What is a service charge?
Service charges cover the cost of any extra services we provide in the area you live. Not everyone pays a service charge so we will make it clear at the start of your occupancy if you need to pay for any extra services in addition to your normal weekly rent or accommodation charge. The cost is shared between everyone who receives these services. Service charges are covered under the terms of your agreement. They will vary depending on the number of different services you receive.
How are service charges set?
Each year we set the service charges based on our best estimate of the costs. The costs are usually based on the current contractual amount or previous years actual costs.
How are my service charges apportioned between my neighbours and me?
The cost for providing services is normally shared out equally between all the properties in the block or area.
Can you provide a description of the service listed in my letter?
What are maintenance charges?
These are for items in communal areas that need regular maintenance, such as fire doors, door entry systems, CCTV and lifts.
What is ‘Usage Charge’?
We have developed a new model of charging for assets which is called a ‘usage’ model. An asset is anything that is worth money: in this instance, a property is an asset. This could apply to the smaller items of equipment for customers use, such as furniture and furnishings found in sheltered schemes or larger pieces of equipment. The principle of the usage model is that we charge our residents every year on a ‘fit for purpose’ basis rather than a precise calculation for each individual piece of equipment. This, in most instances, guarantees that the equipment is working at all times and we will only replace it when required. Sometimes this may be before the end of the estimated life cycle and at other times, after the end of the period. On balance the costs should even out. The ‘usage charge’ is calculated partly on the basis of life cycle and partly based on the agreed inflation index.
What is a balancing charge?
We operate a variable service charge regime for most homes. We set the budget for what we expect to spend on your property at the beginning of the financial year. Then, at the end of the financial year in March, we review the income received and compare it to the expenditure for each property. The difference between the income and the expenditure is the balancing charge.
If we have spent more on providing the services than the income collected, the amount is added to your account. If our expenditure on the services is less than the income received, then the amount is credited to your account. The balancing charge is applied to your account in the following April and spread over the year. Not every property has the same communal services so the under or over charge may differ across properties in a local area.
What is an ‘administration fee’?
This is a 5% charge (not including the cost-of-service charges themselves) which covers the cost of delivering the services at your scheme.
What are ‘management overheads’?
This is a 10% charge to cover management and supervision of services at your scheme.
Can I get any help towards my service charge?
You may be able claim for the services charges listed under ‘Eligible for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit’. Please contact your local authority for more information.
If you are facing challenges as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. Help is at hand. Please visit http://www.riverside.org.uk/letstalk for more information.
Can I opt out of some of the services, for example I never use the garden?
The services provided are a condition of your agreement. You cannot opt out of the service.
What if I believe the service charges are unreasonable?
Please write to ‘The Riverside Group Limited, 2 Estuary Boulevard, Estuary Commerce Park, Liverpool L24 8RF’ or email [email protected] about your concerns on the proposed service charge. We will review your feedback and write back to you. In some instances, the feedback will be noted but we may not be able to action it. For example, if you request that we reduce the servicing of a fire alarm or remove a lift. These are requests that we cannot action.
My service charges increase every year but the services I receive do not change. Why is this?
We follow strict legislation about what costs we can recover from customers, and we try to keep any increases to a minimum. Costs can still go up or down, for example, due to a new contract agreement with a supplier, new legal obligations around health and safety, or inflation.
I am not satisfied with the level of service provided by the contractor. What should I do?
You can raise a concern over the service via our Customer Service Centre. You can make a formal complaint if you feel we’ve not adequately responded to your concern.