Leaseholders ground rent and service charges
We are a non-profit making organisation, the service charges you pay covers our ongoing, day to day costs of managing the scheme in which you live.
Your lease specifies that your ground rent is due and payable on or before the first day of the start of each new service charge year. You will receive at least one month’s notice prior to the start of the new service charge year when your ground rent is due. The amount of the ground rent will be specified in your lease.
A service charge is payable where you receive communal services such as gardening, caretaking or cleaning and will include our administration and management costs.
Your service charge also covers the cost of your buildings insurance premium. As we insure many properties on a ‘block’ basis we can pass savings on to you, as you will receive preferential rates through our economies of scale.
At least one month before the start of the new service charge year, we will send you an annual bill showing what the estimated service charge will be for that year.
The annual estimate will be charged to your service charge account in twelve equal monthly installments throughout that year. Your service charge is payable monthly in advance by choosing your preferred payment option detailed in this booklet.
Within six months of the end of a service charge year, we will send you the audited service charge account for the previous year showing the actual spend compared to the estimate.
Any difference between the estimated and actual cost will be posted to your service charges account.
Some leases also provide for us to collect sums in advance to create a Sinking Fund to ensure that sufficient money is available for future scheduled major works.
Leaseholders living in flats may pay into a sinking fund which covers major costs that will arise sometime in the future such as re-roofing, rewiring, car park resurfacing and a Cyclical Redecoration Fund which might include external decoration, or painting of the common parts.
Your contributions are kept in a separate interest bearing account and are not repayable if you sell your home.
Leaseholder service charges are calculated in accordance with the terms and conditions of your lease.
Frequently asked questions:
What does my Service Charge pay for?
A Service Charge is an amount you must pay for services you receive for communal areas. The services your estate/block receives are shown on your individual statement.
How is my Service Charge calculated?
Your charges are calculated by looking at how much services have cost the previous year and estimating the cost for the coming year.
What are the final Service Charge accounts are telling me?
Your final account compares the estimated charge to the actual charge for the services provided for the last service charge year.
This shows whether there has been an over or underpayment of Service Charge for the last year. These are sometimes referred to as ‘Reconciled Accounts’
What happens if I have overpaid?
If you have overpaid the difference will be credited to your Service Charge account and then either
- Left on your Service Charge account
- Used towards clearing in part/full a Service Charge arrear on your account
- Used towards clearing in part/full an outstanding recharge
- On request we can send you a refund as along as point 2 & 3 do not apply
What happens if I have underpaid?
If you have underpaid the difference will be charged to your Service Charge account.
You will be required to pay the shortfall by increasing your next Service Charge payment. If you pay your Service Charge by direct debit, the underpayment will be added to your next payment.
What is a Sinking Fund?
This is an amount paid regularly by the leaseholder to pay for any works which may need to take place in future years.
If I move, is the Sinking/ Reserve Fund refunded?
No, these funds will remain in the fund for the benefit of the scheme.
How can I pay my Service Charge?
The preferred method is direct debit but you can also pay by standing order, rent payment card, at the post office by cash or cheque, Barclays Bank by cash, debit card or cheque, debit card or postal order. By debit card over the telephone, internet banking or our website. We do not accept cash.
What if I cannot pay my Service Charge?
You must contact us immediately on 0300 500 6262 and we will be able to advise and assist you.
What is the charge ‘Repairs’?
We calculate this cost at block level and apportion it between the other properties in your block. This charge is for repair work carried out to your block and not in your individual property.
What does ‘Personal Charge’ mean?
This is a charge for a service which is for the resident only and not communal i.e. water charges.
What does the charge ‘Administration Fee’ cover?
This fee is to cover the cost of us administering the services provided to you
What does the charge ‘Sundries’ cover?
These are incidental costs for things such as rock salt which may have been purchased for use on your estate.
What does the charge ‘Tree Works’ cover?
This covers all communal pruning and felling. If the resident has not received this service, the resident should speak to their Home Services Officer.
What does the charge ‘Refuse Disposal’ cover?
This charge covers the cost of removing fly tipped items or one off cleaning (not for the emptying of Wheelie Bins). The council are not responsible for clearing any fly tipping in areas where the land has been adopted by us and will therefore be charged for this service.
What does the charge “Caretaker Costs” cover?
This charge covers the cost of cleaning, gardening and/or litter picking on your estate.
Why is my charge different from my neighbour who lives in the next block?
This is quite common. An example would be where the electric bill for one block differs from another. Now your Service Charges are ‘variable’, each block pay for exactly what they have consumed.
The right of appeal
Where you fail to agree with us over a service charge through our complaints procedure, you can seek to resolve the matter through the County Court, First Tier Tribunal or by seeking independent legal advice.
Paying your service charge
Under the terms of your lease your service charges are payable monthly in advance.
You can pay your ground rent and service charge in any of the following ways:
This method of payment is totally secure, and you are completely protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee.
Benefits of paying by Direct Debit:
- You can choose your payment date if paying monthly, so you have better control over your finances. You can also pay fortnightly or weekly on a Monday
- You can enjoy peace of mind – as payments are made automatically so they are never forgotten and are always paid on time
- You can cancel the Direct Debit at any time, so you are always in control.
- You don’t have to fill out loads of forms, just give us a call and we will do the rest
To set up a Direct Debit simply call Customer Services on: 0300 500 6262.
Payments by standing order can be set up weekly or monthly on a date to suit you.
Unlike Direct Debits you will need to let your bank or building society know when your payments change.
For payment details required by your bank or building society to set up the Standing order, please contact our Customer Services team on 0300 500 6262.
By cash or cheque with your ground rent and service charge payment card at a post office (cheques must be made out to ‘Post Office Ltd’).
By debit card through our website.
By debit card by calling Customer Services on 0300 500 6262 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday
Service charge arrears
You must pay your service charge regularly and on the due date.
If for any reason you are unable to make a payment please contact us immediately. You will receive advice on how to deal with the problem and if there is a specific reason for non-payment, it may be possible to come to an arrangement to clear the arrears.
If you suffer a loss of income because of sickness, unemployment or some other change in circumstances, we will offer you advice on claiming benefits.
It is important you contact us as soon as you think you may have a problem with making your payments. If there is no known reason for your arrears, if you have broken an agreement or if you are considered to be deliberately withholding payments, we will take legal action which could result in you losing your home.
We may also contact your mortgage lender who may agree to pay the arrears on your behalf if you do not enter into a suitable arrangement with us to pay off your debts. If your mortgage lender pays these arrears on your behalf the amount will be added to your mortgage debt and may be subject to interest payments or fees levied by your mortgage lender.
Alternatively, we may make an application to the small claims court in order to seek an order in respect of the debt. If you fail to keep to any agreement made, we can serve you with a notice of our Intent to Forfeit your lease and then apply to the County Court for a possession order. This could ultimately result in eviction.
Such a serious situation will be avoided if you contact us as soon as you think you may have problems paying your ground rent or service charges.