Service Charges and Managing Agents
Before we start – All of us at LMP Law have either lived in, do live, have owned or currently own leasehold property.
Bad press – There seems to be an endless supply of articles, blogs or forums about the negative side of the Property Management industry and we don’t want to take anything away from the genuine horror stories out there. However, we thought it would be interesting to provide an article about the positive side of the industry and the advantages of paying a Service Charge.
The purpose – Service charges is to pay for (or provide a fund for) maintenance, repairs, insurance and a variety of other services such as cleaning, gardening etc to the building in which you live.
Hassle free living – Managing Agents and Property Managers are often engaged for the purpose of helping with or taking over the organisation and provision of said maintenance. This includes collecting the service charge. But in return for a properly managed service charge fund;
• Leaseholder owners (who are often buy to let landlords and not present) can enjoy the benefits of their property without having to worry about it and things such as who is going to change the light bulbs in the common areas.
• Anyone who has had the stress of trying to find reliable trades people will realise the advantage of manging agents having trusted suppliers on hand.
• A full schedule of works for their property for the year ahead which in turn provides security, added value and peace of mind.
• The option of spreading payment of the service charges is often offered by managing agents when there is a willingness to pay. This avoids one big upfront expense.
• For those with reserve funds – Having a pot of funds in times of emergency or major works can avoid unnecessary financial pressure;
• Someone on hand and ready to help with any issues at the other end of the phone is invaluable and time saving.
Knowledge – No one likes the feeling of not knowing what they are paying for and therefore transparency and communication will often be the key to unlocking any arrears issues. In addition, all parties involved in owning, living in or managing leasehold property should ensure they are clear about the requirements of the lease at the outset of the relationship. Payment of the service charge is a contractual requirement. If problems do occur then there are legal routes to take to resolve them.
Protected Investment – well maintained developments can normally only be attained as a result of leaseholders paying service charge on time.
• Well maintained developments contribute towards properties holding and increasing market value.
• Well maintained developments can attract higher rental value and conscientious tenants.
• Well maintained developments also provide an increased enjoyment of the property and peace of mind.
Conclusion – Avoid jumping on the anti-service charge wagon without consideration of what is being provided in return for your money. Non payment of service charges by individual leaseholders can affect EVERYONE in the development in more ways than you think and this is often overlooked.