Service charges pay for the cost of looking after a shared space beyond your own home. The service you receive will depend on where you live and what facilities are provided in your block or neighbourhood.
We set a budget for your scheme each financial year, which runs from 1 April to 31 March. As we don’t know in advance the exact amount it will cost us to provide services and repairs, Great Places estimates how the cost of services by looking at previous 12 months. We consider any changes that we know about for the next 12 months when calculating this.
Your service charge estimate is sent to you in February each year and the amount you pay during the year is based upon this estimate.
Service Charges are variable, meaning they will go up and down each year depending on the amount spent on your block or estate. Your estimate may increase some years or decrease in others.
At the end of the financial year, we carry out a reconciliation of the amount residents have paid during the year and the cost of providing services and repairs. We will then send you a summary of the accounts within 6 months of the year end.
Where we’ve spent less on providing the services than we’ve charged you, there will be a surplus on your Service Charge Statement. This is also known as an underspend.
Where we’ve spent more on providing the services than we’ve charged you, there will be a deficit on your Service Charge Statement. This is also known as an overspend.
The surplus or deficit will be carried forward and applied to your service charges the following year.
The following are headings you will see on your service charge estimate and service charge statement. It is not a comprehensive list but should provide some insight into the services we arrange on your behalf.
This is the cost of maintaining any communal landscaped areas rather than individual gardens. It can vary depending on how labour intensive your garden area is. For example, grassed areas would require cutting at lease once a fortnightly in the growing season whereas a shrub bed would require less frequent visits. It covers the costs of general gardening, one off gardening/pruning, gritting, litter picking etc.
Cleaning of communal parts such as corridors, entrance halls, staircases, communal lounges etc. It also covers the cost of cleaning bin stores and refuse collection which is not part of the service provided by the Local Authority.
Cleaning of communal windows and sometimes the windows of individual apartments where they cannot be safely cleaned by residents.
This can include fly tipping, additional litter picking and carpet cleaning.
This is the cost of providing pest control in the communal area or in individual homes if there is a risk if the pests will infest the communal area.
This could include any cleaner, caretaker, warden salaries. It also covers office costs such as office telephone, cleaning and caretaker equipment.
Hire, servicing and repairs to washing machines and/or tumble driers in communal areas.
The cost of maintaining, monitoring and repairing equipment and obtaining CCTV images when required.
For the supply of electricity for communal areas, which might include things like lighting both internal and external, lifts, alarm systems, CCTV etc.
Sometimes there is a communal water supply for the cleaner or for watering the garden areas.
Any repairs we undertake to the internal or external communal areas.
Regular maintenance inspections, arranging health and safety upgrades and repairs. If your lift has an emergency telephone system this will also be covered here.
Repairs and maintenance.
Includes annual maintenance checks to smoke detectors, fire alarms systems and emergency lighting.
This covers any additional requirements to comply with health and safety requirements such as preparing fire risk assessments, arranging legionella tests, check water systems etc.
* The testing of communal electricity appliances or appliances used by staff at the scheme including laundry facilities, vacuum cleaner and garden equipment.
Large items such as door entry systems, lifts or TV aerial need to be replaced from time to time. To plan for this, and to avoid charging you the costs all at once, we collect regular amounts as part of the service charge which are added to a sinking fund for your particular scheme.
This cost relates to our fee for managing the services provided on your scheme. It is normally calculated at 15% of the total Service Charge excluding sinking funds. Sinking fund management charge is calculated at 10% of total the total yearly sinking fund collected. For schemes which are managed by a 3rd party agent a 5% management fee is added to cover Great Places administrative costs.
There are some Service Charges which you can claim with your rent for Housing Benefit. These are known as Eligible Service Charges.
Service Charges you can’t claim with your rent for Housing Benefit are known as ineligible Service Charges.
On your service charge estimate Eligible and Ineligible services will be clearly identified.
Our key principles which set out our approach to service charge budget setting and management, so colleagues are clear and consistent with our offer. This aligns with the service delivery frameworks within Customer Services and Finance’s vision of supporting the delivery of the corporate plan, with a clear focus on financial viability.
If you have any further questions about your service charge, please contact us.