How Service Charge Operates
As service charge is due in advance, within 21 days of each invoice, it is estimated each year. This estimate is based on the previous year’s actual expenditure. At the end of each year all expenditure is totalled and checked and verified by an accountant. If we have had to spend more than anticipated during the year we require to issue a balancing invoice, to bring the estimate in line with the actual expenditure. Although any such balancing invoice is issued together with your next half year invoice it is always dated the final date of the accounting year to which it relates. If we spend less than anticipated during the year you will receive a credit on your account, which will be deducted from your next invoice.
What am I paying for?
Your obligations to pay service charge are contained in your TP1/Legal Transfer (freehold) or your Lease. You only pay towards those items of expenditure listed on your invoices. The Interim Certificate we issue at the beginning of each year lists the total estimated expenditure for the whole development for the coming year. You do not necessarily pay towards all of the items listed in the Certificate. The Final Certificate lists the total actual expenditure for the whole development for the past year.
As the local authority usually wish to retain control of certain areas, such as roads and adjacent verges and footpaths, within the development, there are only certain areas within the development that we are responsible for. These “managed areas” should be shown on a plan annexed to your TP1/Legal Transfer or your Lease. Until such time as these areas are adopted by the local authority they are the responsibility of the developer. We are never responsible for such areas and the residents do not pay towards such areas. We are able to provide a copy of a plan showing the managed areas we are responsible for on request. As the majority of plans we have scanned in, to enable you to enlarge on screen, the best method of providing these plans is usually by email.
Can I withhold service charge if I am unhappy with the services provided?
Although we are always willing to listen to issues raised by residents regarding the services we/our contractors provide this does NOT entitle you to withhold payment of any amount of service charge in the meantime. Any such issues should be in writing, either by email to the appropriate email address, or by post, and, as this is very useful, accompanied by photos if appropriate. Your obligation to pay service charge is absolute and payment is due in full within 21 days, or such other period of time as may be written in your TP1/Legal Transfer/Lease. The only alternative to this is if payment is made by standing order, over a maximum period of ten months. We are not obliged to allow payment by standing order however this is a service we choose to provide, at no additional cost, to assist residents whose annual service charge is in excess of £250. It is also permitted on the strict basis that your account is cleared in full by the end of each accounting year. As the expenditure changes from year to year standing orders need to be set up afresh each year, in line with the estimate for that year. The onus is on you to request a standing order mandate at the beginning of each year, on receipt of your first invoice, if you wish to pay this way. It is not our responsibility to automatically issue a fresh standing order mandate each year.
As we do not process standing order/direct bank payments until we receive the hard copy bank statement there will be a delay in these showing up in your account. This could mean that your second half year service charge invoice shows brought forward “arrears” of more than is actually outstanding, if your most recent payment or payments have yet to be processed. The brought forward “arrears” figure can often be misleading. If you are paying by standing order the best thing to do if you are in any doubt is to count up the number of standing order payments you are making over the year and check that the total of these payments accords with the total of the annual service charge. Any differences could merely be due to a timing issue in processing payments. If you are still unsure please contact us to confirm the position.
What if I don’t pay timeously?
If payment is not made in full within 21 days, and you are not paying by standing order, we will issue a first arrears letter. We appreciate that invoices can genuinely be overlooked so our first arrears letter is just a gentle reminder. No charge is made for this first letter. If payment is still not forthcoming within the ten days referred to in this first letter we will issue a second arrears letter, at a cost of £12 (£10 + VAT). Failure to pay within a further ten days will necessitate us issuing a third and final arrears letter, at a cost to you of £30 (£25 +VAT). The responsibility is on you to pay timeously, in terms of your TP1/Legal Transfer/Lease. It is not up to us to chase you for payment and we therefore charge an administration fee for having to do so. If payment is still not made within a further period of ten days we will send your account to our debt collection agency, Property Debt Collection. Their initial charge is £240 (£200+VAT), for which you will be responsible. Once your account is sent to PDC you must deal with them directly regarding payment.
Please ensure that, if you do not live at the property address, you provide us with your correct correspondence details. The onus is on you to provide these to us.