Services & service charges
We aim to maintain your local area to a high standard.
This protects your investment in your property, it can increase its value over time and make it easier for you to sell.
Rent and service charges paid by our residents are our main source of income. These pay for the services we provide and are crucial in enabling us to maintain high standards. It is therefore very important, both for you and for us, that you pay your charges and that we collect all the charges due.
Ground rent is a rent payable to the landlord and may be minimal. It is a specific requirement of your lease and must be paid on the due date. As a leaseholder you pay only a notional ground rent, but you are still expected to pay towards the cost of a range of services. This is described in detail in your lease and your contribution is collected as service charges, currently set at £10.00 per year.
Net rent, along with your service charges, is payable by shared owners who part-rent and part-buy their home. This amount will vary depending on the percentage that you own.
The chargeable services that we provide are laid out in full in your lease. These include:
- Cleaning shared or common parts, including graffiti removal
- Grounds maintenance
- Refuse collection including bulk refuse
- Removal of abandoned vehicles
- Lighting of common parts
- Electricity for running lifts and estate lighting
- Insuring the buildings
- Servicing and maintenance of facilities such as lifts, entry phone doors and emergency lighting
- Cost of communal repairs, e.g. replacing defective lights in common entrances and stairwells
- Management charges, e.g. cost of staff time in providing services such as the preparation of annual service charge accounts and statements
- Major works such as communal area redecoration, replacement of lifts and replacement of roofs
We aim to:
- Issue accurate and sufficiently detailed invoices for your yearly estimated service charges in advance by 31st March each year
- Issue accurate and sufficiently detailed invoices for your yearly reconciliation charge by 30th September each year
- Offer arrangements to pay your annual service charge by instalments
- Offer a range of payment methods
- Be told in advance, within Section 20 notice procedures, about major works that will be carried out in your block and which we will expect you to pay towards
We will send you two regular bills a year:
- An estimate of costs for the coming year will be sent out in March. This invoice will clearly state the estimated cost of services for the coming year (from April to March).
- A reconciliation of actual costs incurred in the previous year will be sent out by the end of September. This is based on the actual costs incurred and your invoice will clearly show whether there is a refund due for the previous year because we overestimated costs, or whether we undercharged and an additional payment has been added.
You may also receive one-off major works invoices within 18 months of completion of the works.
A list of the standards and frequency of key services we aim to achieve in and around your block, such as cleaning and grounds maintenance, is available at the Charlton Triangle Homes office. These are the same for tenants and leaseholders – we make no distinction.
We will work to improve and update these standards from time to time and we will consult you about significant proposed changes.
We employ an Environmental Services Manager whose role is to manage and monitor the key contracts such as cleaning, grounds maintenance and removal of abandoned vehicles. Please contact them on 0208 319 8870 should you have any suggestions or complaints. Please let us know as soon as you spot a problem so that we can take action as soon as possible.
If you feel that we have not been able to deal with your query satisfactorily and you have tried to resolve an issue without success, you can use our complaints procedure, although we would aim to sort the majority of problems out before they reach this stage.
You will be required to contribute to the cost of major works and we are obliged to consult you. This is called Section 20 consultation and it is a requirement of the Landlord and Tenant Act. You have a right to be consulted where:
- We propose to carry out works where the cost to any one leaseholder will be more than £250
- We propose to enter into any long term contracts of more than 12 months where the cost to any one leaseholder will be more than £100
This consultation is important as it gives you the opportunity to review the proposed works, check that the estimated costs are reasonable and raise any concerns you may have. It is also important that we have your up-to-date contact details in order to consult you.
For more information, please visit the Leasehold Advisory Service website.
Your contribution will be set out in a service charge bill. We will usually offer a facility to pay large bills for major works by instalments.
You will be clearly advised of the payment options at the appropriate time. You will also receive notification of estimated costs well in advance of the actual bill.
Section 20 consultations can take several months and there may be situations, such as where a lift breaks down and is beyond repair or when a serious roof leak occurs, where we need to carry out expensive works very quickly.
In such circumstances, we can apply to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to waive Section 20 requirements.
How do I pay for my service charge?
Service charges are charged on a monthly basis at the beginning of the month and are collected as a joint payment along with your monthly rent charge, if you are a shared owner. Charlton Triangle Homes prefer to take payment via direct debit, although leaseholders can set up a standing order.
Once we’ve issued you with an invoice, you’ll need to make a payment to us within 30 days. You can do this by:
- bank transfer: please quote your account reference number as the banking reference, so we are able to recognise your payment and allocate it to your account.
- cheque: it should be made payable to Charlton Triangle Homes and you should always put your name, address and unique leaseholder reference number on the back of your cheque.
- credit or debit card: please call Charlton Triangle Homes office on 020 8319 8870 for further advice on how we can take your payment.
- direct debit, standing order or payment plan: please call Charlton Triangle Homes office on 020 8319 8870 and we’ll help you to set these up.
When do I have to pay?
Leaseholder charges are due on demand. Annual charges can be paid in instalments by direct debit.
How do you calculate my share of the service charge costs?
Your lease states how we must apportion costs. This is done by calculating the rateable value of your property as a proportion of the rateable value of the block or estate, and this percentage is then used to calculate your contribution of the costs.
What other services will I be charged for?
What you are charged is based on the actual cost of providing services and repairs in the last year and estimates for continuing to provide the service for the coming year. This will be made up of a combination of costs as described above. A detailed explanation of the calculation is provided with your annual bill.
Do service charges cover the cost of maintaining my individual property?
No, they only cover the cost of maintaining the communal areas of the development. Leaseholders are responsible for maintaining the inside of their own property, including all necessary repairs and decoration. This excludes the defects period where the contractor will rectify any defects that occur inside your home.
I live on the ground floor, why should I pay for the lift when I never use it?
Although you live on the ground floor, your property benefits from having the lift as it gives access to all floors including the roof, so the lift will be used by any visiting contractors attending to fix a communal repair such as a faulty communal television system or a leaking roof.
My service charge contains a provision for services that we have not had during the year. Why should I pay for something which hasn’t been done?
We are not allowed to make a profit on service charges, and the management fee only covers our cost of delivering services to your area, so any surpluses will always be refunded to residents. Evidence of the surplus will be shown on the audited accounts.
Why are my neighbours being charged a different service charge than me?
Service charges are based on the rateable value of the property (meaning those with large flats pay a higher charge).
I know people who live in other developments who pay much less service charge than I do.
Every development is different in terms of the services it requires and the cost of managing the block satisfactorily. Charlton Triangle Homes aim to keep our service charges as low as possible but also at a realistic level, so that we are not underestimating costs resulting in a deficit at the end of the financial year. We believe our management fee is exceptional value for money when compared with what most managing agents charge.
What reassurance can you give that I won’t receive a huge bill for works as soon as I have bought my home?
When you bought your property from Charlton Triangle Homes, you will have received a section 125 offer notice. This will have included a schedule of repairs and improvements estimated for the first 5 years after the sale. This restricts the amount we can recover from you in the first 5 years after the sale. Even if the works cost substantially more than we estimated, we cannot charge you more than the total in the schedule.
Will my service charge payments go up in the future?
Service charges generally do rise year on year, mainly due to inflation but sometimes because of service enhancements. It is not unheard of for service charges to reduce but it is rare. It is very common for service charges to rise after the first year, and purchasers should be aware of this and take this into account when ascertaining whether a service charge is affordable in terms of their budget.
When is your financial year end date?
Our financial year runs from April 1st through to March 31st.
What happens if I cannot afford to pay my service charge?
Charlton Triangle Homes takes payment of rent and service charge very seriously, and we will commence our arrears collection procedure against any leaseholder who falls behind with payments.
If you believe that you are not able to make payments, then urgently contact our Credit Control Team to discuss your options. Ultimately, if a leaseholder can continuously not afford to pay their monthly rent and service charge, then they will need to sell their home. Purchasing a home is a very big decision and you must be sure you can afford the commitment you are taking on.
What happens if I fall behind with my service charge?
Under the terms of your lease, you must pay your service charge. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, it is essential that you contact Charlton Triangle Homes and you will be directed to the Income Officer for leaseholders. You will be offered help and advice on claiming any benefits you may be entitled to.
We can sometimes make an agreement with you to clear your debt by instalments. If you do not contact us to make suitable payment arrangements or you fail to keep to an agreement and your debt is not being cleared, we will start legal action to recover the debt in court. If you do not pay your service charge you will be in breach of your lease.
You should note that if you have a mortgage it is usually a condition of the mortgage that you keep service charges up to date. In many cases, your mortgage company is entitled, under your mortgage conditions, to settle unpaid service charge on your behalf and add the costs to your mortgage. We will usually invite them to consider doing this if it appears you are unable to settle your bill promptly by other means. Mortgage companies will usually opt to exercise their rights to do this to avoid us taking court action.
Charlton Triangle Homes also works in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau, who run a weekly Money Advice Surgery from our New Leaf Advice Centre. The CAB will offer independent advice if you are experiencing difficulty in paying bills and have multiple debts.
What happens if I don’t pay my service charge?
If after 30 days your invoice remains unpaid and you have not set up a direct debit or agreed payment plan with us, we will contact you to discuss the reasons for your non-payment. If we still don’t receive a payment from you, we will pursue the debt according to the terms of your lease. If necessary, we will pass your account to external solicitors and/or contact your mortgage provider.
Please note that further possession proceedings may be taken against you which could result in your losing your home.
What if I disagree with my service charge invoice?
If you are dissatisfied with your service charge and wish to challenge it, you must put this in writing straightaway. Your letter should be addressed to the CTH Director. Your query will be investigated and a full response will be given. If you disagree with the result of the investigation, you may log a formal complaint using the CTH complaints procedure.
You may also have the right to go to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal who can adjudicate in disputes over service charges. More information can be found at www.rpts.gov.uk.