What does my service charge cover?

Window-cleaningThis depends on the type of property you live in, but service charges can include:

Cleaning and/or caretaking

This covers communal areas, such as hallways, staircases and bin stores. Costs may also include cleaning windows or changing light bulbs in communal areas, or sweeping external areas.

Estate service costs

This includes removal of bulk waste and maintenance of trees. This doesn’t include replanting or periodic tree pruning. We engage a specialist contractor for this when necessary.

Lighting and electrics in communal areas

Service charges cover the cost of running and maintaining lighting in communal areas, such as hallways and car parking zones. There may also be costs for electricity used by cleaning equipment.

Lifts

If there are lifts in a block, there will be a cost to repair, maintain and service them. This includes the emergency telephone in the lift.

Health and safety

Some of the fire safety systems installed may include the following servicing costs. These will vary depending on the type of checks carried out:

  • Fire alarm systems
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Dry risers
  • Lightning protection systems
  • Smoke ventilation systems
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire blankets
  • Fire alarm servicing

Plus any other safety inspections, including legionella testing.

Repairs and maintenance – whose responsibility?

In most cases where we own the freehold of a property (apart from individual houses) we’re responsible for maintaining the communal areas and the structure of the building.

Leaseholders are responsible for paying a share of the costs for maintaining the communal areas and the cost of any repair work.

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

Satellite dishes, aerials

Some of our properties have communal satellite dishes or TV aerials.

Any servicing costs are included in service charges.

Entry phone, security and CCTV

If there is a door entry system, security patrols or television receptor in place, servicing costs are included. There is CCTV in some properties, and running costs are included.

Block service costs

For communal gardens or larger external areas, we provide general maintenance of grass and shrubbery.

Water/heating

We include costs for water and sewage, and communal hot water/ heating systems. This includes charges for the operation and servicing of the maintenance equipment, such as water testing.

Pest control/sundry costs

There may be costs for dealing with pests such as wasps and squirrels.

Other landlords and facilities management

Where we do not own the freehold, another landlord will be responsible for some or all of the communal services. They are known as the
‘Superior Landlord.’

Wherever possible, we include an estimate of their costs with our service charges. The Superior Landlord (or their appointed managing agent) provides the services and charges Catalyst. We then add this cost to your service charge.

On some properties, facilities management is contracted out to a third party. In this case, their costs for supplying services will also be included.

Building insurance

If we own the freehold of a building, we’re responsible for insuring the building. Your Insurance premium depends on the number of bedrooms in your home. A full copy of the policy is available here.

Examination fee

Where we own the freehold and we supply services to blocks with 4 or more properties, we usually arrange for the service charge expenditure to be examined and certified by external auditors. The cost of this is included in the service charge.

Management charge

Service charges include the costs we incur in the course of supplying services to you and meeting our many legal obligations. This can relate to:

  • Compliance with service charge regulations
  • Negotiating and monitoring service contracts
  • General enquiries
  • Consulting on proposals
  • Accounting
  • IT systems
  • Reserve fund management
  • Debt counselling
  • Facilities for repair reporting
  • Anti–social behaviour
  • Stock condition surveys
  • Publications
  • Arrears collection

Reserve funds

Reserve funds are contributions towards the future cost of large items, like replacing the roof or external decorations. We build up reserve funds over time to reduce the impact of the cost of these items.

Ground rent

If you are a leaseholder, you may have to pay ground rent. This is an annual sum you pay to the owner of the land your property is on.