The information below is for freeholders who pay a service charge to Orbit.
- What is a service charge?
You might live in a freehold house but pay us a service charge. This charge will be for us to look after communal areas like grounds or gardens, as well as any regular maintenance you might also pay towards a fund for future maintenance, for example if a shared drive needs resurfacing.
We will provide you with an estimated budget of how much we think the services will cost each year and this is what your monthly service charge payments will be based upon. Then, after the end of the financial year when the actual costs are known, we will prepare an annual statement of account and send this to you with a covering letter telling you if the amount paid is enough to cover the actual costs or not. You will also be given a summary of the services you receive along with a notice setting out your rights and responsibilities.
- What do I do about repairs or service issues relating to communal areas?
- Can I change, improve or add to my home?
You will not normally need our permission to change your home if you live in a freehold property but sometimes permission is needed for changes to the outside of a home. This is to protect the look of an area and might be because of planning rules. We will charge an administration fee for agreeing to any changes. Details can be found in the administration charges leaflet.
You can find details of any restrictions on the freehold transfer or property title from the Land Registry. Please contact your Leasehold Officer if you have any questions.
- Will I have to pay an administration charge when I ask Orbit to do something?
We might sometimes be asked to allow changes, issue a Land Registry Certificate or provide information to your solicitors about the sale of your home.
We will charge you for providing these services. The administration charges leaflet contains more information.
- Does Orbit buy properties back?
If your property was once owned under a shared ownership lease you might not be able to sell it without first asking us if we want to buy the property back.
If this applies to you, it’ll apply for up to 21 years from the date the last shares were bought. Whether we buy back your home will depend on our plans within your area at the time that you want to sell.
You will not be able to sell your home unless we provide you with a certificate saying you’ve asked our permission. We will charge a fee for providing this certificate.
Speak to your Leasehold Officer to find out more.
- Does my home have title restrictions? What does this mean if I want to sell?
You will not be able to transfer your home to another person without our permission if the Title for your home contains covenants referring to:
- a clause allowing Orbit to buy back the property
- a service charge
- another charge you have to pay.
These conditions are called title restrictions.
We need to know when you want to sell your home, and will have to check that all the legal requirements are met. Your solicitors should liaise with us to arrange this.
You will not be able to transfer your home unless we’ve given you a certificate to prove you’ve asked permission. We will charge a fee for providing this certificate.
Please contact your Leasehold Officer if you want to discuss any restrictions on your title.
- What should I do if I'm unhappy with the service offered by Orbit?
Should you have a dispute with Orbit, we will refer you to our complaints procedure to help resolve the situation. If there are still problems, even when you have exhausted the complaints procedure, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service, known as the Independent Housing Ombudsman. We can tell you how to do this, but if your dispute is over certain matters connected to your lease, for example, the level of service charges or your liability to pay them, then there are other routes of complaint and you should seek appropriate legal advice.