Changes to Service Charges
After reviewing costs charged to us for services to some properties in the first three months of 2019, we have found that we need to increase the service charge for some of our properties, due to the current charge not meeting costs.
Your safety is very important to us, especially in making sure our buildings are safe with well-maintained fire protection equipment. So that we can continue to deliver high standards of safety and quality across all our schemes, we are having to increase the cost of this service.
Who is affected by the increases?
If you live in a flat/maisonette or are a Retirement/Supported Living customer, you will see an increase in charges for:
- Fire Detection and Emergency Lighting
- Fire Detection only
- Emergency Lighting only
Some Retirement/Supported Living customers will also see increase to their charges for:
- Gas – Communal
- Gas – Residential
When will the increase be happening?
The increase is from 2 September 2019 and will take into account all costs to date and any costs we are due to receive up to 31 March 2020.
Haven’t some customers recently had increased charges for services?
This change is not connected to the grounds maintenance service charges that we wrote to some of you about earlier in the year – the grounds maintenance increase was based on feedback from customers to change the service and contract specification.
What do you need to do?
If you receive Housing Benefit you will need to inform them of the change. If you are on Universal Credit, you will need to update your Journal. If you pay by direct debit don’t need to do anything as we will change it as of 2 September 2019, you will receive notification from Allpay about these changes.
Here are some common questions and answers on Service Charges
What do my service charges pay for?
We include service charges as part of your total rent and these are set out in your tenancy agreement. These charges pay for services to properties such as flats, maisonettes or sheltered accommodation that benefit from extra facilities in shared areas like:
- Fire detection/Emergency lighting
- Cleaning halls and stairs
- Shared lighting
- Warden services
- Laundry facilities
- Door-entry systems and fire alarms
- Cleaning windows
What is covered by the Fire detection/emergency lighting charge?
There are two elements to this charge
- Carry out monthly fire safety checks to your building (flats with communal entrances, lobby’s, landings and stairs) to ensure they comply with fire regulations and that there are no potential hazards which could cause a fire or obstruct your path should you need to evacuate the building.
- Fire Risk Assessment/emergency lighting checks/Fire alarm checks. This is where an assessment is done to see if you should remain in your property or fully evacuate in the event of a fire. It also makes sure we meet with fire regulations. This element also includes charges for any fire alarms/emergency lighting/other equipment checks and servicing.
Following high profile fires in blocks of flats we have expanded on the measures we have in place to improve fire safety in your home.
Fire risk assessments continue to be our main means of identifying and reducing fire risks. We are always vigilant and proactive in managing these and employ full time staff with expert knowledge of potential risks to lead on this work.
This helps us to keep you safe in your home as we identifying fire risks in our buildings and, where necessary, quickly making the improvements required to ensure that our buildings are safe.
When a surplus is made on our service charges we never see a refund.
This is true, however we also do not pass on deficits. For example, where we estimate communal electricity charges for the year, electricity price rises are not passed on to the customer.
We can’t refuse to pay service charges. Does that mean Midland Heart can charge what they like?
No, we can't charge what we like as by law, we have to demonstrate that service charges have been calculated reasonably.
I don’t agree with what you are charging me, what can I do?
If you are not satisfied with the explanation provided, you can raise a service complaint and we’ll examine your charges in more detail.