Home Ownership Information

Essential information for home owners

Paying your rent and service charges

Your rent and service charge must be paid in line with the requirements of your lease agreement but for most of our homeowners rent and service charge is due monthly on the first day of each month.

 

It is important that you pay on time and in full, otherwise your home may be at risk.  If you have any problems paying your rent and service charges, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can help. Call our Customer Hub on 0333 200 7304 or email info@platformhg.com

Staircasing (buying an extra share in your home)

Staircasing (buying an extra share in your home) or selling your home, please go to the Platform Homeownership site www.platformhomeownership.com or call our Sales Team on 0345 4503995

Shared ownership re-mortgage

If you are looking to re-mortgage your home, we need to consent to your mortgage offer and require the following from you:

  • Details of why you are re-mortgaging, such as to secure a better interest rate
  • Details of your mortgage redemption figure provided by your current lender
  • A copy of your new mortgage offer

Your rent account also needs to be up to date before we can give consent to your new mortgage offer.

If you are considering additional borrowing, please be aware that your total borrowing must not exceed the market value of your share in your home.

We cannot give consent to additional borrowing for property improvements, debt consolidation etc.  We can only consent to further borrowing to allow you to buy further shares (staircasing), to carry out essential repairs to your home or allow one shared owner to buy out another shared owner’s interest (in the same property).

If you would like more information on re-mortgaging and/or further advances please email info@platformhg.com or phone our Customer Hub on 0333 200 7304

Shared ownership transfer of equity

During the course of your shared ownership lease you may wish to transfer or assign the ownership of the property to increase or reduce the number of registered owners. To facilitate this, your solicitors must contact us by emailing info@platformhg.com or phoning our Customer Hub on 0333 200 7304  for confirmation on what is required under the terms of the lease and our administration fees.  Please note that your rent account must be clear when the property is assigned or transferred.

 

If you wish to become the sole owner of the property and do not have a mortgage, you must be able to demonstrate to us that you are able to meet all the outgoings related to the property.

 

If you have a mortgage you will need to obtain consent from your mortgage lender to remove the outgoing shared owner from the mortgage.  If the terms of the new mortgage vary, please supply a copy of the new mortgage.

 

Buildings Insurance

In most instances, we are obliged to insure the buildings that leaseholders and shared owners live in and you pay us for providing this cover.  If there is a managing agent for your property they may provide this insurance so please check with them for confirmation.  If you are unsure who insures your property please contact us.

 

To view a summary of our buildings insurance cover please download our Buildings insurance Summary of Cover 2021-22.pdf[pdf] 259KB .  The buildings insurance is administered by Arthur J Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, 27 - 30 Railway Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1QS.   If you need to make a buildings insurance claim please telephone them direct on 01245 341217.

 

Insuring your personal possessions

Please note:  We do not insure the contents of your home and you should make your own arrangements to protect your personal possessions

Home improvements and alterations

If you want to make changes to your home, please check your lease first.  You do not need permission to carry out simple changes such as redecoration but you may need permission to carry out anything more complicated which may alter the structure of your property, internally or externally.  Permission for replacing your kitchen or bathroom is included in this.

 

Some leases expressly ban you making structural alterations or additions to your home so it is important that you check your lease before planning any changes.

 

As well as our consent, you may also need to get planning permission from the local planning authority.You may also need approval from Building Control, including a Building Notice.  For this reason, before applying for our consent, we recommend you contact your local council’s Planning and Building Control departments.

Service charges

As a leaseholder or shared owner you may be responsible for certain service charges that relate to your share of Platform’s costs for the block/estate in which your flat or house is situated.  Details of what we can charge you and the proportion of any charges that you must pay, are set out in your lease.

Service charges can vary from year to year, they can go up or down without limit, other than that they are reasonable.  Leaseholders and shared owners have the right to challenge any service charges they feel are unreasonable at the Residential Property Tribunal Service.

 

Examples of the services we may charge you for include:

 

Day to day service charges

Costs that we expect to pay every year for work and services including:

 

  • Electricity supplied to communal areas
  • Communal cleaning services
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Servicing of lifts and entry phones
  • Buildings insurance premium

 

Shared owners of houses without communal services

If you are a shared owner of a house without any communal services, in addition to your rent charge you will pay a contribution towards the buildings insurance premium and a management fee only.

 

Service charges for major works to flats

These are for more expensive work that takes place occasionally or every few years to the block, such as replacing windows or the roof, redecorating the outside and shared parts of the block.

 

Your lease may allow Platform to establish a reserve fund to build up reserves to pay for major works.If your property has a reserve fund you will be required to contribute towards it each year through your service charge and the reserve fund will be used to pay for major works.

 

Management Fees

We charge a management fee to cover the cost of providing specific leaseholder and shared owner services such as billing service charges and ground rent, collecting charges and accounting for payments received, maintaining records, consultation procedures, estate management and the cost of various staff involved with leaseholder and shared owner services.

 

How is the yearly service charge worked out?

The service charge annual cycle

Generally, at Platform the service charge year is a financial year, which runs from 1st April to 31st March of the following year.Service charge estimates are sent out by the end of February each year.Actual spend statements for the previous year are sent out by the end of September.

 

Estimated service charges

Before the beginning of each financial year we estimate the cost of providing services to your building and estate during the coming year.

 

Your estimate is a calculation of how much we think we’re going to spend during the upcoming year based on the services you receive.While some contract costs are known i.e. grounds maintenance, other costs are variable.For example, we don’t know how much we might spend each year on day to day communal repairs.Therefore, we ask you to pay an estimated charge throughout the year.Service charges are sent out by the end of February each year.

 

Following the end of the financial year, we add up how much we have spent.During the year, we may have charged you more (surplus) or less (deficit) than we spent.We will then send you a statement with the actual costs by the end of September.Leaseholders are expected to pay any deficit once they have received their statement or can have a refund for any surplus.

Property defects

If you have recently purchased a newly built property from us you will have been advised of the length of the Defects Liability Period for your home by your Sales Consultant.  The Defects Liability Period is the length of time that the builder is responsible for repairing certain faults and problems. 

 

If you discover a fault please report it to us by phoning our Customer Hub on 0333 200 7304.  If the builder is responsible we will ask them to put it right.  If you are responsible for it, you will have to pay for any repairs and maintenance.  The contractor who built your home will contact you to arrange a time to visit your home and sort out the problem.  Some defects may not be put right straightaway – but we’ll tell you if there is going to be a delay and why.

 

Repairs and maintenance

If you live in a house, under the terms of your lease all internal and external repairs and maintenance are your responsibility.

 

If you live in a flat your lease will set out in detail what repairs and maintenance you are responsible for and what repairs and maintenance Platform is responsible for.  Generally, you are responsible for any internal repairs and maintenance to your flat and we are responsible for external and structural repairs to your block and repairs to any communal areas or facilities.

 

Major Works

We will sometimes need to undertake major work such as improving security to buildings, re-roofing, repainting or replacing windows, maintaining the brickwork, balconies, communal and external areas.

 

Consultation on major works – section 20

We cannot carry out major works to buildings that will cost any one leaseholder more than £250, without first consulting leaseholders.  If we do not consult then we may not be able to recover all our costs.

 

Consultation on long-term agreements – section 20

Platform cannot enter into agreements or contracts over 12 months where any leaseholder will have to pay more than £100 per year without first consulting leaseholders.  If we fail to consult we may not be able to recover all costs.

 

Section 20 notices

At some time, you may receive a Section 20 consultation notice from Platform.  This will be to give you advanced notice of proposed upcoming works that are planned to your building or estate.

 

This will be the start of a consultation process where you will be provided with relevant information (type of works, reason for them being carried out, anticipated costs) and given the opportunity to give us your opinions on the planned works and costs.

 

The type of notice you receive will be determined by the anticipated cost of the works and whether or not Platform plans to use a contractor that it is already in a long-term agreement with.

 

In some circumstances you may be able to nominate a contractor that you would like us to consider. If they meet the requirements of our procurement policy we will include them in the list of contractors that we ask to give us a quote for the works.

Lease extension

On 21st July 2020 the Law Commission published proposals to change the lease extension and enfranchisement process.  Whilst this does not take effect yet and we have no information as to how these proposals will be implemented or law changed, we recommend that you review the Law Commission page before proceeding with any application.  If you’d like to discuss the proposals or the current legislation and Platform’s approach, please do contact us.

 

As your lease term decreases, there are associated negative implications that you should be aware of.  This can include difficulties in selling or re-mortgaging as well as the decreasing value of the property itself.

 

However, as a leaseholder or shared owner, you may have the opportunity to add a further 90 years to the existing term of your lease.This is known as a lease extension.A premium will be payable to Platform to do this.

 

The potential benefits of extending your lease now include the following:

 

  • Easier to re-mortgage – mortgage lenders are more willing to lend on longer lease terms.  Where there are less than 80 years remaining, it may be deemed that there is inadequate security for the loan.

 

  • Easier to sell – a short lease is likely to make the property less attractive to potential buyers

 

  • The value of your home is protected – the value of the property would fall when the remaining lease term is low as the asset is diminished

 

  • Premium payable will increase over time – the increase in the premium is two-fold:

 

  • In general terms, the greater number of years left on the lease, the cheaper the amount payable to extend it

 

  • If house prices rise in the future, the premium rate would subsequently increase as well

A lease extension application can be made through the statutory route or the  voluntary route (depending on the circumstances).  The difference between the two is:

Statutory Lease Extensions

You must be both a 100 per cent leaseholder and have owned the property for at least two years.  If you are a shared owner you can’t have a statutory lease extension and will need to go down the Voluntary Lease Extension route.

Voluntary Lease Extensions

You can be either a 100 per cent leaseholder who has owned the property for less than two years or a shared owner.

You can get more information on lease extensions and apply for a voluntary or statutory lease extension by emailing info@platformhg.com or phoning our Customer Hub on 0333 200 7304.

If you would like some independent legal advice you can get this from the Citizens Advice Bureau, a housing advice centre or a firm of solicitors.  The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) can also provide advice.  LEASE is an independent, government back organisation that provides information and advice on leasehold matters.

 

Subletting

If you are a shared owner, under the terms of your lease you are not permitted to rent your home to someone else.

 

If you are a leaseholder owning 100% of your home you may sublet your home but please let us know the following contact details so that we can ensure that service charge budget and accounts information, legal notices etc for your property reach you and so that we can contact you in an emergency:

 

  • Your UK correspondence address
  • Your contact telephone number and email address
  • The names of the tenant(s) renting your property and their contact telephone number and email address
  • The name and contact details of the managing agent for your property (if you have one)

 

You can email us on info@platformhg.com or phone our Customer Hub on 0333 200 7304 to let us know these details.

 

Please note that if you are subletting your property, you assume landlord responsibilities and you must be aware of your legal obligations.  You can find the landlord guidelines on Renting out your property - landlord responsibilities page on the gov.uk website.

External Managing Agents

Sometimes we are not the owner (freeholder) of your building and services may be provided by an external managing agent on behalf of the owner (freeholder).  In these circumstances the managing agent manages and controls all the communal repairs and maintenance to your building/estate and their services, like cleaning, may vary from those provided by us.  We will monitor the services provided and take up any issues with the managing agent on your behalf.

The freeholder (owner) may charge Platform a ground rent and we may pass this charge onto you.

The service charge budget will be set by the managing agent.  We will analyse the budget carefully and challenge as necessary.  The charges levied by the managing agent may be more than we would levy if we were managing the building/estate.

Unlike Platform, the managing agent will set a management fee that covers their costs and makes them a profit.  We will also include a fee on top of the managing agents bill to cover our costs, as well as an audit fee to cover the costs of producing annual accounts.

If we are not responsible for insuring the building you live in, you’ll need to contact the managing agent to make a claim.