you may be able to pass on your interest in the lease, but you should be aware of any restrictions in your lease.

We would recommend that you seek advice from your solicitor in relation to preparation of your Will. If you die without leaving a Will the lease might not pass to the person you think it would.

Can I sub-let my home?

Generally your lease will not allow you to sub-let your property

Can I make alterations and improvements to my home?

If you wish to make any alterations/improvements to your home, you will need to apply to Johnnie Johnson Housing in writing or by email, providing details about the proposed alteration and/or improvement. This includes alteration of windows, construction of porches and conservatories, replacement kitchens/bathrooms and structural alterations inside the property. We will consider the request and if reasonable, grant permission on the condition that the work is carried out at your own expense by a competent builder. It may be necessary to formalise consent through a legal agreement and you would be required to meet the legal costs incurred.

You will normally be responsible for the future maintenance and replacement of the ‘improvement’ or alteration, such as a conservatory, or porch.

You may be charged an administration fee where Johnnie Johnson Housing deals with requests for improvements and your Leasehold Officer will advise you