Freeholders' Rights and Responsibilities
This section explains your rights and responsibilities over the property you own.
What is a freeholder?
A freeholder is someone who owns the land and the building that is on it. The land includes the property and any gardens that have been sold with the property.
The freeholder is responsible for repairing and maintaining the whole property (inside and outside) and the services on that land. These buildings are usually houses. There should be an agreement that says who is responsible for repairing and maintaining any shared wall, boundary walls and fences, shared pathways and so on, and who is responsible for paying for this.
Freeholders on estates
We are also a freeholder and own land over a wide area. These areas are made up of houses, flats, landscaped or grassed areas, private roads, play areas and so on. If your house is on land that we own and maintain, you live on an estate. Your transfer document, which is a contract between you and us, may include a clause that says you have to pay a service charge. This is a contribution towards our expenses in providing services and in maintaining and repairing the roads and lighting on the estate and so on.
When you sign the transfer document, you agree to follow the conditions.
How do I know if I live on an estate?
The definitions in the Land Registry will tell you whether your property is on an estate or not.
What is the transfer document?
The transfer document (similar to the lease document for leaseholders) is a contract between you and us. It is a legally binding document.
This document contains a plan that outlines your house and the area where you live. It explains your rights and responsibilities and our rights and responsibilities.
It is important that you know and understand the conditions of your transfer document.
Freeholders responsibilties for repairing and maintaining services on the land
Utility companies, such as the water, gas and electricity companies, run mains pipes under the street to provide water, gas and electricity services. The utility companies repair and maintain the mains pipes and cables up to the border of the freehold land. The freeholder is responsible for repairing and maintaining service pipes that run from the border of the land into their home.
Why do I have to pay service charges?
Your freehold transfer document may contain clauses that apply to charging and recovering service charges. If your transfer document contains a clause about contributing to a service charge, you will have to pay us service charges.
Some of my neighbours who are freeholders on my estate do not have to pay service charges. Why do I?
In 1993, we had to start charging freeholders who live on estates a share of our costs for the services we provide to their estate. Clauses were included in the transfer documents that allowed us to charge and recover service charges for all new right-to-buy freehold properties that were bought after May 1993. This then became part of the legally binding contract between the freeholder and us.
If the transfer does not contain a clause about service charges, we currently do not charge you for a share of the cost of estate services. However, this may change in the future.
Am I allowed to make alterations to my property?
Yes, you can make alterations to your property, depending on planning, building control and health and safety regulations.
Am I allowed to put up TV aerials at my property?
Yes, you are allowed to put up TV aerials and satellite dishes, depending on planning permission.
What does my transfer document say about harassment and nuisance?
You, your family and your visitors must not cause or be a nuisance to any of your neighbours. This includes playing a stereo or other types of music centres very loudly. You will also have to pay for any damage (including graffiti) to council property that is caused by you or any members of your family or visitors.
Am I allowed to put in my own central-heating system?
Yes, you are allowed to put in your own central-heating system without our permission.
If you are fitting gas-fired heating and hot water, a recognised gas installer such as a CORGI-registered engineer must check the work.
My property is connected to your district heating or hot-water system (or both). Can I disconnect from your boiler and put in my own central-heating system?
If your home is on our district heating or hot-water system (or both), you must get our permission, in writing. If we give you permission, we will disconnect you from our district heating or hot-water system (or both). There may be a disconnection charge so check with your housing office.
You must also get a form BC1 from Building Control. Please see 'Other useful addresses and phone numbers'. When the work is finished, you must fill in this form and send it to Building Control who will inspect the work. There is a fee for this. If you are fitting gas-fired heating and hot water, a recognised gas installer, such as a CORGI-registered engineer, must check the work.
You will also be responsible for repairing and maintaining your heating system (this includes boilers, pipework and radiators).
What happens to my heating and hot-water charges once I have disconnected my system from your district system?
After we disconnect you, your housing office will arrange for the heating and hot-water charges to be removed from the service-charge account.
You will have to pay your energy bills for heating and hot water to the utility company direct, and you will have to pay VAT on your fuel bills.