This section covers how your service charge is calculated, what it covers and how you can query it.
If you require assistance with your service charge account please contact your leasehold housing officer by emailing LHS@barnethomes.org or calling 020 8359 6020.
About the charges
This section is about your service charges, how to query them and what happens if you don’t pay.
Your annual service charge covers the cost of day-to-day repairs and maintenance, along with services we provide at your block and estate.
Service charges are calculated from 1 April to 31 March each year and are broken down into a number of categories.
Estimate and actual service charges
We will contact you twice each year about your service charges:
- Before the start of a service charge year with our estimate of what the costs will be that year – the estimate bill.
- After the end of the service charge year to inform you what the costs have actually been – the actual bill.
We aim to minimise any difference between our estimate and actual bills.
Your lease will tell you when you are due to pay your service charges. Normally the lease will tell you that you must pay an estimated service charge on 1 April, 1 July, 1 October and 1 January, covering the service charge for the coming three months. Many leaseholders choose to pay by direct debit – please click here for more information on methods of payment
In addition you will be invoiced separately for any major works taking place at your block or estate. We offer a range of support to help you meet these costs.
Please contact us immediately if you are having any difficulties paying your service charge.
How to query service charges
If you receive a demand and are not satisfied with your bill you should:
- promptly pay for all the services or works that you are satisfied with
- contact us to explain why you are not satisfied with the charges
- follow up a phone call with a letter or email to your Leasehold Housing Officer confirming the details of your dispute.
Your Leasehold Housing Officer will respond to you within ten working days.
If you don’t pay service charges
You are breaking the terms of your lease if you do not pay your service charge, and we may take legal action to recover what you owe.
- Barnet Homes will write to you and give you an opportunity to clear your debt, usually within seven days of the letter sent.
- If you have financial problems we may be able to refer you to a money or debt advisor.
- If payment is not received then we may approach your mortgage lender for payment.
- As a last resort we will also instruct our solicitors to take legal action to recover the service charges you owe us so it is vital that you contact us as soon as possible if you are experiencing financial difficulties. We can offer support to help you keep up with service charge payments.
Find out more about the help on offer.
What they cover
This section is about how service charges are calculated and gives an explanation each category.
Your lease will set out what services we must supply for you, and which costs we can claim back from you.
The cost of services is covered by a portion of the rent paid by tenants, and service charges paid by leaseholders.
Your contribution to the costs of these services is calculated according to the percentage stated in your lease or by the rateable value of your home.
Most leases also allow for these proportions to be varied ensuring the service charge for each home receiving a service, is fair and reasonable.
The properties of leaseholders and tenants are included in the calculation of all shared costs. The premium for the building insurance covering your home is set by the insurer according to the size of your flat or maisonette.
Service charge categories
Your estimate and actual service charges are broken down into a number of categories under two main headings:
Estate costs are your share of the costs of maintaining your estate, as set out in your lease.
Block costs are your share of the costs of maintaining your block, as set out in your lease.
The costs are usually made up of the following categories (Please note that some categories may not be charged to you, dependent on which services are provided to your block or estate).
Caretaking and cleaning
The cost of:
- cleaning shared corridors and staircases up to the first landing
- picking up litter from outside areas
- checking and replacing light bulbs in shared areas
- reporting damage and repairs
- dealing with blocked chutes.
Repairs and maintenance
The cost of repairs and maintenance for your block or estate, dependent on where the repair or maintenance has taken place.
The cost of the electricity for lighting paths and staircases. If you have a lift, it will also cover the cost of the electricity needed to power the lift.
The cost of an emergency breakdown service throughout the year, regular service inspections and follow-on repairs.
Heating and hot water
The cost of fuel, electricity, maintaining boilers and repairing shared heating systems.
The cost of cutting the grass and looking after shrubs, trees and hedges.
Shared TV aerials
The cost of maintaining and leasing the shared TV aerial system for your block or building.
All leasehold properties are covered by buildings insurance which is arranged by the London Borough of Barnet, and the premium is included in your annual service charge bill. Please click here for more information.
If you have a right to buy lease, the ground rent payable each year is £10. Other leases will have different amounts specified.
Administration or management charge
The cost of managing leasehold properties, including:
- supervising services and repairs
- maintaining records and systems
- replying to enquiries (staff costs, typing, postage, phone and stationery costs)
- issuing service charge bills
- collecting service charges.
The flat rate for calculating management charges is set annually. It usually involves a flat fee plus a proportion of service charges above a certain rate.
This sample relates to a small estate of two blocks (A & B). Each block has ten flats of equal size, with four leasehold flats and six tenanted flats in each.
The service charge for the leaseholders would be calculated as follows:
Estate costs are split between all 20 flats – that is, five per cent for each flat.
Block costs are split between the ten flats in each block – that is ten per cent for each flat.
|Service||Estate||Block A costs||Block B costs||Split||Block A per flat||Block B per flat|
The service charge for leaseholders would be £417 in Block A and £430 in Block B. Barnet Homes tenants pay for their service charges through their weekly rent payments.
Ways to pay
We recommend direct debit but there are other ways to pay your service charges.
By direct debit
The easiest way to pay your rent is to set up a direct debit or use Barnet Council’s online payment service. Direct debit payments are taken on the 1st and 15th of the month, and you can download a direct debit mandate by clicking here. Please complete it and return it to us.
You can also pay by the following methods:
You can make a payment using a credit or debit card by calling 0845 356 3456. This is an automated service that can be used at any time.
You will need to key in a seven digit account number. If your account number is shorter than this, please add the necessary number of zeros at the beginning (for example, for 12345 enter 0012345).
Electron cards and American Express are not accepted by this service.
There is a charge of 1.8% for credit card payments to cover the processing costs. There is no charge for debit cards.
To talk to a member of staff to make a payment by phone call us on 020 8359 6020.
By payment card
Use your Barnet Homes Service Charge payment card at any post office or PayPoint. Contact us if you want to request a card.
Bank telephone service or internet banking
Please ensure you quote:
- Sort Code 60-23-36 (NatWest Bank plc),
- Account number 82622841
- Your customer reference number (as shown on your demand).
Send a cheque or postal order, made payable to London Borough of Barnet, to:
Leaseholder Services, Barnet Homes, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, N20 0EJ.
Put your name, property address and account number on the back of the cheque. If you would like a receipt, please enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope with your payment.
At a bank or post office
Fill in the payment slip attached to your demand and hand it to the cashier with your payment. Make your cheques payable to the London Borough of Barnet.
Please note – you may be charged a fee and it may take up to ten working days for your payment to reach your service charge account.