I am a key worker living in SE1. I have a shared ownership flat, which I've had since 2004.
I pay monthly rent to a housing association on 75% and have a mortgage on 25%. In addition to this, I pay a separate lease-holder a service charge (Peverel OM).
The block has three categories of apartment. The six upper floors are private - one-bedroom flats fetch £280,000 upwards and the penthouses come in at around £1m. The private flats have a front entrance with 24-hour concierge. The lower floors are accessed at the rear of the building - mostly one-bed with the odd two-bed - ranging from £210,000 to around £300,000. In these properties there are around 40% key worker and 60% people renting from the council waiting list.
There have been many security and maintenance issues. These include: cleaning not completed; windows never cleaned since I moved in; 'vulnerable' residents (including a known drug dealer) - who vandalise and dirty communal areas.
The service charge was around £800-1000/year and depended on the size of flat. The private apartments paid more (as they have superior entrance and 24-hour security, we do not).
The private landlord has now raised my service charge from £926 last year to £2280!!! They state that they had not studied their lease to us in enough detail - and they now realise that all apartments (private and housing association) should pay the same service charge! Irrespective of size!!!
I will now pay the same service charge as a £1m+ penthouse apartment. I do not have access to the same facilities as them. I opted for shared ownership as I could never afford to buy on the open market in London. I am really worried that I will have to sell up and move out of London, leaving behind all of my friends and my career...
If you still have a problem, arrange a meeting (I think they are near Moorgate station) and take all the information for them to have a look.
Also worth reading your lease yourself to see what the clause looks like. If it is patently unreasonable, I think (but it's a long time since I did property law) that the Leasehold Tribunal can amend your lease.
Well ducky, I live in a building managed by Peverel OM and my service charges over four years have gone from 4,500 (already outrageous) to nearly 8,000 this year. jIf the million quid penthouses are paying only two or three thousand a year I'd be very surprised. I am absolutely apoplectic, but no one in my block of 420 flats seems to be ready to rebel. Our service charges are absolutely OUT OF SIGHT and people seem to just grumble and pay up. PEVEREL ARE THE PITS, I have said so on this forum a million times. THey should be wiped from the planet. They are greedy and complacent, and feel themselves invulnerable.
Thieving gits your lot sounds Jackie..:-( but dont your fellow residents realise if they give in to paying these massive hikes in charges- next year the increase will be astronomical..then forcing people to sell up because they cant afford it, then find no one will buy because of service charges that dont sem to be of any benefit to the residents? Can't you check the link that Loafer provided and see if they can help?
what about your housing association do they have any say in this? I presume it is the freeholder who appoints the service company? it would be worth contacting them as they will not be happy if suddenly all the flats are un afffordable due to the service hike.
You are right Jan, and I have been to the LVT but you need a serious group to go for the jugular of people like Peverel, their accounting is labyrinthine and creative. Unfortunately so much of our block is tenanted and the owners are overseas and dont really look at the expenses, they just put up the rents and bingo. And if I were getting SERVICE commensurate with so much money I'd be less gutted, but I'm NOT. Rather the reverse. But these managing agents are a disgusting lot.
Our housing association say that they are opposing the rise, however they are not the most efficient or reasonable HA to deal with. The HA expect us to pay up - and will refund us if they manage to reverse the decision...
Many thanks for the advice and PMs from everyone. It is much appreciated!
Your anger at having to pay the same service charge as someone living in a penthouse is probably a reflection of the anger of the guy who paid £1m for his penthouse and be forced to share his block with known drug dealers and assorted unsavouries due to warped government policy. In addition, his house price was no doubt inflated to compensate the builder for his affordable housing quota.
Everyone's service charge would be lower if there was some respect for the communal parts...and of course if your managing agents' weren't apparently milking you for all you are worth.
Developers get paid for the units (both rented and shared ownership) via a grant from the Housing Corporation - so they are not out of pocket. I agree everyone should respect the communal areas and their neighbours naturally.
I also live in the block and it is (apart from the odd bad apple) a great community, I know everyone on my floor of 8 flats and a fair few on other floors.
What is of concern is that Housing Association has "no control" over what the managing agents charge. I own most of my flat but doubt I will ever be able to sell as the service charge is not commensurate with the service provided compared to other developments.
It is surely unreasonable to ask key workers on limited salary (or anyone) to paying for 24 conceirge and fresh flowers for the foyer (both on the service charge bill) and for the landscaped courtyard when we dont have access to them... No-one would go to a restaurant and then be happy to pay for enjoyed by the neighbouring table.
Thanks to everyone for the advice on this service charge issue. I'm not sure who the crusader is but a good idea asking the friendly folks on here for advice I hope they will be at the Residents Meeting at the Rose pub on Feb 25th 6-8pm. I hope we get this sorted as I don't want to be forced to leave SE1!