This page is for residents who have bought their leasehold home from West Kent and who now own 100% of the equity. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions from our leaseholders.
This section is not for shared owners.
Please contact the home ownership team if you still have questions.
I want to sell my home
If you’re a leaseholder and own 100% of the equity, you can sell your property on the open market, through an estate agent for example, without telling us or getting our permission. Your solicitor will usually contact us for a sale pack which we make a charge for. We aim to produce these packs within ten working days of receiving payment.
When you have a completion date fixed, we’re happy to provide figures for the apportionment of service charges - we need five days notice for this. Apportionment is the calculation dividing up what you are responsible for paying and what the new leaseholder is responsible for. Occasionally solicitors will ask to keep a retainer; this is because you may be liable for charges after the property is sold for works that were carried out while you still owned it. We try to ensure we provide accurate estimates of unbilled items so you don't have to give retainers unnecessarily.
After your property is sold the purchaser’s solicitors have to send us a Notice of Transfer, which is the formal notification that the lease has changed ownership. At this time our formal relationship with you ends.
Re-mortgaging means changing your mortgage provider, or borrowing extra money through a mortgage. People often re-mortgage to get a better interest rate, which can be a great way to save money.
Before re-mortgaging you can get advice directly from a lender (like a building society or bank), or from a mortgage broker or financial adviser. Make sure they're registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
If you’re intending to re-mortgage you must provide us with a Notice of Mortgage. Your new lender or solicitor will usually serve this automatically. We make a charge of £50 plus VAT to deal with this paperwork.
I want to rent out my home
Leaseholders who own 100% of your home don't need our consent to sublet. All we ask is that you make sure you give us your new contact details (including your forwarding address).
It’s also helpful if you give us your tenant’s emergency contact details. You are responsible for ensuring you and any sub-tenant keep to the terms of your lease.
West Kent organises the buildings insurance for our leaseholders, and you repay the cost of this through your service charge. We send you a new summary of cover every June. You may need to give a copy of this to your lender, so they know their security (your home) is insured.
If your home has been damaged please contact us for a claim form. There is a £100 excess on most claims. The insurance covers the damage to the property but not the repair itself, so for example if you had a leak from your boiler which damaged your ceiling, the insurance may cover the damage to the home but not the repair to the boiler.
In a few flats, West Kent is the leaseholder but the freeholder organises the buildings insurance, so you will be on a different policy with a different excess.
You always need to organise your own home contents insurance.
I'm having trouble paying
If you’re struggling with money it’s really important that you get advice. If you're struggling with your mortgage you must keep your lender up to date with your situation. You can get specialist advice for leaseholders from a solicitor or the Leasehold Advisory Service who offer free, independent advice.
Your lease is a contract between us defining who is responsible for which repairs. Generally as a homeowner, you must keep your home in a good state of repair. You are responsible for the internal repairs within your home and the safety of gas and electric fittings.
If you live in a flat and West Kent is the freeholder we'll keep the structure, common parts and the outside of the flats in good repair. In some cases a managing agent for another freeholder may be responsible for repairs.
For repairs within your home that fall under your responsibility, you should arrange for a qualified contractor to carry out the work and you'll be responsible for the cost.
In certain situations, such as a serious leak that is causing damage to other properties, or where there is a health and safety risk, we may ask you to carry out the repair immediately. If you can't do so, we may arrange for a contractor to carry out the work on your behalf and charge you for any costs we incur.
You can report repairs that are our responsibility to us through My West Kent.
Paying for works or services
Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (amended by section 151 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002) says we must consult you about some of the works and services your lease says you must pay for.
The regulations are complicated and legal issues are involved. This page is a guide but if you’d like a full explanation of the law, you should think about taking your own legal advice. You can also visit The Leasehold Advisory Service for more independant information and advice. Or talk to our customer services team on 01732 749400.
What is a Section 20 notice?
A Section 20 (S20) notice tells you we intend to carry out work or provide a service that leaseholders will have to pay towards. We must serve a S20 on any leaseholder who will be affected by the work or receive the service and we must send a copy to any relevant tenants’ association. The S20 notice will include information about what we plan to do and how much the estimated cost is. It will give you the opportunity to take part in the consultation process and comment on what is being planned.
We must consult you before we do any of the following:
- Carry out work that will cost any one leaseholder more than £250. This includes repairs, maintenance and improvements to your building and estate.
- Enter into a long-term agreement (for more than 12 months) with outside contractors for work, supplies or services that will cost any one leaseholder more than £100 a year. Examples include cleaning, grounds maintenance and surveying.
We may consult you before we enter into a contract to carry out substantial works to the structure or communal areas in the building or for services included in your service charge.
We issue Section 20 notices to you at each stage in the process of awarding a new contract. There are three possible stages:
- Pre-tender stage: before we invite contractors to tender for the work (that’s when they give an estimated cost) called the Notice of Intention.
- Tender stage: after we have received the tenders (estimates) - called the Notification of Landlord's Proposals (estimates).
- Award of contract stage (in some cases): when we award the contract to the successful tender - called the Notification of the Award of Contract.
Existing qualifying long-term contracts
We'll also issue a Section 20 notice to tell you when we intend carrying out major works where we have previously consulted residents before awarding the contracts - perhaps some years earlier.
Our qualified surveyors regularly survey our premises to find out what major works are needed and when.
If you’re a homeowner living in a property with communal or shared areas, we'll consult you before carrying out substantial works to the structure or communal areas in the building. The first notice (the Notice of Intention) will tell you why we think the works are necessary, where you can view the details of the contract and ask you to comment in writing within 30 days.
How much will it cost?
Where we have long-term qualifying contracts in place with contractors who we appointed after previous consultations with you, we'll tell you the prices agreed with the contractor.
If we obtain tenders for a new contract we'll send you another notice (the Notification of Landlord's Proposals (estimates) and tell you the prices of at least two external contractors .
We’ll invite you to comment on these costs, which we'll recover through your service charge. We won’t award the contract for a further 30 days until we have considered any comments we receive. After awarding the contract we may send you a third notice (a Notification of the Award of Contract) if we need to inform you about the appointed contractor.
 Except in case of OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union)/ public procurements where only the winning bidder’s costs are required to be notified.
Will I get help with the costs?
Many of our customers pay into a reserve fund (sinking fund) as part of the monthly service charge. This is a type of savings fund which earns interest. It’s a way of collecting a sum of money over a period of time to be used for a specific purpose, such as a large scheme of work like roof renewal, external redecoration or other large expenditure. The aim is to split the cost over a longer period of time to avoid a very large bill in one service charge year.
When the works are complete we’ll send you a bill, tell you how much is available in the reserve fund and whether you need to make any extra contribution.