Paying service charges - shared owners
Paying your service charge
Service charges are your share of the cost of managing, providing services and carrying out repairs to the communal parts of your block or scheme. As with ground rent, some are charged annually and some are charged monthly. Please refer to your lease agreement to clarify how you are required to pay.
Your lease will determine the way you are billed for your service charges. There are two types of billing, either annually in arrears or by monthly instalments on account.
We collect service charges in line with the clauses laid out in your lease.
If you pay annually in arrears, you will receive one demand and statement of expenditure. This is due for payment within 28 days. If you do not pay within this time, we will charge you a late payment fee. The demand is usually sent out before the end of September each year.
If you pay monthly, we will collect an estimated amount each month. At the start of the financial year we do not know what repairs will be needed or costs will be incurred in your building or estate. For this reason, we include an estimate of your service charge to help with the cost of possible repairs and regular contracts (for example for cleaning the shared areas). For most of our leases, we send out an estimate of costs in February as our financial year runs from April to March.
How the charge is finalised
Once the financial year has ended, we will work out how much we actually spent providing services to your property and to the estate in the previous financial year and send you details of the charges. If the amount is higher than the estimate we sent to you, you must pay the difference within 28 days. If the amount is lower, a credit will be put on your account. If you do not owe us other money, we will refund this credit to you on request.
You have the right to inspect the costs included in the service-charge accounts. We will usually arrange for access at our head office. We may charge you if you want to make a copy of any invoices. You will need to contact your income account manager to make an appointment.
Paying by Direct Debit
The easiest way for you to pay is by Direct Debit. You can set up a direct debit over the phone with your income officer. Once it has been set up, your rent will be automatically paid from your bank account without you having to do anything. Your rent account will be credited on the same day that the payment leaves your bank account.
Direct Debits are easy to manage as you do not have to tell your bank if your rent goes up. They can also help you to budget your expenses.
If you start to pay your rent by Direct Debit and pay for a minimum of three consecutive months, we will automatically enter you into a quarterly draw to win £250.
Other ways to pay
You can also pay your rent and service charges:
- At a PayPoint or Payzone store using an Octavia swipe card with cash or a credit card.
- By allpay - call 033 0041 6497 with your allpay reference number and debit/credit card. Allpay is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- By debit or credit card over the phone – call our contact team.
- By recurring card payment - call our contact team.
- By standing order: you can set this up at your bank with the following details - Sort Code: 40-06-09, Account 00724556, Account Name: Octavia Housing. Please ensure that you include your tenancy reference number with the payment so our finance team can post the payment onto your rent account.
- By Housing Benefit – at present these payments are usually paid directly to us by the housing benefit office.
- By Universal Credit - under this system, payments will usually be made to you and you will need to make the payments to us.
- By cheque – write your address and tenancy number on the back of the cheque and post it to us.
- By bank transfer: you can set this up at your bank with the following details - Sort Code: 40-06-09, Account 00724556, Account Name: Octavia Housing. Please ensure that you include your tenancy reference number with the payment so our finance team can post the payment onto your rent account.
If you receive other benefits, work part-time, or have a low income then you may be able to claim Housing Benefit from your local council. The rules about who can claim are complicated, but your Octavia income account manager will be able to give you advice.
To claim Housing Benefit you need to complete a Housing Benefit claim form. Most councils will ask you to complete this online. You can also get a claim form from your local council Housing Benefit Office. You will need to inform the Housing Benefit Office of any change in your circumstances (for example if your income changes, you start a job, or you have a child) and provide them with any paperwork about your claim on time.
Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working-age who are on a low income or unemployed. It combines six existing means-tested benefits including Housing Benefit. People on Universal Credit will receive a single monthly payment for their living and housing expenses. They will then have to make a payment to Octavia. Find out more about Universal Credit here.
If you receive Universal Credit, it is your responsibility to inform the Department for Work & Pensions of any changes to your rent. You can do this quickly by completing the 'To-Do' item in your online claim which is titled 'Confirm your housing costs'.
Failure to complete the To-Do item within 1 month of the change may result in you being underpaid Universal Credit.
Difficulties with paying rent or service charges
If you are having difficulty paying your rent or service charges, please contact your income account manager.
It is always better to tell us in advance if you have any problems as we can direct you to our financial inclusion team and other specialist advisers who can help.