Wednesday, 17 September 2014

ADMIN CHARGES FOR TENANTS

Posted in: Need to Know | Ask the Experts

08/03/2011 2:35 pm

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need-a-break

need-a-break

Posts: 10

08/03/2011 5:22 pm

Are you referring to leaseholders as tenants or social tenants as tenants? What is charged to leaseholders is largely defined by the terms of the lease, which in turn may be quite loose or quite specific, essentially if it's not in the lease and there's not a catch-all clause covering possible additional costs then it can't be charged!

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

08/03/2011 5:32 pm

need-a-break: Thanks for your input

I ask solely about social tenants as tenants, mainly because they may be 'offered' a new tenancy agreement (including all existing tenants) which could, possibly, include something which would be tantamount to an admin charge via a catch-all clause as I "allude" to as the sub-text in my questions.

The new tenancy agreement will be subject to another thread when and if I have more info. I haven't got more info as I am not part of the group dealing with the new tenancy agreement -- no experienced tenant is ... YET!!!

Our whole involvement structure is being rejigged and better news may be on the way.

Our landlord is a genuine listener and is also a reader of various contributions to these threads and other IH postings.

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Mary Gardner

Mary Gardner

Posts: 5

08/03/2011 6:37 pm

Leaseholders pay an administration charge and a share of all the expenses due to work done in the communal areas.

Obviously it would also be fair if the tenants paid their share too.

It is a shame that the details of the service charge included in the rent are not given. I would say that it is the tenants legal right to receive those details.

From what I can see where I live the tenants not knowing what they are charged for repairs make them think they are not charged and hence of course do not complain if wrongly charged or overcharged.

Leaseholders receive end of year details of what they have paid for. They can check the invoices and go to a leasehold tribunal if they have enough proof of being wrongly charged. The tenants should have exactly the same rights.

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need-a-break

need-a-break

Posts: 10

08/03/2011 6:52 pm

Yes, I agree, it is a shame that those who have charges included in their rent dont have the same detail, but surely there is no reason it can't be provided to them.

It is fair to levy a charge from the outset, BUT I'm not sure how a depooled charge could be set up without having to go to major consulation to 'sell' the idea to tenants who ay be suspicious that they may pay more in the long run. Also not sure on the law on this matter. The problem is that service charges are generally levied on athe basis of budgeted and past costs, but a charged fixed in the rent would surely have limited scope for increase?

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

08/03/2011 6:55 pm

Mary -- the tenants, generally speaking, don't want to know  -- all the communal services are free at the point of provision and the only service charges are for, generally speaking, are for Community Support in sheltered housing schemes.

I am well aware of what Leaseholders do and receive because I represent and advise a group of them which is why I ask about tenants and tenants alone. I apologise if I have not made that clear.

Other than mentioned above, communal services such as grounds maintenance , cleaning, repairs, etc. are pooled. As far as I know, no tenant wants to know (there may well be some though) and are quite happy to leave things as they are because the rents cover the services.

I am sorry, but as I point out, there is the potential here for a change to the tenancy agreement which may well disbenefit existing tenants hence the purpose of the thread.

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

08/03/2011 7:06 pm

Let us assume that the Leaseholders where I live are paying £6 per week for the comminal services plus £2 per week for the admin fee. The figure is not an accurate one but it is more than near enough!!!, hint, hint!

For the sake of ease, lets say the grass ciutting costs around £250,000 per year and equates to £1 per property per week. Again, not accurate, but near enough.

Around 2,000 properties do not benefit directly from the grass cutting other than it is near where they live but not impinging on or abutting their property . You'd think that they'd be up in arms at being done out of £1 per week -- in fact, not at all but thyat could be that even if depooling happened the £1 would not be knocked off their rent.

This has always been stated by Heads of Housing, Directors of Housing, Independent Tenant Advisors, et al.

I am not saying that the new tenancy agreement would seek to alter the status quo but I am aware there are proposed changes to policies -- can't tell you about it BUT I have seen it for my own eyes and commented upon the proposed policies and it is these proposed changes that inform my questions.

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

08/03/2011 7:19 pm

need-a-break: ",,, but a charged fixed in the rent would surely have limited scope for increase?"

That is precisely one of the reasons why we transferred ... if we hadn't transferred depooling and disaggregation would have been the order of the day along with the accompanying disbenefits,

Personally, I am leaning towards depooling and disaggregation in the hope that tenants will see what things are costing them and then take appropriate action to get services they want at a quality the are willing to pay for.

However .... I am not convinced that paying an admin charge for staff and oncosts that we are paying for anyhow (in our rents) is a good thing.

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need-a-break

need-a-break

Posts: 10

08/03/2011 9:18 pm

I think information can be empowering, but also the cause of much strife as if tenants get too involved in trying to pick apart the charges, complaining about those they think too high or don't see the need for when they must be as they are for the common good.

It's a difficult one as if people want the service but don't want to pay!!

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

08/03/2011 9:22 pm

Indeed so need-a-break.

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Mary Gardner

Mary Gardner

Posts: 5

09/03/2011 8:19 am

I agree with you Rick if you already pay an admin charge in the rent and can prove it why pay again.

Yes again the tenants need to see the records of the services they pay for and be able to question anything suspicious or obviously out of order. In my HA , amongst many things, we have been charged for a caretaker who is not there anymore. We have been charged £2000 for a repair which has not been done properly if done at all and which is a serious Health and Safety Hazards (roof could collapse) and there is more....and more...

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Anonymous

Anonymous

09/03/2011 10:00 am

In my property there are flats with communal hallway and stairs.  The tenants only pay rent. No service charges are indicated or listed.

Obviously the service charges must be included in the rent.

Do we tenants have the right to see a breakdown of the rent and know how much or what percentage on the rent is for service charges? 

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

09/03/2011 11:43 am

Anon -- bit difficult this ...

Logic suggests that a service charge is only a service charge when it is, in fact, listed as a separate charge additional to the rent.

Where no service charge exists and communal services are provided, they are provided as part of the rent and are, therefore, subject to the same annual rent increase regime of RPI plus .5'%.

A good landlord would provide information as to the communal services provided via the rent bearing in mind that rent covers office and staff costs within the running of the housing business.

Because tenants already pay for such things (admin and so on), should tenants pay a separate admin cost because a service charge is levied?

The supplemantary question (should an admin charge be levied) would be -- if we pay an admin charge then surely we shouldn't pay for services we don't get/use such as ASB, new tenancies, grass cutting, environmental improvements, community support, community investment and so on?

Hence the questions pose.

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

09/03/2011 12:02 pm

A tenant brought a case against London and Quadrant for not delivering services or something like that.  For what I know it did not go to court because L&Q chose to settle out of court and compensated the tenant.

This shows that if services are not provided you have all the right to refuse to pay for them.

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

09/03/2011 12:05 pm

Or it might be London and Quadrant was going to take the tenant to court for refusing to pay - but then L&Q settled out of court in favour of the tenant.

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

09/03/2011 12:07 pm

Indeed so Ksas -- there is potential for depooling and disaggregating to be an almighty mess if accompanied by admin service charges and the implications thereof.

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Mary Gardner

Mary Gardner

Posts: 5

09/03/2011 5:09 pm

Rick - Service Charges are not for ASB or new tenancy.  They are for Services provided such as (on the estate where I live which as 2 blocks)

Estate cleaning, estate Gardening, Estate Staff Costs (ie their wages),Estate refuse disposal, Estate Service Materials.

Block costs = Block fire equipment, block communal electricity, block sundry repairs, block door entry maintenance, block lift maintenance.

Management fee, Insurance, Accounts certification fees, Reserve fund.

as you represent leaseholders as well as tenants you should ask to see their paper work to see what is what.

I am sure that tenants are as legally entitled as leaseholders to check what they pay for whether it is pooled in the rent or charged separately in a service charge and if they already pay general administration fees (for ASB etc) obviously they do not need to do so again.

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Mary Gardner

Mary Gardner

Posts: 5

09/03/2011 5:14 pm

From what I hear L & Q have a very bad reputation but they are not the only HA landlords in London who use and misuse their position as "Lords" of the land.

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

09/03/2011 5:21 pm

Sorry Mary, I forgot to put a "one" in my previous posting --  it should have read :

" if we pay an admin charge then surely we shouldn't pay one for services we don't get/use such as ASB, new tenancies, grass cutting, environmental improvements, community support, community investment and so on?"

I have indeed seen the paperwork (but not the stuff they got over the past few days -- they are having a conflab amongst themselves first) --- and was the only involved tenant who knows what they pay until I informed involved tenant colleagues who (as I often state) don't follow the money.

They were ignorant as to what a service charge was --- honestly!

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Mary Gardner

Mary Gardner

Posts: 5

09/03/2011 6:36 pm

Rick, It is the same everywhere about getting people involved into looking into what in the end is in their own interest.

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Rick Campbell

Rick Campbell

Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Posts: 424

10/03/2011 2:50 am

There certainly is a lot of self-interest around but there is an increase in the "doing it for others" brigade around herel  Thankfully. 

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