What is a service charge?

As a leaseholder or freeholder, under the terms of your lease you are required to contribute to the cost of managing, maintaining, repairing, insuring and providing services to the block, house or estate where you live.

Service charges cover:

  • Planned preventative maintenance
  • Cleaning
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Shared heating and hot water
  • Repair and maintenance work
  • Shared electricity
  • Concierge (if available)
  • Ground rent
  • Building insurance
  • Management costs

Costs

The amount you pay can vary from one year to the next. This is called a variable service charge.

If you bought your home through the Right to Buy scheme, the council will have given you an estimate for the cost of repairs, maintenance and improvements for the first five years of your lease.
Brent Council, as a freeholder, cannot charge you more than the estimate (plus inflation) during that time.

When to pay

Every July, Brent Council will send you a service charge invoice which lets you know how much you need to pay for the current financial year (inclusive of any actual adjustment for the previous financial year).

If you pay the invoice within 28 days, you can get a 5% discount, or you can pay by 10 instalments.

Information on how to pay will be sent to you with your invoice.

Challenge the service charge

If you feel that we have calculated some charges incorrectly, please write to the Leasehold Services team within six months of receiving your invoice. When writing, please provide full details of your enquiry to enable us to investigate further.

Once you have received our response, if you are still in dispute then you can apply to the First Tier Tribunal who will determine whether you are liable to pay the disputed charge.

You can also obtain advice from Lease, who are an independent advisory service.

If you don't pay the service charge

If you fail to pay the service charge which are due under the terms of your lease, the council can take you to court and you could lose your home. 

If you find yourself in this situation because you haven't paid your service charge, please seek advice from Shelter or Citizens Advice as soon as possible.

What if I can't pay?

If you are having problems paying your invoices then you should contact us as soon as possible.

You may be entitled to financial assistance towards payment of your service charges. Find out more about housing benefits.

For free and confidential advice, please contact our Debt Advice Service.