Service charge

Inside Housing – News – Residents of G15 owner strike over service charges as bills soar

Vaughan Road, Peterborough

James Baker’s service charge rose from £ 9 per week to £ 63 per week in March last year, although he said he was not receiving services such as window cleaning and laying of gutters.

When he phoned Hyde to ask for this, he was told the increase was a mistake and he should continue to pay the original amount. However, in June, he received what he described as a “nasty letter” saying he was in arrears.

Almost four months later, its service charge has been reduced to £ 50 per week. Seven months after Mr Baker first complained to Hyde, he was offered £ 50 in exchange for the complaint being closed. Mr Baker refused and told Hyde to take the complaint to the next level, but has not heard from since.

“Honestly, it was like banging my head against a brick wall,” he said. “Send stuff, call them up and explain to them … I was told because I don’t pay the service charge, even though I still pay my rent and stuff, I’m, according to Hyde, more of a big and one half of the arrears.

Crescent Estate, Sidcup

Fiona Martin * is a social housing resident who has lived in the estate since 1987. In 2018, two years after the transfer of the properties of a small housing association to Hyde, the service charge dropped from £ 49 per month to £ 111 £.

The service charges were eventually revised and Ms Martin is currently billed £ 69 per month. An important factor in the increase is the increase in fire safety costs. Previously, the whole estate paid around £ 4,000 per year for fire safety costs, but that amount has grown to £ 27,500 in 2018. This is about paying for things like risk assessments of fire and emergency lighting, rather than for major remediation work.

Ms. Martin refuses to pay these additional service charges until she is billed correctly. “It really cuts,” she said. “This kind of increase is huge, it’s huge. I work for the NHS and we have been frozen on wages for a while.

“I raised it as a complaint and it went on and on,” she said.

“I climbed it in a formal complaint. It takes them so long to process things that you still don’t get a result of this complaint until the next year’s service charge bill comes in and exactly the same issues arise about it. So it’s just escalated. I now have four years of outstanding service charge complaints.

Sandlewood Court, Maidstone

Carley Probert and Daniel Archer, co-owner and tenant living at Sandlewood Court, both saw their service charges soar two years ago.

Ms Probert’s has gone from around £ 120 to £ 354 per month. She has been trying to get Hyde to provide her with a full itemized bill since October 2020, but has yet to receive a satisfactory explanation for the increase. She is trying to sell her apartment and has seen two buyers pull out due to high service charges.

Mr Archer’s service charges have increased from £ 277 per month to £ 405 per month. He said: “Every time we file a complaint, they say, ‘We will be with you within six weeks,’ and after six weeks, they say, ‘Sorry, we haven’t escalated this, we have a period. loaded at the moment, unfortunately we will get back to you in four weeks ”.

A number of locals have gone on strike over service charges since last month.

Billinghurst Court, Lewisham

Claire Beattie * is a co-owner whose service charges have gradually increased from £ 30 per month in 2018 to £ 128 per month this year. She said Hyde systematically underestimated how much he would spend, leaving residents with bills of hundreds of pounds at the end of the fiscal year. In 2020/21 Ms Beattie was charged an additional £ 376 on top of what had been estimated.

Ms Beattie is refusing to pay the deficit, a decision which was first made “under the circumstances” because she was not working during the lockdown, making it difficult to afford the increase.

“I thought to myself a) I can’t pay for it and b) why should I pay? ” she said.

“They are not clear with communication and when you email them there is no service charge team and then they say, ‘We can’t get you through, there would be too many calls, we can’t get you through ‘. That makes it clear to you that you have a problem then, doesn’t it? She added.

* Names have been changed.