We recently held a Service Charge Review - here are your frequently asked questions.

Question

Luminus Response

Why have the service charges been reviewed?

As part of our objective to continue to improve the management of tenancies, it is important we reviewed all service charges.

What if I oppose any introduction of service charges?

Any changes to individual charges are explained within your rent review letter that will be sent out at the end of February 2019.

It is important to note that all the services provided by Luminus are required for the day to day running of neighbourhoods and many of the services we are obliged to carry out due to various regulations or legal requirements.

If people do not pay their service charges then Luminus will be unable to provide these essential services for good tenancy and estate management. Please note that your home would be at risk if you did not pay any service charges to us for providing services in accordance with your tenancy agreement.

Why is the amount I’m paying different from my neighbours?

The charges will be split equally between all residents receiving the service. However your new charge may vary depending on the service charge you are currently paying. Where there is a significant increase in the service charge a landlord contribution has been applied in order to stage the increase for our residents until they are paying the full amount of service charge.

What is the landlord’s contribution?

See above where it explains about the landlord contribution. 

What if the increase has put me into financial difficulty?

If you are concerned about your financial situation, we can help. Please contact Sue Cargill, Luminus Income and Benefits Advisor on 01480 428521. Sue can help you to check whether you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to, support you to access free debt advice, and assist you with budgeting.

What happens if I don't pay the service charge?

Payment of the service charges is mandatory, as per the terms of your tenancy with Luminus. If service charges are unpaid, this will show as an arrears balance on your rent account and will be managed by our Revenues Officers. Your tenancy may be at risk if your account falls into arrears, so please contact us to discuss any concerns you have about paying the service charge, or your rent, so we can assist you.

Are the charges eligible to be covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit?

Some charges are. If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit, contact your Local Authority Housing Benefit department who will be able to advise. If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, please contact the DWP or go to your local Jobcentre.

Is this going to affect my rent?

No, service charges are separate to your net rent.  However, service charges form part of the overall “Rent” payable for your home.

What is the difference between a variable and a fixed service charge?

Variable service charges can change throughout the year depending if the service cost increases or decreases. The charge can be varied accordingly to ensure tenants pay the true cost of the service.

Fixed service charges are fixed at the start of the financial year based on estimates of the service cost. If the cost of the service at the end of the year is higher or lower than the estimate this cannot be changed. However, the charge may be reviewed the following year in accordance with the tenancy agreement.

Are these changes because of the merger with Places For People?

No, these changes are being made for the reasons set out in your consultation letter and as part of our objective to continue to improve the management of tenancies. 

Could I lose my home as it is bigger than my needs?

This service charge review does not affect your right to remain in your current home. 

Will we have to start paying maintenance for our property?

This review will not affect Luminus’ maintenance and repair obligations under the tenancy which you pay for as part of your rent. Luminus will continue to carry out its obligations as a landlord in relation to the maintenance of properties. 

Where can I find out more information about the service charge review?

If you have further questions please contact us by email at servicecharges@luminus.org.uk or call our Customer Service Centre on 0345 850 9994, where your enquiry will be logged and you will receive a call back within three days.