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


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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, stu007 said:

Have you asked them for copies of the Policies I have perviously mentioned as you need to see these to be able to challenge them as to whether they have followed their own Polices and Procedures correctly

 

I haven't yet. I ended up emailing them so many times, and the only responses I get are "Someone will contact you" which never happens. They're not even sending me supporting evidence of the service charges which is a legal requirement which they've breached. They're not going to send me anything I ask for but doesn't mean I wont try. 

 

14 hours ago, dx100uk said:

sar time too surely?

 

dx

 

 

Thinking the same, but as above, I've been sending them so many emails and calling them, even speaking at the residents meeting in front of councillors and Clarion staff , the CEO's assistant assured me they were looking into the complaint and I would get a response in 10 days time. That will be by the 29th. If I don't hear anything, I will make a sar request, and also contact our MP. I already have SHAC (shaction.org) very interested in this. 

 

9 hours ago, unclebulgaria67 said:

I have seen thousands of these housing association service charges accounts and the one from Clarion is fairly typical. 

 

Some of the items will be fixed amounts where the contract cost is known for the year. Other items will be what are reserve estimated amounts, where they estimate cost based on previous year, but allow for some increase. This is so they collect enough in service charges during the year, to cover what they think the overall cost will be.  During a year for some items they will estimate more than the actual cost and for some items they will estimate below what the actual cost turns out to be. So they adjust items up and down as required.

 

I am not surprised by the issue you are highlighting (squiffy account details), but the important information, is what they will actually be charging. As long as they only charge you rent £101.23 and service charges £10.37 per week and they confirm that these amounts cannot be increased beyond an agreed percentage each year, then I would think this is reasonable.

 

 

 

We get the actuals every September which shows how much they actually spent. I keep everything and went through all previous years, only this year have they made this cockup. I did call their accounts team to ask how much will be charging me, they said £125.54 per week which was the old amount. I told them my new revised letter says £111.60, they said they don't know anything about that and said someone from the service charges team will call me back that was 5 days ago. I was tempted to cancel my direct debit and only pay the amounts I have, but it may be better to see what they actually charge me. 

 

Just to reiterate, I requested supporting documents, invoices and receipts for the 2019/2020 service charges well over a month ago, they've committed an offence by not providing me with this, at this point, they've not been able to prove to me that any of the amounts are correct. I'm sure they're still overcharging, they know they've cockedup, and refuse to do anything more about it other than correct the three charges I complained about, for me only, and not for the other 500+ properties here. 

 

Oh and I don't know if this changes anything, but my tenancy ends in October 2021, my contract says I need to vacate unless they extend it. We're worried they may not extend it because of all this hassle we're giving them and we will have to move. 

 

Lastly, our tenancy agreement actually doesn't say if we have fixed or variable, they never filled in that page. 

Edited by JoeyJoeC
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look back at post #18 by stu007. Contains a lot of useful information.

 

The issue here, could be that the tenants in the development where you live,  have different service charges depending on whether they are Housing Association tenants or they may be buying the property through shared ownership scheme.

 

And in your area I would think Clarion manage lots of different developments, so it is quite possible that with the huge amount of admin that is involved, that they have issued documents containing mistakes.

 

If you have a document stating that your total housing will be £111.60 per week, then that should be what you pay.

 

The other possible issue might be rent free weeks and the service charges are therefore spread over fewer weeks.  But normally rent free weeks are for either 2 or 4 weeks of the year, so not sure this would cause the increase.

 

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Thanks, I will look at the post again.

 

The tenants I'm speaking to are housing association tenants just like myself, they have very similar charges to the ones I were getting which they admitted over charging on, there is no way a tenant should be paying £300 a year for communal water alone for example, when every year it has been around £4, and they have admitted to me that the £300 figure was a computer error and have corrected mine back to the lower figure. It's only right they should be correcting everyone's but no one I have spoken to has received a service charges letter other than ourselves. We have a Facebook group with 100's of members so I regularly post about this on that group. 

 

The mistakes are because the person who made the changes literally just changed some of the fields in an excel spreadsheet without calculating totals. The other values are the same as the old service charges letter.

 

We don't have any rent free weeks. 

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Just re-read Stu's post, that's absolutely correct, we shouldn't be paying for a great deal of these charges as stated in the Landlords and Tenants act 1985 (section 11). We're certainly not a leaseholder, our tenancy is 5 years at a time. 

 

Furthermore, they've left the section in our tenancy agreement about which service charges we need to pay blank. A second document provided to us suggests it's variable however. 

 

Attaching the entire service charges letter (the latest one), please let me know if I should scan any other documents that may help with this. 

 

REDACTED (01-04-2021) Received 20 April 2021. April 2021 Revised Service Charges.pdf

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stop faffin around give the people that might know everything you remotely think is relevant

 

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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cheap as chips now.

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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Don't wait for them get your SAR Request into them now do not wait for a response get it sent and also make sure and ask for those policies I mentioned.

 

As for them saying it is a computer error no it isn't as it was a human that input that data so it was the staff member that put that incorrect data in not the computer, typical excuse.

 

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The section adding up to £125.54 contains obvious errors. They have added year before amount to estimate amount for current year.   If £125.54 includes anything towards personal charges towards your own flat and not a communal charge, then you need to ask Clarion. 

 

You should be charged the £111.60 per week as the standard amount , as I cannot see any reason to be charged more. For social Housing tenants that would represent the increase Housing Associations are allowed to charge these tenants. However, if you are required to pay a top up amount towards own flat individual personal service charges, then this may be why they state £125.54.

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As for the new letter I would still refer back to my Post#18 (why are you paying an Admin Fee that's a No No you pay for that in your rents that's just one my list says it all I would expect that of Homeowners/Shared Owners/Leaseholders NOT a HA Tenant).

 

I would have expected this to have been calculated in the HA Business Plan for the next Financial Year which is how they calculate what your HA Rent Increase is going to be for that FInancial Year.

 

You need to request the policies I mentioned and to get a SAR into them ASAP.

 

At least with that new letter you have the actual name of the individual who is the 'Head of Rents & Service Charges'.  

 

Also inform anyone else affected by this to do exactly the same as they wil also need to do the same thing to challenge them

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From what I have seen, Housing Associations in England do include a small admin fee for administering the standard services provided to tenants. But this is usually less than £2 per week.

 

For home owners and shared ownership tenants the admin fees tend to be much higher.

 

 

 

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Just had a call from Clarion (of which I have recorded of course). It was someone from their complaints team who gather the initial information for a complaint. He said the complaint was put in their system on the 20th April, not the 14th of March which is when I sent the email titled "Official Complaint". The 20th of April was when I received the last "Revised service charges" letter, which to no one's surprise, they can't find a copy of on their system. 

 

Tomorrow they will email me and ask me to go into detail about the whole complaint to which I will include a timeline showing how many times they have ignored my emails and calls. It will also give me a chance to query whether or not I should be paying for half of these charges as a tenant (thanks Stu). 

 

I will of course ask for the policy documents, and I will send a SAR in as soon as I can. 

 

 

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Policies you now want etc are:

 

Complaints Policy (not the leaflet)

Rent & Service Charge Policy (not the leaflet)

Customer Care Charter/Standards Policy (not the leaflet)

Communications Policy (not the leaflet)

Cyclical Maintenance Policy (not the leaflet)

Estate Management Policy (not the leaflet)

Procurement Strategy/Policy (not the leaflet)

Repairs & Maintenance Policy (not the leaflet)

Health & Safety Policy (not the leaflet)

Fire Safety Policy (not the leaflet)

Copy of your Tenancy Agreement

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Sent detailed timeline of communication as well as in detail my whole complaint, and other issues that have arisen as a result. Requested all the policy documents in #38. Not sent the SAR just yet. 

 

They've started taken payments based on the initial incorrect service charges amount,  not even the reduced amounts shown on my latest service charges letter. 

 

Have been speaking to an action group, who are putting together a dossier regarding service charges from housing associations, they see this case as a strong case, and have gotten the interest of ITV and possibly the BBC. I don't know if at this point it would be a good idea to go as far as an interview on a news segment. Would it be best to wait for the outcome of the complaints process?

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