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Changes to tenancy agreements and service charges

Note: This information is only for council tenants in Bournemouth properties. If you’re a council tenant in a Poole property, please visit the PHP website.

We’ve completed our formal consultation on changes to the tenancy agreement and the introduction of service charges. We also consulted with our Tenancy and Neighbourhoods Panel and local councillors.

We’ve sent all tenants who have secure or introductory tenancies details of the changes to the tenancy agreement and an explanation as to why we wanted to make them.

The main proposals were to:

  • allow us to charge for existing services that are already provided and any new services that are introduced
  • allow us to force access to a property to carry out annual gas safety inspections without the need to obtain an order from the courts
  • provide additional contractual succession rights for those secure tenants who move and were social housing tenants before 1 April 2012
  • make it easier to recover debts from former tenants who remain tenants elsewhere within our housing stock
  • make it easier to remove items left in communal areas
  • prohibit smoking in internal communal areas
  • prohibit those living or visiting tenants from disposing of rubbish incorrectly
  • clarify our repairing obligations once a right to buy application has been submitted.

There were also changes to the layout of the tenancy agreement so that we can use 1 version for all our tenants, as well as small changes to update information and to make the tenancy easier to understand.

The changes do not affect any rights that tenants have in law, like Housing Act 1985, the type of tenancy you have, or mean that your tenancy is ending.  

Service charges  

We proposed the following service charges:

  • limit the service charges to communal cleaning and gardening, communal electricity, communal bulk refuse removal and administration, with the possibility of introducing other charges in the future
  • gradual phase-in of charges:
  •   
    • December 2018/19 - communal cleaning and gardening, administration of 10 per cent on existing charges
    • April 2020/21 - communal electricity
    • April 2021/22 - communal bulk refuse removal
  • a cap in place so that no tenant will be charged more than £5 per week until April 2023/24: 
  •   
    • December 2018/19 - £3
    • April 2020/21 - £3.50
    • April 2021/22 - £4
    • April 2022/23 - £5
    • April 2023/24 - full charge.

It’s mainly tenants who live in flats that will have to pay a service charge. The average charge will be £2.29 per week, increasing to £4.17 by 2023/24.

Charges for some properties may be higher but will not exceed the cap that we have in place until 2023/24. There are some examples below of the weekly amounts due since December 2018.

Weekly amounts due
 ServiceGeneral-needs flat Senior living flat  
 Communal gardening  £1.58   £1.90  
Communal cleaning   £1.37   £1.50  
Admin on existing charges   No charge   27p  
Total  £2.95   £3.67 capped so tenant will only pay £3 per week until April 2020/21  

The charges that we’ve introduced are eligible for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.

Why we introduced a service charge

Your rent is paid for the exclusive use of your home. In return, we agree to:

  • repair the structure and exterior of your home (including drains, gutters and external pipes)
  • repair the installations that supply water, gas and electricity and sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences)
  • repair the installations for heating and heating water (boilers, immersion heaters).

We also use your rent to pay for basic services including dealing with antisocial behaviour, lettings, estate management and improvements to your home. This helps us to manage our housing stock effectively.

The additional services that we provide are over and above what is covered by your rent. Recovering the cost of these additional services lets us invest more in the basic services that we provide, repairing and improving our homes and providing new homes.

Response to formal consultation

We received around 100 responses from tenants to the proposals. They contacted us by phone or email or attended one of our drop-in sessions. Here is a summary of some of their comments:

  • some were worried about how the changes would affect their tenancy, including whether it would mean that they would lose their secure tenancy
  • tenants asked questions about service charges, how they would be calculated and how would they pay them 
  • some asked why every tenant did not receive the preliminary notice 
  • most were happy with the proposals
  • one said that they were unhappy with the proposals regarding service charges  
  • most understood why we were making this change and did not mind paying but wanted to make sure that they would receive a good service that represented value for money.  

Following the responses, we:

  • looked at the information that we provided with the final Notice of Variation to make it easier for people to understand the changes and not be concerned about the effects on their tenancy
  • agreed to spend additional money to enhance the service that we provide and raise the standard of the communal gardens; this one-off work will not be included in the service charge calculation, and we will pay for it.

What happened after the consultation

The formal consultation to vary the terms of our existing tenants’ tenancy agreements was complete in 2018.

A formal Notice of Variation (under section 103 of the Housing Act 1985) was sent to all tenants affected by the change. It included a copy of the new tenancy agreement and confirmed what date the changes would apply from.

If service charges are applicable to your property, then we will give you an additional 28 days’ notice of these new charges.

Contact us   

If you've any queries, please email housing.landlord@bcpcouncil.gov.uk.

Further information  

You may find these documents useful: