What your service charges includes
Your service charges will help to pay for a range of services that maintain the areas inside and outside your building, including cleaning, repairs, and security.
Cleaning and gardening is carried out by our Residents Services team and the amount you pay includes salaries, materials and equipment. We cleaned shared areas such as hallways and bin stores. Costs may also include cleaning windows in common parts and changing light bulbs. We may also sweep outside.
Where we share communal grounds or large areas with others, we’ll maintain common grassed areas and prune shrubs. Your service charge will include maintenance costs but won’t include costs for replanting or pruning trees – you’ll need to pay the contractors extra for this when its required.
Repairs and maintenance
Apart from for houses, where we own the freehold we’re responsible for maintaining the shared areas and structure of the building and you’re responsible for paying your share of these costs. Please note that you’re also responsible for the repairs and maintenance inside your property.
Our agreed priority response for repairs with our contractors is as follows:
- emergency – usually within 24 hours
- urgent – usually within 3 days
- routine – usually within 21 days
- planned maintenance – on a regular cycle, usually 6 years
Lighting and electrics in shared parts
This includes the cost of communal lighting in hallways and outside (such as parking areas). You may also have to pay for the running costs for lifts and cleaning equipment.
If you have a lift in your building, your service charge will include the repairs, maintenance and servicing of the lift as well as the cost of an emergency telephone line.
Health and safety
Fire safety systems
Some of the fire safety systems installed within our properties may include:
- fire alarm systems
- sprinkler systems
- smoke ventilation systems
- dry risers
- lightning protection systems
- fire extinguishers
- fire blankets
These will be serviced by qualified contractors every year and sometimes every six or three months. The costs of servicing will depend on the type of checks carried out.
Also some systems will be tested more frequently. For example emergency lighting systems will be tested every month and fire alarm systems will be tested every week. Where possible, our staff will carry out the tests to reduce the costs to residents.
Detailed guidance on the frequency of testing and maintenance is set out by various British Standards, which we follow as closely as possible. Where there are exceptions, these have been fully assessed and approved by our qualified Fire Safety Adviser (a process endorsed by the British Standards). We decrease the frequency of visits for low risk systems to reduce the costs to residents.
Other health and safety checks
We carry out other types of checks on properties that may have one or more of the following:
- boosted (pumped) cold water systems
- cold water storage tanks
- calorifiers (hot water storage tanks)
- communal taps in cleaners cupboards and bin stores
These require specific maintenance in accordance with the Approved Code of Practice L8 (published by the Health and Safety Executive) in order to prevent the build up of potentially harmful bacteria such as legionella or pseudomonas. This work involves carrying out risk assessments, inspecting equipment, cleaning of equipment and flushing of infrequently used outlets
This includes the cost of CCTV, security patrols and other security measures that are provided.
Aerial and entryphone
Your service charge will include the cost of servicing and running communal television receptors, door entry systems and CCTV.
This includes ad-hoc costs that incur occasionally such as dealing with pests (like wasps and squirrels), works to the drains and road gritting.
Where we own the freehold and we supply services to a large group of residents, the service charge expenditure on each site is normally audited (examined) by an external audit company.
We incur costs while providing services to you. These include all or some of the following:
- compliance with service charge regulations and good practice guides
- negotiating and monitoring service contracts
- IT systems
- reserve fund management
- rent or service charge arrears collection
- debt counselling
- facilities for reporting repairs
- general enquiries from leaseholders
- dealing with anti-social behaviour
- consulting on proposals
- stock condition surveys
Water and heating
In a small number of developments, the water authority only supplies a single service pipe and the water pressure must be boosted for individual properties to receive a supply. Therefore your service charge includes the cost of water, sewerage, operating and servicing the equipment, and maintaining readings.
On schemes where we supply the hot water and/or heating, we’ll include the cost in your service charge. On some schemes there may also be a charge for servicing the plant and machinery and water testing.
Other landlord management costs
If we don’t own the freehold, another landlord will be responsible for some or all the common services. Where we have agreed, we’ll include an estimate of their costs with our service charges for convenience. If we have contracted facilities management, their costs for supplying services will also be included.
Where we own the freehold of the building, we’re responsible for insuring the building and you’re responsible to pay us for the part that relates to you. The insurance arrangements we have are simplified and relate to number of bedrooms you have in your home.
If we own the freehold and the lease allows this, we operate a reserve fund for cyclical works. The amount collected every year covers the costs of cyclical works but this isn’t guaranteed as the price depends on the scale of the work and contractor’s prices.
On newer developments, the lease may also include a provision for other reserves like the cost of the roof, windows and lifts. The money in this fund can only be used for what it’s intended for and not other things.
Surplus or deficit
Where estimate is greater than the level of expenditure for that year, a surplus will be carried forward and used to reduce the payment required the following year. When the estimate was lower than the level of expenditure for that year, the deficit will also be carried forward and added to the payment required the following year.
Depending on your lease, as a leaseholder you may be required to pay a ground rent. This is an annual sum paid to the owner of the land your property is built on, and the amount you pay is set out in your lease.