3 Before buying

Read the lease

Before making any decisions, get hold of a copy of the lease. This is the most important document to a potential buyer, as it details the legally binding terms of the agreement between the leaseholder (your relative) and the management company. It’s worth paying a solicitor to check the lease – they can explain any clauses you don’t understand, and should be able to spot anything out of the ordinary.

Check charges

The most common charges will be ground rent and a service charge. Leaseholders usually pay an annual ground rent to the freeholder for the space their property occupies. They will also pay a service charge – either monthly, quarterly or annually – to cover things such as maintenance, repairs and buildings insurance.

Check how often the ground rent is reviewed and on what basis it can be increased. Be aware, too, that some retirement housing leases have unusual clauses, so check the contract and ask for an explanation for anything you or your relative do not understand.

There may be other charges, too. For more information, see Additional costs.