When a rental property is located inside of a block of apartments, flats or a house conversion or house share, it’s often a requirement that either the tenant pay an annual service charge. This charge will usually cover general maintenance and repair work that needs to be carried out in communal spaces.
Do You Need To Pay A Property Service Charge?
Always check your tenancy agreement to see if you are required to pay a service charge, the landlord or agent should have included a payment agreement. Often you will have been informed from the get go in the real estate listing for the property pre rental or purchase, but If there is no reference to any additional service charges, you may be able to dispute your liability for payment if asked for one at a later date.
If you live in a residential block or a residential development, ask your landlord about the service charges. Even if your landlord is liable to pay these, you should ask to see a copy of the service charge agreement so that you know what work the building manager is supposed to do and who you should report problems to.
If your rental agreement specifies that you are responsible for service costs, you must ensure that you have a copy of the contract for your home, between your landlord and the building manager. This contract should determine whether the payment is a fixed fee or a percentage charge, the monetary value of which will differ from year to year. The contract should also provide a list of services that the building manager is required to provide in exchange for payment of the fee.
When you make a payment, always ask the manager to give you a receipt. While contracts vary from building to building, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has issued guidelines that recommend best practice for building managers in operational service charges. You should get an annual statement showing the payments you have received.
What Do Maintenance Fees Cover?
The services rendered by the building manager can vary depending on the type of contract. You can usually expect your service charge to be charged for the following items:
- Cleaning and preservation of common areas
- Maintenance of all communal gardens
- Routine service of lifts in buildings
- Maintenance of all communal heating systems
- Carry out maintenance in communal areas.
What Are Building Manager’s Responsibilities?
So, if you live in a managed building, you should make sure you have your building manager’s contact information. The building manager will generally be responsible for the following:
- Collection of service charges
- Arrangement for the recovery of overdue charges
- Preparation, submission and delivery of service charges to tenants
- Ensure that the funds are used properly
- Engaging and overseeing maintenance workers
- Arrangement and administration for annual protection or operation checks
- Ensuring that the building complies with all applicable fire prevention and health & safety regulations
- Make sure that the insurance on the house is up to date.
- Communication with the tenants in the building
- Responding to any enquiries from the resident.
Property Maintenance Disputes
In Northern Ireland, there is not currently legislation directly relating to service charges and block management issues. The terms of these agreements differ from contract to contract.
If you are worried that the services offered in your contract are not being handled, you should first talk to your own landlord. If you are not pleased with the terms of the deal, you can talk to a lawyer and seek legal advice.