If we've told you on the letter we issued in July 2022 that your account is clear:
Since the completion of the major works in 2018, we have been in talks with our contractor Stepnell over the final account total. We are now in a position where the total cost for the works has been agreed. As a result, we have therefore been able to calculate the service charges owed from the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/22 and 2021/22 and are issuing our service charges demands for those years.
If we've told you you're currently in breach of your lease:
We are unable to issue you with a final account as you are currently already in breach of the terms of your lease by not having paid the on-account demand. Aster does not wish to waive any rights or remedies it might have in respect of that breach. For that reason, until you have paid the on-account demand, we won’t be sending you a final account statement, nor have you been sent service charge demands for financial years 2017/18, 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22. We’d urge you to settle your on-account demand as soon as possible so that we can then issue your final statement. You are still required to pay your share of the costs and the amount you ultimately owe is increasing.
We recognise that it has taken some time to get to this stage, and we’d like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. Although the length of time it’s taken isn’t ideal, this route meant that we avoided the costly and time-consuming process of formal arbitration through the courts.
What this means is that we are now able to issue the final account demand, along with your service charges for the past five years. The final account is bespoke to your block.
We’ve continued to issue service charges for general ongoing costs, including gas, electricity and water unless there has been a breach of lease. In these circumstances we will not have charged you to date, but on rectification of the breach of lease these charges will be added to your account. For these specific works, we have not been able to recover costs until such a time as a final account balance was agreed between ourselves and Stepnell. This has only recently been completed.
Charges have been calculated on a per block basis. You can find out more about how we’ve calculated the charges on our website: www.aster.co.uk/kingswaygardens.
All minus figures are a refund to your account.
You can make an online payment via the MyAster portal. If you have already registered, you can sign in by going to My.aster.co.uk.
If you have not yet registered, you can do so by going to aster.co.uk/myaster and following the new user link. You need access to a mobile phone to register.
Alternatively, you can call the Customer Accounts team on 0333 400 8222 and your Customer Accounts officer will be able to take or set up a payment.
This statement does not take into account any payments you have made, if you would like to find out what you owe now, you can go to the MyAster portal. If you have already registered, you can sign in by going to My.aster.co.uk. If you have not yet registered, you can do so by going to aster.co.uk/myaster and following the new user link. You need access to a mobile phone to register.
Alternatively you can contact us on 0333 400 8222 and ask for an up to date rent statement.
While we can't change the amount you owe, we may be able to help you to spread the cost if that makes things easier for you.
We will always give you every opportunity to discuss your payment terms with us and urge you to speak to us as soon as you can if you’re concerned.
We will be as flexible as we can to help find a payment solution that fits your circumstances. To find out more about your payment options please visit our website www.aster.co.uk/kingswaygardens.
We’d encourage you to talk to us if you’re worried or have any questions. We’re offering everyone at Kingsway Gardens individual appointments where we can talk through any concerns or questions you might have. To book your appointment please email Kingsway.Gardens@aster.co.uk or contact our team on 01380 735411.
Additional support is also available from our Financial Wellbeing team, who can offer practical support with accessing any benefits you may be entitled to. Details of how to reach the team can be found on our website https://www.aster.co.uk/foundation/get-help/financial-wellbeing.
You may also wish to speak to organisations like Citizens Advice, the National Debt Line or the Lease Advisory service.
Please contact us on 0333 400 8222 and we will set up your direct debit for you.
We strongly advise you to contact us to make alternative payment arrangements if there are insufficient funds available at the time the direct debit is collected.
If you currently pay by Direct Debit, future payments will be adjusted to take into account the new payment amount. If you don’t have sufficient funds available, we suggest you cancel your direct debit and contact our Customer Accounts team immediately to discuss a payment solution to fit your circumstances.
Please call 0333 400 8222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the services listed.
It’s your right as a leaseholder to make an application to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) if you feel the works to your block were unreasonable, visit https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/application-first-tier-tribunal-property-chamber/ to find out more.
We made an application to the FTT in July 2018 regarding the reasonableness and cost of the works, the outcome of which can be found on our website www.aster.co.uk/kingswaygardens. The purpose of the legal application was to ensure complete transparency by having an independent and expert panel examine our schedule of work and the charges we were proposing.
The outcome of the First Tier Tribunal determined whether the planned works were firstly necessary and reasonable and secondly if the estimated costs were reasonable and comparable to the work required.
The application to the Tribunal provided a single forum for homeowners to challenge and raise any issues.
As customers would be aware, while we were in talks with our contractor Stepnell regarding the final account, we did not enforce the recovery of costs. We do now need to recover all costs so that we’re able to settle the final account with Stepnells.
We would encourage you to talk to us if you’re worried or have any questions. We’re offering everyone at Kingsway Gardens individual appointments where we can talk through any concerns or questions you might have. To book your appointment please email Kingsway.Gardens@aster.co.uk or contact our team on 01380 735411.
If you’re unhappy with the quality of works undertaken at Kingsway Gardens, you can apply to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). Further information can be found at www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/application-first-tier-utribunal-property-chamber/
Failure to pay may ultimately mean your home could be at risk. We understand that extra payments may be difficult, particularly in the current climate. We will always give you every opportunity to discuss your payment terms with us and urge you to speak to us as soon as you can if you are concerned. We will be as flexible as we can to help find a payment solution that fits your circumstances. Please contact the liaison team on Kingsway.Gardens@aster.co.uk or 01380 735411 about the options that may be available to you.
Yes, your regular service charge payment is due in line with your lease
If you currently pay by Direct Debit, future payments will be adjusted accordingly.
We previously wrote to you to inform you there were arrears of services on your accounts. As these arrears remain, you’re in breach of your lease and we’re unable to apply the estimates. However, you are still required to pay your share of the costs.
Major works final account
The estimated figures are those that the FTT included in their determination based on their assessment from the original tender figures received in 2016.
Our consultants, Welling remeasured all the works carried out and priced them based on the original tender figures. There was more of some things and less of others. The actual works is the cost of the actual works done. These figures were agreed between our consultants and the contractor, Stepnell.
The original estimate was from the tender submitted by the successful tenderer for the works, Stepnell. The specification those prices came from was written based on things we knew and things we thought likely.
For example, concrete repair work was known to be needed but we had no way of knowing how deep into the concrete we had to dig to get to a place the concrete was still sound.
Many repairs, like these were estimated based on what we could see, we had no way of knowing how many or how deep.
Some things could not be seen until we removed what covered them. Fascias covered the wood it was fixed to and they were covered by the gutters. Until these were removed, we could not know what was under them and what needed repairing.
The Actual figures are those from the agreed final account taking into consideration and removing the items the FTT determined were not necessary and a percentage of the preliminaries.
Preliminaries are ‘non measurable’ things that the contractor has to do. Such as: The site foreman and people in charge, including office staff, the site accommodation, toilets and mess rooms, fuel and power, scaffolding and access equipment.
Because there was not as much of those things as were estimated during the writing of the specification. ‘Temp connections’ for instance allowed for temporary relocation of satellite dishes, TV aerials etc to the outside of the scaffold and putting them back where they were afterwards.
Like any repair work, it was impossible to know before starting exactly how much work is needed, so work is estimated. The specification was written to reflect what we knew and some things expected once work started. All were priced by the contractor.
Individual prices were added up and were the Tender Sum.
The person writing the specification estimated too much of some things and not enough of others but when works done are measured, the contractor is paid for what they did.
Both our consultants and the contractor kept detailed records of the works carried out. Every individual repair was measured and costed, there were many of them.
Because of the number of items in the specification and the number of individual repairs on each building, it took a long time to match up our records with the contractors’ records. When we did that, there was a long list of differences. We then had to go through all the differences and agree prices for them.
In the end, there were some items where individual agreement was not reached so an overall payment for these was agreed at £15,000.00 and not passed on to leaseholders.
The works have taken a lot longer to complete than we originally thought. The longer works take, the more it costs the contractor. Besides more work, the site accommodation and site staff are there longer so cost more.
Additional time is needed because more work was done and there was some bad weather so works had to be paused, we must give extensions of time and pay for them.
The contractor wanted more extra time than us as we think things could have been done quicker so we did not give them as much as they asked for.
Yes, the FTT did say that. All the things the FTT decided were not necessary were removed from the figures for each block before the calculations of what is due to be paid by you were made. We also reduced the preliminaries amount for each block.
Works paid entirely by us include asbestos related works, patio doors, fascia and bargeboard replacement. Some other things, we are paying 50% of the cost.
Because we are paying for these things, like the tables in the FTT determination, they are not mentioned in the cost table for your block.
Where we own a flat in any of the blocks, we are paying exactly the same amount as any other owner for each flat we own. In addition, we are paying for all the things the FTT said were not necessary but have been done.
VAT needs to be paid for repairs so we pay it to the contractor and they pass on that amount to the government. In calculating the VAT separately from the work it is clear how much VAT is due to be paid in total.
The management fee pays towards Asters cost of administering the work. All our income comes from residents of our homes. If we do not pass on the administration costs to leaseholders, our other residents have to contribute towards them. The FTT agreed that 15% as a management fee is reasonable.If we passed on the actual management cost, the figure would be considerably higher.
Concrete repairs were costed per repair in the original specification. The cost is per repair. The cost is based on both the size of that area and its depth.
The ones that were fitted at the time of the conversion are close to the end of their original design life and are due for replacement. It is the landlord’s responsibility to replace these.
Rather than replacing them in a couple of years’ time, it makes sense and is more cost effective to replace them now when the other major works are being done. In addition, it is possible that some patio doors will need to be removed as part of the other works being undertaken. Rather than refit a door that will be replaced very soon anyway, it will be far more cost effective to fit a new one now.
As many of you know, we have been investigating the problems with these buildings for some time. During that period, we have looked at all reported issues, some of which whilst having the same symptoms were discovered to have different causes.
In the process of our investigations we have considered a wide range of symptoms and associated solutions. We have monitored the buildings over a considerable period of time and have worked closely with our independent construction
We believe the technical solutions to be carried out will resolve the issues at Kingsway Gardens.
The following information covers the options available to leaseholders for paying for major works.
Discretionary Payment Application
To apply to make a discretionary payment, download this form and return a copy to us at email@example.com or post it to: Imogen Nicoll, senior homeownership officer, Sarsen Court, Horton Avenue, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 2AZ
How much will I be charged for the works?
This varies depending on the block. Your individual contribution will have been outlined to you in our recent letter.
We pay our service charges and into a sinking fund each year, why do we need to pay more?
Money received via service charges pays for delivery of day to day services such as grounds maintenance. Some blocks do have a sinking fund, however the funds available in these sinking funds are not sufficient to complete the works required. Leaseholders were consulted on the level of sinking fund contribution and opted to collect sufficient monies to cover cyclical decoration only.
What happens if I can't pay?
The work due to be carried out is necessary to maintain the buildings for the long term. All leaseholders have a legal obligation to pay proportional costs and this forms part of their lease. We understand that this is a significant amount of money and will work with residents on an individual basis to resolve any issues they may have with payment.
How do I set up a direct debit with you?
Please contact us and we will set up your direct debit for you.
I have set up a direct debit, when will the first payment be taken?
You will now have received an invoice from us detailing the amount you owe. If you have opted to set up a direct debit, this will be collected at the same time each month.
How much will the first direct debit be?
This will depend on the total amount you owe. Please refer to your individual payment terms.
What happens if there isn't enough money in my account to pay you?
We strongly advise you to contact us to make alternative payment arrangements if there are insufficient funds available at the time the direct debit is collected. A late payment and returned direct debit charge will be applied should there be insufficient funds available.
I don't want to pay by direct debit. How else can I pay you?
Please contact us to make alternative payment arrangements.
First Tier Tribunal
The purpose of the legal application was to make sure the process was transparent by having an independent and expert panel examine what we were doing and the charges we were proposing. The FTT determined if the works were reasonable and comparable to the work required.
The following works were determined as fully recoverable by the FTT: the temporary connections; concrete repairs mastic asphalt (communal walkway flooring); dividing block walls; balustrade infills; brickwork repairs; the stairwell roofs and stairwell treads; the bin store doors; external decorations; the movement joint walls; the balcony floors and sealant to joints.
Eaves and rainwater goods: the FTT determined that the fascias and barge boards could have been repaired and repainted rather than replaced. The replacement costs have therefore been excluded from the final account and a sum estimated by Wellings in relation to what it would have cost to repair and repaint has been included instead.
The non-movement joint walls on the balconies: the FTT determined that the non-movement joint walls could have been rendered rather than being rebuilt and calculated that this would have cost half the cost of rebuilding them. Therefore only 50% of the rebuild cost has been included in the final account.
Preliminaries (including the extensions of time): as the FTT determined that some of the works were either unnecessary, or more extensive in scope than was necessary, we’ve calculated the percentage of works that are recoverable and have included that percentage of the preliminaries and extensions of time to the final account demand. The percentage for each block can be found below:
Atholl Court – 94.05%
Saxon Court – 79.26%
Stuart Court – 89.72%
Tudor Court – 84.74%
York Court – 81.25%
The FTT determined that the patio doors and raising of the upstands were not recoverable so this has been removed entirely from the final account.
To read the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) amended decision dated 13 July 2018, please visit our website: www.aster.co.uk/kingswaygardens.