Service Charges: The Figures
A study released this week has found that service charges for new build apartments have now reached an average of £2,777.00 per year.
While this may be in part due to expensive apartments in impressive modern buildings along the Thames in the Capital that offer communal gyms or swimming pools, even flats in older buildings are now looking at a general yearly average service charges of £1,863.00.
Service charges are amounts incurred by the owner of a block of flats in looking after the building: usually maintenance and repairs to communal areas such as lifts, corridors, gardens and roofs. They will often be similar from year to year.
As an owner of a flat, what can you do if your service charge becomes extortionately high?
- Your Landlord can only charge you fees that are “reasonable”. The works that have been carried out must be reasonable and the amounts charged to you must also be reasonable.
- Service charges must be properly demanded. There are many requirements for a Landlord to meet for its service charge demands to be valid. If those requirements have not been met, there is a chance that the service charge may not be payable at all.
- Are the service charges for one off, major works? If so, has the Landlord consulted you and your fellow tenants about the work that it wants to carry out? Again, there is a lengthy procedure that Landlords must follow before they can charge you for such work and, if they do not follow that procedure, those service charges may not actually be payable at all.
- Are the charges in relation to areas of the common parts for which you should be paying? For example, leaseholders of ground floor apartments will often not have to pay towards the maintenance of the lift and lift shaft.
It is advisable for leaseholders to carefully check their service charge statements and demands.