Frequently asked questions
What is Service Charge?
Service Charges are payable by the leaseholder to the Landlord/RMC for all the services the Landlord/RMC provides under the terms of the lease.
The charges are a variable amount from year to year depending on the costs that the Landlord/RMC incurs.
Example of services are buildings insurance, cleaning and gardening but this list is not exhaustive.
How can I pay my Service Charge or Ground Rent?
Service Charge or Ground Rent payments can be made by cheque posted to our Head Office. Please write your Account Number or full name and address on the back of the cheque or enclose the Remittance Advice off our invoice.
You can also make these payments by standing order or BACS. If you feel this method of payment would be more suitable, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Why has my Service Charge increased?
The cost of Services can vary depending on a number of reasons such as contractors and supplier’s charges, changes in the level or frequency of services required or maintenance requirements and legislation changes.
For example, should utility suppliers increase their prices on communal supplies, or the level of building repairs needed be higher than anticipated, then the service charge on the building may be slightly higher than predicted.
What is a Reserve or Sinking Fund?
Subject to lease terms, this is an amount set aside in the service charge each year for a reserve (also known as a sinking fund) to accumulate funds with the intention it builds up over the years so that when works are required there is a fund available to contribute towards major capital costs. The aim is to reduce additional one-off payments which may be required from the leaseholders. Major works can include projects such as External redecoration, major repairs or renewals etc.
If my property is empty, do I have to pay?
As your lease states, irrespective of whether your property is occupied or empty, service charge is payable for the full duration of the ownership of your property.
My Service Charge is higher than other peoples, why?
Sadly, no two buildings are the same and there are lots of reasons that may affect the amount of service charges payable. For example, the size of the property, the number of apartments in a building, whether your building has other benefits such as a lift, electronic gates, CCTV; all of these factors may apply to some buildings, but not others.
Each buildings’ Service Charge therefore needs to be calculated separately, which is why your service charge can vary from your neighbours or neighbouring buildings.
Who is responsible for repairs?
Your responsibilities are stated in your lease. Broadly speaking, each flat owner would be responsible for their own apartment and any services exclusively serving the individual flat.
The Landlord/RMC are, broadly speaking, responsible for the maintenance and repair of communal areas, the building structure and exterior, any shared services or equipment and any external grounds.
Do I need consent for alterations to my apartment?
Your lease will undoubtedly require you to obtain consent before you carry out any alterations to your home; this is to ensure that the building structure or appearance is not adversely affected by any alterations. It is strongly recommended you apply for consent in advance of any proposed works. Alterations carried out without consent can cause you to be in breach of your lease terms.
I have a problem. How do I report it?
You can report any fault or problem by seeing our “Contact Us” page. There you will also find a list of contractors' contact details for your reference; feel free to download this and keep on file.
If the problem is within your flat you will be responsible for the cost, if it’s a communal problem the cost will be the responsibility of the block.
How do I obtain a new key and fob?
If you need a replacement or additional key for a shared entrance door or gates, we can normally supply these for a charge. Please contact us for further information.
Please note, if you are a tenant we will require consent/authorisation from your Landlord.
Do I need consent to have a pet?
You must check the terms of your lease before introducing a pet to the premises, it is likely that there will be clause concerning consent requirements. If you proceed without following the correct consent procedure you could be in breach of your lease terms.
For further information please contact the offices of Owens and Porter.
How often will the communal areas of my building be redecorated?
The frequency of redecoration is often laid down in your lease and is often not more than every four or five years. In some cases, the lease will require the redecoration to be carried out 'as and when required' in which case the Landlord/RMC will identify when this is to be completed.
We will advise you when redecorations are to be carried out, and in many cases the level of expenditure will require us to formally consult with you prior to committing to the work.
Who checks the work that cleaners and gardeners are doing?
Your building is allocated to a locally based manager who visits the development on a regular basis. If you have any concerns about the services being provided at your property, then please contact the offices of Owens & Porter so that we can address them.
My neighbours are making a lot of noise. What can I do?
Living in an apartment means a lot of people living in close proximity to each other. If your neighbours are making a lot of noise, then we always advise that you have a friendly chat with them first. Often people aren't used to living in flats and don't realise the problems that they are causing.
If you are suffering from repeated issues of this nature you can contact the offices of Owens and Porter to discuss the matter further.
It is also worth remembering that local authorities have wide ranging powers in relation to noise nuisance and you should also seek their advice.
What is Ground Rent?
Ground rent is a rent payment made by the leaseholder to the Landlord as a condition of the lease. The payment of ground rent is specified in the lease and must be paid on the due date.
What is a Managing Agent?
Sometimes the Landlord or the Residents Management Company (RMC) carries out the Management of the property direct. Alternatively a Managing Agent may be appointed to manage and maintain the building on behalf of the Landlord in accordance with the Terms of the Lease, current relevant Legislation and Codes of Practice.
The Agent takes instruction from the Landlord, not the Leaseholders, but should be aware of the Leaseholders wishes and requirements. The Agent will receive a fee for the day to day management which will usually be paid by Leaseholders as part of the Service Charges.
It is good and common practice for it to be a fixed fee per annum. Where Major Works are involved the Agent may charge an additional fee, which will normally be a percentage of the total cost of such works.
How is my Service Charge calculated?
At the start of each financial year a service charge budget of anticipated expenditure is agreed by the Landlord/RMC and sent to Leaseholders. This budget sets out how the service charge has been calculated and Is an estimate of proposed costs for the year ahead.
Following the end of the financial year, Service Charge Accounts are prepared for each development by an independent auditor/accountant as determined by the lease to determine the actual service charge cost for that year.