- What are service charges?
Service charges are payments made to us for services and maintenance.
- Are they the same for all customers?
Service charges will differ from one area to another and will depend on the type of home and the terms of your lease or tenancy agreement.
- How are they calculated?
Each year we will give you an estimate of what we think the cost will be for providing our services and this will be the amount that you will be charged.
At the end of the year, we calculate what was actually spent, which may be higher or lower than estimated. The difference between the estimated and actual costs is then carried forward to the charge for the following year (unless your lease does not allow us to do this, in which case you will be asked to pay the difference if the cost was higher than estimated, or we will refund the difference if the actual amount was lower than estimated).
Generally we will charge you for each financial year – 1 April to 31 March – but this will be confirmed in your lease. We will let you know the estimated charge for the year ahead at least one month before the charge changes.
- What is normally included in service charges?
Your service charge may include the following:
- Communal cleaning
- Communal lighting
- Communal water
- Door entry system
- Fire alarm system
- Grounds maintenance
- Insurance for the lift in your building (if you have one)
- TV aerial (if there is a communal system)
- Sinking fund.
A comprehensive list of what may be included in your service charges and an explanation of what each item is can be found in our Guide to Service Charges.
- What is a ‘sinking fund’?
Sinking funds or ‘reserve funds’ are used to collect money to pay for major items that need to be replaced or maintained and are charged to leaseholders. Your lease will explain whether or not a sinking fund can be put in place and what it can be used for.
The sinking fund applies to the property and not to the owner. If you decide to sell your home any payments you have made will stay in the fund.
- Can you send me a breakdown of the cost?
Yes – these can be supplied to customers on request, so please get in touch with the service charge team if you would like to receive a full breakdown.
- Can I see the information Aster has used to calculate my service charge?
Yes – all customers have the right to inspect accounts, receipts and other supporting evidence relating to the collection and administration of service charge accounts.
- Why am I being charged for grounds maintenance when I live in a house?
The type of property you live in is irrelevant – if you live near a piece of communal land that we own and maintain, you may need to pay a service charge towards its upkeep.
- I live in an identical property to my neighbour but we pay different service charges – why is this?
There could be a variety of reasons – you and your neighbour could live in homes which are of different tenures (e.g. you may be a renting your home, while your neighbour could be a leaseholder). Also, the period your service charges are calculated over may be different – some customers pay over 48 weeks and some over 52, depending on the terms of their tenancy. If you do have any concerns, please contact the service charge team.
- I’ve been charged for a hard wired alarm which I don’t have – it belonged to the previous tenant?
If you do not receive this service but have been charged for it, please contact the service charge team immediately.
- I’ve not been charged for any or some of these services before – why have you started charging me now?
If we introduce a service charge, we need to give you a minimum of 30 days’ notice before we can start applying this charge. We may introduce service charges if we begin providing a new service, or if we are providing you with a service that you should have been charged for previously but have historically received for free.
- I own my home – I don’t live in an Aster-owned property but you have asked me to pay a service charge; why is this?
In some instances, private owners may have to pay a service charge. You may be required to pay if you live close to land that we own and maintain. There should be a clause in the title deeds for your property outlining that you have to pay a service charge if this is the case.
- Which service charges are covered by Housing Benefit?
To find out which of your service charges are covered by Housing Benefit, please contact your local housing benefit team.
- What happens if I need to pay an adjustment but I can’t afford to pay it all in one go?
If you are having any difficulties paying the adjusted amount, please contact your local customer accounts team and they will be able to advise you on possible payment arrangements.
Contact our service charge team
If you have a question about service charges, please complete this form and a member of the team will come back to you.
If you are a leasehold customer and sub-let your property, please indicate this in the main body of the message.