If you’re a Housing Solutions tenant, leaseholder, shared owner or freeholder, you have to pay a charge for the servicing and maintenance of any internal or external communal areas where you live. This is your service charge.
Service charges will vary from development to development, depending on their size, the amount of properties there and what communal facilities are provided. Service charges are either ‘variable’ or ‘fixed’ and this is specified in individual tenancy agreements and leases.
Service charges can include:
- repairs and maintenance to the common parts of the building (such as stairwells and staircases, bin stores, security systems)
- management fees
- cleaning and upkeep of communal areas around your home
- payment of utilities for communal areas (such as electricity and water)
- grounds maintenance in and around your home and your estate
- buildings insurance (this does not cover the contents of your home)
- the costs of a caretaker (in some areas)
Fixed and variable service charges
Some residents, usually tenants, pay a fixed service charge. Shared owners, leaseholders and freeholders pay a variable service charge. Service charges are extra services that Housing Solutions provide. For example, in communal areas in blocks of flats we may provide a cleaning service or gardening.
Fixed service charges - In February each year, we send you a notice of what your service charge will be for the next service charge year (1 April to 31 March).
Variable service charges At the beginning of each service charge year (1 April to 31 March), we send you a service charge estimate outlining the amount you will pay for that year. It’s based on how much we spent on service and maintenance for your property in the previous year. It also takes into account any changes in contracts, inflation (if applicable) and expected extra spending.
The charges you have to pay for the services provided to your property are set out in your lease, transfer of parts or tenancy agreement and will vary from year to year depending on what works are needed and their costs at the time.
Ensuring our charges are fair
At the end of each financial year the actual cost of providing the services is calculated and compared to the estimated charge that was made in that year. If the estimate was too low, we add the difference to your service charge for the following year. If the estimate was too high, we take the difference off your service charge for the next year.
Rent and service charges are charged weekly and should be paid in advance. It is your responsibility to pay your rent and service charge