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Service charge: are you paying too much?

Living in a flat can sometimes mean hidden charges that don’t always add up. But is there a way to save money'   Of all the bills people resent paying, service charges come close to the top of the list. There are many management companies who provide an excellent service and fix problems as soon as they arise. But there are certainly ways of trying to reduce your costs. Here are 10 tips to help you get to grips with service charges:   1. Compare what you are paying with similar properties in the area. That is usually the best guide to whether you are paying over the odds. 2. Arrange a meeting with the other owners in the building to see if they have similar concerns about the fees. It is much easier to make a challenge as a group rather than as an individual. 3. Some managing agents are efficient, some are not. If you think yours falls into the second category, then you may need to change them. 4. Break down the service charges into their constituent parts and try to identify savings. How, for example, is the building insured' Could changing the insurer lead to lower premiums' 5. Scour the fees for hidden extras – such as inflated bank charges or charges passed on for plumbers who turn up late. 6. Make sure that any ‘administration’ costs fairly reflect the time spent on a particular task. 7. Management companies may have some long-standing arrangements with local firms to carry out routine maintenance tasks. Makes sure you find out who these companies are and what prices they are charging. 8. Make sure the managing agents shop around to get the best-value firm. There could be savings there. 9. Do you know reliable plumbers, electricians, or builders, who could repair your property for less' Painting the external or internal areas can often be very expensive. It is always best to get three quotes for any work to find the most competitive price. 10. The owners of the building may want to take over the management of the property themselves, subject to certain legal safeguards. But this is generally only advisable if you have both the time, expertise and accounting skills.   If you would like more advice about your property or if you're looking to rent or let your home, click here to contact one of our experts.   HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you have any tales or tips to share from your own experiences' If you do, write a comment below.   • Property management is a core element of the Winkworth business. We look after properties for buy-to-let investors and homeowners who are temporarily relocating. For more advice or information about our property management services, visit winkworth.co.uk/letting/property-management • The Leasehold Advisory Service is a useful source of information: advice: lease-advice.org

Living in a flat can sometimes mean hidden charges that don’t always add up. But is there a way to save money'

  Of all the bills people resent paying, service charges come close to the top of the list. There are many management companies who provide an excellent service and fix problems as soon as they arise. But there are certainly ways of trying to reduce your costs. Here are 10 tips to help you get to grips with service charges:   sidebar31. Compare what you are paying with similar properties in the area. That is usually the best guide to whether you are paying over the odds.

2. Arrange a meeting with the other owners in the building to see if they have similar concerns about the fees. It is much easier to make a challenge as a group rather than as an individual.

3. Some managing agents are efficient, some are not. If you think yours falls into the second category, then you may need to change them.

4. Break down the service charges into their constituent parts and try to identify savings. How, for example, is the building insured' Could changing the insurer lead to lower premiums'

5. Scour the fees for hidden extras – such as inflated bank charges or charges passed on for plumbers who turn up late.

6. Make sure that any ‘administration’ costs fairly reflect the time spent on a particular task.

7. Management companies may have some long-standing arrangements with local firms to carry out routine maintenance tasks. Makes sure you find out who these companies are and what prices they are charging.

8. Make sure the managing agents shop around to get the best-value firm. There could be savings there.

9. Do you know reliable plumbers, electricians, or builders, who could repair your property for less' Painting the external or internal areas can often be very expensive. It is always best to get three quotes for any work to find the most competitive price.

10. The owners of the building may want to take over the management of the property themselves, subject to certain legal safeguards. But this is generally only advisable if you have both the time, expertise and accounting skills.   If you would like more advice about your property or if you're looking to rent or let your home, click here to contact one of our experts.  
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you have any tales or tips to share from your own experiences' If you do, write a comment below.
  • Property management is a core element of the Winkworth business. We look after properties for buy-to-let investors and homeowners who are temporarily relocating. For more advice or information about our property management services, visit winkworth.co.uk/letting/property-management • The Leasehold Advisory Service is a useful source of information: advice: lease-advice.org

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