Leaseholder FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions - Leaseholders - 2016/17

 

What is a service charge?

This charge covers the cost of repairing and maintaining the structure of the block and communal areas where you live. It also includes the cost of providing services like gardening, cleaning and lighting. We estimate this charge at the beginning of the financial year and carry out reconciliation after the end of the financial year.

 

Do Rosebery profit from service charges?

No, we only charge for the services you receive.

 

How do you work out the service charge?

Before the start of each financial year (April) we estimate how much we expect the cost to provide all the services to your estate or block will be. We look at the costs for the last year, changes in contract pricing and other external factors.

The service charge is then based on this estimate. Charges may be made monthly or quarterly depending on the terms of your lease.

If your services are provided by another company known as a managing agent, we pay the managing agent for the service and recover your share of the cost from you through your service charge. The managing agents estimate the service charge and provide the breakdown which we send you.

 

What do the service charges cover?

 

Below is a list of all the services that Rosebery may provide. Not all properties receive all services, so you will only be charged for those that apply to your property.

Building Insurance

We insure the building you live in. The Policy does not cover your contents or belongings so you will need to take out contents insurance for this. An independent broker is employed to find the best value policy for our entire property portfolio. Under the terms of your lease, you have to pay a share of this insurance.

Caretaker Costs

This is the cost of having a mobile Estate Services Officer. The Estate Services Officer visits each site monthly and services include carrying out  inspections including health and safety checks, fire alarm testing  and dealing with  dumped waste items.

Communal Cleaning

This is the cost of cleaning the shared internal areas, bin stores and some external areas. This usually includes sweeping (including the bin store), mopping floors or vacuuming floors, dusting and cleaning walls and doors and the cleaning of communal windows. You will find a list of the work for your block on the communal notice board where you live. This charge is based on the contract cost for the service.

Communal Gas Supply

This is the cost of metered gas charges for communal heating systems.

Communal TV Aerial Maintenance

Some sites have a communal television aerial, this cost relates to the maintenance and repair of these aerials.

Entry Phone Servicing

This is the cost of servicing and repairs to the entry phone system in your block.

Fire Detection

This is the cost for service and repairs to fire alarms, smoke detectors and smoke vents

Provision for Renewal

You also have to pay for the wear and tear on some items which we provide (such as entry phone systems, for example).  We spread the cost of replacing them when they wear out over several years.

Replacement Light Bulbs

This is the cost of supplying and fitting replacement light bulbs to communal lighting.

Rubbish Clearance

This is the cost for the tipping and dumping of rubbish and removal of large items. These costs can be avoided if people do not leave items of rubbish in the communal areas. If we are able to identify who has dumped large items, we will recharge the cost to the person rather than everyone.

Servicing of Emergency Lighting

This cost relates to the maintenance and servicing of emergency lighting.

Tree Works

This includes pruning and removal of trees and surveys of tree condition. The cost is calculated by considering the historical cost of work previously carried out and known planned work for the year ahead. Sometimes we may need to carry out unplanned works during the year, when a tree‘s condition becomes dangerous.

 

Why are the service charges estimated?

Your lease requires us to collect service charges on a ‘variable’ basis.  This means that at the beginning of each financial year we’ll estimate what the various costs for the year ahead will be, and use this as the basis for setting your service charge payments for the year.  At the end of that year, we reconcile our estimates with what the costs were, and will send you a statement in the following September.

If the original estimate was higher than the actual costs, we will credit your account with the difference.  If it was lower, we will invoice you for the difference

 

Why is there an estimated charge for repair and maintenance? I have previously been invoiced separately for this?

In the past we have invoiced some leaseholders throughout the year for repairs and maintenance. This will now be part of your service charge and we will no longer issue separate invoices.

 

Why is there a charge for planned works?

When we know we are going to carry out work to the block you live in during the next financial year we will include an estimated cost in your service charge. Planned works are usually things like the redecoration of the outside of the building and the communal areas inside and any associated repairs. We will consult you fully before the work is carried out, to let you know what we are going to do. This means we will inform you of proposed works to your block in advance to enable you plan and pay for this service in regular instalments rather than be presented with a bill at the end of the works.

 

What is the management charge for and why is it increasing?

The management cost covers our activities in managing and administering the services we provide. This includes things like arranging contracts, attending meetings, collecting charges and preparing the accounts. The cost of providing these services has increased.

 

Why do my charges fluctuate year on year?

Service charges are based on the actual cost of providing the service. These charges may change over time depending on various different factors. Some examples of thing that may cause your service charges to change may include:

  • Entering into a new contract. The new contract could be for the provision of services such as Grounds Maintenance or Repairs.
  • Utility costs can also go up and down.
  • The cost of maintaining something has proven to be higher than previously estimated.

 

What is a sinking fund?

Each year we have to put some money away for jobs that we are planning to do. This might be items like painting or gutter clearing. This money is kept in a separate pot called a ‘sinking fund’.

 

I do not currently pay into a sinking fund. Can I change this and set up a sinking fund for my block?

In order to create a sinking fund, all Leaseholders in your block would need to opt in. A variation to each Leaseholders Lease would need to be made at a cost which they would each be liable to pay for. The cost of legal fees involved is likely to be in the region of £500 per Leaseholder. It would only be possible for this to be considered for blocks where all occupants are Leaseholders and where each of them has agreed to opt in to the sinking fund.

 

I can’t afford to pay the increased charge.  What can I do?

If this is the case you can contact our Income Team who can provide advice and support to help you manage your payments.

You may also benefit from independent advice about whether you might be entitled to any benefits. You can obtain this from your local Council’s Benefits Office or Citizens Advice. The Citizens Advice also offer help with budgeting and managing debt. Contact Epsom branch on 0300 330 1164 or Guildford on 01483 576 699. You can also visit their website www.citizensadvice.org.uk

 

What do I do if I have a repayment plan with you?

If you have an arrangement in place to clear any charges arrears, we would suggest that you continue to pay the higher amount so that any debt continues to reduce. If you would like to review your repayment plan in light of the changes to your charges, please contact our Income Team.

 

How can I check my account?

We send you a statement every three months but you can access your charges account at any time by registering to use ‘My Rosebery’ which can be found on our website at www.rosebery.org.uk/my-rosebery Our Customer Experience Team would also be happy to issue with a charges statement on request.

 

I pay my charges by direct debit.  What do I need to do?

You don’t need to do anything. We’ll change the Direct Debit and write to you to let you know about it.

 

I pay my charges by standing order, what do I need to do?

We cannot change a standing order for you so you will need to ask your bank to amend your payments.  If you need any help calculating this amount, please contact us and we will be happy to help you.

It’s important that you contact your bank straight away to make this change so that you do not fall behind with your payments.

To avoid having to make these changes going forward, you could switch your payment method to Direct Debit. This is the easiest way to pay your charges and means any changes to your payments are made automatically. Please contact the Customer Experience Team if you would like to set one up.

 

How can I contact you if I have any questions?

You can contact our Customer Experience Team or Income Team by calling 01372 814 000 or Freephone 0800 068 7664. You can also email us at customerexperience@rosebery.org.uk or rent@rosebery.org.uk