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Service charges: Everything homeowners need to know

If you’re a homeowner with Longhurst Group, you’re usually required to make service charge payments to the Group for the costs of services provided to you. These payments will all be made in accordance with your lease or transfer.

We regularly receive queries relating to service charges and we’ve put together the following frequently asked questions and answers to help you understand better.

How do I know what I need to pay?

You can expect to receive a service charge budget around February/ March each year detailing the estimated costs for the next financial year, usually from April to March. Within six months of the end of the financial year, you’ll receive a copy of the actual accounts that’ll show the final costs.

What happens if there’s a deficit or surplus on my accounts?

When we provide a copy of the accounts to you, we’ll advise you how you can either make a payment for the deficit, or how you can arrange to receive a refund for any surplus.

What’s a variable service charge?

This is when the service charge is estimated at the beginning of the financial year, based on quotes received for the services provided to you. As mentioned above, you’ll receive a copy of the actual accounts that’ll show the final costs within six months of the end of the financial year.

What’s a sinking fund? (Also referred to as ‘reserve fund’ or ‘major repairs fund’)

If your lease or transfer permits the collection of a sinking fund, we’ll collect a contribution based on the estimated expenditure of replacing, repairing, or renewing large communal items that we’re responsible for. For example, this could be a new roof or replacement doors. The contributions are held in trust in a separate account until required.

Why do I pay water and electricity charges to my supplier and a separate charge to Longhurst Group?

You may also have to contribute towards communal electricity and water charges. These are for items such as communal internal and external lighting, or a water supply to communal gardens. You’re normally responsible for all utility supplies that directly serve your property and any charges from external suppliers intended for your own personal domestic use.

What’s the difference between a ‘Management Fee’ and ‘Management Company Charges’?

Management Fee – In accordance with your lease or transfer, you’re required to pay a fee to us for items such as managing and implementing service charges, setting up contracts where required, managing rent/service charge accounts, administration costs and the costs incurred in providing a dedicated Leasehold Team.

Management Company Charge – This is a cost you’ll pay when a third party/agent has been appointed to provide additional services to a scheme/block or estate.

I contribute towards a ‘Grounds Maintenance’ service charge, yet my garden is not attended to.

Grounds maintenance charges are for communal areas that are not maintained by the local authority.

Does the service charge I pay for insurance include contents cover?

No, you’ll be required to source your own contents insurance to protect your own belongings.

How can I pay my service charge?

Direct debit – If you’d like to set up a direct debit, please call us on 0300 123 1745 and ask for the Leasehold Team. Alternatively, please visit our website to complete our online form.

One-off payment – Please call us on 0300 123 1745 to make a one-off payment.

How can I view my statement?

You can view your statement by visiting our website and logging into ‘My Account’. If you’re not registered, please visit our website and submit your request via ‘contact us’

What happens if I’m struggling to pay my service charge?

If you’re struggling to pay your service charge, please contact our dedicated Leasehold Team on 0300 123 1745 at the earliest opportunity. We’re here to help and can discuss payment options, benefit advice, and have access to independent organisations that can support you with your financial situation.

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