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Service charges

Posted in: Need to Know | Ask the Experts

21/03/2011 5:32 pm

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Bill Douses

Bill Douses

Posts: 113

22/03/2011 9:13 am

yes they can.

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Jacqueline Govan

Jacqueline Govan

Posts: 4

22/03/2011 9:36 am

Thanks for your reply, do you know why it's different for leaseholders? If it's not allowed for them, what is the difference, do you have any idea please?

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Posts: 49

22/03/2011 10:07 am

Jaycat, in addition toBbill's answer-  if memory serves me correctly, leaseholders must be billed within 18 months from the date of the managing agent/landlords recieving the invoice from the contractor or supplier, so if invoicing delays have been the problem then leaseholders would still have to pay.

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Bill Douses

Bill Douses

Posts: 113

22/03/2011 11:01 am

As KIR correctly states it is 18 months from receipt of invoice, therefore if the invoice delays are genuine (you could ask to see when they where received) then they are fully entitled to chase you for payment.

I dont understand what you are asking in relation to it being different for leaseholders? different to whom? tenants wouldn't be liable to pay, freeholders (who share common parts) would be liable.

as for service charge increases, this is standard and tends to increase annnualy to align with increased costs / inflation. by all means contest it but if proven to be costing your landlord more they are again entitled to pass this onto you - terms should be witin your lease agreement and should have been advised to you by your solicitor at time of purchase.

hope that helps.

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Posts: 49

22/03/2011 11:14 am

The other thing is Jay, service charges are no levied arbitrarily- they are based on previous years actual costs, current years expected increase in costs (VAT, geneneral increases in costs of delivering services) as well as budgeted costs for work they know needs to be done (although some costs may be spead over a number of years)

As you know, the cost of everything has gone up a lot recently, and if there is maintainence work that is needed to be done on the properties, either because of wear and tear or because people are not looking after the property then this may be a factor. Have a look at the charge schedule and comare is to last years- you can then look into what has increased.

Often there are lots of little charges that add up to something big because of small repairs: broken glass in doors, lock changes, furniture left in the bin stores, graffiti (and so on). Often in blocks residents don't give much thought to how graffiti mysteriously gets cleaned up or that old sofa got removed, but in reality, ANY communal service, from the cutting of grass to the washing of windows, is paid for by everyone as part of the charge.

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Expert post

Adrian Waite

Adrian Waite

Posts: 28

22/03/2011 11:27 am

The basis for charging service charges is contained within the lease. The most recent legislation is the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. This sets out the following principles that should be adopted in levying service charges:
•         Charges must be based on actual costs incurred, and such costs must have been incurred reasonably;
•         Charges may only be made if the services provided or works undertaken are of a reasonable standard; and
•         Leaseholders must be billed, or informed of the costs incurred and the intention to bill, within 18 months of costs being incurred.
 
It is also good practice for landlords to consult with leaseholders before varying service charges.
 
I therefore think that you have good grounds to contest a bill for repairs dating back over eighteen months. You could possibly also challenge the increase in service charges by questioning whether the increases reflect actual costs, represent value for money and have been properly consulted on.
 
Leaseholders across the country appear to be encountering increasing difficulties with landlords who they feel are levying unreasonable service charges without adequate consultation.

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Shaun Aldis

Shaun Aldis

Posts: 26

22/03/2011 4:38 pm

Firstly, it does not matter if your Landlord is HA LA or private Landlord we all have to adhere to the same leasehold legislation.
 
It does not matter when the repair is carried out it depends when the HA paid the final invoice for the work to contractors - If the invoice is over 18 months old then a charge cannot be made, however, many final accounts ( like our Decent Homes accounts) are finalised many months after the work has been completed and the 18 months kicks in then.
Therefore the residents need to ask to see the final accounts and check the dates.
 
With regards to any increase in service charges all residents have a right to view accounts, invoices, statements etc.....  and if agreement cannot be made between the HA and residents then an application (by either party) can be made to Leasehold Valuation Tribunal for adjudication.

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Frances Brown

Frances Brown

Posts: 29

22/03/2011 6:21 pm

Yes "all residents have a right to view accounts, invoices..etc". My HA persistently refused to let me see invoices, I eventually took them to court.

We have a statutory right to seek a summary of the service charge account and we can make a request in wrting to look at the invoices etc and have copies of them.

The request has to be made in writing (letter is evidence of request) within a period of 6 months from receipt of the summary and facilities for inspection must be provided by the landlord within one month of the request.

When a landlord fails to comply they commit an offence and they can be taken to court.

As I said I had to take my HA to court and it looks as if I will have to again this year (they have a lot to hide)

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Frances Brown

Frances Brown

Posts: 29

08/04/2011 4:01 pm

The Leasehold Advisory Service provides advice "to all tenants whose lease or tenancy agreement provides payment of a service charge which varies from year to year..."

Address :

The Leasehold Advisory Service, 31 Worship Street, London EC2A 2DX-

Tel.0207 374 5380 - email info@lease-advise.org.

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Zena Fisher

Zena Fisher

Posts: 10

08/04/2011 6:43 pm

It's worth noting that The Leasehold Advisory Service is one of the quangos under threat of closure by the gvt. Last I heard they had not made a decision.

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Frances Brown

Frances Brown

Posts: 29

09/04/2011 9:33 am

It very much looks as if this governmemt wants to totally disempower the great majority of the population. It is sad. The fight for eqality and justice can never stop.

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Dermot Mckibbin

Dermot Mckibbin

Posts: 3

09/04/2011 11:32 am

You need to check the wording of the lease/ tenancy. If there is no clear authority in the lease/tenancy agreement, then freeholder/landlord has no lawful authority to levt such charges. This is an argument at the leasehold valuation tribunal.

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Jasmine Ellicott

Jasmine Ellicott

Posts: 18

04/05/2011 10:14 am

For the tenants it depends on their tenancy and when it was granted.

It also depends on the work which was carried out. Was it a one off job or an ongoing contract?

You say the invoice was for repairs. General repairs will be covered under the tenancy to keep your block wind and water tight. If it was improvement works then these may be recharged.

If you are a tenant some service charges are eligable rent, and therefore covered by Housing Benefit. It is normally only personal services, such as communal heating or use of laundry facilities that are not eligable for HB.

You need to check your tenancy.

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