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AIBU to be worried about buying a flat when a large housing association is the freeholder

(16 Posts)
Jayfee Thu 02-Nov-17 14:26:17

My son and his partner have had three bad experiences trying to buy a flat in London. There is a flat for sale which is one of two in a house. The flat needs modernising and we don't yet know the general state of the house.The freeholder is a large housing association which gets extremely bad feedback from tenants and homeowners. The feedback might have been from people living in large blocks, so not necessarily applicable to a smaller property like the flat they are interested in? The top flat is tenanted and the housing association is the landlord. I am not sure I am allowed to name the housing association but initials are HH and it s south London. Does anyone have any experience or information to share???

safariboot Thu 02-Nov-17 15:18:39

If it's a leasehold property then you're not truly buying it.

shakemysilliesout Thu 02-Nov-17 15:26:46

Sometimes to buy a flat in London you have no choice but to go leasehold, although I would try and avoid it! Do not buy leasehold of you are keen to move walls etc as they charge to approve plans etc. Nightmare.

Look at ground rent, is it reasonable? Similar to other properties.
Check the length of the lease.

Separate issue, look carefully at service charges.

deadlierCatch Thu 02-Nov-17 15:29:41

Does this mean a lot of the neighbouring flats are 'social housing'?

I'd run a mile!!!

Rebeccaslicker Thu 02-Nov-17 15:36:08

What? Of course you're buying it. You're just buying a fixed term interest that has some rules. Good luck finding a flat (or a new build house these days) that isn't leasehold!

However I wouldn't buy this, sorry OP. There is the potential for a lot of frustration with the landlord and possibly some of the neighbours.

randomsabreuse Thu 02-Nov-17 15:40:40

Flats are much better leasehold because maintenance and other obligations can actually be enforced. Flying thresholds are frowned on..

That said a rubbish freeholder is a bad idea regardless.

Nightmanagerfan Thu 02-Nov-17 15:41:33

I bought an ex-social housing flat in London a few years ago, and my freeholder is a housing association, though not the one you alluded to.

My flat is in a block of mixed housing, roughly a third private and the rest social housing, on a small estate.

It's been a mixed bag but I'll share my experience in case it's useful background.

My neighbours are lovely and I have never had any issues with noise in my block. It's a bit hit and miss though - some neighbours in other blocks have had issues with nightmare neighbours and the housing association can be slow to deal with these issues.

Our biggest stress was a major works bill (section 20) that arrived about a year after I moved in. It hadn't come up in conveyancing and my estimate for the bill (still not received as works only just ending) is £25k. A group of us are contesting etc, but the reality is that as a leaseholder you are at the mercy of the freeholder who can basically say what they want to do re: major work.

I would say that your DS should ask:
- when was the roof replaced?
- what's the brickwork like?
- will he get charged a portion of things like drain repairs? how are these allocated? Eg if tenant upstairs flushes nappy down the loo, is that classed as 50/50 cost to your DS or 100% to HA on blame basis?
- what , if any, major works have been done or are planned, what cycle do these happen in (e.g. ours are every 7 years)
- what policy does the HA have re: antisocial behaviour? E.g. would they evict a problem tenant above your DS?
- what's the service charge? Does it include a sinking fund? (better if it does)
- what's the process for repairs?
- can you see the service charge history/bills for the last ten years - this will give you an idea of what they are spending money on. If they haven't done any work this should raise alarm bells as the house could be in a poor condition
- who owns the windows to the flat? If your DS then he will be responsible for repair/replacing them. if the HA be aware they could replace and then charge (this happened to some of my neighbours who were charged £17k for small two bed flat with 6 sash windows)

I'd also suggest googling the HA to find out how good they are at dealing with repairs. My HA is pretty terrible.

I wouldn't say don't do it, just go into it with an open mind. Prevoius posters saying avoid social housing are being snobbish and rude about people! There are idiots in every type of housing.

Hope that helps.

moreshitandnofuckingredemption Thu 02-Nov-17 15:42:56

I own a flat in a block in S London where the freeholder is HH. They're not very responsive unless you really hound them but I haven't had any big issues with them. Owned it for 18 months fyi

moreshitandnofuckingredemption Thu 02-Nov-17 15:43:20

I own a flat in a block in S London where the freeholder is HH. They're not very responsive unless you really hound them but I haven't had any big issues with them. Owned it for 18 months fyi

Birdsgottafly Thu 02-Nov-17 15:43:31

"Does this mean a lot of the neighbouring flats are 'social housing'?
I'd run a mile!!!"

Depends on the HA, my one is quick to act on Anti-Social behaviour and any criminal activity gets you evicted.

A private LL or owner can mean that you live in misery for ages before anything is done.

I think generally HA's/Councils are slower to respond than a private owner, who can be easily contacted.

You need to weigh up the complaints and if they'd apply in this instance.

Idontevencareanymore Thu 02-Nov-17 15:48:55

We own a flat in a council oweed block.
We pay monthly maintenance to keep the communal areas clean, ground rent once a year.
We recently had the while roof replaced and balconies replaced which they charged £3k for (split between all the flats) so I'd look Into things like that also.

Jayfee Thu 02-Nov-17 16:34:18

Thanks for all the info. Nightmanager's list of things to find out is very helpful. The estate agent gave me a load of waffle. I hope if I contact the housing association direct they might give some answers. I don't want my son to get yet more bills for surveys and legal costs and then find out it's a no-goer. A freehold house would be better imo but although prices are falling in London, they are still too high for him.

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Thu 02-Nov-17 16:38:31

To reiterate what someone else upthread said - the length of the lease is VERY IMPORTANT. If it is too short, it would cost a great deal of money to extend it and, if your son wanted to sell it on the current lease (if it is too short), no-one would want to buy it.

shakemysilliesout Thu 02-Nov-17 16:44:44

If you have to buy leasehold I would go for a flat in a house which manages its own maintenance, so you just agree with upstairs on any work that needs doing and you don't pay for someone to sort bins or maintain communal gardens. So somewhere with very little communal space. Also your son can then maybe try and buy the freehold with the other leaseholder. Buying the freehold is very difficult when you have more than 2 or 3 parties involved.

expatinscotland Thu 02-Nov-17 16:55:12

I wouldn't bother.

Antisocialarsebadger Thu 02-Nov-17 17:16:20

Tbh. The enquires above are what a good conveyancer should be asking anyway. You could ask the seller direct how communicative/efficient the managing agents are.

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