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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Leaseholder repairs

Your lease will outline whether the freeholder has any responsibility for repairs. If you own a leasehold flat the freeholder may be responsible for repairs to the structure of the building, or shared areas. If you own a leasehold house it is unlikely that your freeholder will be responsible for repairs.

Owning a house on leasehold

Your lease will outline which, if any, repairs the person or company who owns your freehold is responsible for. Freeholders will usually only be responsible for repairs to communal areas.  It is unlikely that your freeholder will be responsible for repairs if you own a house. If you don't know the terms of your lease you can get a copy from the solicitor who carried out the legal work when you purchased your house.

Leaseholders' responsibilities

You, the leaseholder, will usually be responsible for managing repairs in the parts of the building that you own.  This would normally include

  • all internal decoration, including carpets and paintwork,
  • repairs to furniture and appliances,
  • repairs to internal plumbing and wiring,
  • repairs to plasterwork,
  • repairs to floorboards.

Freeholders' responsibilities

The freeholder will normally be responsible for organising repairs to shared facilities, like a shared heating or plumbing system or the roof of an apartment building. 

The freeholder is usually responsible for:
  • repairs to the building's structure, including the roof and guttering,
  • repairs to shared parts of the building, such as lifts and communal stairways,
  • buildings insurance (to protect the entire building from accidents and disasters such as fire or flood).

Write to your freeholder if there are any problems. Give details of the repairs that are needed. Give the freeholder a realistic deadline for carrying them out. Date your letter and keep a copy.

Paying for repairs

You have to pay for any repairs that the lease says are your responsibility. You may also have to contribute to repairs that the freeholder is responsible for.

A freeholder's building insurance may cover all or part of the cost of repairs. However, if anything isn't covered by building insurance each leaseholder may have to pay a share of the total cost.  The freeholder may also establish a 'sinking fund' or 'repair fund from service charges to pay for major repairs. The freeholder must consult with all leaseholders before increasing service charges to cover the cost of repairs. Speak to a solicitor if you feel that your freeholder hasn't consulted you properly.

Freeholder won't do repairs

Your freeholder is legally obliged to carry out the repairs that the lease says are the freeholder's responsibility.  If the freeholder isn't doing these, you'll need to get legal advice from a solicitor.  Unfortunatley, there's no local laws in place that explain how building managers have to operate so your solicitor will need to consult the terms of your agreement with the freeholder.