If you are moving to the United Kingdom and plan on purchasing an apartment, you should know that steep service charges and other costs often are tacked onto the purchase price of new apartments there. In fact, these costly service charges can be around 4,000 Great Britain pounds per year. Sometimes, though, these expensive fees end up including heating and hot-water costs.
If you find an apartment that you are interested in purchasing, you should ask of the price for the property includes the access to private grounds and to a parking space. A lot of times, especially in the newer developments, you have to pay an extra fee to have access to a garage or underground parking garage for your vehicle. Other service charges that you will be expected to pay are charges for the upkeep of all of the places deemed for communal use in the development. You will also be expected to carry insurance in the event that you cause damage to the other apartments, such as leaving a candle burning that starts a fire that damages your neighbor’s apartment.
It is important to inquire about the service charges of an apartment before you buy it as well as any special charges that you may have to pay. You can expect for charges to be billed either monthly or twice a year. And be prepared for the fees to be adjusted at the end of each year. If the apartment that you are buying is not new you should ask the owner to show you copies of their service charge billing statements for previous years. Remember that the more amenities your development offers, such as a spa or swimming pool, then the higher your service charges will be. It is not uncommon for luxury apartments to have service charges of around GBP 5,000 per year.
If there is a live-in maintenance person in your development you can expect higher fees than developments that do not have one. Developments that are maintained and managed by a management company also tend to have higher service charges. The trade off is that management company maintained developments tend to be maintained better than others.
You can dispute your service charges. Disagreements between tenants and landlords are heard by a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, which is the closest equivalent to a small claims court in the United States.
Ground rent is another service charge you will have to pay. It is rent for the land that the apartment building is sitting on and amount to about GBP 150 per year. And communal gardens also come with a hefty fee. If your development has one you will have to pay a fee once a year and are given a key to gain access to it.