A service charge could be one or more of the following in addition to your basic rent:
- lighting and heating in communal areas
- fixture and fitting improvements in communal areas
- laundry facilities
- installing, monitoring and servicing CCTV cameras
- monitoring and servicing door entry systems
- monitoring and servicing fire safety equipment in communal areas
- cleaning communal areas and communal window cleaning
- grounds maintenance on your estate, including play areas, grass, trees, shrubs, flower beds, hard standing and pathways, litter picking
- water and sewage for communal areas
- management charge for administering service charges
Under the current Housing Benefit regulations, all of these service charges qualify for Housing Benefit. They are also eligible as part of the Housing Costs Element of Universal Credit.
You will be able to see on your rent statement how much you are paying towards the cost of services you receive. For example, you will be able to see how much of your weekly payment goes on cleaning, electricity or heating to communal areas, and how much on the grounds maintenance in your communal garden or on the estate where you live.
Individual water, heating and sewage charges do not qualify under either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
Will I have to pay service charges?
Services charges apply to shared or communal facilities. If you have access to any of these, then a service charge will be added.
If you live in a property with no shared or additional services, and we don't maintain any communal grounds outside your property or on your estate, you will not have to pay any service charges.
You cannot opt out of paying service charges, or of receiving the services that are provided. Service charge costs are fixed every year.
How do we calculate service charges?
We will calculate your service charges each year by looking at the actual costs of providing the service to you in the previous financial year. There is also a management charge of 15%. We then recover the charge the following year. This way we are only recovering the true costs of providing the services from those tenants who benefit from them. The cost of providing services at a particular block of flats, complex or other communal or estate area will be evenly shared between all the tenants living there.