Service Charges used to be included in ground rent payments but this has changed over the last couple of decades. Disputes with leaseholders now demands that landlords are clearer in what they are charging for which has meant that leases are now drawn up with service charge payments that are paid quarterly, every six months or annually.
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New leases are now quite specific as to the charges that can be levied for services that leaseholders receive over the course of a year. Modern leases will allow the freeholder or their managing agents to charge for the management of the building to include administration charges, the cost of insurance, the cost of maintenance and costs for services that are supplied to the building.
Often the lease will state that each leaseholder will pay a contribution and that the landlord must submit detailed service charge accounts at the end of each year so that the leaseholders know exactly what they are getting for their money.
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It is probably fair to say that service charges are the principal areas for dispute between leaseholders and managing agents. The lease will state what the landlord will be able to charge for. You are advised to read your lease very carefully and raise any concerns you may have with your solicitor before you purchase the property because once you purchase the property you will be locked in and will have to pay your share of service charges.
You will be able to view the service charge accounts for the last three years which will show you how much service charge has been paid during that period.