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Being a homeowner

Owning your home is very different to being a tenant of Sunderland City Council.

As a homeowner you are responsible for the properties repair and maintenance from the moment that you buy the property. You need to be prepared for this as it can be expensive to maintain your home. 

As a homeowner you will have to pay for any mortgage, you won't be eligible for any benefits from the government like Housing Benefit and if you can't afford the mortgage payments then your bank or building society could repossess your home and you will be homeless. 

Although mortgage interest rates are normally fixed for a number of years as you would normally agree to a fixed term deal these can change over time so think about what would happen if your mortgage payments went up due to an increase in interest rates at the end of your current deal, could you afford an additional £50 or £100 per month? 

If you are buying a flat or leasehold property you will also need to pay for the upkeep of the building and grounds of the flat or maisonette. These Service Charge costs can be high and you must pay then on an annual basis to the freeholder. This could include contributing towards replacing lifts, windows or the roof as well as general decoration and maintaining communal areas. 

If your property is damaged then you will also have to sort out the repairs. You should have buildings insurance to cover things like fire, storm damage or an escape of water/flood and this expense should be budgeted for. 

With some of our tenancies some utility costs are included within your rent. As a home owner you are responsible for all outgoings including Council Tax, Water rates, electricity, gas and buildings and contents insurance. 

There are also other special conditions that apply to properties that are sold through the Right to Buy that you should be aware of before you decide to purchase:

  • Discount repayment. If you sell your home with the first 5 years then you will have to repay some or all of the discount. There is also a deferred resale agreement rule that means if you buy for the benefit of someone else then the discount is repayable straight away
  • Right of first refusal. If you want to sell your home within the first 10 years you must offer it back to Sunderland Council before you put it up for sale. This also applies to any subsequent owners but only until the end of the 10th year after your original purchase
  • Postponement of charges. If you take out additional lending that's secured against the property this can only be for specific reasons and would require our consent within the discount repayment period 
  • Agreement to compete works or major changes to the property. We may need to agree to certain changes or improvements to the property outside the normal planning rules. We can charge for this and in leasehold properties this may be prohibited

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