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Service charges are charged to residents who live in some of our buildings, schemes or estates to pay for communal or shared services.
Service charges pay for a range of services that Thirteen manages within buildings or schemes.
As these buildings and schemes are often different, the service charge covers different things, and can include:
- communal gas, electricity or water
- grounds maintenance
- door entry system costs
- routine work that we're legally obliged to do, for example fire alarm and emergency lighting maintenance, PAT electrical testing and water sampling
- cleaning communal areas
- concierge, building support or caretaker costs
- administration and management of the services provided, and the calculation and maintenance of the service charge accounts.
If you live in a sheltered or supported scheme, your service charge might include costs for extra housing management services or to maintain shared areas such as lounges or gardens.
If you'd like more details about your service charge, please get in touch with the Service Income Team by contacting us.
Find out more
Reviewing service charges
To ensure they offer value for money, we review service charges regularly. Many of the services help us to stay within the law and to keep you safe - for example, fire alarm maintenance. So while we can't make changes to such services, we work hard to provide them as economically as possible.
Some services can be added, reduced or changed to suit residents' needs. For example, changing a general grounds maintenance service to a specific gardening service. If residents request it, we can consult with people about the requested change and confirm any financial impacts on service charges.
Service charge frequently asked questions
- How are service charges calculated?
This depends on whether the service charge is calculated in advance (before you receive the service) or in arrears (after you receive the service).
- Service charges set in advance. We calculate an estimate cost for providing services in the coming year based on how much it has cost in the previous year. The estimate includes any changes or one-off charges that we know about.
- Service charges set in arrears. These are calculated by using the actual costs for the service provided.
We’re committed to providing value for money, quality services and we don’t make a profit from the money we collect for service charges.
- What services do I receive and how much do they cost?
Each year, we send you a service charge schedule which shows the services that you receive and the estimated cost of each service.
- How is my contribution calculated?
For each service, the costs are divided by the number of homes in your building or scheme which receive the service.
- Why is my service charge different to my neighbours’?
Residents in the same scheme or block don’t always use the same services.
For example, residents living on the ground floor of a building might have direct access from the street to their home. So they wouldn’t need to pay towards maintaining communal areas, which could include costs for things like lighting, cleaning or door entry systems.
There are also two types of service charges - fixed and variable. The type you pay depends on your tenancy agreement or lease.
- What’s the difference between fixed and variable service charges?
Variable service charges include an additional charge or credit because of under/over payment of service charges from a previous payment period. Fixed service charges don’t include this.
The exception to this is for service charges paid after you receive the service (in arrears). Although these are still classed as ‘variable’ service charges, as they relate to actual costs (not estimated charges) there is no under/over payment included.
- Which services are eligible for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit?
All service charges are eligible to be paid through Housing Benefit. Amenity charges are not eligible to be paid through Housing Benefit (see below for details about amenity charges).
The rules for Universal Credit are slightly different. There are a few exceptions but we can tell you about any service charges that are not eligible for Universal Credit when you apply for the benefit – please contact us for details.
- What is an amenity charge?
Amenity charges are set to cover services provided that aren’t eligible for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. For example:
- gas that you use in your home
- electricity that you use in your home
- water that you use in your home.
- How are my amenity charges calculated?
These are estimated in the same way as service charges (see ‘How are service charges calculated’ above).
However, number of bedrooms and property size are also taken into account for calculating gas and electricity.