How do we calculate service charges?
We work out the cost of service charges for the coming year by looking at previous costs, together with any changes in the price of a contract (for example, if cleaning costs have increased), the amount of VAT and the level of service required.
You will pay an equal share for the costs of your block and your estate, unless your lease agreement says differently. For example, if there are 100 properties in your block and the cost of cleaning is £10,000, you will pay one-hundredth of the cleaning costs, which works out at £100 for the year.
How do we set up new service chargeable contracts?
We set up new service contracts through a competitive procurement process. We always aim to offer the best level of service and value for money.
Why does someone from another block pay a different amount to me for the same service?
Each block may have different costs. For example, one block may have more flats than another block, so the cost is lower per property, or another block may have more frequent cleaning or other services.
I live in a house. Why should I pay service charges?
Some houses have to pay service charges as they form part of an estate and receive a range of services that are not included in the rent (for example, tree pruning or gardening).
Why do I have to pay for services when I do not believe I will benefit from them?
All of the charges are shared between all of the properties in your block and on your estate receiving the service. For example, ground floor flats share the cost of lift servicing, middle and upper floors contribute to the door entry system. All houses on an estate will have to contribute to grounds maintenance contracts to keep the area clean and tidy.
Can I get a refund when you have charged me for maintenance of equipment that has frequently broken down?
The charges for maintenance and repair of equipment shown on your service charge statement are there to make sure that there are regular maintenance checks and a prompt repair service. With these contracts in place, we do not provide refunds if the equipment fails. We regularly monitor the contractor’s quality of service to make sure repairs are completed quickly.
I don’t think that our windows have been cleaned or the grounds looked after. Why should I pay?
The contractors we use may come at times when you are not in, so you may not see the service being provided. If you feel the service has not been provided, please contact us and we can get in touch with the contractor.
What can I do if I am unhappy about a new charge?
Initially you should get in touch with us directly.
You have the right to appeal against any rent increase. To appeal, please write to the Residential Property Tribunal Service (RPTS), 10 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7LR. They will review your rent charge and let you know their decision. There is more information on the appeals procedure here
How is Housing Benefit affected by the service charge?
Most service charges should be covered by Housing Benefit / Universal Credit if:
- You have to pay them to live in your home
- The council accepts that the charges are not excessive
Housing Benefit / Universal Credit will not be paid for personal charges.
What do I need to do if my rent – or part of my rent – is covered by Housing Benefit / Universal Credit?
If you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you must tell the local council or the Department of Work and Pensions of your new rent and service charge so that they can make the necessary changes to your benefit entitlement. It is your responsibility to check that the correct amount is being paid.
Do I need to adjust my Direct Debit or Standing Order?
If you pay by Direct Debit, you do not need to do anything. The payment amount will change automatically.
If you pay by Standing Order, you will need to contact your bank immediately to arrange for the payment to be changed from April 2019.
What happens if I am having problems paying my rent or service charges?
If you are having problems paying your rent or service charges, please get in touch with us as soon as you can. We can help you review your finances and offer advice on any benefit entitlements. Don’t ignore payment problems, as this could lead to you losing your home.