You might know that TVH have a group of Resident Auditors who review various areas of our service. Most recently they’ve completed an audit of our service charge process.
Their aim was to look at how service charges are calculated and to check that they represent value for money.
The resident auditors sent out questionnaires to several hundred residents; a small proportion came back, enough to give the auditors a flavour of how you felt about service charges.
The auditors also interviewed members of our Service Charge and Home Ownership Teams to get the inside track on the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ of our service charge costs and process.
New charges like Health & Safety have appeared on Service Charge Statements with no explanation. Can any new cost that is included in the Service Charge be discussed and/or notified to residents before it’s added?
Good point – in future we will aim to provide an explanation when new charges are introduced. This information will be included in the Service Charge Statements of Accounts that are issued annually in September.
What are you doing to reduce the debit balancing charges that arrive during September? This is a hot topic for a lot of home owners so why can’t you slightly over-estimate the charges, so that when the Service Charge Accounts arrive most home owners will get a small credit instead.
We’ll research this suggestion in time for the 2015-16 financial year.
Watch this space for news on this one before then! For a fuller explanation of the ‘balancing charge’ read our article here.
How do you ensure that the services you provide to residents represent ‘value for money’?
We do aim to provide you the best ongoing service for the lowest price, and we also consider quality and reliability when making our decisions. Contractors are chosen through a legally complaint tender process, and we always select the best available.
What do you do to help new home owners understand their service charge costs and how they are calculated? This is especially important with new developments where there are no actual costs yet.
We send home owners detailed service charge explanations twice a year – once in February when we send out the service charge estimates for the coming year and also in September with the audited accounts.
New home owners will also get an explanation of the charges from us and their appointed solicitor. For new home owners, we recognise that this may not be enough so we are working with our Sales and Marketing team to develop a guide to the service charge process. This should be ready by April 2014 and we will circulate a link in Home Owner News and make it available for download from our website so it’s accessible to everyone.
What the Auditors concluded:
“We are pleased at the outcome of this audit and are confident that the recommendations we’ve made will help improve the service that residents currently receive and improve procedures for front line staff so that they can carry out their roles more effectively.”