Grounds Maintenance - Residents Voice

Service charges

Service charges cover the costs of maintaining communal areas for your estate and/or block.

You can find more details about service charges and the different types you might come across by reading our frequently asked questions below.

  • Please take a look at our service charge headings sheet for an explanation of what services may be covered under each category. 

Each January and February we write to most residents with details of their rent and/or service charges from 1 April of the same year. Below are the frequently asked questions that we’re sending to tenants with their rent and service charge letters. (Our service charges and management fees page includes frequently asked questions for leaseholders and shared owners).

Frequently asked questions - tenants

In April 2016 the government approved legislation to reduce general need rents by 1% each year, over a four year period. This is the final year of this being applied.

We’ve tried to make your statement easy to read and have grouped similar costs together under a general heading. This ‘Explanation of service charge headings’ list shows the services that could be included in each cost and a brief description of what each one covers. (Please remember that only some of the services in each heading could apply to you.)

Your service charge statement (if this applies)

Please note the following about your statement:

  • The estimated service charge costs – these are the costs we’re estimating for 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020. Your contribution is the weekly amount that will be charged to your rent account.
  • B/F (brought forward) service charge adjustment – if this is shown, it means the amount carried over from the actual costs of services during 2017/18. This is added to the 2019/20 estimate charges.

A fixed service charge is where we estimate the cost of providing services to your home at the beginning of each financial year.

You then pay the service charge throughout the year. There won’t be additional amounts to pay or any refunds due.

Most residents with assured and assured shorthold tenancies pay a fixed service charge under the terms of their tenancy agreement.

Variable service charges occur when we set an estimated charge at the beginning of the financial year and then produce a final account once the year is complete.

The final account compares our actual costs in delivering services to your home against the estimate that we set. This may result in you needing to pay an additional amount or getting some charges back as a credit.

Some residents on assured tenancies pay a variable service charge.

(If you have an assured tenancy, your tenancy agreement will say whether the service charge is fixed or variable.)

We will add or deduct the amount from the following year’s estimated service charge. 

Even though you may receive the same services as your neighbour, the terms of your tenancy agreement can sometimes mean you pay differently.

Over the years, we’ve used many different tenancy agreements that set out how we must calculate your charge. For example, some agreements may specify your annual charge is paid over 48 or 50 weeks and others over 52 weeks.

Each agreement also states whether the service charge is fixed or variable, which can affect the amount you pay. This is because a variable service charge includes the adjustment from the previous year (see answers above).

The management charge covers the cost of things like:

  • tendering for a new contractor
  • managing the contracts for work and services (such as grounds maintenance, cleaning etc)
  • dealing with queries and complaints
  • checking and paying invoices
  • preparing, calculating and issuing service charge statements

If you rent your home, the management charge is 15% of the total cost of eligible services. Eligible service charges are costs for services that are eligible for Housing Benefit and or Universal Credit but please note, eligibility for either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit may vary.

If you live at a sheltered scheme in Hampshire and have a reserve fund for your scheme, you’ll see that we’ve removed it from your estimated service charge for 2019/20. We plan to review the use of reserve funds this year. Until that’s happened we won’t take any more contributions.

These frequently asked questions and the general information about service charges for the current year should answer your question but, if not, please contact our Customer Contact team. If they can’t answer the query they’ll forward it to the appropriate person who will look into it and get back to you within 10 working days.

This should be reported to our Customer Contact team at the time the service is provided, so that we can work with you and the contractor to resolve the issue.

If you’re receiving Housing Benefit (whether this is paid directly to us or to you), then you’ll need to take your rent change letter and the notice (if one’s enclosed with the letter you'll receive) to your local Housing Benefit office, so that they know about your new rent and service charges. 

They’ll then re-assess your entitlement and there may be a delay while they change your payments, but don’t worry, this is normal.

If you do have any concerns, please contact your local Housing Benefit office.

If you’re on Universal Credit, you’ll need to send a copy of your rent change letter to the Department for Works and Pensions, so that they know about your new housing costs.

If you have any further questions, please contact us.