You will receive a letter in February explaining your rent costs for this year, it will also include a list of all the Service Charges that apply to your home.
You as a tenant will benefit from raising Service Charges because:
In July 2018 we held a consultation asking your opinion, on the changes that will happen as Services Charges are introduced. We received 764 results, which means that more than 1/10 of you told us what you thought about service charges. Overall your responses were positive.
Yes, you agree to pay the service charge when you sign your tenancy agreement.
We list the service charges that apply to your home in your tenancy agreement, and we write to you telling you of any changes.
The rent increase letter you will receive from us in February 2018 will be notification of the service charges applicable to your home between 01/04/2019 and 31/03/2020.
We can only charge reasonable service charges, and we must carry out service or work which is of reasonable standard.
If you think that the services have not been carried out to a reasonable standard or if you are not satisfied for any other reason, you can contact us to discuss. We will investigate and try to address your concern.
You have the right within 6 months of receiving your service charge statement to ask to see our service charge accounts so you can see how the costs have been calculated.
We may also be able to use your feedback to improve the service.
Rents are used to pay the costs of repairs, maintenance and insurance of the property as well as housing management from start to finish.
Service Charge is a separate charge.This covers the costs of additional services provided in connection with the property which are not covered by the rent. For example, door entry systems.
Currently, most of the service charges for tenants are ‘pooled’ which means the cost of service provided are included in the rents charged for all tenancies.
The Welsh Government has placed a duty on social landlords like us to ensure that rents and service charges are separated and clearly identifiable.
This is to:
The total estimated costs of providing the service for a particular estate, or block of flats for a year will be calculated. The charge will include an element for management and administration costs. This total cost will be shared between all the homes on the estate or block of flats according to the floor area of each home.
Larger homes will pay more than smaller homes. In some cases, CCG may use another apportionment method e.g. Number of properties, to ensure payments are as fair as possible.
If, at the end of the year, we have overestimated the cost, and have paid too much, this surplus will be put on your account for the following year. If we have underestimated, then you will have under paid, and we will have to charge you that amount in addition to the estimated sum for the following year.
For example: If the total service charge for a block of four equally sized two bedroom flats costs £60, we would divide this amount by four, so each flat will pay £15. We will then add on a management fee of 10% .
For leaseholders the method of sharing the costs will be defined by their Lease.
It is not possible to lower your rent as we have to keep our rent levels between a target rent band set by Welsh Government.
As our rents are already relatively low, reducing them further would lower the rents below the band, the Welsh Government wouldn't accept this.
We also aim to set the rent in a fair way with similar properties paying a similar rent.Consider the case where there are two identical properties, one of which receives an additional service. If CCG were to lower the rent for the property which received an additional service, the rent would no longer be the same for those two properties.
The management charge covers the cost for management and administration of additional services.This includes arranging and managing contracts, attending meetings, collecting charges and preparing the service charge accounts.
We have decided to charge 10% of the cost of services – this is the same as many other Housing Associations. The management charge is not a profit.
The Department of Works and Pension (DWP) determines which services are eligible for welfare benefits.
The DWP will not pay for personal service e.g. maintenance of a stairlift provided in the home or the heating of a flat.
We will provide tenants with a service charge statement which will show the amount of the services are eligible and ineligible for welfare benefits, and the frequency of payments, so that tenants on benefits can claim for the eligible charges.
If we consult with tenants on introducing new services, we tell you whether those services will be eligible for welfare benefits.It is worth noting that the DWP may change which services may be eligible in the future.If this happens, we will review whether it is reasonable to continue to offer the services affected.
Tenants receiving Housing Benefit will need to provide proof of the new service charge to the Local Authority (Gwynedd Council) by providing their service charge statement (CCG will also notify the Local Authority of the new charge)
Tenants in receipt of the Housing Element (Universal Credit) will need to provide proof of the new service charge at your local Job Centre (CCG can provide you with the proofs if necessary and also forward the details to the DWP if necessary). This may change in future when tenants have access to their own personal UC portal.
Wherever practically possible we will design our services to be as cost effective as possible.When we calculate our service charges we will consider if they are reasonable and if they provide value for money.We will also be as innovative as possible in how we tender our services in order to achieve the best prices for the services we specify.
If you are in financial hardship you should ask us for support.Or you may prefer to talk to Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter who might also be able to help you.
Many of our tenants already pay for services such as CCTV, Door Entry Systems and Caretakers.If you already pay for some additional services, then those costs will remain.
However, there may be some additional services that you don’t currently pay for which means you will need to pay more to cover those services.The information of what you will be charged will be in your rent increase letter.
The total cost of the Grounds Maintenance Contract will be shared equally between all homes which benefit from green and open spaces.
A charge will also be made to Right to Buy / Right to Acquire homes on our estates according to what was agreed when their home was sold. All the income from payments made by home owners will be used to reduce the total cost to tenants.
Service Charge applies to the right or eligibility to use a service rather than actual use of the service.
For example, the costs of providing lifts in blocks of flats, providing on-site staff, and communal cleaning is paid for by a service charge because it is available to all residents as a communal service.
If there is a lift in the building, a lift is a basic communal service. Costs of lifts are divided by all those living in the building in which the lift is located. Even if a tenant does not use the lift, it is available to them as they live in that building.
Health and Safety services are specific to individual properties.
One of the reasons that the Welsh Government requires us to separate service charges from the rent is so that only tenants living in properties that receive, or are eligible to receive, additional services should pay for them.
Due to the nature of flats there are additional Health and Safety services that we must provide which we don’t provide to other properties, and we must therefore charge the tenants who benefit from those services for their costs.
Nothing in the Human Rights Act allows an occupier of social housing to not pay rent or any service charges and to comply with other obligations of their tenancy agreement, provided they are compatible with the Convention Rights.
Tenants who transferred from Gwynedd Council were promised that no new service charges would be introduced as a result of transfer, for services received before transfer.
Also, CCG would not introduce new service charges unless new services are provided or tenants ask for new services in the future for which service charges are payable – and this could only happen after full consultation with the tenants affected.
CCG will keep this promise to transferring tenants where there has been no change to their tenancy since 12 April 2010.
This depends on what service improvements you want, and how much you and your neighbours are prepared to pay for it.
Having these new arrangements in place will allow you to challenge the extra services we provide, and to request we add a new service, or remove a service you no longer need.
Recently, having consulted with tenants, we have installed CCTV and secure door entry systems to some blocks of flats, and our tenants there are already paying a service charge for these services.We have also removed a service where we were providing washing machines and other white goods in some flats as tenants wanted to choose their own appliances.
We can’t just change the services we offer without consulting/ discussing with our tenants.
We will consult with you before we change any additional services that affects you by sending out a survey explaining the proposed change and estimated costs. We may also hold meetings to discuss the changes. You will be given 30 days to respond to a consultation. We will take note of the responses we receive before making the final decision.
If there is not a consensus we will decide if the proposal/service charge will go ahead.There may be cases where we must continue with the change for specific reasons, for example for health and safety, legal or community safety reasons.
If we consult with you on introducing new services, we will let you know if those services will be eligible for welfare benefits.The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) may change which services may be eligible in the future.
Simply contact us
We will consider your request and, if it seems reasonable, we will evaluate the possibilities and costs and undertake a consultation with tenants who would be affected.
We will tell you if your suggestion is not possible. Also, if we already have a contract in place for a certain level of service it may not be possible to change it until the period of the contract runs out.