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Service charges went from £830 to £1,242.


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We live in a flat and with Clarion Housing who are a housing association. 

 

Today we all got a summary of what the service charges estimates were, and what they actually were. The estimates were £412 less than the actual costs. The three main increases were:

 

  • Communal Electricity - Estimated £45.00, Actual £241.73
  • Communal Water - Estimated £3.66, Actual £234.91
  • Fire Protection - Estimated £2.08, Actual £147.65

 

We have no idea what the electricity cost is for. Someone could have been stealing power for all we know.

 

The water, I recall a water leak (last year / early this year) in the "Energy Centre" which is a big boiler than pumps hot water around to all the properties in the estate and heat exchange units transfer it to our hot water and heating. This means the leak must have cost at least £100,000 overall in lost water which doesn't add up at all. 

 

Fire protection was some work that was carried out when they realised that there wasn't enough fire protection in the buildings. They had to remove cladding and fit fire proof cladding, they put fire brakes above fire doors etc. 

 

Does this seem fair that we're having to pay for these? What can we do? 

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Hi

 

Could you clarify if your are a Tenant, Home or Shared Owner, Leaseholder please?

(I suspect from your post either Home or Shared Owner, leaseholder being factored by the housing association but require the above clarification)

 

Is your Flat in a Multi Storey?

 

The Communal Electricity Charge will be for all the Communal Lighting inside and outside the building

 

The Fire Protection may have came about due to the Grenfell Tragedy in London where all housing association etc. had to reinspect there buildings/cladding to ensure it was in compliance with regulations.

 

The Communal Water charge will be for the usage of water probably for cleaning the building internal and external.

 

these estimates from the figures you have posted from the estimate to the actual charge is a massive increase except the Fire Protection as they would have had to do this due to Grenfell and Government Guidance.

 

I would write to them asking for clarification and a full breakdown of each service charge as the estimate that was given for the year and the actual final figure are a massive increase to the estimate and you also require the following;

 

Copy of Customer Charter Policy not the leaflet

Copy of Rent and Service Charge Policy not the leaflet.

Copy of Repairs and Maintenance Policy not the leaflet

 

As well as sending the letter you can also complete their form online (I would recommend doing both in writing and this form if relevant):

https://www.myclarionhousing.com/your-home/rent-and-service-charges/service-charges/

 

 

 

 

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

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Thanks Stu.

 

I'm a housing association tenant. We pay rent. I live in a block of 11 other flats, the estate has multiple blocks, something like 300 - 600 properties in total. 

 

Shouldn't fire protection have been put in place in the beginning, or only where we can prove it wasn't up to regulations before we moved in? They had to fireproof around all fire doors, pump in fire proofing into the brickworks and cladding, and also added fireproofing around electrical cupboards. Surely this should have been done in the first place?

 

The water charge turned out to be to do with a fault on the communal boiler, managed by SSE. Lots of people received compensation for this. but we are all being charged £200 to £300 for this, which means around £75,000 to £100,000 repair costs which makes no sense. I am also told there is a fund to cover repair costs to this that we're already paying for, but I don't have any information on this. 

 

I emailed them to two of their customer care email addresses, usually would get some sort of confirmation, but nothing this time. I'll draft up a letter and post it.

 

Thanks,

 

Joe

 

Edit: One of many news articles about this estate: https://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/it-s-very-scary-says-orchard-village-rainham-resident-as-wooden-slats-revealed-behind-metal-cladding-1-5078277

 

 

Edited by JoeyJoeC
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Hi

 

Fire Protection isn't just for cladding fire proofing doors etc it also includes Annual Fire Inspections which all add to costs.

 

Water Charge for the communal boiler fault managed by SSE It would depend how your housing association has setup the contract with SSE. (sounds as if you have a Combined Heat and Power system (CHP)) if this is the case my own Housing Association also has this its the largest CHP in the UK still and it is run and managed by SSE right down to they repair faults at their cost not the tenants its how the contract was setup). As said it would depend on how your HA setup the contract with SSE.

 

If it is a CHP system and the fault as you have describe these are not cheap to repair/get a replacement parts. (my own HA CHP covers thousands of properties and has three boilers two are constantly used the third is and emergency backup/used if maintenance on others required.)

 

If all tenants are being charged this £200-£300 have the HA added this as a Service Charge as part of your Rent Statement?

 

I am a HA Tenant and if I had this as a HA Tenant myself I certainly would be challenging it with the HA as such costs should have been budgeted for in the HA Budget Plan.

 

Do you have a Tenants Committee/Registered Tenants Organisation (RTO) if so as well as complaint to the HA I would also inform them of this

 

With your letter Make sure and Title it 'Formal Complaint' this way they have to log it as a complaint which in turn in turn must be added to the HA return to the Regulator.

 

Only if you consider getting together with other tenants as a Group to complain about this the best advice I will give you is always complain individual as well as a Group. (note: why you ask well individually as stated they have to log all those complaints but as a Group its only one complaint logged the Group one)

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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

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

 

All the tenant's I've spoken to have this charge added. I eventually got an email back from the "Service Charge & Section 20 Officer" for Clarion with the below:

 

Quote

Thank you for your email queries, in relation to the 2019-2020 actual service charges.

 

Please be advised that I am investigating the communal and water charges. Once my investigation is completed, I would send you a revised service charges letter.

 

Thanks for your patience whilst I am investigating.

 

This was almost a month ago now. It's been well over a month since I requested to see a copy of the invoices. I've emailed him back twice and called twice but I don't hear back from him, or anyone else at Clarion.

 

There's a bunch of us that are complaining about charges. Some people in other blocks are getting charged for use of the secure car parks, that they don't actually have access to etc. It's a mess. 

 

I will write a complaint letter now as an individual. 

 

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i'm wondering what an sar from every resident might throw up here.

 

they are hiding something.....

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Housing associations  don't normally provide copies of invoices, but they should supply a copy of the accounts for the block of flats.  The accounts should show a list of all of the service charges, with estimated and actual amounts showing.  Some show the previous year and the current year, so tenants can see where costs have increased or reduced.  

 

So ask for the accounts of the service charges for the block of flats.

We could do with some help from you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

They send a summary every year with the previous year, estimates and actual costs. I used this to work out the increases in the first post.

 

The issue is, they don't break down the charges enough, so we have no idea why "Communal Water" went from an estimate of £3.66 to £234.91. 

 

They're telling me that they're waiting for clarification on the service charges before they can tell me anything. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

A somewhat good result. After more chasing, they've sent me a spreadsheet of the accounts for fire protection, water charges and electric. 

  • Communal Electricity - Estimated £45.00, Actual £241.73 - Revised: £41.63
  • Communal Water - Estimated £3.66, Actual £234.91 - Revised: £76.96
  • Fire Protection - Estimated £2.08, Actual £147.65 - Revised: £51.15

Still it seems too high, the total for this estate alone for water charges came to £62,950.07 last year. The thing is, they've listed blocks that don't seem to exist on our estate. Possibly from the new development that has only just been built on the estate, which was finished in the summer this year. 

 

 

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