Click here to view our home ownership handbook and customer charter.
Further useful information:
Rent and/or service charges
Improvement and alterations
Staircasing and sales
In most cases, we are obliged to insure buildings which leaseholders and shared owners live in. You then pay us for the cost of providing this cover. If there is a managing agent, it is likely they will provide this cover. If you are not sure of this, please contact us.
Under the terms of the policy we arrange, there may be an excess premium to be paid. If the claim is in respect of a communal area then the excess premium is charged to the service charge account.
A copy of the insurance certificate is here.
We do not provide contents insurance for your home – this is your responsibility to do this. Please see our contents insurance page for more information about this.
You must contact the insurance provider directly.
In an emergency, they will arrange for a skilled tradesperson to visit you as soon as possible to provide emergency help. You will need to pay for any work and then claim it back from the insurance provider.
If the work is covered by the insurance, the insurance provider will pay you back, minus the amount of your policy excess, as shown in your ‘summary of cover’. In the event of a claim please contact Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, 27 - 30 Railway Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1QS. Telephone 01245 341 200.
You can find a copy of the insurance cover here.
What is a lease?
Your lease is the formal legal contract between you and GreenSquare or Westlea, setting out your rights and responsibilities. If there is a problem or disagreement, the lease should help you to settle it.
Your mortgage lender and solicitor have copies of your lease and your solicitor should have given you a copy when you bought your home.
If you are the first person to buy your home, the lease will usually be for 99 years. If you have bought your home from another leaseholder, you will take over the number of years left on the lease.
If you live in a flat and then buy it, you are still a leaseholder. If you buy your house, you will usually become a freeholder, which means you own the building and the land it is on.
If you want to add someone to your lease, you will need to hire a solicitor and make sure they tell us when the process is finished.
If a relationship breaks down, you may want to transfer your lease into just one name. We will need to agree this and the other leaseholder must tell us in writing that they have given you permission to do this. You need to appoint a solicitor to do this.
Your lease does not allow you to sublet or rent out your home, but you can rent out a room if you are living in the property.
You cannot give your lodger a tenancy agreement because that will give them rights that you are not allowed to give as a leaseholder.
If you want to take in a lodger, please tell us. You may also need to get your mortgage lender’s permission. Because you are receiving extra income, you must tell your local tax office and council-tax office, plus any benefits office you deal with.
In certain circumstances, we may give you written permission for you to sublet the whole of your home.
Please remember that if you sublet your home without our permission, you will be breaking your lease and we could take legal action against you.
Your rent and/or service charges will be reviewed on an annual basis.
Changes are generally applied for the from the 1 April and you will be notified of this in writing, at least 28 days before the change is applied.
For shared owners, the rent will change based on the formula in your lease.
If you cannot pay your rent and/or service charges, please contact us to discuss this.
You are responsible for paying your mortgage, and you must speak to your lender if you are having problems paying. If you fall behind with your mortgage, your bank or building society can repossess your home and evict you.
You may be able to claim for help towards your mortgage interest payments and council tax. For more information, go to www.jobcentrenearme.com. Or contact a debt or advice agency such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.
You must get our written permission before you make alterations or improvements to your home, if these are not routine decoration and improvements. We won’t unreasonably refuse to give you our permission, although restrictions apply to structural alterations and in particular to shared ownership homes.
For example, you need to contact us for permission if you plan to:
You may also need to get planning permission or building regulations approval before you make any changes, and there may be extra rules if you live in a conservation area. These changes include adding a structure to your house, such as a conservatory or an extension.
Before we give our permission, we will need to see copies of any letters you receive from your local council giving you permission, or saying that you do not need approval.
If you live in a flat, please contact us before you fit a wooden or laminate floor, as there may be restrictions to make sure this doesn’t cause a noise problem for your neighbours.
You may also need planning permission if you would like to fit a satellite dish to a block of flats (this also applies to houses).
If GreenSquare doesn’t manage your flat, you’ll need to consult the management company.
If you are the first person to move into a newly built property, there is a 12-month defect period covered by the builder. This 12-month defect period is from the time we bought the property from the builder, not when you bought the property from us. We will tell you about this at your interview. The builder will put right any items agreed as faults during this time. The builder will also arrange with you at the end of the 12 months to make sure there are no outstanding repairs needed. You will also have a 10-year warranty with the National House-Building Council (NHBC) for all new properties.
If you live in a flat, please click here for a summary of your obligations. Although as with any flat, check your lease as your first point of contact.
If you live in a house, it is your responsibility to carry out all repairs within your home and grounds. There may be some works which we are responsible for, but the costs of doing these will generally be recovered via service charges. But please check your lease as your first point of contact.
If you want to change your mortgage, you must ask for our permission and provide us a copy of your revised mortgage offer.
The amount of your new mortgage cannot be more than the value of your share in your home and the conditions will need to be the same.
We can allow you to take out more loans in certain circumstances.
For more information, please contact us.
Most leaseholders can buy their homes outright. There are some exceptions, for example in rural areas.
Yes, potentially. But it is important to remember that property prices can go down as well as up.
For example, if you paid £40,000 for a 25% share of a £160,000 property and the property increases in value to £180,000, your 25% share will increase to £45,000. But, if the property goes down in value to £140,000, your share will be worth only £35,000.
You can usually buy more shares in your property. This process is called ‘staircasing’, but you should check with us whether there are any restrictions. For example, in some rural schemes you can’t buy more than a certain percentage of the property (usually 80%). This will be because there is a shortage of shared-ownership housing in the area and the local authority wants to make sure that your home always stays as a shared-ownership property.
If you are not buying a brand-new property, you may not be able to buy more shares until three months after you have bought your first share.
You can staircase up to three times after you buy your first share. You must buy a minimum of 10% each time, and in 5% units, for example 10%, 15%, 20% and so on.
If you have bought a property that is not brand new, you will need to check if any previous owners have staircased, as you can only staircase three times for each property.
If any previous owners have staircased once before, you may only staircase another two times.
Staircasing reduces your rent as you only pay rent on the percentage of the property you don’t own.
Your lease explains how to buy more shares. If you don’t have a copy of this, you can get one from the solicitor who helped you buy your first share.
If you are thinking of selling your Shared Ownership home, the first thing you will need to do is have a valuation carried out by a RICS-qualified surveyor. You can find one in your area by visiting www.ricsfirms.com. Once you have received your report, you will need to send this on to our Sales team, who will then let you know the current value of your share and the next steps to selling your share. Please note: the valuation is valid for three months, it is also the maximum full market value your property can be advertised and sold for.
Confirmation to go ahead
If you decide to proceed, please notify the Sales team and we will send over the agreement. You will need to complete this and return along with the following:
Choosing a suitable buyer
Unless the local authority states otherwise, the property will be advertised on a first-come first-served basis. We will financially assess interested parties prior to viewing your property.
As stated in your lease, we have eight weeks to nominate a buyer for your property. Should we be unsuccessful, you can then approach an estate agent of your choice to market your property.
When you come to sell your property, you will need to instruct a solicitor to act for you. It is important to use a solicitor who has knowledge of Shared Ownership property transactions, otherwise this could hold up the sale. We expect the process to take between 8 and 12 weeks, however this can vary.
The completion date is when your purchasers become the legal owners of your home. You will agree this date before exchanging contracts. Once you have exchanged, this is legally binding and neither party are able to back out of the sale from this point.
We will produce a completion statement once a date has been set. This will include any rent arrears, leasehold costs, and our selling fee, which is 1% of the full value plus VAT.