DEPOOLING OF SERVICE CHARGES
05/10/2010 1:37 pm
At recent gatherings of involved tenants I was not surprised that very few of them including Board and Sub-board members knew very little about any impending depooling of service charges.
I, as an extraordinary and interested tenant, have "been in the business" 30 years next summer -- and I know a darned sight more about service charges than most tenants locally.
However, I am not an expert but would appreciate "more than the basics" information from the experts and posters at INSIDE HOUSING.
I am led to believe that our HA cannot charge more for a service than it costs, that the rent will come down and will have a service charge(s) added to it to make the equivalent figure and that I can be charged for any new service.
Firstly, can your experts confirm (or otherwise) the information in the previous paragraph?
Thank you in anticipation.
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05/10/2010 2:54 pm
Looking around I can only see that the Audit Commission could give you a explaintation under de-pooling service charges
05/10/2010 3:04 pm
Thank you for that Junior -- when I have hours to spare I will trawl through all the stuff that is available but at present I am only after general "guidance" in the hope that the newer "naughty corner" involved members will become interested in the issues.
I see my role in encouraging the "naughty corner" to challenge and scrutinise effectively and "overcome by sheer force of numbers and superior knowledge" the status quo.
I do not see myself as a revolutionary or a leader of a revolution -- I am nothing more than a mere fuctionary.
05/10/2010 5:50 pm
Rick, even though you have asked for "more than the basics", I sense that you would not want to "trawl through" a comprehensive description of the law on service charges.
Assuming that you organisation's Stock transfer Agreement does not exclude new services being introduced during the first 5 years, post transfer, your landlord can charge you for new services which are introduced.
It is not true to say that a landlord cannot charge more than the service actually costs (because it is often impossible to accurately forecast what future variable costs will be), but you must be given the information on actual income and expenditure, together with how the landlord will treat any excess income - e.g. refunds, reserve against future expenditure etc.
Current service costs will be built into your basic rent, but the total costs may also be charged to all of the associations tenants (rather than only those currently receiving the service), and therefore when this is corrected, you could pick up a larger share of the true cost, resulting in your total charge increasing.
05/10/2010 6:23 pm
TL are you saying this will or is affecting all tenant's now and that all tenant's event if a street property - because this is what we understood but where we ask for a inspection like community area property's told no due to the fact street property's do not pay services charges due to this De Pooling Services Charges
06/10/2010 8:25 am
It depends on what your tenancy agreement says or your lease.
If variable then they can charge for services they have provided throughout the year, if fixed they can charge only for certain items and again it depands on your tenancy agreement. Iwould always fall back on my tenancy agreement and and breaches would be talking breach of contract or if overcharging go to Leasehold Valuation Tribunal or ask for an assesment through the rent assesment committee if you hold a tenancy.
I would also take legal advice if it looked like becoming too complicated because it is a fraught area and I have found this out to my detriment.This is my understanding of the situation and such is the state of tenant rights in the UK that tenants need a degree in law to navigate it all.
06/10/2010 8:55 am
Junior, you need to be very careful not to jump to conclusions on this, without asking your landlord, because practices differ.
Service charge "pooling" is a practice of Local Authorities, not Housing Associations. This is why all Large Scale stock Transfers need to tackle the "de-pooling" at some point in their development.
The most common "Pooled" services will be Grass-Cutting; cleaning of communal areas (in flats), or some elements of the costs of Sheltered Housing. These costs could (at the point of transfer) be charged to all tenants, but this will depend upon the practices of the particular Local Authority. This means that you may have been paying some costs of grass-cutting, even though you couldn't even see a garden.
If the re-organisation re-distributes the cost, to only those tenants who benefit from the service, then the individual charge will obviously be higher for them.
06/10/2010 1:36 pm
That why I ask TL
06/10/2010 1:56 pm
Sorry if this repeats anything previously said by Robin Tebbutt has recently authored a comprehensive guide to the implementation of tenant service charges via the HQN HF expert website - take a look at that - it explains the ramifications of depooling and the effect is has on rents and what can and can't be charged.
10/10/2010 10:05 am
TC - off I duly went to the HQN website only to find that I can't get on it.
One wonders if depooling and "disaggregating of service charges" are two different things or could be treated as such.
Information regarding implications of both would be appreciated.