Please contact Leasehold Services if you have any general enquiries regarding your property. For example:
- Selling your flat
- Requesting permission for a pet
- Requesting permission for alterations
- Sub-letting your flat
- Reporting any anti-social behaviour
- Updating your correspondence details
- Lease enquiries
- Service charge enquires or payment options
Winchester City Council
Telephone: 01962 848 400 (option 5)
Your lease will detail the landlords repair responsibilities and obligations to your block and property. Please check your lease before reporting a repair to your property.
To report repairs please contact:
Customer Services on 01962 848 400 (option 1) from 8:30am to 5:00pm, Monday to Thursday, Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm
Out of hours on 01962 865 405 From 5.00pm to 8.30am, Monday to Thursday, Friday 4.30pm – 8.30am Monday (Weekends and Bank Holidays)
The Neighbour Services Team are responsible for the day to day management of communal areas in our blocks, maintaining a safe and clean environment of buildings and surrounding grounds, by undertaking regular checks and observations. To report any issues/ concerns such as cleaning, ground maintenance, bulk waste removal, fire safety concerns or to suggest improvement works to your estate, please contact Neighbourhood Services :
- Telephone 01962 848 400
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Online www.winchester.gov.uk/report
Your lease is a legal document that explains your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder (or lessee) and the relationship between you and us, as the freeholder of your home. It is an important document.
If you don’t have a copy you can ask your conveyancer for one. Alternatively, you can order one from the Land Registry. For more details, see the Land Registry website
Your lease sets out your rights and responsibilities, and your conveyancer will have explained the terms of your lease before you bought your home. If you have any questions your conveyancer or our Leasehold team will be able to help you.
You can obtain information about your lease from the Leasehold Advisory Service, an independent advice service at the lease advice website
Ground rent is a contractual rental payment to the freeholder of the land on which your property is situated. Unlike a service charge, ground rent is not related to the provision of any services and must be paid on the due date specified in the lease, subject to the issue of a formal and specific ground rent notice by the landlord.
Ground rent is payable in advance on the 1st April each year. All leaseholders will be issued with a formal ground rent demand notice in February. The annual rent does not go up or down, it remains the same each year unless your lease specifies otherwise.
If you extend your lease via the statutory route then you will only have to pay a “peppercorn rent” which means no ground rent at all. If you extend your lease using the non-statutory route by negotiating directly with your landlord, you may still have to pay ground rent depending on what is agreed.
In accordance with the terms of your lease you are required to pay a proportion of the landlord’s outgoings, expenses and other heads of expenditure, by way of service charge, towards the cost of maintaining the building. This includes but is not limited to: the roof, foundations, main external walls, external window frames, internal communal areas, stairs, hallways and lifts, car parks, footpaths leading to the building, grassed and planted areas. This is in addition to any ground rent, planned major works or estate/building improvement works.
Service charges may include but are not limited to:
- Communal responsive repairs
- Utilities (electricity/lighting of communal areas)
- Cleaning services
- Grounds maintenance
- Buildings insurance
- Estate Services
- Surface water charge (if applicable)
- Equipment (Fire safety i.e. sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire alarms etc)
- General Management/Administration
- Sinking fund (New Builds)
Service charges will vary from year to year depending on where you live, the type of property you have, and the conditions of your lease. Charges can go up or down in line with changes in costs but are required to be reasonable.
What does each service cover?
- Buildings insurance
The Council are responsible for insuring the building in which your flat is located. The charge for insurance is based on premium costs, which are payable as part of your annual service charge. You must still arrange your own insurance for the contents of your home.
Depending on the services provided this may include window cleaning, internal and external cleaning and deep cleaning of communal areas.
- Estates Charges
This may include the servicing and inspection of communal fire alarm system, smoke detectors and fire equipment, fire safety checks fire alarm testing, footpaths, parking areas, monitoring communal areas, bulk waste clearance etc
Bulk Waste collection relates to rubbish that may have been dumped in your block or your estate and needs to be removed. If we establish the identity of the culprit who dumped the rubbish, we will endeavour to recharge them in full. If not the charge will be apportioned across the block/estate. The cost is rechargeable under the terms of your lease.
- Grounds Maintenance
Service charges will include the cost of grass cutting, and maintenance of planted areas of your block or estate and also any costs of maintaining any trees. The estimated costs for grounds maintenance have been based on the actual expenditure for the previous year. We adjust the charges when we know what works were carried out at the end of the financial year.
Management and Administration Fees
- Management Charge
Following a review of the Leaseholder Service, we have been making changes to how we manage and respond to leaseholder issues. Our aim is to deliver an efficient and responsive service which fully supports leaseholders and delivers excellent value for money.
We have already made some significant improvements to the service. These include providing a dedicated Leasehold team, consisting of one full time Leasehold Officer and one full time Leasehold Manager. We have also brought in a new housing management system, enabling us to provide an efficient billing and income recovery process, securely store leasehold information and data and monitor performance.
We are also working to further enhance the service you receive by:
- Introducing a dedicated online portal, enabling leaseholders to report repairs to their block, access their service charge account, make payments, report anti-social behaviour and submit requests for information/permission requests.
- Publishing a 10 year plan of programmed works to leasehold blocks
- Issuing estimated annual service charges by the end of March each year, followed up by an actual service charge statements by the end of September each year
- Improve leasehold engagement and encourage leaseholders to be involved in improving our services
- Updating our website with key information, including our service standards
As part of our annual billing process we have reviewed our management fee for providing the leaseholder service. The fee for 2022/23 is £134.48 per lease. The fee will be reviewed each year to ensure it is reasonable. The management fee should cover the day to day management of the leasehold service, inclusive of staffing costs, printing costs, office overheads, complying with statutory legislation and issuing necessary notices to leaseholders. Dealing with leaseholder enquires, preparing specifications and tender documentation for service contracts, ground rent /service charge collection costs, monitoring and supervising service contracts.
We will ensure you are kept updated on our progress with these and other initiatives aimed to enhance the leaseholder service you receive from us.
If you have any concerns about the management fee or any other charges relating to your lease, please contact the leasehold team on 01962 848 436 or email email@example.com
The cost for administration is a separate charge from the management fee and covers the cost of calculating and sending service charge estimates and actual statements.
The repairs service charge covers the cost of carrying out day-to-day repairs to the structure and fabric of your block and the communal areas. The amount charged will vary from block to block depending on what work has been carried out.
The repairs charge may also include other costs, such as: emergency lighting inspections, electrical testing and repairs, lift maintenance, life cycle repairs, dry riser testing, asbestos reports etc.
Some of our new build leases provide for the Council to collect sums in advance to create a reserve or 'sinking' fund to ensure that sufficient money is available for future major works. Please refer to your lease for further information.
Surface water charge (if applicable)
Where water is stored at a location where a gravity feed is unavailable (like the basement), then a water pump is needed to get the water to each property. The charge is fir the electricity to run the pump.
If your flat block has communal lighting we charge a service charge for electricity. When estimating your charges we apply any known uplift to previous year’s costs. When final costs for the year are known we will amend your service charges account and inform you by way of the actual service charge certificate.
How are my charges calculated?
All leaseholders who pay service charges will receive an estimate of how much their service charge will be for the next financial year (1st April to 31st March). The estimate is a forecast of how much it will cost to provide the services during the year. The annual service charge estimates are calculated in March and sent out to all leaseholders by 1st April each year. The total estimate amount will be applied to your service charge account as an annual charge.
If you have purchased your property part way through the financial year your service charge will be apportioned (pro rata) to the end of the financial year.
We have now reviewed the way we undertake the lessee charging process and as a result we will be issuing our actual bill in September. You will receive a statement which will detail the actual costs for providing all services for that previous financial year, once the accounts have been finalised. This is in accordance with the legal deadline to send this out to you, being six months after the year end.
The estimate and actual cost will be set out in a Certificate of Actual/Estimated Expenditure. Where charges have been over or underestimated, a credit or debit will be added to your service charge account in September. If you pay by direct debit your payments will be adjusted accordingly and a revised payment schedule will be issued.
Ways to pay your service charges
You can pay your annual service charge invoice by instalments (weekly/monthly/ quarterly) or you can pay in full. However if you are paying by instalments, please ensure you contact the Leasehold Team so we can set up a formal repayment arrangement on your account. This will prevent any potential recovery action being taken.
Ways in which you can pay your service charges include:
- Direct Debit (monthly) – Our direct debit collection dates are 1st, 10th and 20th of the month. Please use the link (pdf, 242kb) to complete a mandate, which you will need to return to the Leasehold Team. Once your direct debit has been processed, you will receive a notification letter confirming your payment amounts and chosen collection date.
- Online - You can pay by debit card on Winchester City Council’s website at: https://www.winchester.gov.uk/pay You will need your seven digit account number.
- Bank transfer – Please quote the Council’s bank account number 00300004 and sort code number 55-81-26. You will need your seven digit account number.
- Automated telephone – Please call 01962 848 512 and select option 3. You will need your seven digit account number.
- By post – Cheques must be made payable to Winchester City Council and sent to the Leasehold Team to Leasehold Services, Winchester City Council, City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester, SO23 9LJ. Please ensure you quote your seven digit account number on the reverse of the cheque.
Having problems paying your service charges?
If you are unable to pay your service charge invoice or have received a large major works bill then please contact the Leasehold Services Team immediately. This can be done via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 01962 848 396. You can also obtain free, independent, unbiased help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Alternatively you may wish to seek your own independent legal advice.
If you do not make service charge payments we may consider taking legal action against you.
Right to Buy service charge loans
In April 2020 the Government issued new guidance for leaseholders who may be eligible for a loan to help pay service charges in respect of repairs and improvements.
The full guidance will be found in the link below. Key points to note are:
- To be eligible, you must have purchased your flat since 6 April 2010
- The loan takes the form of a right to leave the service charge outstanding for a specific period. It is in effect, a second mortgage. Therefore before applying, you must speak to your mortgage lender to ensure they agree
- You have the right to a loan when your annual service charge totals £1500 or more
- The loan must be for more than £500 and you can borrow a maximum of £20,000.
The Government updates its guidance each year and the Council will update this part of the website once any new guidance is issued. Further information can be found here
The Council insures the building in which your flat is located for the insured risks listed in your lease. Currently this includes flood damage caused by burst pipes in neighbouring properties.
When to contact the Council?
- If your property suffers damage or
- If you see any damage to the block your flat is in.
The Council will liaise with you and the insurance company to see if your claim is covered by the policy, and assist you in dealing with any agreed claim.
You will pay your share of the cost of this policy through the service charge.
The Council’s insurance policy does not cover damage to your personal belongings such as your furniture, internal fittings and white goods. You must arrange your own insurance cover for your belongings and you should discuss this with a registered insurance broker.
Extending your lease
You have the right to extend your lease under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (the 1993 Act).
The right is to add 90 years to what is left on your existing lease at a peppercorn rent. For example, if there are 80 years left on your lease, the new extended lease would be for 170 years.
You will have to pay the Council a premium for the lease extension. The formula for calculating the premium is set out in the 1993 Act.
If you are interested in extending your lease a good place to find out about the process is the website of the Leasehold Advisory Service:
There is nothing to stop you negotiating the cost of an extension with the Council without following the 1993 Act.
The following are the steps that the Council with take whether you use the 1993 Act or not. To be able to negotiate with you the Council will:
- Instruct a specialist surveying firm to advise it on the current market price of extending your lease using the formula set out in the 1993 Act
- Use this firm to negotiate with your surveyor or you
- Agree a price
- Instruct its legal team to deal with legal work
- Ask you or your conveyancer to give an undertaking to pay the Council’s legal and surveyor’s costs whether or not the matter completes.
The Council recommends that you:
- Take the advice of a specialist surveyor on the current market value cost of the lease extension
- Instruct a conveyancer to deal with advising you on the process, completion of a Stamp Duty Land Tax Return, getting any lenders approval, and make the application to the Land Registry to register your new lease.