When you buy a property which forms part of a larger block of council dwellings, either through the Right to Buy or on the open market, you purchase a leasehold interest in the property. The freehold remains with the council as owner of both the land on which the block is situated and the block itself.
This arrangement is governed by a lease which forms a contract between you and the council.
Your legal representative should have explained the lease in full when you bought the property but in general, the lease:
- Specifies your rights and responsibilities
- Specifies the council’s rights and responsibilities
- Allows you and your successors the right of possession of your property provided you keep to the terms of the lease
- Only allows you to use the property as a private dwelling
- Requires you to pay an annual Ground Rent to the council, normally £10 per year
Leases are normally granted for an initial period of 125 years but may be extended. They are not renewed each time the property changes hands – you take on the same rights and responsibilities as the previous owner.
The lease will also tell you:
- What parts of the property have been sold to you
- What rights you have to access and use communal areas
- The proportion you must pay to the council in respect of repairs, maintenance and improvements