Tenants have their say on new service charge policy
More than 1,500 Carmarthenshire council tenants and leaseholders have had the opportunity to feed in to a new policy on revised service charges.
The authority’s housing department has drafted a new policy in order to make proposed changes to service charges as legible as possible.
Service charges are levied to cover the costs of facilities in communal areas of buildings, such as corridor lighting, heating and security alarms.
As part of a consultation on the new policy and how service charges will be set, a questionnaire was sent out to tenants, asking them to comment on the draft and suggest any changes to make it easier to understand.
Housing officers have also held several public meetings allowing tenants face-to-face contact with officers to discuss the new proposals.
A positive 85 per cent of those who responded to the consultation said that they understood how service charges would be applied in the future, with over half (58 per cent) saying that they felt the document was easy to understand.
The feedback forms part of a report which has already been agreed by the county’s Housing Scrutiny Committee. It will now go before Executive Board, before going to Full Council in the New Year for a final decision.
If approved, tenants will be informed of the new charges as part of the annual rent increase letters, and the new policy will be adopted from April 2011.
Area housing manager, Les James, said: “As a result of the comments received during the consultation process, our housing officers have been able to make a number of changes to the original draft policy to reflect the recommendations of our tenants. Having such involvement with individuals and tenant groups, I believe we have enhanced and improved the policy document in terms of both its clarity and content.”
Proposals to change the way the council collects service charges are being made in order to make the charges fairer, and more transparent.
Cllr Hugh Evans, executive board member for housing, said: “It is pleasing to see that tenants have had their say, and that their views have been listened to. Changing the way we make service charges will mean a fairer deal for everyone – that means that people will know exactly what they are paying for, and will only pay for services they are using.”