Maintenance, alterations and insurance

your home making alterations

As a shared owner, you have full responsibility for all repairs and maintenance to your home.

Repair and servicing responsibilities

  • Repair responsibilities

    As a shared owner, you have full responsibility for all repairs and maintenance to your home,  including major structural works and major repairs. You're also obliged to keep your home in a good state of repair and decoration.

  • Annual servicing

    Gas servicing

    If you have a gas boiler, as a homeowner, you are responsible for the maintenance and safety of gas appliances and pipes in your home. We recommend that your boiler and gas fires are checked every year to make sure they are safe and that any warranties remain valid.

    For more information about gas safety in your home, visit the Gas Safe Register website.

    Air source heat pumps

    If you have an air source heating system, to ensure you get the maximum performance and to comply with manufacturer warranty conditions, you need to arrange an annual service.

    We use Garry Hamilton to service air source heat pumps. You are free to use whoever you wish for your servicing, but if you'd like to contact him for a quote, his email is: admin@garryhamiltonltd.co (the .co bit is correct!) .

    Mechanical ventilation heat recovery system

    If you live in a passivhaus, you'll have a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system (MVHR), which we recommend you get serviced annually.

    We use Garry Hamilton to service air source heat pumps. You are free to use whoever you wish for your servicing, but if you'd like to contact him for a quote, his email is: admin@garryhamiltonltd.co (the .co bit is correct!).

    Open fires - chimney sweep

    We recommend you have your chimney swept once a year.

    The best time to do this is just before you'll need to use your fire for the colder months.

Making improvements, alterations or additions to your home

  • Can I make alterations to my home?

    If you wish to make improvements, alterations or additions to your home, you must obtain our written permission before starting the work.

    You will be responsible for the works, all associated costs and any future repair obligations and costs.

    You'll also need our permission, and for some homes planning permission, to install a satellite dish.

    Send us an alterations request >

    We won't refuse permission without a good reason, but we may grant permission that includes special conditions attached regarding the standard of the work.

    We reserve the right to visit the property to assess the work being undertaken.

    The work may also be subject to local authority planning and building regulation consent. It’s your responsibility to ensure that these are obtained.

    Why do I need your permission?

    This is mainly to ensure the work you're about to undertake is safe, does not cause a nuisance and meets building standards. Also, if you sell your home, if any improvements/alterations haven’t been approved, we may ask you to change it back to how it was at your expense.

    What if I'm behind on my rent payments?

    If your rent account is in arrears, you'll need to pay the arrears first before we'll consider your request for any improvements or alterations.

    Are there any other improvement restrictions?

    Some developers may apply restrictive covenants on a scheme regarding making improvements (such as a conservatory or shed) and an administration fee may be charged by them to process an application. Always contact us in the first instance before making any alterations to your property.

    We do not carry out disabled adaptations on shared ownership properties.

    Can I decorate without requesting permission?

    Yes, you're free to do any cosmetic decoration, without our consent (in accordance with your lease).

    Send us an alterations request >

Building insurance and making a claim

  • Who arranges the buildings insurance and what's covered?

    We arrange the buildings insurance on your shared ownership home.

    The buildings insurance covers the structure of the property against:

    • Fire, smoke, lightning, explosion and earthquake
    • Storm and flood
    • Escape of water or oil from fixed systems
    • Riot and civil commotion
    • Malicious damage
    • Theft or attempted theft
    • Subsidence, heave or landslip
    • Impact
    • Falling trees or aerials
    • Accidental damage
    • Terrorism
    • Property Owners Liability

    There are some specific circumstances that are covered which are worth being aware of (although excess will apply):

    • Changing or repairing lock and keys to the doors of the building, if you lose the keys, they are stolen, or there is accidental damage to the locks. No excess will apply.
    • Falling trees or branches, including the cost of removing the fallen part of the tree or the complete tree if totally uprooted.
    • Accidental breakage of glass in doors or windows, ceramic hobs if fitted and sanitary ware (exclusions do apply, such as damage caused by pets).

    As with all insurance policies there are many exclusions, please take a look at the policy document for full details. Some of the exclusions to be aware of are:

    • Loss or damage caused by anything that happens gradually, such as corrosion, rust, dampness, wet or dry rot and wear & tear
    • Loss or damage caused by pets, insects or vermin
    • Costs of correcting faulty workmanship or replacing faulty materials
    • Loss or damage to fences and gates by storm or flood is limited.
      10% of the replacement cost will be deducted from each claim for each year of age of the damaged items.
      So for example, if your fence is damaged in a storm and it is 10 years or older there will be no eligible claim. However if it’s five years old then it will be a 50% pay out minus the excess (£250).
      The damage must be reported within 72 hours of when the it's noticed.
    • Loss or damage caused by new buildings bedding down, expanding or shrinking or the settling of newly made-up ground. If this occurs, you may be covered by the 10 year new building warranty (see section below).

    Policy documents

    The buildings policy number is: 20/RSL/5947028

    The policy runs from 01 October 2020 to 30 September 2021.

    Download a summary of the buildings insurance cover for 2020/2021

    Download buildings insurance policy wording for 2020/2021
    The full terms and conditions are contained within the policy document.

    You'll need to arrange contents insurance

    The insurance policy does NOT cover damage or loss to the contents of your home, you’ll need to arrange your own contents insurance.

  • What is the excess on the policy?

    The excesses on this policy are:

    • £250 excess for each claim
    • Except for subsidence, which is £1,000 excess

    Please check the policy summary for further details.

  • How do I make a claim?

    If you need to make a claim, contact Arthur J. Gallagher, 27-30 Railway Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1QS or call 01245 341212.

    Our building policy number is: 20/RSL/5947028

  • Prevent further damage in an emergency

    In an emergency, you should take whatever action is necessary to prevent further damage to your property. This could be switching off the gas, water or electricity.

  • Who arranges contents insurance?

    It's your responsibility to organise your own contents insurance.

    Home contents insurance covers the cost of replacing your belongings in your home if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen.  'Contents' generally means the items you would take with if you moved home, such as furniture, kitchenware, electricals and also carpets and curtains.

    You can find out more about contents insurance on the Money Advice Service website or the Which? website.

New build defects and building warranty

  • 12-month defect period

    A new build property has a 12-month defects period. For our new builds, this starts from the day you move in.

    A defect is a building flaw or failure that's the builders responsibility to put right. The defects cover may differ with each development, but may include:

    • Problems with light fittings or switches
    • Plug sockets with no power
    • Faulty taps, leaking or no water
    • Issues with electric shower
    • Doors not shutting properly

    Please let us know of any defects as some as you become aware of them, don’t leave it to the final inspection.

    What if I have an emergency defect repair?

    For emergency repairs, where there's immediate danger to your health or the public’s safety, or a security issue that may lead to serious damage to the property, please call us on 0300 1234 009. If you call out of office hours, you'll be transferred to our out of hours service.

    What happens at the end of the 12-month period?

    At the end of the 12-month period, we’ll arrange a property inspection to identify any outstanding defects with your property and have them rectified accordingly. 

    Once the defects period has ended, the shared owner is responsible for all repairs and maintenance on your home.

    Report a defect

  • Settling in movement

    All brand new homes require a period to settle in.

    This includes allowing it to completely dry out and takes around nine months to a year.

    During this time, you may notice minor cracks in walls and gaps in joinery. These are normal signs of shrinkage which happens when timbers and other materials contract as they dry out and should not alarm you.

  • 10-year building warranty

    A building warranty is essentially an insurance policy for newly built homes. The warranty is taken out by the builder or developer, but is in place to protect you, the buyer.

    For most homes this is provided by the National House-Building Council (NHBC) or Local Authority Building Control (LABC).

    The warranty typically lasts for 10 years and is split into two periods – the defects insurance period, which covers the first two years, and the structural insurance period which covers years three to 10.

    During the structural insurance period, the builder is only responsible for major problems with the structure of the house. This includes foundations, the external render, roofs, ceilings, chimneys and load-bearing parts of the floors. It doesn’t include natural wear and tear, weather damage or any problems resulting from you not maintaining the property adequately.

    Certificate and policy booklet

    Your solicitor will give you a certificate detailing your new home warranty when you move in. This will include details of how to make a claim.

    If your home has an NHBC warranty, you can download your policy booklet on the NHBC website – you’ll need your policy number from your certificate.

    If your home has a LABC warranty, you can download a homeowners handbook on the LABC website.

    Get in touch with us

    If you're planning to claim against your building warranty, get in touch with us first, as we may be able to offer advice.

Major works and potential shared owner charges (Section 20 consultation)

  • What is the Section 20 consultation process?

    There may be occasions when we need to carry out major works on apartment blocks or on communal areas on an estate, which shared owners may be required to pay towards.

    This may be repair, replacement or renewal works, and normally applies to apartment blocks with a communal roof, or to communal areas such as carparks and access roads.

    Under Section 20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, we're required to consult with leaseholders if the works will cost any one leaseholder more than £250 (incl. VAT), or for any new service (for example ground maintenance) that lasts longer than 12 months and will cost any one leaseholder over £100.

    This is known as a section 20 consultation and was introduced to protect all service charge payers.

    The consultation process gives you the chance to comment on our plans and, depending on the value of the contract, sometimes suggest contractors for the works/service.

  • What's considered 'major works'?

    Major works are generally required to prolong the life of a building block or communal area and/or to ensure that it is kept within a good state of repair.

    Major works can include maintenance and repair, and sometimes improvement, of the exterior and structure of the building. This normally applies to apartment blocks with a communal roof, or to communal areas such as carparks, access roads and lighting.

    Major works wouldn't include maintenance or repair of houses or areas that are the resident's responsibility.

  • What are the stages of the process?

    The process has up to three stages:

    First stage – 'Section 20 notice' – a notice of intention to do the works

    A section 20 notice tells you that we intend to carry out work or provide a service that leaseholders will have to pay towards. We must send a section 20 notice to any leaseholder who will be affected by the work or receive the service.

    This notice explains what the proposed works are and the reasons for them. Leaseholders will be invited to give their opinions/observations, in writing, within 30 days. You'll also have the right to give us the name of contractor to quote for the works (if applicable). Any contractors will need to meet our criteria

    Second stage – notification of estimates obtained by the landlord

    We'll get estimates from contractors, taking in to account any comments we’ve received.

    This notification includes the details of two estimates for the proposed works. Leaseholders will be invited to give their observations on these estimates, in writing, within 30 days of the notice.

    Third stage – notification of award of contract

    We'll award the contract to a preferred supplier, taking into consideration any feedback you've provided. This notice should include:

    • the reasons for the award of the contract
    • a summary of the leaseholders’ observations regarding the estimates.

    This notification would not be required if the contract has been awarded to:

    • a contractor nominated by a shared owner
    • the contractor with the lowest tender.
  • What if we pay into a sinking or reserve fund?

    If your scheme has a reserve or sinking fund (a small portion of your service charge that goes into a fund to cover unexpected costs and long-term works), this may cover some, or all, of the major works.

    If the amounts in the fund cover the entire costs of the works, no further contributions are charged. We will however still need to consult with you.

  • Where can I find out more?

    You can find out more about the section 20 process on the Leasehold Advisory Service website.

Please note: the information on this page is for guidance only. You should always refer to your lease for comprehensive information and get legal advice where necessary.