Leasholder service charge bills 13-14

This item was discussed at the T&RA meeting last night, 8th October.

A Leaseholder Service Charge Committee was organised comprising of two residents from each of the five streets. A meeting has been requested with Southwark Council and our local Councillors to discuss the itemised service charge bills in detail, as well as the reason for the huge increase this year eg if there has been a change in the way items are cross charged to leaseholders.

In addition to this, an email was sent out today, as follows:

“The TRA’s general membership and Cllr Anderson met last night and discussed the matter of the greatly increased service charges.  I am sure you’ll appreciate that these bills represent a considerable departure from the norm – indeed, in 13 years of service charge bills, we don’t recall one being more than a few pounds in difference from the estimate.  In contrast, the current 2013-14 bills are 80%-93% more than the original estimate.  The TRA will naturally want to understand why, and will be inquiring into the reason for the increase.  However, we recognise that per the lease, and irrespective of the outcome of any inquiries, we have an obligation to pay the bill.  This now brings us to our main point.
 
Southwark Council understands that leaseholders need to plan for monthly income and expenditure, and we therefore budget for and pay our annual estimated service charge in 12 monthly instalments.  Although it must have been known for some time that these bills would be much higher than usual, Pullens leaseholders had no warning that the differential between estimate and actual charges would be so vast.  The actual service charge differential is £420-£455 per flat – that’s almost equivalent to the total of all 12 instalments leaseholders had budgeted for an entire year.  So we’re sure you will appreciate that to pay this within 30 days of the date of the bill (and to avoid 5% interest accruing) represents anything from a challenge, to an extreme financial hardship, or in very many cases, an actual impossibility.  Many TRA members, like a lot of Southwark residents, are living on very small incomes, or have lost their employment, but they can still meet their bills by carefully planning ahead for them.  We and the Council (I am sure) would like that to continue.  
 
Therefore as a matter of fairness to the leaseholders, and best practice for Southwark (chasing late payments costs time and money) we would like to formally request on behalf of Pullens leaseholders that owing to the unusual size of the bill, we be allowed to pay this large service charge differential in monthly instalments, free of interest.”

If you want to help or raise any comments on this issue, please email <chairperson@pullenstra.org>