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2 Legal matters

Leaseholder legal rights

Leaseholders have legal rights in relation to their properties different from those of freeholders. In a nutshell, they have the right to:

  • require information, for example about service charge income and expenditure
  • challenge service charges or other management arrangements
  • take over the management themselves
  • acquire the freehold of the building.

The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) gives free information and advice to leaseholders in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. We suggest that your relative seeks advice from LEASE, and possibly a solicitor, if they want to enforce any of the above rights. The LEASE website has a section dedicated to retirement housing issues.

National House Building Council (NHBC) Code of Practice

Look out for properties that have been built by National House Building Council (NHBC) registered developers, as this gives additional protection. All retirement housing built after 1 April 1990 is subject to the NHBC Sheltered Housing Code of Practice, which stipulates that there must be a legally binding agreement between the developer and the management organisation to protect residents’ rights.

The ARHM Code of Practice

The Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM) Code of Practice regulates managing agents who manage leasehold retirement housing. Management organisations that are members of the ARHM are bound by the code.

The ARCO Code of Practice

The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) represents many of the extra care housing operators in the UK. While it isn't mandatory for extra care developers to register with ARCO, those that do become members agree to be follow the ARCO code of practice, which aims to enable consumers to make informed choices about their housing options.