Homeowners are responsible for paying service charges, rent (or ground rent) and other fee to Hightown.
You can use our online service MyHightown to check your rent account, view your statement and see what charges are associated with your property.
If you are having difficulty accessing this service, please call 01442 292300 to request a rent statement.
All our fees are due monthly and in advance. If you haven't set up a direct debit with Hightown, click here to find out about alternative ways to pay.
Every property and estate is different but, in general, your service charge covers things like:
- communal cleaning
- external cleaning (litter picking, sweeping, communal gardens)
- landscaping in communal areas
- removing rubbish
- day-to-day repairs to communal areas
- repair contracts for door entry systems, shared TV aerials and lifts
- buildings insurance
- public liability insurance
- electricity in shared parts of the building
- window cleaning
You service charge will be based on how much we expect to spend maintaining your estate in the next year. We calculate this every January and will write to you to let you know how much your service charges will be for the upcoming April-March year.
Every year we will send you a copy of your service charge accounts once they have been audited.
If there is a managing agent on your estate or a landlord that owns the freehold, we will collect service charges on their behalf for administration purposes. However, we cannot directly influence the standard of service you receive from a third party managing agent or landlord.
Hightown uses Trust Funds (or Sinking Funds) to pay for any major maintenance to your building or estate in the future. Some money is taken out of your service charge each month to go into the Trust Fund.
This money cannot be paid back to you if you sell your home.
By using Trust Funds, we try to spread costs over time rather than presenting homeowners with a large bill when major works are carried out. Trust Funds can pay for things like roof repairs, redecorating communal hallways.
Your management fee covers the administration costs we incur in managing your home. This includes things like the cost of employing our staff, managing trust funds, preparing and distributing accounts and managing contracts.
We review our fees every year and try to keep any increases in line with inflation.
Shared ownership rents:
If you are a shared owner you will pay a rent to Hightown to cover the share that you do not own. This is based on a percentage of the value of Hightown's share.
We increase on an annual basis in line with the Retail Price Index. We typically do this at the start of the financial year but you receive a letter in Feb/Mar to give you more details. If you pay by direct debit we will adjust your payment when the rent increases.
All homeowners who live in flats are responsible for paying a ground rent. Ground rents are fixed and the amount you have to pay will be stated in your lease.
About managing agents
On developments where Hightown is not the owner or ‘freeholder’ of a building or land, the freeholder can appoint its own managing agent to carry out services such as grounds maintenance and caretaking.
Hightown aims to manage as many services as possible, but where services are provided across the entire development, such as estate lighting or parking, they are likely to be the responsibility of the freeholder and arranged by the managing agent.
The managing agent takes instruction and their fee from the freeholder. The fee is passed onto leaseholders/shared owners as part of your service charge. This may be based on a specified percentage of the day-to-day service charges or a fixed annual fee, depending on your lease.
The charges for services provided by the managing agent are also passed on to you, as they are included in the service charges you pay to Hightown.
If you have any problems with the service that the managing agent is delivering, you should contact your Home Ownership Officer who will contact the managing agent. The Officer can also provide you with details of the managing agent’s complaints policy. Complaints about the service provided by the freeholder or their agent cannot be referred through Hightown’s complaints process.
Resolving issues that are the freeholder/ managing agent’s responsibility
Hightown can help you to resolve issues by:
- raising the issue with the managing agentescalating any unresolved issues through the managing agent’s complaints process
- investigating whether the managing agent belongs to a trade organisation (such asmARMA) that has a dispute resolution scheme,
and considering if this could be used to bring about action
- contacting the freeholder to bring the matter to their attention
- in some cases, asking the freeholder for permission to complete the outstanding work and claiming the cost back from them.
What if there is a still a problem?
After consulting with home owners, Hightown might escalate the matter further by:
1. serving a Preliminary Notice advising that consideration is being given to applying to the First Tier Tribunal for the appointment of a manager – this could lead to a First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) hearing
2. referring the matter to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)
Many of our leases allow Hightown to pass the cost of any action taken onto leaseholders and shared owners. These last two options are likely to involve costs, so Hightown would consult with residents before taking such action that could result in costs being passed onto them.
If you have any queries on managing agents, please contact the Home Ownership Team on 01442 292343 or