Service Charges for Tenants
Information about Service Charges for Council Tenants
The rent we get from our tenants is used to pay for basic services such as maintenance and improvement to homes, lettings, estate management and advice and support on issues like anti-social behaviour and rent arrears. It is also used to help provide new homes.
There are other services that we provide which only some tenants benefit from, like communal cleaning, grounds maintenance and electricity to communal areas. These are normally only provided in blocks of flats.
These additional services are paid for by the rent we get from all tenants regardless of whether they receive them or not and this is unfair. If we charge tenants who receive these additional services, then we will have more money to spend on helping to provide new homes and on the basic services that benefit all tenants.
Many social landlords charge for these services and our tenants in Senior Living properties already pay for some such as laundry facilities and window cleaning. Council’s leaseholders also pay service charges.
When will the new service charges be introduced?
This depends on the outcome of our consultation but we are hoping to introduce these charges later this year. We don’t have an exact date but it will be after the consultation process. We will then need to vary tenancy agreements for existing tenants so that we can charge for these additional services.
This will involve a lengthy legal process which will mean writing to all tenants about the changes. If you have a fixed term tenancy, then we cannot vary the terms until it is renewed.
Can I opt out?
No. Once the terms of the tenancy are varied all tenants who receive these additional services will have to pay.
Tenants will however be able to speak to us about making changes to the additional services that we provide that might make them cheaper. However, there are some services that we cannot change such as testing of emergency communal lighting and fire alarms.
How much would I have to pay?
The new service charge would be paid on top of the rent and we estimate that the charges will be between £2.00 and £7.00 per week depending on what services are provided to a block of flats. We have ensured that most of the charges are covered by housing benefit or universal credit if you qualify. The proposed charges are similar to those of other social landlords and our rents will still be a lot cheaper than those in the private sector.
Why is the Council consulting on this?
It makes sense to speak to tenants before we make any changes. You might have important questions and comments that we need to consider. The law also says that we should consult with tenants and consider what they have to say.
How are we consulting tenants?
Initial consultations with tenants took place in September 2017 and again at the Annual Residents meeting in December.
Information was published in Home News last year which has resulted in some queries from tenants.
The next stage of the consultation is to hold drop-in sessions the details of which have been sent to all tenants who live in our flat blocks.
Our consultation will end on the 28 February and the results will be published here on the Council’s website.
Where Can I find More Information about these charges?
We have added some documents which you may find useful:
Tenants Guide To Service Charges: This draft document contains all the information you need about the charges, from how we calculate the charges to how we ensure services are value for money. We have also included information about what elements of the service would be covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if you are eligible.
Questions and Answers: These were raised at the Annual Residents' Meeting in December 2017
Service Charge Example: You can see how much each element of the service charge will cost for a range of properties
Individual Charge Comparison: See how the charges for each element compare against other housing providers
Rent and Service Charge Comparison: Take a look at how our rents and service charges will compare against other Landlords.
If you would like to ask a question about these charges or require further information please contact Seamus Doran: 01202 451915 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org