- Block of flats – service charge extortion
Hive mind help needed please!
Residents associate wants to put up service charge and I think it’s crazily high.
I have a 2 bed flat and the leasehold is owned by by the residents association who employ a managing agent. There are several blocks in the development, our block has about 20 flats, 5 of which are ground floor and accessed by their own front door. The remaining flats are accessed by communal entrance and lift/staircase.
There is a caretaker who lives onsite and looks after communal grounds and odd jobs. Service charge is currently £200pcm. I have done a survey of similar properties in local area and this seems roughly double what other properties are paying.
The residents association is proposing raising this to £250pcm to pay for various things redecoration [OK], stair lifts [not OK, there is an existing lift!], new communal entrance area doors, enlarging the entrance hall, painting the garage doors a different colour etc.
To give you an idea of the service charge my neighbour rents his identical flat for ~£1200pcm
My flat has it’s own front door and I’ve never even set foot in the lift or communal areas. The problem is that there is a growing number of elderly residents who are voting yes to all this stuff and are being led along by the managing agent. I think a lot of them have too much time/money on their hands and are spending money on the place just because they are bored and want a project.
Is there any way I can resist this service charge increase if I am in the minority? I really don’t want to sell up.Posted 4 years ago
I did have a google but couldn’t really see a clear way forward – one option seemed to be a leaseholder valuation tribunal but that seems to cost £300+
Good point about the caretaker, I knew it would add to the charge but didn’t really think how much. If the caretaker costs £30k per year, that would amount to ~£60 per flat per month.
as far as I can see an equivalent service charge on other developments is ~£120. Add £60 for the caretaker and we get near the £200 pcm we currently pay.
I’m still a bit peeved how I am having to pay for a lift i’ve never seen or communal areas I will never use (because we have our own front door outside the communal area).Posted 4 years agoaPMember
Unfortunately when you live in a communal building, you all pay for the upkeep and maintenance of all of it – even the bits you never use, however, then it also means that you don’t have to shoulder the full costs when things go wrong in the bit that affects only you.Posted 4 years ago
Why don’t you get yourself onto the residents committee and then start to push back against all the works that are being done. You’ll find out pretty soon where you stand.MoreCashThanDashSubscriber
Make enquiries with a local housing association and see what their service charges are?
As has been said, with communal buildings you all have to chip in to share all the costs of upkeep, part of living there. But there should be something in the tenancy agreement about how the charges are worked out, and you should be able to talk to – or get on – the committee to put your views forward if you want to make a changePosted 4 years agotakisawa2Subscriber
Had exactly the same in a flat I bought years ago. These were four ex council blocks, with 32 flats in each. I left in 1997 after they raised the service charge to £75…!!!
Residents committee were a closed shop. Once a year they voted in a new member, who would be promptly stifled by the rest of them. The catetaker looked after the committee members, but essentially outsourced everything else, & raked in what (at the time) was a good salary plus his own funded flat.
I sold up in the end. Bought a house & was still paying less than the mortgage & charge on the flat. 😐Posted 4 years agoCougarSubscriber
I know nothing of this but,
It sounds to me like they’re taking the piss. A service charge is for day to day maintenance surely, not “ooh, I think we’ll have a new reception area, it’s ok, we’ll bill the residents.” I’d expect the owners to be footing the bill for major upgrades.
There must be some sort of explanation in your contract as to what they can charge you and what they can spend the money on. That’s a 25% price hike, hardly in line with inflation. What’s to stop them demanding £500pcm from next month so they can trim all the doors with gold leaf? Read your contract.
Or, y’know, vote with your feet.Posted 4 years agoCougarSubscriber
One would assume that any changes to disabled access would be to comply with legislation, again I fail to see why that should fall to the residents to pay. That’s not “maintenance,” it’s renovation work.
(As I said, I could be talking out the top of my head here, just trying to look at it logically.)Posted 4 years agoprojectMember
I own a flat in a block, im also on the management commitee, we produce a full set of accounts each year through a qualified accountant, and every member get a copy posted to them, we have 4 or5 committee meetings each year and an anual general meeting to which all members can attend and ask questiobns in person or by letter.
1, ask for details of all members of the committee,
2, demand a copy of the last 4 years accounts,
3, ask for a copy of the rules of the ownership,
4, ask to be nominated to go on the committee,
5, Try asking the Housing corporation and Shelter for some advice,
6,check all details on the accounts carefully and ask questions, its your money theyre spending.
ask about where any surplus money is invested, cash in hand/bank,do al major works get put out to tender,sinking fund to pay for a replacemet roof, drains electric rewire etc.
Oh and 250 a month is way over the top, check locally what others are paying.Posted 4 years agoandylMember
sounds ridiculous to me. They need a reality check.
Any substantial works should be put forward as a proposal with a levy agreed to pay for it or added onto the service charge for a set period to cover the costs.
Work like that does not sound reasonable though. You should be spending money on reactive and preventative maintenance and keeping the place in good order and complying with regulations. Not wasting it on fancy modifications.
As for the caretaker – maybe suggest they rent the caretakers flat out and use the income to put towards the total building service charge? I bet a lot of people are using the building caretaker to do jobs that they would normally have to pay for out of their own pocket in a normally run block. If it is in the agreement they can do this and everyone benefits then fine. If not then get rid and tell them to either do things themselves or get someone in and pay for it themselves.Posted 4 years agomogrimMember
Completely different country, but here in Spain ground floor residents aren’t liable for costs relating to lifts etc. Maybe worth looking into?
Though I’d be moving, sounds like you’re paying a fortune for services you don’t need or use. A live in caretaker? Great when you’re 75 and need someone to help you with the shopping or changing a lightbulb, not so useful when you’re under 40…Posted 4 years agomikeypSubscriber
I’m also a director of a block of flats and it sounds like you are getting shafted. I am surprised you have to pay the same amount as residents using the lift etc. speak to your fellow ground floor residents and if they agree with you, ask for an extraordinary Meeting and have it out. +1 with the cougar plan too. Good luckPosted 4 years ago
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