A service charge is your contribution towards the costs of providing and maintaining any additional services to your home or estate. For example, communal cleaning if you live in a block or scheme, and grounds maintenance around your scheme or estate.
Your service charges are explained in full in your agreement.
For homeowners, costs relating to structural repairs and maintenance may also be included depending on the terms of your agreement.
On this page you’ll find general information about service charges that you may find useful. If you have any questions about your specific service charge, please check your documents on your MyAccount. You can also contact us or speak with your Housing Partner, Scheme Manager or Leasehold and Homeownership Partner.
Please note: when we use the term agreement, this will mean your tenancy agreement for rented tenants, or lease, or property title for those customers that own all or part of their home.
You can find details of all your charges explained:
- Inside your rent and/or service charge booklet (this is sent to you each year before your new charges start).
- On your MyAccount.
You can also contact our Housing Hub or speak with your Housing Partner, Scheme Manager or Leasehold and Homeownership Partner if you have any questions.
How often your charges are reviewed will be explained in your agreement. In most cases this is every year, however some agreements have different review periods.
We will send you details of your new charges at least one month before they start.
This depends on the terms of your agreement.
You may pay your service charge once a year, every six months, monthly, fortnightly, or weekly.
How often you pay and the due dates will be in the charge notification booklet we send to you.
Your agreement will explain exactly what services are provided. These are some services that may be included, but not limited to:
- Cleaning of communal areas
- Grounds maintenance
- Communal electricity costs/lighting (internal and external)
- Repairs and maintenance of lifts, door entry systems, fire alarms and emergency lighting
- Security service and/or CCTV
- Emergency call / alarm systems repairs, maintenance, and monitoring
- Salaries of any onsite staff that are employed specifically to work at your scheme, or staff who work in our offices in functions such as ICT or accounts who support in providing your services.
- Equipment replacement costs i.e., door entry systems, lifts, carpets, furniture etc
- Sinking fund/ reserve funds
- Management charges
- Buildings Insurance (rented homes).
- Audit fees
Many services are needed to help us stay within the law and to keep you safe - for example, fire alarm maintenance, emergency light testing, lift maintenance. Whilst we can’t make changes to these services, we work hard to provide them as cost effective as possible.
We routinely survey customers about the standard of our grounds maintenance and communal cleaning services. Here are examples of our standard schedules.
Please note that some of our newer homes may not be due cleaning visits every week. If you would like to check the visits due at your scheme, please contact us or speak with your housing partner or your leasehold and home ownership partner.
Please get in touch with us if you would like to raise any concerns with your cleaning or grounds maintenance services, or the charges you pay for them.
Customers who rent their home from us pay fixed service charges. Once the service costs are set, the charge does not change or vary in any financial year.
Customers who own their home as leaseholders, shared owners or freeholders pay variable service charges. As with fixed services charges, once the service costs are set, the charge does not change or vary in any financial year.
The charges for each service are carefully calculated every year, using either known contract prices or estimates based upon prior spends or other information available relating to activities that happen in your scheme and in your estate.
The service charge is an ‘estimate’ of the costs for providing the services for the coming year and we do our best to make these estimates as accurate as possible. All costs are ‘apportioned’ (divided) between the homes receiving the services. (Your booklet explains what apportionment means).
Both fixed and variable service charges are calculated and set in advance.
A service charge summary is issued to all customers before the new charges commence. This summary confirms the estimated costs of each service for the upcoming year.
The charges for each service will be the same for all service charge paying customers who get the services, regardless of what their service charge type is. For example, if the Grounds Maintenance for your scheme is estimated to be £1000 for next year this charge will be applied to all customers in your scheme that benefit from this service regardless of whether they pay a fixed or variable service charge.
All customers are then required to pay the service charges set for the full period duration.
Customers who pay a variable service charge will get a statement at the end of the Financial Year. This will compare the estimated service charge cost against the actual costs. The variance can be either a surplus or deficit.
A surplus means that the actual costs were less than was estimated and, you will either get the difference credited to your account or taken off your charge for the next year, depending on the terms within your agreement.
A deficit means that the actual costs were more than was estimated and in this case an invoice may be issued directly to you for the difference. This may be carried forward to the next financial year depending on the terms within your agreement. If an invoice is issued to you this must be paid within 14 days.
An actual service charge statement is not issued to customers paying fixed service charges. Credits are not issued if there has been a surplus, neither are additional charges raised if there has been a deficit.
Some homeowner service charges include a charge for sinking funds, cyclical funds or estate reserve funds.
Sinking funds allow for collection of monies that can be set aside to pay for future major works such as replacement of windows, lifts, door entry systems etc.
Cyclical funds allow for the collection of monies that can be set aside to pay for future planned decoration works – may be internal i.e., painting of stairwells, or external i.e., painting of window frames.
Estate reserve funds allow for the collection of monies that can be set aside to pay for the future works to the estate you live on for example relaying of tarmac, replacement fencing etc.
Monies collected for funds are kept in a separate bank account and will receive interest.
If you are a homeowner that contributes to a reserve fund, you will receive a statement confirming any income, expenditure and interest accrued within the last financial year at the same time as the actual service charge statement.
All Service Charges are calculated and charged in line with your agreement.
Not all customers within the same block of flats, scheme or estate receive the same services. For example, if you live on the ground floor of a building with direct access from the street to your home, you may not be required to pay towards the cost of maintaining the internal communal areas which may include costs for things like lighting and cleaning, so you may find even a very close neighbour pays a different service from you.
No, we are a not-for-profit organisation and make no profit from service charges; they simply help us to cover the cost of providing services to customers.
Service charges are calculated with the aim of recovering the actual costs of the services provided. They are reviewed each year and recalculated based on expected costs for the upcoming year. Contract terms with our suppliers as well as external influences, such as the labour market and the cost and supply of materials can impact these costs.
For tenants, most service charge costs are eligible for Housing Benefit (providing you are entitled to receive this benefit), however, there are a few service charge costs that are not eligible. These tend to relate to services provided to an individual or within a home and not to a communal area. For example, if you live in one of our independent living schemes, the heating and hot water in your scheme may be provided through a communal (shared) heating system, known as a heat network, these are classed as personal utility costs and are not eligible for Housing Benefit.
The rules for Universal Credit are slightly different. There are a few exceptions, but we can tell you about any service charges that are not eligible for Universal Credit when you apply for the benefit. If you would like some support with a Universal Credit application, please contact us and we will assist with this.
The eligibility rules may differ for homeowners. If you are a homeowner in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and are unsure which service charges costs may be eligible, please contact us and we will be happy to explain.
We are committed to providing a cost-effective, value-for-money services, and we regularly review our processes and ways of working to do this, as well as working closely with all our contractors to keep costs as low as possible.
It is part of your agreement with us to pay your services charges promptly. Where necessary, we will take action to recover arrears and your home may be at risk if payments are not made. It is therefore important that you contact us if you are worried you can’t pay your service charge. We can offer support and advice and if needed, and refer you to agencies and charities which can help.
If you would like more information please visit our 'supporting you' webpage to use our budget and benefits calculators, the ‘money navigator’ for your own personal plan, Universal Credit advice and to look for debt advice services near you.
We are here and ready to help, so please get in touch if you have any worries.
Please refer to the “ways to pay” section for more information on how to pay your service charge.
We monitor our contracts very carefully to make sure our services are provided to the standards we have agreed with our contractors. If our customers think standards are falling short, we welcome their feedback and will act as necessary to make improvements, so the required standards are delivered.