Updated 27 September 2018
What is a service charge?
A service charge is a payment made by a tenant or homeowner towards the cost of services and repairs beyond those specifically for their house or flat. For example, if you live in a block of flats with a communal garden, the cost of maintaining that garden is covered by a service charge because it is available to all residents as a communal service and it is outside of their flats.
What services are covered by a service charge?
As a landlord, we are obliged to provide you with certain services and repairs, which we then charge on to the residents who received the service.
The exact services you pay for will be set out in your tenancy agreement or lease, but could include:
- Employing a caretaker
- Cleaning communal areas, including cleaning windows and removing dumped rubbish
- Gardening and grounds maintenance
- Repairs to communal facilities such as door entry systems, television aerials and lighting
- Lift maintenance and repairs
- Providing fire-fighting equipment, including repairing and testing emergency lighting and smoke alarms
- Providing water, electricity and gas supplies to communal areas
- Insurance for blocks of flats and houses (usually homeowners)
- Health and safety such as fire safety, legionella, asbestos and electrical testing in communal areas.
Am I a tenant or a homeowner?
Tenants are residents, who rent their homes from Hyde under a tenancy agreement. Types of tenure include secure and assured tenancies, starter tenancies, market rent and affordable rent tenures.
Homeowners are residents, who wholly or partly own their own homes, under a lease. These can include leaseholders, freeholders and shared owners as well as residents who have bought under the Right to Buy, Right to Acquire and Shared Ownership schemes.
I am a tenant and I have just received my actual statement. It says there is a reduction, so how do I get this money back?
As you are a tenant any increase or reduction is rolled over to your 2019/20 estimate which will be issued to you in February 2019. The reduction will reduce the amount you have to pay next year.
I have just received my service charge and I don’t understand what it means when it says I have an increase. Please can you explain?
If it shows you have an increase it means that the estimate you received in February 2017 was less than the actual amount we have spent maintaining your property during 2017/18. If you are a homeowner, this increase amount is due for payment now. If you are a tenant, this amount will be rolled over to your 2019/20 estimate.
Why does my statement have two lines for provisions? (Provisions and provisions – homeowner)
Tenants don’t pay separately towards certain aspects of the upkeep to a property. Their contribution is included in their rent. We therefore split this up as provisions that all residents pay towards and those that only homeowners pay towards.
It shows I have a reduction on my service charge statement; as a homeowner please can I have a refund?
The adjustments shown on the statement will be loaded onto your account by 31 October. If, once loaded, you have a credit across all your Hyde accounts, we can arrange a refund to be processed for you.
I have just received my service charge actual statement and I can’t afford to pay this, what should I do?
Our Income team are here to help and can offer advice or possibly a payment term that will fit your circumstances. Please do not ignore the problem as it is likely to get worse.
Where can I find my apportionment costs on my statement?
Following the implementation of our service charge system and the new property groupings, the apportionment is no longer showing on your statement. You will however see the total costs for the different property grouping and what your share of that cost is.
We are constantly reviewing the layout of our statements to help improve clarity.
Where is my estimated cost for the services I have received?
The estimate statement you received in February 2017 was based on the previous way we use to group our properties. The actual costs you have just received are calculated using the new property groupings. To avoid confusion, the estimate by service has not been included, but the total estimate has. Estimate information will however be included on future service charge actuals from September 2019.
Why have some service costs increased?
We have further invested in our fire safety procedures because your safety is of paramount importance to us. In some of our buildings we have upgraded fire alarm systems and installed smoke or heat detection systems and we have increased fire safety checks. These measures have increased costs in some of our estates and buildings.
As you are aware we also introduced new cleaning and grounds maintenance contracts which are regularly inspected by our Property Managers. We introduced the new contracts to help improve service delivery and increase transparency of costs. For some of you this may have resulted in an increase on your actual statement.
What should I do if I have a service on my statement that I don’t receive?
If you have any concerns about any service being delivered to your property you should contact your Property Manager who will be happy to discuss the matter with you.
I have a caretaking cost on my statement but we don’t have a caretaker. Why do I have this charge?
Caretaking and other staff costs cover not only Caretakers but also Concierge, Handymen, Estate Guardians or dedicated scheme officers. You will only be charged for a service that is delivered to your block or estate.
Why have I got a charge for bulk refuse collection? Isn’t this something the local authority pays for?
The local authority is not responsible for clearing bulk or dumped rubbish from our privately owned buildings or estates. If this occurs where you live, we arrange for our contractors to remove these items.
What is a fire safety check?
Fire safety checks include regular (monthly, quarterly or annual) checks to a number of different fire safety related equipment. This can include but is not limited to checks to dry risers, smoke or heat detectors or emergency lighting. Some of our blocks may have all of these items that require checking whereas others may only have one or two.
Why am I being charged for cleaning and grounds maintenance?
Where Hyde is the landlord; we have a responsibility to clean and maintain our blocks and estates. The cost of this work is then recharged via the service charge. Where there is a managing agent in place they may be responsible for providing the service and then recharging Hyde for this work. We will then include this on your statement as a managing agent cost.
The quality of the cleaning and grounds maintenance is poor, what should I do?
If you have any concerns about any service being delivered to your property you should contact with your Property Manager who will be happy to discuss the matter with you.