Service charges and estate services
A service charge covers the cost of additional services such as cleaning communal areas, providing gardening, communal TV aerials, or maintaining equipment such as door entry systems. If you have a service charge it will form part of your total weekly rent. Your tenancy agreement and rent review letters will show details of your service charge.
How service charges are worked out
We look at the cost of providing each service and then divide the cost between all the homes who receive them. For example, if there are 20 homes in a scheme with communal landscaped areas, each tenant will pay 1/20th of the cost of the landscape maintenance.
How you pay your service charge
The service charge is collected with your rent. If you claim Housing Benefit, the service charge part of the rent will usually be eligible for housing benefit. There are exceptions, though, such as when heating to an individual home is included as a service charge item.
We employ a team of gardeners who carry out landscape maintenance. On some schemes we also employ caretakers and cleaners.
Most services – such as window cleaning, door entry and fire alarm maintenance – are provided by contractors.
Services are regularly put out to tender and we assess contractors on the quality of their work, their reliability, customer satisfaction with their service and value for money.
You can help us monitor standards by either calling us or completing feedback cards. We also have regular scheme inspections which we publicise and you are welcome to join.
Making service changes
We can only change services if we have consulted with all residents who would be affected by the change. For example, if we were improving security at a scheme by installing closed circuit television we would have to write to all the residents and explain the proposed new service, what it would cost and when it would come into effect. We would then consider tenants’ views before we could introduce the new service.