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I own the Freehold of my property, should I be paying service charges?
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# 1
villimum
Old 25-02-2012, 10:09 AM
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Default I own the Freehold of my property, should I be paying service charges?

Our house is an ex housing association property, the previous owners had bought the freehold. We have been paying service charges for the estate but they keep increasing the amount they want us to pay. Should we even be paying it if we own the freehold?
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# 2
Mrs Arcanum
Old 25-02-2012, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by villimum View Post
Our house is an ex housing association property, the previous owners had bought the freehold. We have been paying service charges for the estate but they keep increasing the amount they want us to pay. Should we even be paying it if we own the freehold?
This will depend on what is provided by the service charges.

Most can include such things as Building Insurance, external decoration & maintenance of the roof, gutter & drains. Along with electrical supply, fencing/garden walls & communal amenity areas.

They should have an AGM & submit accounts which as someone who pays this you are entitled to attend/see.
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# 3
G_M
Old 25-02-2012, 10:19 AM
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As well as the freehold, is there a lease? What does it say?

And is anything registered against the freehold on the Title?
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# 4
WhiteHorse
Old 25-02-2012, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by villimum View Post
Our house is an ex housing association property, the previous owners had bought the freehold. We have been paying service charges for the estate but they keep increasing the amount they want us to pay. Should we even be paying it if we own the freehold?
Perhaps - things like communal roads can attract a charge. You really need a solicitor to go through the documents.
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# 5
villimum
Old 25-02-2012, 10:30 AM
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It covers gardening, they maintain a little patch of grass in front of our house and grass/hedges around the estate and it covers wages of a caretaker (that really doesn't do much). We pay our own buildings insurance and have to maintain our own roof/gutters. In fact some work was done to fascias to other property's and they purposely missed ours out.

Not sure if it covers road maintainance, I presume that is done by the council. I will have to dig out the paperwork to see if there is any mention of a lease but I don't think there is.
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Mrs Arcanum
Old 25-02-2012, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by villimum View Post
It covers gardening, they maintain a little patch of grass in front of our house and grass/hedges around the estate and it covers wages of a caretaker (that really doesn't do much). We pay our own buildings insurance and have to maintain our own roof/gutters. In fact some work was done to fascias to other property's and they purposely missed ours out.

Not sure if it covers road maintainance, I presume that is done by the council. I will have to dig out the paperwork to see if there is any mention of a lease but I don't think there is.
What you need than to check is your share of the service charge vs other residents. If they are only paying a small amount more this could cover the ground rent. If not & you did not get your fascia replaced then you have a good case. Never heard of a service charge covering the roads, maybe just pavements or any shared services such as drains, but as these are now your local water companies responsibility beyond your boundary, you should no longer get charged for this.

I have arguments with another HA over charges for communal door replacement when our tenants have their own doors. Still being investigated 5 months on.
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propertyman
Old 25-02-2012, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs Arcanum View Post
What you need than to check is your share of the service charge vs other residents. If they are only paying a small amount more this could cover the ground rent. If not & you did not get your fascia replaced then you have a good case. Never heard of a service charge covering the roads, maybe just pavements or any shared services such as drains, but as these are now your local water companies responsibility beyond your boundary, you should no longer get charged for this.

I have arguments with another HA over charges for communal door replacement when our tenants have their own doors. Still being investigated 5 months on.


I am sorry but none of this has anything to do with the question.

The OP has clarified he has purchased the freehold, it is to do with grounds maintenance not ground rent or repairs to his house, or flat doors.

Councils rarely adopt communal areas which include roads paths street lightning drains and water supplies, and in some cases the responsibility for these stops at the frontage of a new estates.

In this case it appears to be the grounds alone and a simple written request to those raising the charge for
1: an explanation of the charges
2: a specific explanation of the source of their authority to charge and his obligation to pay
and to decline to pay in the meantime until they respond.

It may be payment by virtue of a estate rent charge of deed of covenant or entry in the transfer, or as can happen there is no such obligation due to an oversight, and it is assumed that he pays.

Let them explain.
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# 8
mavisangelica
Old 25-02-2012, 4:14 PM
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Sounds like our street. Ours is an ex shared ownership. Bought it from new and then bought the rented bit and the freehold. Service charge originally covered the road, street lighting, shared television & sat aerials, parking spaces, landscaping and cutting the grass of front gardens (where they are not fenced in.) After great battles over the years, the council have adopted the road (but not the street lighting), the tv & sat aerials were always breaking down so they dropped off the service charge. We are now left with street lighting & landscaping and parking spaces which has been just over 100 a year. Everyone in the shared ownership houses (whether owned outright of still shared) pay the same. Not sure about the rented houses and flats though. We have just received a letter saying that they are going to change the way the charges are worked out - at the minute we pay based on the previous year but now it is going to be looking forward and we will supposedly have a say in the costs. I am expecting the charge to jump up though.
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Mrs Arcanum
Old 25-02-2012, 4:53 PM
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Originally Posted by propertyman View Post

I am sorry but none of this has anything to do with the question.

The OP has clarified he has purchased the freehold, it is to do with grounds maintenance not ground rent or repairs to his house, or flat doors.

Councils rarely adopt communal areas which include roads paths street lightning drains and water supplies, and in some cases the responsibility for these stops at the frontage of a new estates.

In this case it appears to be the grounds alone and a simple written request to those raising the charge for
1: an explanation of the charges
2: a specific explanation of the source of their authority to charge and his obligation to pay
and to decline to pay in the meantime until they respond.

It may be payment by virtue of a estate rent charge of deed of covenant or entry in the transfer, or as can happen there is no such obligation due to an oversight, and it is assumed that he pays.

Let them explain.
Currently going through all the leases & freeholds for our shared owners with a fine tooth comb and the variety of what will & won't be paid for within the service charges is amazing. We even have the ridiculous situation of a MA being responsible for the communal aerial but only contact appears to be written. Or another one where the windows are covered within the service charge but not the sealed glazing units. None of which so far include roads. Shared driveways yes, roads no.

Point is, if they pay for something they are entitled to know what this covers and to complain should this be unreasonable.
"You can't go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it's just a cage." - Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
Unless backed up by a link, my comments are just my opinion.
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# 10
Richard Webster
Old 27-02-2012, 9:16 AM
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Quote:
It may be payment by virtue of a estate rent charge of deed of covenant or entry in the transfer, or as can happen there is no such obligation due to an oversight, and it is assumed that he pays.
yes, you need to ask for the specific authority and then when that is given we can advise further as to whether what you have been told makes sense - sometimes, as Propertyman has hinted, they can't actually collect the sum, but think they can!
RICHARD WEBSTER

As a conveyancing solicitor I believe the information given in the post to be useful assuming any properties concerned are in England/Wales but I accept no liability except to fee-paying clients.
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