About your service charges

What are service charges?

Any one that lives in an RBH home that has services to maintain communal areas will be charged service charges. Legally they have to be reasonable and could be for cleaning of communal areas, concierges,  caretakers, grounds maintenance, and any other running expenses to the block or neighbourhood.

Leaseholders also pay their share of the costs of managing and maintaining their block or neighbourhood.

You will only be charged if your home benefits from that service. For a full breakdown of your service charges please refer to your tenancy agreement.

We aim to:

  • deliver value for money on your services
  • consult you about any significant changes to your services
  • give you clear information about how your services are managed

 

What does my service charge cover?

Services vary according to where you live. For example, if you live in a block of flats with a lift you will receive more services than if you live in a low-rise flat which does not have a lift.

 

How are service charges calculated?

Charges normally change in April and we will give you a month’s notice of any changes.

RBH operates a variable service charges regime. This means tenants will only ever pay the actual cost incurred for a service received. RBH is not allowed to make a profit in addition to the cost of the services.

The charges from April 2017 comprise of two parts:

  • The first is an estimate of how much we think it will cost to provide the services during the coming financial year (April 2017 – March 2018). This estimate is based on spending in previous years, estimating the increase due to inflation, and any increases or decreases in spending that we know about for the coming year.
  • The second part is an adjustment in relation to the difference between the estimated and actual costs for the financial year 2015-16 (April 2015 – March 2016).

If we spent more than estimated there will be a deficit and this will be added to your service charge. If we spent less than estimated there will be a surplus and this will be taken off your service charge.

 

When do I receive the actual costs?

We will compare the actual cost of services against our original estimates at the end of every financial year. We will send you a certificate in September of each year to give you this information.

Service charges - frequently asked questions

What if I can’t afford my service charge?

For confidential help and advice regarding any difficulties in paying your service charges call 0800 027 7769. We can help!

If you receive housing benefit you should contact your local housing benefit department to ensure you are receiving the right level of benefit.

 

What can I do if I do not believe my service charges are reasonable?

If you do not believe that your service charges are reasonable you should contact the RBH Rents and Payments Team in the first instance. If you do not agree with our response, you may want to have your case heard by the First-Tier Tribunal (https://www.gov.uk/housing-tribunals)

The First-Tier Tribunal is an independent agent who will decide whether the service charges are reasonable.

 

Why have my charges gone up this year?

We try to ensure our costs are kept as low as possible but they can rise for a number of reasons, including general inflation, price rises from suppliers/contractors and changes to service levels.

 

Which service charges are eligible for housing benefit?

Housing benefit will cover all communal service charges, for example communal stairwell lighting or grounds maintenance. Housing benefit will not cover personal charges for heating, utility costs or water charges related to your home or meals.

 

Why does my neighbour pay a different amount?

The costs are shared out amongst the homes in the block or neighbourhood in a ‘reasonable’ way. This can be equal shares but may also be based on floor area or number of rooms. If you are a leaseholder, your lease may set out the method of apportioning costs.

 

Why do I pay for communal/estate electricity charges?

You are required to pay for your share of the communal light power consumption provided in your block and any outside lighting in your neighbourhood, the maintenance of the lights, appliances, replacing of light bulbs and any standing charges levied by the energy provider.

 

I do not use the communal green space. Why should I pay?

The communal green space is a shared area available to all residents. You have to pay this charge whether or not you choose to use the green space in your neighbourhood. For leaseholders, this will be set out in the lease.

 

I am a freeholder. Why should I pay?

If your home is in an RBH neighbourhood, your transfer documents will specify which of the costs for maintaining the neighbourhood you must contribute to. If you do not have a transfer document (TR1), please contact your mortgage provider or the Land Registry directly to obtain a copy.

Description of services

These are the service charge headings which appear on your service charge certificate. Each heading may include a number of individual services.

Security: this is the cost of the concierge service if you live in College Bank and/or the cost of monitoring CCTV cameras in your neighbourhood.

Furniture: this is the cost of any furniture that may be provided in your home.

Furniture/White Goods: this is the cost of any furniture and/or white goods that may be provided in the communal areas in independent living schemes.

Heating: this is the cost of heating your home where applicable.

Communal Heating: this is the cost of heating the communal areas in independent living schemes.

Neighbourhood Caretaking: this is the cost of the caretaking service – both mobile caretakers who operate across all neighbourhoods and caretakers dedicated to individual blocks where appropriate.

Grounds Maintenance: this is the cost of maintaining the grounds of the neighbourhood around your home. This includes grass cutting, shrub maintenance, and tree felling.

Communal Areas: this charge is for the cost of fixtures and fittings, such as carpets and curtains, in the communal areas in independent living schemes.

Communal Cleaning (including Windows): this is the cost of cleaning the communal parts inside and outside the independent living scheme buildings such as stairs, communal windows, communal hallways and pathways.

Communal Electricity: this charge is for the cost of electricity and power to communal areas including power supply to lifts and water pumps if applicable. For independent living schemes, this will include the power to common rooms, laundry rooms, guest rooms, kitchens and Scheme Manager rooms. Charges are based on the amount billed by the power provider.

Communal Health and Safety: these are costs incurred to provide health and safety checks in your block or scheme. These include, but are not limited to, electrical testing and fire equipment testing. These tests are carried out primarily for the health and safety of our residents and employees although some of them are to comply with laws and regulations.

Communal Laundry and Other Equipment: this is the cost of the provision of the communal laundry facility in independent living schemes or your block.

Lift Maintenance: this covers your share of the cost of day-­to-­day maintenance and repairs on the lift equipment in communal areas to your block.

Communal Services: this is the cost of maintaining door entry systems and electric gates if provided in your neighbourhood or independent living scheme.

Communal Water Charges: this is the cost of water rates payable in respect of communal areas in your block or independent living scheme.

TV Aerial: this is the cost for maintenance of any communal TV aerial provided for use in your block or independent living scheme. This may include the cost of converting your aerial to digital.

Management Fee: in previous years this has been included within each individual charge. From April 2017, it has been shown separately to increase transparency. This charge is for the provision of management services to your neighbourhood, including employee time, processing and administration. The law requires that this charge is reasonable.