What you need to know about service charges

One of the benefits of becoming a leasehold property owner is the fact that most of the upkeep and maintenance of the communal areas, the main structure and the exterior of your home will be arranged by its freehold owner and undertaken by professionals. This takes the pressure off you and allows you more time to yourself.

If you’re considering purchasing a leasehold property, you may be aware of the service charges that are often applicable to this type of residence. 

These are amounts that you pay to the freeholder of your home for a variety of reasons – chiefly to do with its upkeep and insurance cover. 

So what are the types of service charge that may be applied, and why are they necessary? 

Here, the specialists at sell house fast company Property Solvers explain what is likely to be done with your money… Service charges logo

Maintenance

If you live in a block of flats or on a leasehold estate, the residents of each property will usually be required to pay a set amount towards maintenance at intervals set by the freeholder. This will go towards roof, drainage and structural repairs to the building as a whole and to its communal areas. 

It will also contribute to the rectification of any wear and tear in public spaces that may otherwise go unchecked – plus it makes it far easier for matters of health and safety to be easily monitored and adhered to.

Cleaning

A portion of the service charge you pay to your property’s freeholder will also be used to ensure that all public spaces in and around a leasehold property are kept clean, hygienic and safe. 

It’s a way of ensuring the wellbeing of leaseholders and keeping their surroundings pleasant, without having to rely on each individual household to undertake regular cleaning work – making it easier for everyone involved.

Insurance

Setting up a service charge is the easiest way for a freeholder to be sure that every household within the leasehold complex they own is subject to the correct type and amount of cover. 

This is for the benefit of all residents. Say an incident occurs in which a fire is caused by carelessness and spreads between two flats, damaging property. Now imagine that neither property owner has the correct insurance in place to cover the losses. 

This can lead to serious problems which a freeholder may be able to avoid should they take control of the properties’ various types of insurance cover using funds obtained from leaseholders by way of a service charge.

Professional Costs best-mortgage_0.jpg

Your service charge will also help to pay the wages of the building or site management team, the cleaners, maintenance specialists, security guards and concierges, ensuring that your area is always well manned and taken care of both day and night.

Updates and Improvements

The amount you pay as a service charge may also go towards tweaks, enhancements and the gradual improvement of your home and its surroundings. 

The installation of better internet, the upgrading of heating, lighting or ventilation systems, the improvement of amenities and plenty more besides can be funded in this way. As a result of your contribution, you’ll enjoy a space that is ever more attractive and regularly kept up to date.

If at any time you are unsure about exactly where your money is going, you have a legal right to receive a detailed breakdown of all the service charges you are required to pay at any time. 

Often, this will be supplied to you when you first move in. You can also request receipts supporting the amounts, and it is a criminal offence for the freeholder to fail to comply.

October 2, 2019

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