Annual service charge differs for identical flats in block

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    Annual service charge differs for identical flats in block

    Hi all

    I live in a block of 18 flats. Monthly service charge is expensive but covers heating and hot water and there are two lifts (in addition to all the other usual expenses).

    I live on the third floor and just discovered our neighbours on the first floor pay about £60 per month less than we do. They live in the identical flat (shape, layout etc.), just a different floor. We are both long leaseholders.

    I thought it may be because we arguably use the lift more (it would seem unfair that ground floor flats pay lift) but I checked my estimate for 2011/12 and sure enough, lift costs are split 18 ways so it seems everyone pays the same (or do they?!).

    Is there any explanation for the difference? It's a local authority freeholder - my first instinct of course is to phone them tomorrow and find out what is going on - but suddenly realised I could alert them to a potential mistake with the corollary that my neighbours' SC suddenly goes up - a bit of a dilemma but at the end of the day I can't subsidise someone else. I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts/suggestions?

    thanks all.

    #2
    Hi
    What does your lease state?
    Your lease could be totally different from your neighbours..

    Comment


      #3
      thanks - have just looked at my lease. I will discuss with my neighbours next week but in the interim, the apportionment is calculated by reference to rateable value as at 31 March 1989, or if rateable value is disused, by reference to floor areas.

      It does say that the apportionment will be calculated by dividing the aggregate of the landlord's expenses (etc.) by the aggregate of the RVs of all the premises and then multiplying by the RV as at 31.3.89. Again, suggests to me we should all be paying the same amount, particularly where the floor areas are the same. Interestingly, the flats on one side are far nicer (views over park, west facing) than the ones to the front (including my flat) which overlook a road and garage... I wonder if the RV took this into account? Probably not...

      However, it also says that the landlord can chose any reasonable method from 'time to time' to work out the proportions.

      As far as I am aware, rateable values for domestic properties have long since gone so it will be interesting to understand what the Council does now to work out the proportions.

      Comment


        #4
        To recap the
        1: The lease may be different, in that some items cannot be recovered, a not uncommon problem with local authority leases. The LA should make up the shortfall though.
        2: RV's also can vary property to property.

        I would suggest you contact their leasehold services in writing to explain that another flat of equal size etc pays £720 per annum less than you. Can they please explain the basis for the apportionment of all flats, without identifying the flat number, so as avoid and confidential and date protected information being released.

        Look on the website for their policy on replies and ask them to keep to it. It's normally acknowledgement in 3 days reply in 10.

        In the meantime look again at the lease for any mechanism to force the LA to actually review apportionment into floor area.
        Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

        Comment


          #5
          Is it possible your neighbours have opted to have their own boiler? £60 a month sounds a reasonable discount for that.
          To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by jamesknight0 View Post
            Is it possible your neighbours have opted to have their own boiler? £60 a month sounds a reasonable discount for that.
            If it is, and that would be rare with LA's to consent to that, the OP must check to see that the £60 is being made up by the LA, and not that they simply apportion all costs between the remaining contributors, as the lease does not appear to allow that.
            Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

            Comment


              #7
              thanks for all your replies.

              Definitely not a boiler issue - we all have communal heating and hot water - and we all suffered when it went out last winter!
              I have emailed them asking for the apportionment, and how it is calculated, reiterating that I am not interested in what people are paying per month, but simply are the annual estimates for all the communal parts etc. the same for each flat and if not, why not.

              I don't suppose an answer will be forthcoming immediately - I've the bit between my teeth now and it'll be Freedom of Information next....

              The real difficulty will be if they spot a mistake and put everyone's SC up - and we lose all our friends! I wondered if that was the case I might appeal to the LVT or something to just try and sort out what is potentially turning into a complete dogs' dinner.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by yellcom View Post
                thanks for all your replies.

                Definitely not a boiler issue - we all have communal heating and hot water - and we all suffered when it went out last winter!
                I have emailed them asking for the apportionment, and how it is calculated, reiterating that I am not interested in what people are paying per month, but simply are the annual estimates for all the communal parts etc. the same for each flat and if not, why not.

                I don't suppose an answer will be forthcoming immediately - I've the bit between my teeth now and it'll be Freedom of Information next....

                The real difficulty will be if they spot a mistake and put everyone's SC up - and we lose all our friends! I wondered if that was the case I might appeal to the LVT or something to just try and sort out what is potentially turning into a complete dogs' dinner.
                Well the FOI Act is not your main remedy, let them respond, as it is an implied term of your lease that the landlord need explain the apportionment relative to all properties is a service charge scheme.

                And you follow their formal complaints procedure, check their website , to get an answer.

                If there is a mistake then there maybe, that's the risk you take.

                Ultimately if he apportionment is wrong then the LVT maybe involved.

                But wait until they reply first.
                Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                Comment

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