Frequently Asked Questions
The comments provided in this document are intended to give an overview of selected topics which, in the experience of Retirement Villages, have been raised by prospective purchasers at Debden Grange Village and more generally at other villages within the Retirement Villages wider estate. Whilst the intention of the document is to provide clarification in respect of the topics covered, the terms of any legal documents to which prospective residents will be required to commit, as a condition of purchasing a property at Debden Grange Village and residing there, will in every instance take precedence over any comment made in this Frequently Asked Questions document.
Last Updated: September 2019
1. What is the assignment fee?
A fee, called an assignment fee, is payable every time a property is re-sold. All properties sold by Retirement Villages are sold on a long leasehold basis and when the property is re-sold the lease on that property has to be “assigned” in the legal language, to the new owner, hence the expression “assignment fee”.
The assignment fee forms part of the original agreement when you purchase the property and is not charged in respect of any service(s) to be provided.
2. How much is the assignment fee?
The fee varies from village to village (and may vary between properties) and may also vary depending on how long you have lived in your property. Please be sure that you have been given and understand, the exact details for the particular property you may be interested in purchasing.
The Assignment Fee is payable at the rate of 10% of the sale price if you sell your property at any time after the end of your second year of ownership
If you sell your property earlier than that then the fee is reduced to 2.5% of the sale price during the first year and 5% of the sale price during the second year. You are urged to be sure you have taken adequate advice from your solicitor on this and all other aspects of the purchase.
3. Can I arrange to pre-pay my assignment fee now?
The terms of the Lease provide that an Assignment Fee is payable on each occasion that the property is sold and is calculated as a percentage of the sale price. Since the selling price of the properties will fluctuate over time it is not possible to know what the precise payment will be until a contract to sell is exchanged. If you would prefer to pre-pay the Assignment Fee when you buy your property, you have the option to do so. In that case, the amount payable will be determined by the percentage detailed in your lease. There will also be a legal charge payable to our preferred solicitor which currently is £650 +VAT. Please ask a member of staff for more details on this.
If you choose to pre-pay the Assignment Fee and then sell the property and assign your Lease within one or two years of our purchase the Landlord will refund a proportion of the fee (this will be dependent on the lease granted on the property, please ask a member of staff for more details). None of the fee will be refunded if you sell after two years.
Your solicitor will be required to advise the Landlord, via our solicitor at the point of purchase, whether you wish to exercise this option and he/she will be able to explain this to you in more detail.
4. Should I be legally advised?
Service charges and the assignment fee can be substantial payments. It is therefore clearly important to understand how these fees are calculated and when they are payable and you are advised to obtain legal advice in this respect. Retirement Villages will not grant any new lease or assign an existing lease to anyone who is not legally represented.
Indeed, we recommend that you should seek independent advice, support and representation as appropriate with regards to a move to one of our Villages.
5. What happens when I want to sell my property?
When you wish to sell the property you can offer it on the open market. Retirement Villages has its own in-house dedicated estate agency service offering a specialised sales and marketing service and will be pleased to offer its services to you for a fee to be agreed at the time. Alternatively, you may instruct another estate agent of your choosing if you wish.
6. Are there any restrictions on who can buy and who I can re-sell to?
You are free to sell your property to anyone you wish to provided they are at least 65 years old and require at least the level of services as described in the Deed of Management and paid for by way of the Service Charge. The Village Manager will be available to help with this when required.
7. What is the Management Company?
A Company Debden Grange Village Management Ltd set up for the sole purpose of the management of the estate and buildings at Debden Grange Village and arranging the services as set out in the Deed of Management.
8. What is the Deed of Management?
The Deed of Management sets out the services and amenities arranged by the Management Company and provides for the payment of the Service Charge by residents in this respect.
9. How much is the Service Charge?
The service charge for the current financial year 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020 is £6,669.58 per annum.
In addition to this there is a charge of £300.00 per annum for a second person living in the property. Double occupancy service charge is £6,969.58 per annum.
This sum is reviewed annually and changes to the Service Charge will take effect from 1st January each year.
10. What does the Service Charge pay for?
The Service Charge covers all of the costs incurred in providing the services as set out in the Deed of Management. Briefly, amongst other things, these will include:
- Staff wages and National Insurance and other staff costs.
- One hour weekly cleaning of your property.
- Weekly linen and towel laundry services.
- Maintenance and decoration of common parts.
- External maintenance of properties and landscape gardening.
- Maintenance of equipment such as lifts, alarms and fire extinguishers.
- Common part rates, utilities charges and your rubbish collection.
- Buildings insurance (not your personal possessions or contents of your property or carpets).
- 24 hour Emergency First Response
- Minibus service (subject to user contribution)
- Service Charge audit, Management Company fees and accountancy fees.
- Reserve Fund to build up a financial reserve against unexpected or major future repair bills.
11. Are there any other additional charges?
There are some additional Management Fee charges which may apply from time to time. Details of these can be found within the Leaseholders Handbook.
12. How much is the Service Charge likely to go up?
The Service Charge is variable and operates on a strictly “not for profit” basis, in accordance with the Housing Acts and therefore any future increases will only reflect any actual increased cost in providing the services. We will give at least 28 days’ advance notice of any change.
13. Can you show me a worked example of what all this might cost me?
As an illustration, we have calculated the annual costs for a typical property in Debden Grange Village and we have also given an illustration of the potential costs on sale. These are available upon request.
14. Can I make alterations to my property?
Subject to obtaining prior consent from the Landlord, minor internal alterations and improvements can be made.
However, when the lease is assigned, the Landlord reserves the right to restore the property to its original condition at the expense of the outgoing tenant. An administration fee of £90 inclusive of VAT is chargeable for approval and final inspection of the works.
15. Can visitors stay?
Within the terms of the Lease guests may stay with you in your property for 28 days maximum at any one time.
Two en-suite guest rooms are also available within the Village at reasonable prices.
16. What about parking?
In order to park your car at the village you must have a rental agreement in place for a car parking space. The rental agreement will be for a term of 1 year and renewed annually, but will expire if you leave the village or cease to have a car. The price to rent a car parking space is currently £500 per annum. There are also some spaces strictly reserved for visitors.
There are separate arrangements for disability scooters. There are a limited number of disabled car parking spaces available subject to the same rental arrangements as for ordinary car parking spaces. Further information will be available on request.
17. Are pets allowed?
Yes they are. However, for obvious reasons it is essential that they are well trained and controlled.
18. Am I allowed to sub-let my apartment?
As per the terms of the lease, residents are not permitted to sub-let their apartments.
19. Is there a selection policy for prospective purchasers?
All new residents are required to be over 65 years of age and require at least the level of services supplied within the estate Service Charge as described in the Deed of Management and paid for by way of the Service Charge. Apart from these requirements Retirement Villages does not discriminate on the grounds of age, marital status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability and is committed to a policy of equal opportunities and diversity.
Our villages are designed to provide an enjoyable and supported environment for older people living independently. Prospective purchasers will be asked to confirm that they are generally in good health and will be assessed on application to determine if any support, in addition to the services provided under the Deed of Management for all residents, is required to enable them to live in the village.
Purchasers who have specific health problems may be required to provide further information via their G.P. In ascertaining a person’s suitability in such a case, the Landlord will rely upon sound medical advice and assessment by interview with the Village Manager.
20. What emergency support is available?
Suitably trained staff are on call 24 hours per day 7 days per week to respond to an emergency call within the Village. This service covers emergencies first response only and is paid for through the Service Charge. There is no additional charge for use of this service.
21. What happens if I become unable to look after myself or my partner?
The concept of the village is ‘Independence in retirement’. However, the Company is able to assist in arranging care packages through an external provider when necessary on a private basis, at an additional cost. Residents can, of course, make their own arrangements with Social Services.
Where the situation deteriorates and independence diminishes to the point where permanent care is needed, then inevitably the resident themselves or their relatives will recognise that alternative living arrangements need to be made.
In the very rare circumstances of this not being recognised, and bearing in mind the best interests of other residents, the staff, and the resident themselves, then there is a covenant in the lease where the Landlord may give notice. It should be stressed that this is the very last resort and it is hoped, that matters such as this can be dealt with in a sensible and sympathetic manner by all parties.
Where a couple are occupying a property and one of them becomes unable to look after themselves, there is no need for alternative arrangements to be made, as long as the other party remains able to cope, with the assistance of outside agencies.
22. Are there any social activities?
All of our villages offer an extensive social programme which are organised and planned by residents and facilitated by the management team.
A restaurant open to residents and their guests, resident’s bar (use of the restaurant and bar are charged at an additional cost), library with an internet enabled computer station, a hairdressers (at additional cost) and a small shop selling essentials and seasonal goods are all available.
23. Does the Management Company consult residents?
We encourage residents to form their own Residents’ Association and the Village Manager is available to attend the Residents Association Committee Meetings by invitation.
Under the terms of the Deed of Management, the Management Company provides each resident with a written estimated budget of the Service Charges for the coming year.
Prior to this being issued, the Village Manager meets with a Finance Monitoring Group appointed by the Residents’ Association, to discuss the proposed new budget and as far as possible to obtain agreement to it, having made available all the relevant figures and supporting information.
The Management Company will also provide to each resident, as soon as possible after the end of the financial year, a copy of the statement of accounts of the village, duly certified by a Chartered Accountant.