The HRRA Committee are aware that many residents have recently received payment requests from Avant, many for the first time.
First, an Estate Charge Payment Request seeks to make a retrospective charge, for landscaping work undertaken on the Estate between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015. The sum requested is for £22.21 which is represented as a proportionate allocation to residents, of the total sum charge of £13,729.20.
The Estate Charge Payment Request appears to have been made to most residents, regardless whether they are David Wilson or Ben Bailey, new build, conversions, leasehold or freehold, flats or houses.
However, not all properties will have received the Estate Charge Payment Request. Missing are those properties under management of Trinity. Some properties may have been missed in error.
Secondly, a number of properties have also received a separate Service Charge Payment Request from Avant again seeking to make a retrospective charge for the period 1 August 2014 – 31 July 2015. This charge covers:
- an external block charge, covering external common parts (walls, roof, gutters, drives and pathways) of individual blocks
- an internal block charge, covering internal common parts (including cleaning, lighting and heat)
- insurance cost, not including contents
- contributions to internal and external block ‘sinking funds’ on account of future obligations
It would seem the Service Charge Payment Request has been issued to leasehold properties who are not yet in management with Trinity, in effect as confirmation that Avant has responsibility for the management of those properties.
Those properties in management with Trinity will be all too familiar with service charge demands. Trinity recently released the Estate Budget for Nov 2015 – Oct 2016 indicating another increase in service charge payments due. However, it seems that those properties in management with Trinity have not received the latest estate charge demand.
Where do things go from here?
HRRA, working through its Estates Committee has made clear to Avant, and to Trinity, the need to properly evidence payment requests and has challenged the requests made. A copy of the letter dated 28 January 2016 from HRRA’s Estates Committee to Avant has already been posted to the website (see http://www.highroydsresidentsassociation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Estate-Committee-to-Avant-Eml-28.01.16.pdf).
A meeting with Trinity to discuss charges for properties in management recently took place and will be followed up. It is hoped that a revised budget, and reduced charges, will be forthcoming.
HRRA are continuing with efforts to discuss charges with Avant and ensure transparency and consistency.
There are a number of ongoing issues, including:
- the effect of estate and service charges differ across the Estate, there are different forms of contract used and some residents have previously reached agreement with Avant or Trinity on past charges. For example:
- some freehold contracts don’t include obligations to pay towards communal charges, and
- some of the early properties which went into management with Trinity had incorrectly levied estate charge demands repaid;
- properties continue to suffer from defects which they are struggling to have remedied, with Avant seeking to push works into future maintenance obligations;
- properties in management face demands for significant additional funding to cover cyclical redecoration work. The works have had to be abandoned due to bad weather, but full payments were still taken by direct debit.
One of the issues raised with us, is the perception that the estate charge is not due until the Estate is complete. You will need to check your property documents, or seek legal advice. This may apply for you, but for most the estate charge became due when you bought your property and is payable each year. That it hasn’t been collected doesn’t necessarily mean that it wont be collected in the future (hence the retrospective charges now being made).
In terms of the current payment requests, in all likelihood something is due. How much and whether payment should be to David Wilson, Avant or Trinity is part of HRRA’s ongoing discussions.
We encourage all residents to raise concerns direct with Avant. You can write to Avant Homes Legal Department, at the address given in the Payment Request. However, you may have noticed that the Payment Request is not specifically addressed and in addition to making the payment you are asked to confirm your name, address and other matters. Please take a view whether you are willing to provide this information.
However, let the Estates Committee know how your property is affected. Please get involved and support the work of the Estates Committee.
Please join us at the AGM, Thursday 25 Feb starting at 8.15pm at the Social Club