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A shared owner buys part of a home (through a mortgage or cash), and pays rent on the rest.  Below are answers to questions most frequently asked by shared owners. 

Please contact the home ownership team if you still have questions.

  • I want to sell my home

    If you wish to sell your shared ownership home you need to follow this process.

    Valuation

    You need an independent valuation of your home. You can use any surveyor you choose as long as they’re a member of Registered Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).  We’ll send you a list of these when we receive your request to sell. A valuation is usually valid for three months but you can sometimes apply for an extension for a fee if you have a buyer. We can't accept estate agent valuations.

    Marketing your home

    Depending on the terms of your lease, West Kent has either an eight or twelve week period to find someone to buy your home. After this time we will give you permission to sell your home privately or through an estate agent. If we successfully find someone to buy your home, we charge an assignment fee of 1% + VAT (calculated on the equity share you own.)

    Your home will be advertised for sale at www.helptobuyese.org.uk and anyone interested will be asked to contact you direct to arrange an appointment to view. We’ll assess all the interested parties first to ensure we’re taking housing need into consideration.

    Before we can start to market your home, we need photos – internal and external, and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). If your property was built after January 2008 we should be able to provide you with a copy of the EPC. You can also check if your property has one by visiting the EPC website.

    Solicitors

    Once you have a buyer you should instruct a solicitor who will issue a Memorandum of Sale to everyone involved in the sale. Both your solicitor and the buyer’s solicitor will work through the conveyancing process and agree a date to complete the transaction. Completion dates are negotiated between the buyer and seller - West Kent is not involved. You just need to tell us the proposed date.

    Leasehold enquiries (LP1 form)

    Your buyer’s solicitors will ask West Kent questions relating to the sale of your property. Our fee for providing the leasehold pack will be £270 (including VAT) and for any additional questions £36 (including VAT). This fee will be payable directly to West Kent. You can do this over the phone using a debit or credit card, or by cheque made payable to West Kent. We aim to reply to all enquiries within ten working days. If your property is also managed by a third party management company your solicitor may also request a leasehold pack from them directly which will be an additional cost.

    Timescales

    The resale of shared ownership properties takes roughly four to six months from when the buyer is approved. Sometimes it can be longer if there is a chain or legal difficulties arise.

    Handing over the keys

    You should arrange with the purchaser how they will get the keys on the completion day. You should not hand over the keys until your solicitor confirms they have received the buyer's payment. 

  • I want to re-mortgage

    Seek advice

    Before re-mortgaging you should get advice directly from a lender (like a building society or bank), or from a mortgage broker or financial adviser. Make sure they are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

    Get permission from West Kent

    We'll only give you permission if you have a clear rent account and we're not taking any action against your tenancy for some reason, anti-social behaviour for example. We'll also need a copy of your mortgage offer from the new lender and confirmation from them of the current valuation of your home. If you are borrowing extra money we will also need full details of what you are borrowing it for.

    Mortgagee Protection Clause (MPC)

    This is a clause in your lease that protects your mortgage lender if they make a loss because they have had to repossess your home. It allows them to claim some of their loss from West Kent. Lenders usually want confirmation from us that any extra money they lend you will also be covered by the original MPC.

    In line with government guidelines we only extend the MPC to extra borrowing that's for:

    • staircasing (buying more shares in your home)
    • a shared owner buying out the joint owner, such as in cases of relationship breakdown
    • essential repairs needed to comply with the terms of the lease (in specific circumstances.)

    We will not extend the MPC for borrowing that's for other purposes, including:

    • debt consolidation (paying off credit cards and loans)
    • holidays
    • home improvements that are not essential repairs.

    The protection of the MPC is usually important for mortgage lenders, so you should check this with your proposed new lender at the beginning of your application to prevent delays or disappointment.

    After the remortgage has taken place we need a Notice of Mortgage and accompanying fee of £50 + VAT, cheques made payable to West Kent Housing Association.

  • I want to rent out my home

    We only give permission to sublet in specific cases, such as having to move for health reasons or because you’re overcrowded. For an informal chat about whether or not we’ll give you permission, get in contact with our home ownership officer on 01732 749400 extension 500.

    Please note we will not consent to corporate business lets.

    If you’d like to formally apply, please write to us and include:

    • details of why you want to sublet your home, including any relevant evidence.
    • the length of time you want to sublet for (we’ll only give you consent for one year initially)
    • confirmation from your current mortgage lender that they’ll agree to the sublet in principle, along with evidence of your current mortgage payments (e.g. mortgage or bank statement)
    • payment of a non-refundable £50+VAT application fee.

    As long as you give us everything we ask for above, we’ll be able to give you an answer within ten working days.

    If you’re unhappy with our decision you can complain using our online form.

  • I want to buy more shares in my home

    Called 'staircasing' - buying more shares in your home has many benefits, but there are things to consider.

    Benefits

    • Your rent to West Kent reduces as you increase the proportion you own in your home. In fact - when you own 100%, no rent is payable at all.
    • You have a larger financial interest in any increase in the value of your property.
    • Your home becomes freehold when you own 100% of the equity.
    • You’re free to sublet your home when you own it entirely.

    Things to think about

    • Your monthly housing costs are likely to increase.
    • If the value of your property has fallen since you bought it you may be in negative equity because your mortgage exceeds the value of the share you own. A mortgage lender won’t let you borrow more if you’re in negative equity.
    • Mortgage lenders might want you to put a deposit toward the extra share.
    • Consider speaking to a financial adviser before paying for a formal valuation.
    • You will have to pay solicitor fees for the transaction.
    • If your property is managed by a third party management company your solicitor may request a leasehold pack from them directly which will be an additional cost to you. 

    To find out more, contact us.

  • Buildings insurance

    West Kent organises the buildings insurance for our shared owners and you repay the cost of this through your service charge. We'll send a new summary of cover every June. You may have 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 should always 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.

  • Defects in your new home

    Defects in your new home

    When you move into a new-build property you usually benefit from a defects period, normally the first 12 months after completion of the building.

    During this period the contractor is responsible for rectifying urgent repairs such as:

    • heating or hot water breakdowns
    • electrical faults
    • easing / adjusting doors and windows
    • plumbing repairs.

    At the end of the year we will carry out an end of defects inspection with you and the contractor. Decorative items including shrinkage cracks will be reviewed at this time so there is no need to report these earlier.

    If you experience any problems with appliances that were in the property when you moved in, you should contact the manufacturer directly as these will be covered by a warranty. You'll find the details in your handover pack.

    To report defects please contact our customer services team. Please don't report defects directly to operatives on site as we need to know about any problems you're having.

    What about problems after the defects period?

    After the defects period you will be responsible for items within your home unless they are covered by a long term building warranty. You can find more information about responsibilities in the repair responsibilities tab.

    National House Building Council (NHBC) warranty

    Most of our new build properties benefit from a long term building warranty provided by the National House Building Council (NHBC) They provide a ten to twelve year policy and regulate the developer’s work. 

    They inspect the quality of the building work free and if the build work is not to a good enough standard they will make sure it’s put right. If NHBC agree there's a problem that is the builder’s fault, they will help to arrange the repair.

    In buildings less than one to two years old, the investigation and repair is free of charge.

    In buildings over two years old the homeowner has to pay an excess. These vary in price (they’re linked to a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors' index) and can be as much as £1000.

  • Repair responsibilities

    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 house you are also responsible for the repairs and maintenance to the exterior and structure of your house. If there are shared gardens or landscaped areas, or shared car parks, they will be maintain by West Kent or a managing agent if we don't own the land.

    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 independent 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.
  • New contracts

    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.

  • Major works

    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 [1].

    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.

     

    [1] 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.