10th December 2021
The Greater London Authority has released an updated version of the Service Charges Charter.
The new Service Charges Charter was developed through close collaboration between City Hall, leaseholders, and housing providers.
Like the previous version developed in 2017, the new Charter aims to increase satisfaction among leaseholders, particularly those in Shared Ownership properties, by improving transparency, affordability, design, and access to redress.
All housing providers receiving funding through the new Affordable Homes Programme 2021-26 are expected to sign up to the new Charter. Partners will now be required to disclose to potential shared owners if they have signed up to the Service Charges Charter.
The key updates include additional detail on the principles of ensuring transparency on service charges, and a new section outlining expectations on challenge and redress.
The Charter seeks to standardise Housing Providers’ approach to service charges and is endorsed by the Mayor as an important standard for consumer protection. The key benefits to leaseholders include:
- Prior to purchase, new buyers will receive explanatory information in a format which is clear, concise, and easy to understand.
- Housing providers will set service charges at a realistic level and review them on a regular basis to ensure that ongoing costs to leaseholders are minimised and where appropriate are reduced. They will also have published policy on repayment options for leaseholders experiencing financial hardship.
- Housing providers will consult leaseholders if changes to operation and management of buildings result in changes to service charges.
- Developers and housing providers will prioritise design decisions that lead to efficient buildings with long-lasting and high-quality components that minimise ongoing costs to leaseholders.
- Housing providers will supply clear information about the process that leaseholders should follow to formally challenge or complain about their service charges. Errors should be rectified swiftly.
- Shared Ownership Leases advice guide
- TPAS – Leaseholder Engagement Guide
- Shared Ownership leases of flats and Right to Manage: Is it possible?
- I have a shared ownership lease. How is the rent that I pay calculated?
- I have a shared ownership lease. Do I have a right to extend my lease?