Jump to content

 

BankFodder BankFodder


old shaver

Housing assoc service charges. How to dispute?

style="text-align:center;"> Please note that this topic has not had any new posts for the last 447 days.

If you are trying to post a different story then you should start your own new thread. Posting on this thread is likely to mean that you won't get the help and advice that you need.

If you are trying to post information which is relevant to the story in this thread then please flag it up to the site team and they will allow you to post.

Thank you

Recommended Posts

Hello All,

 

Ive been a HA tenant for just over a year , so I'm now an assured tenant.

 

Last year I recieved a list of service charges, which at the time seemed a little off/excessive, but being on a starter tenancy I sucked it up as to not cause trouble.

 

This year however, I would like to dispute some of the charges and I was wondering what the best way of doing it was.

 

I've looked all over the intertubes but there is very little out there.

 

I've emailed the contact address on the letter outlining my concerns, and I'm awaiting a reply, but forwarned is forarmed as they say.

I would appreciate anyone with experience of this chipping in.

 

I'll just quote from my email to the HA, so you can see some of the issues I have with their charges...

 

"Communal Cleaning: £315.82.

 

I have lived here for over 12 months now and have never seen a cleaner at the property, or evidence that someone other than the resident have cleaned the very small communal area.

Can you provide the invoice and a schedule of their visits please.

 

Communal garden and grounds maintain: £318.39

 

As far as I can see , this building doesn't have any communal gardens or grounds.

It fronts directly onto the street and has no grounds to the rear, other than the church graveyard that is maintained by the parish.

Can you explain which "grounds" are being maintained and when I would expect to have seen the maintenance people?

Could I also see an invoice for this charge?

 

Communal electricity: £220.31

 

The communal area has 1 small heater and a light.

My total bill for last years electricity for lighting, heating etc a whole flat was £750.

I would like to see a bill or electricity meter reading as I believe £220 is excessive for such a small area."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a bit of experience with success of getting a large refund 50% of service charges.

 

You have to write to them at their head office a recorded delivery letter followed by a copy via email, just to nail them to the cross.

In this you will ask to see all documentation related to the service charges as per Landlord and Tenants act.

To make it clear you have to ask to see all evidence of expenditures for example receipts, invoices, etc.

 

You have 6 months time limit to ask this from the moment you receive the actual cost service charges which is usually around April.

They have a month to comply or 6 months from the bill, whatever comes later.

They will inevitably have non documented charges and you will inevitably ask for these back.

 

Once they give you the documentation, make your calculations and give them 30 days to refund.

If they don't, you send them a lba giving further 30 days and threatening court action.

 

At day 31 if they haven't paid you take them to court and you'll win hands down.

Most likely they'll pay you after the lba or at worst, once they receive the court letter.

 

2 things:

1. Don't ever talk to them on the phone unless you know how to make them say what you want and record the call.

 

2. Do not approach the Ombudsman as they will suggest. It's a waste of time.

 

In another case the Ombudsman agreed they had deliberately lied to me on several occasions causing loss of enjoyment of my property but they didn't sanction them, not even a slap on the wrist.

 

Use the court system and you'll get your money back.

 

Come back here for more advice.

  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most HA's charge infalted amounts and hope/know most wont ever be questioned. Those that are, they just quietly issue refunds.


Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you.

 

I will ammend my original email, print it and pop it into recorded delivery.

 

I'll up date the thread with any response.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello again,

 

 

 

I was amazed that I got a really prompt reply from the HA.

 

 

There were only 2 actual invoices, 1 from the cleaning company for £20 a month, which of course leaves nearly £100 short fall. There was also a comment about contacting them if they didnt think it was being done.

 

 

Another £110 invoice for a fire extinguisher that can be bought for £30 on Amazon (fitting was extra)

 

 

Funnily enough, the gardeners turned up at 8:10 am and strimmed down the 1mtr wide strip of flagstones between the front of the property and the road. Ii'm sure this has to be a coincidence. 5 mins tops.

 

 

The "electricity bill" was an excel spread sheet, does 250 KWH seem reasonable for a months electric? I have no idea tbh.

 

 

All the rest of the costs I queried we responded to with "we have a contract that does not break down the individual costs".

 

 

So is it worth the email ping pongwith the "admin apprentice", or should I just send the recorded delivery letter?

 

 

I guess I know the answer, but the fact the cleaning bill has obvilously been added up wrong in the HA's favour, makes me wonder if they would drop themselves in it further.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course they will.

Engage in the ping-pong letter game and they will dig their own grave.

Contract that doesn't break down individual costs?

Nonsense, they must provide you with the percentage related to your property.

I guess they charge the whole lot to every single building using the same receipt.

Spreadsheet for electricity is not good enough, you want to see the actual bill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply.

 

What i am asking is whether its worth carrying on with the emails with this poor admin lad who has probably been told to fob me off (the spreadsheet has everyones bills included on different tabs...data protection oops), or whether I should just send the letter and deal with them "formally".

 

I agree with you the the HA is dividing the costs for all the "maintainence" contracts between the total properties they administer.

To quote "The contract we have with ******* is set up so that we pay them an agreed amount each month, we do not receive an invoice for every scheme each month."

 

This is pretty much the same line on each of the "maintainence" items I've asked about.

 

One thing that has actually made me angry is that I am paying to "maintain and service the fire alarm/equipement" but if something needs fixing, that is an extra cost....

 

"Servicing of fire alarm – the cost of servicing the fire alarm is 4 visits at £49.85 per visit + 12 monthly visits for compliance officer checks at a total cost of £125.51. Again we do not receive an invoice."

 

however...

 

"repair to fire alarm – invoice attached.

The contract we have is for 4 visits a year to check that the fire alarm is functioning satisfactorily any repairs are a separate cost."

 

Why have a "checking" contract and then a servicing contract, if you then charge seperately for any repairs!?

 

I dont know if they are confused but the invoice is "repair to the fire extinguisher" which is again a seperate item on top of "service and maintain the firefighting equipment" (which they dont invoice seperately)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Servicing and repair are 2 separate things.

All continuous improvement/repair/maintenance contractors must produce an invoice at one point, otherwise how do they account for it with HMRC?

Ask them this question.

Also you could send an email to the contractors and ask if it's true that they don't produce invoices.

It worked with me and I received an unequivocal response saying that all work is invoiced.

Once the management company gives you the runaround in a couple of emails, ask to see the contract and the percentage related to your building.

They already said they have this, so they must produce it in order to comply with your request.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

May I offer my 2p on this issue.

 

 

Do you have a separate electricity meter? I suspect not but happy to be corrected. If that is the case, all the properties will pay exactly the same as you. I live in sheltered housing and up to now, we have paid for the previous years electricity as our council are not psychic. I also think that your development has too few properties to mean that each property has to have it's own meter (EU directive). Also, the HA are allowed to add a small admin fee to each resident for the work incurred by them being the supplier and they will (or should) be getting the best deal for them from the original supplier.

 

 

 

Do you pay for heating? Is this included in your bill? Again, where I live, we have heating included in our bills. We do not receive bills either but in a letter detailing the rent for the next year.

 

 

Another assumption. You work!? If so, how do you know that any cleaning is not being done.

 

 

If the HA has no in company repairs service, they contract it out to another company who has won the contract by supplying the best (not always the lowest) quote. This should be included within the rent.

 

 

 

The fire extinguisher is not the same type that can be bought from Amazon and as such will carry a maintenance contract which the HA would have accepted and passed the cost on to the tenant. The extinguisher will be checked once per year and when its 'best by' date is reached, they will be refurbished or replaced. If the HA are adding on any fee, this should be the actual cost, not a number thought up.

 

 

 

Does the fire alarm get tested four times per year? Another assumption. Your property is linked to the fire alarm?

 

 

 

Not sure about HAs and housing benefit but if you do receive some or all, some costs are included in the rent. As I live in sheltered I get the benefit of a daily warden visit, window cleaning, garden maintenance, communal area cleaning.

All I pay is rent,heating and electricity charge (set yearly) and all included within my rent.

 

 

 

I'm sure, giving the HA some grief over your charges, they will comply eventually however, it may be worth chasing the Chief Executive to see if he/she will intervene.


If you are asked to deal with any matter via private message, PLEASE report it.

Everything I say is opinion only. If you are unsure on any comment made, you should see a qualified solicitor

Please help CAG. Order this ebook. Now available on Amazon. Please click HERE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

 

The Important thing even if you are emailing on this matter in the Subject Line make sure and put the title as 'FORMAL COMPLAINT' you want them to deal with it as a complaint as they legally have to record it as such on there records.

 

Ask them for a copy of there 'Service Charge Policy' (not a leaflet) you want the Policy. (when you get it slowly read and just ask yourself 'did they do that' if not mark it to using back at them).

 

Ask them for a copy/breakdown of when the cleaning company is meant to do this work in the communal areas and exactly what they are meant to do. (the HA will know exactly what they are meant to do.

 

As above with the Landscaping ask them the exact same.

 

What I would also suggest is wait to see how they deal with this then send your Housing Association a GDPR SAR check there website as a form for it may be available there.

 

What you now also need to do is you and the other tenants affected by these charges from communal cleaning to landscaping keep a written record of when the have or haven't been done and report it. (difficulty is you need to know when they are meant to carry out this work so ask for a breakdown).

 

Keep a physical written log of everything you want to keep a good paper trail.

  • Confused 1

How to Upload Documents/Images on CAG - **INSTRUCTIONS CLICK HERE**

FORUM RULES - Please ensure to read these before posting **FORUM RULES CLICK HERE**

I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stu007, this is all well and good, but the matter is not whether they're cleaning or cutting the hedge, it's that the management company is overcharging and I bet they can't provide evidence of expenditures.

If they provide evidence of expenditures, then the op could look at complaining about work not being carried out.

That won't grant any compensation, but just the management company getting on contractors case.

Bottom line is that if they can't provide evidence of expenditures they must refund the charges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

King 12345

 

Sorry but I stand by everything in my post as they should be going through the HA Complaints procedure on these Service Charges so that it is logged and when they get the final outcome if still not happy then off to the Housing Ombudsman. (yes the ombudsman can be hit or miss but before even considering sending an LBA I would still go through the HA Complaint Procedure till the final outcome letter and then only consider an LBA as they would have evidence that they tried to resolve this before issuing that letter)

 

They need evidence as you have previously stated and I fully agree with as without evidence this will be difficult to challenge. (why i mention what they should ask for and also to keep a record and when these works are meant to be done)

 

I also see no mention by the OP of a Management Company only your assumption. (the HA could be doing there own factoring/Management as mine does)


How to Upload Documents/Images on CAG - **INSTRUCTIONS CLICK HERE**

FORUM RULES - Please ensure to read these before posting **FORUM RULES CLICK HERE**

I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When it's a matter of money I tempt to take a more robust and effective approach.

I communicate my concerns to them, gather evidence, then ask for money back in a recorded delivery letter followed by a copy via email.

If they don't comply I send a lba which usually does the trick.

If you submit a complaint about refund they will fob you off and then suggest you take it to the Ombudsman knowing that they will be a winner.

If you skip the Ombudsman and take them to court, they'll have reasons to say that they tried to avoid court by suggesting the Ombudsman.

If instead you don't give them a chance to involve their friend, the Ombudsman, at best they'll be going to mediation which is not biased.

I say this based on experience, whereby the Ombudsman had to conced that the management company had deliberately misled me in order to gain, but no sanction was issued.

In other words the Ombudsman said "we know they've tried to con you and lied in several communication, but we're not going to do anything about it rather than accept it"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

However, some courts would look down on you for not exhausting the complaints procedure before going to court. Court is meant to be a last resort, not there to use as a threat.


Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not really, courts are aware of the useless Ombudsman and regulation schemes.

Just think of all sofas cases we get here on cag.

Also by going to the Ombudsman and being denied a refund, gives the HA some ammunition to use in court.

Leave the Ombudsman out is my advice and if you don't start a formal complaint the HA would not even mention it.

Money matters are better dealt in a more direct way in my experience.

All companies have learnt how to find lame excuses to dismiss a complaint.

In my case the said that the 3 managers who deliberately lied to me had done nothing wrong, but the fault was of the company, an abstract entity.

The Ombudsman accepted this, fortunately this was not about money.

In another case, involving a refund I followed the pre action protocol and they paid up, no complaint, no opportunity for them to refer the matter to their friend (the Ombudsman).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all,

 

 

Thanks for the replies above , they are appreciated.

 

 

I would have replied sooner but my keyboard went on the blink over the weekend and I've just recieved a new one from the interwebz.

 

 

 

Just to clear something up and ask a further question.

 

 

There is no management company. This is being dealt with by the HA directly.

 

 

Also, is it right that there is no rush on this? I read somewhere that I have 6 months to challenge/complain. But is that 6 months from the "this is what we plan to charge in April" letter that I just recieved, or 6 months from the "this is what we are going to charge" letter I will get next March? If its the former I might play a bit nieve and string out the "informal" emails a bit, see what else they might let slip "explaining" things to me.

 

 

 

Also, just a point on benefits.

 

 

 

I personally dont care if anyone is claiming benefits or not, they are a valuable safety net. I am not but the other 3 residents of the block are, so in effect I'm paying a small percentage of their bill as well. And so is every council tax payer in my county.

My local authority has a 3 million shortfall this year and is looking to cut back again on social support services. This HA manages 22000 properties, and if they are only ripping off £100 on the cleaning costs, thats near 10% of the council budget shortfall. That's if they are "only" ripping off the cleaning costs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

 

Read my post#10 and if you haven't done so get a Formal Complaint into them and whats mentioned in the post.

 

When you mention benefit and you not being on any and that you are potentially subsidising the other residents that are on that benefit is actually inaccurate. Why if they were on full Housing Benefit for example that benefit is specifically for Rent it does not include any Service Charges. (the system changed some years ago)

 

i.e. there Tenancy Agreement states Rent - £350, Service Charges with a breakdown of those charges - £50, Total Rent to Housing Association £400

 

If on Full Housing Benefit the Local Authority operating on behalf of DWP will pay a Rent of £350 the service charges are the Tenants responsibility as they are not Rent for the property but service charges. (this is only an example)


How to Upload Documents/Images on CAG - **INSTRUCTIONS CLICK HERE**

FORUM RULES - Please ensure to read these before posting **FORUM RULES CLICK HERE**

I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any update on this please


How to Upload Documents/Images on CAG - **INSTRUCTIONS CLICK HERE**

FORUM RULES - Please ensure to read these before posting **FORUM RULES CLICK HERE**

I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 Caggers

    No registered users viewing this page.


  • Have we helped you ...?


×
×
  • Create New...