Shared Ownership rent and service charges
We are a non-profit making organisation. The rent and service charge you pay for your shared ownership home covers our borrowing costs to build properties and ongoing, day-to-day costs of managing your home.
Your rent is lower than for our normal rented properties. This reflects that you own a share in your property and are fully responsible for internal repairs within your property. Your lease specifies that your rent will be reviewed once a year and normally only increase in line with either the index for average earnings or the retail price index. You will receive at least one month’s notice of any rent increase.
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.
Many leases allow us to collect money in advance to create a Reserve Fund to ensure that sufficient money is available for future scheduled major works. Shared owners living in flats usually pay into a Sinking Fund, this covers major costs that will arise some time in the future such as reroofing, rewiring or car park resurfacing. You may also pay into a Cyclical Redecoration Fund which might cover the cost of 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.
You will be charged your rent and service charge at the same time. An estimate of the total cost of providing services over a 12-month period will be used to calculate the amount we charge. At the end of this period, normally in February, the new service charge will be calculated and you will be given at least one month’s notice of the new estimated service charge.
Once your service charge accounts have been audited, we will provide you with a service charge certificate signed by an independent qualified accountant. This certificate will indicate how much you paid over the 12 month period and how much was actually spent. Credits will be refunded to you or, if there is a deficit, you will be asked to make a payment to cover the shortfall.
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, the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal or by seeking independent legal advice.
Paying your rent and service charge
Under the terms of your lease your rent and service charges are payable monthly in advance. However, your Rent Services Officer will be able to arrange for you to pay in advance on a weekly, fortnightly or four weekly basis. Each time your rent and service charges are reviewed you will be sent a notice showing the new rent and service charge and what date it is payable from.
You can pay your 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 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, fortnightly 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 payment card at a post office (cheques must be made out to ‘Post Office Ltd’).
At head office
By cheque, debit card or postal order at our head office (all cheques must be made out to us). For security reasons, we do not accept cash payments at our head office. Please do not send cash through the post or put it through the head office letterbox.
By debit card through our website.
By debit card by calling Customer Services on 0300 500 6262 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Rent and service charge arrears
You must pay your rent and 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. We will also advise you on how to deal with any other debts. 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 rent or service charges.
If you have a low income or are in receipt of benefits you may be entitled to help with your rent or service charge payments through Housing Benefit.
We will offer you advice about claiming Housing Benefit and can assist you in making a claim for this or any other benefits.
You should send your claim, along with any information required, to your local council or you can ask us if you are not sure what to do.