Watford Community Housing Trust to introduce weekly service charge to tenants

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Social and affordable housing tenants in Watford will be hit with new annual bills of up to £600 after the Watford Community Housing Trust announced it was introducing a weekly service charge.

The trust sent out letters over the weekend saying it would be rolling out weekly charges of up to £12 a week to claw back £2.5m it says it spends on communal services.

However, the move has left tenants shocked and upset at facing steep rises in their rent costs.

One tenant, who asked not to be identified, said: “It came as a shock. We are in the worst recession in living memory and they expect people to stump up £50 a week.”

The trust has said the new charges will come in from April and will be gradually introduced over three years.

In the first year tenants will pay 30 per cent of the overall charge, then 70 per cent from April 2014 and the full service charge from April 2015. The service charge is being capped at a maximum of £12 a week for those three years.

The trust said the service charge will cover services including grounds maintenance, CCTV, door entry systems, caretaking, fire alarms and looking after communal areas.

The majority of services are incurred by residents living in flats and those tenants will be charged on a block by block basis. However service charges for green spaces – such as grass cutting, litter picking, hedge trimming and tree pruning – will be split between all trust tenants and lease-holders.

The decision to introduce service charges was made in October by the Trust’s board, which is made up of five tenants, five independents and two Watford Borough Council nominees. Diane Lee, chairman of Watford Community Housing Trust, said: “The services we will be charging for are not covered by the rent and they are currently costing us £2.5 million per year to provide.

“Charging for these services will enable us to continue providing them in the future as well as continuing our investment in our homes and neighbourhoods. However we know that this is a difficult time to start adding charges to the rent, so that is why we are phasing in the full charge over three years.”

Comments (15)

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11:34am Fri 16 Nov 12

garston tony says...

Whilst I imagine it is a shock to tenants why shouldn’t they pay for a service they receive? I take it at the moment the cost is covered by all tenants paying a contribution towards it, but why should someone who doesn’t receive this service subsidise those that do?

Plus the likely hood is most of those affected will be in receipt of housing benefit so the charge will be paid for most of them anyway. Which ultimately means as usual us the tax payer.

As to that tenant complaining about paying £50pw for somewhere to live, look at the cost of housing in the big bad world. £50pw wouldn’t even get you a dingy room in a shared house let alone anywhere near a place of your own.
Whilst I imagine it is a shock to tenants why shouldn’t they pay for a service they receive? I take it at the moment the cost is covered by all tenants paying a contribution towards it, but why should someone who doesn’t receive this service subsidise those that do? Plus the likely hood is most of those affected will be in receipt of housing benefit so the charge will be paid for most of them anyway. Which ultimately means as usual us the tax payer. As to that tenant complaining about paying £50pw for somewhere to live, look at the cost of housing in the big bad world. £50pw wouldn’t even get you a dingy room in a shared house let alone anywhere near a place of your own. garston tony
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Fri 16 Nov 12

crazyfrog says...

so if you live in a council house (sorry i dont swallow the new retitling the government would like to use affordable housing) because this government are good at playing off different people in different situations against each other.
So if you live in a council house you have to pay a service charge for green spaces – such as grass cutting, litter picking, hedge trimming and tree pruning ?

so now all " house" residents can ask watford housing trust to cut their front and back lawns? litter pick their gardens? and prune their trees right?
i dont know where they get this green spaces charge because that is the remit of watford borough council paid for via the council tax rates
so if you live in a council house (sorry i dont swallow the new retitling the government would like to use affordable housing) because this government are good at playing off different people in different situations against each other. So if you live in a council house you have to pay a service charge for green spaces – such as grass cutting, litter picking, hedge trimming and tree pruning ? so now all " house" residents can ask watford housing trust to cut their front and back lawns? litter pick their gardens? and prune their trees right? i dont know where they get this green spaces charge because that is the remit of watford borough council paid for via the council tax rates crazyfrog
  • Score: 0

12:34pm Fri 16 Nov 12

SC Garston says...

Garston Tony Please advise me where these £50 pw council houses are I live in a council has and work full time and my rent is 3 times that amount a week - this is an extra cost of £50 pcm - I also pay Council Tax probably at the same rate you do - the council dont cut my lawns or anything else - i assumed the council Tax covers these green spaces -
Garston Tony Please advise me where these £50 pw council houses are I live in a council has and work full time and my rent is 3 times that amount a week - this is an extra cost of £50 pcm - I also pay Council Tax probably at the same rate you do - the council dont cut my lawns or anything else - i assumed the council Tax covers these green spaces - SC Garston
  • Score: 0

12:34pm Fri 16 Nov 12

SC Garston says...

Garston Tony Please advise me where these £50 pw council houses are I live in a council has and work full time and my rent is 3 times that amount a week - this is an extra cost of £50 pcm - I also pay Council Tax probably at the same rate you do - the council dont cut my lawns or anything else - i assumed the council Tax covers these green spaces -
Garston Tony Please advise me where these £50 pw council houses are I live in a council has and work full time and my rent is 3 times that amount a week - this is an extra cost of £50 pcm - I also pay Council Tax probably at the same rate you do - the council dont cut my lawns or anything else - i assumed the council Tax covers these green spaces - SC Garston
  • Score: 0

12:58pm Fri 16 Nov 12

crazyfrog says...

Right my friend who lives in a wcht house has asked me to contact wcht to clarify the situation for the charges if you live in a house, the charges are for "Green Spaces" so i have telephoned WCHT and an automatic answer message about high call volumes due to the service charge enquiries was played but i didnt press any buttons just waited on the line and after less than a minute an operator answered i asked WCHT if they will come and cut his lawn and trees and litter pick his garden they said "no" because that is in his tenancy agreement and that he is responsible for his gardens maintenance , I ask what is the green spaces charge for? they reply " all green spaces,parks etc owned by WCHT, I reply his garden is a green space owned by WCHT is it not? i then ask what green spaces.parks etc WCHT owns? because i was under the impression parks were owned and maintained by watford borough council and paid via council tax charges, the WCHT operator didnt know of ANY parks or green spaces my friend could go and make use of as a WCHT tenannt, instead i was advised that a meeting is taking place on the 22nd of November between 6-8pm at the gatehouse building in clarendon road, its in evry house tennants interest to call WCHT and arrange to be at that meeting because if you dont this charge will come about and increase year on year ! check your tennacy agrrements as well !
Right my friend who lives in a wcht house has asked me to contact wcht to clarify the situation for the charges if you live in a house, the charges are for "Green Spaces" so i have telephoned WCHT and an automatic answer message about high call volumes due to the service charge enquiries was played but i didnt press any buttons just waited on the line and after less than a minute an operator answered i asked WCHT if they will come and cut his lawn and trees and litter pick his garden they said "no" because that is in his tenancy agreement and that he is responsible for his gardens maintenance , I ask what is the green spaces charge for? they reply " all green spaces,parks etc owned by WCHT, I reply his garden is a green space owned by WCHT is it not? i then ask what green spaces.parks etc WCHT owns? because i was under the impression parks were owned and maintained by watford borough council and paid via council tax charges, the WCHT operator didnt know of ANY parks or green spaces my friend could go and make use of as a WCHT tenannt, instead i was advised that a meeting is taking place on the 22nd of November between 6-8pm at the gatehouse building in clarendon road, its in evry house tennants interest to call WCHT and arrange to be at that meeting because if you dont this charge will come about and increase year on year ! check your tennacy agrrements as well ! crazyfrog
  • Score: 0

1:02pm Fri 16 Nov 12

crazyfrog says...

So if you live in a house you have to pay the expenses of maintaining your front and back garden and now WCHT want you to pay for other Green Spaces with this new charge so in effect you are paying twice!
So if you live in a house you have to pay the expenses of maintaining your front and back garden and now WCHT want you to pay for other Green Spaces with this new charge so in effect you are paying twice! crazyfrog
  • Score: 0

1:11pm Fri 16 Nov 12

The Rover says...

It was not that long ago that WCHT had a surplus and were asking tenants for ideas on how to spend (waste?) the money.
It was not that long ago that WCHT had a surplus and were asking tenants for ideas on how to spend (waste?) the money. The Rover
  • Score: 0

10:08pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Paul Gadd says...

Once again the vulnerable in society are being picked on by this Gov't.

Less privatisation, less tax duty on fuel, keeping more people in jobs and a stop to illegal wars would help- but what silly ideas, as the rich may not be able to afford that Harrods hamper for Xmas...
Once again the vulnerable in society are being picked on by this Gov't. Less privatisation, less tax duty on fuel, keeping more people in jobs and a stop to illegal wars would help- but what silly ideas, as the rich may not be able to afford that Harrods hamper for Xmas... Paul Gadd
  • Score: 0

10:22pm Fri 16 Nov 12

kingofpop says...

Seems very confusing, is it the people in flats that will be having the litter cleared etc? but all the tennants regardless if you live in a flat or house that has to pay for it? seems rather unfair if that's the case. I would like to let garston tony know that plenty of people who live in council homes do work and pay taxes like the rest of us
Seems very confusing, is it the people in flats that will be having the litter cleared etc? but all the tennants regardless if you live in a flat or house that has to pay for it? seems rather unfair if that's the case. I would like to let garston tony know that plenty of people who live in council homes do work and pay taxes like the rest of us kingofpop
  • Score: 0

10:36pm Fri 16 Nov 12

crazyfrog says...

Come on WCHT, My friend who is a HOUSE Tennant would like to know where are the "Green Spaces" (that he will now be paying £50 per month extra towards the up keep) are? where is this exclusive to WCHT paying Tennant's only "Green Space" where he can go and enjoy at the cost of £50 per month?
Come on WCHT, My friend who is a HOUSE Tennant would like to know where are the "Green Spaces" (that he will now be paying £50 per month extra towards the up keep) are? where is this exclusive to WCHT paying Tennant's only "Green Space" where he can go and enjoy at the cost of £50 per month? crazyfrog
  • Score: 0

10:53pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Maclanx says...

crazyfrog wrote:
Come on WCHT, My friend who is a HOUSE Tennant would like to know where are the "Green Spaces" (that he will now be paying £50 per month extra towards the up keep) are? where is this exclusive to WCHT paying Tennant's only "Green Space" where he can go and enjoy at the cost of £50 per month?
Just a guess but I would have thought the 'green spaces' would include:
- Croxley View in between the rows of houses
- Haines Way in between the rows of flats
- Goodrich Close, Kingswood.
Seems quite obvious that these aren't parks like Cassiobury Park funded by Council but areas run by the Housing Authority, whatever it's name is now.
[quote][p][bold]crazyfrog[/bold] wrote: Come on WCHT, My friend who is a HOUSE Tennant would like to know where are the "Green Spaces" (that he will now be paying £50 per month extra towards the up keep) are? where is this exclusive to WCHT paying Tennant's only "Green Space" where he can go and enjoy at the cost of £50 per month?[/p][/quote]Just a guess but I would have thought the 'green spaces' would include: - Croxley View in between the rows of houses - Haines Way in between the rows of flats - Goodrich Close, Kingswood. Seems quite obvious that these aren't parks like Cassiobury Park funded by Council but areas run by the Housing Authority, whatever it's name is now. Maclanx
  • Score: 0

11:03pm Fri 16 Nov 12

crazyfrog says...

croxley view to best of my knowledge is cut by WBC paid via council tax i couldn't comment on other areas as iam not familiar with them, but what about people who live in private houses (ex council houses) that are in amongst WCHT houses will they now receive the charge now?
croxley view to best of my knowledge is cut by WBC paid via council tax i couldn't comment on other areas as iam not familiar with them, but what about people who live in private houses (ex council houses) that are in amongst WCHT houses will they now receive the charge now? crazyfrog
  • Score: 0

2:10am Sun 18 Nov 12

Su Murray says...

Affordable housing. Once upon a time, it was called Council housing, And,contrary to what people may think, in the long term - it wasn't subsidised. Over a period of about 10 years, the rents collected, covered the building costs , and covered the services connected. In fact, Council housing made a profit.

So of course, we had to syphon it out to 'Private enterprise'. Does anyone really assume that Watford Community Housing Trust isn't making a profit at our expense?

Btw Garston Tony, the majority of housing benefit recipients, are actually in work. Doesn't it say more about the private rental market than anything else? And shouldn't we be tackling that, instead of trying to take more from those who in the main part,have the least to give?
Affordable housing. Once upon a time, it was called Council housing, And,contrary to what people may think, in the long term - it wasn't subsidised. Over a period of about 10 years, the rents collected, covered the building costs [back in the happy days when we actually built any social housing], and covered the services connected. In fact, Council housing made a profit. So of course, we had to syphon it out to 'Private enterprise'. Does anyone really assume that Watford Community Housing Trust isn't making a profit at our expense? Btw Garston Tony, the majority of housing benefit recipients, are actually in work. Doesn't it say more about the private rental market than anything else? And shouldn't we be tackling that, instead of trying to take more from those who in the main part,have the least to give? Su Murray
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Tue 20 Nov 12

garston tony says...

Crazyfrog, WCHT owns and maintains a lot of communal green spaces including around blocks of flats etc. That is separate to the greens spaces that are the responsibility of the council.

SC Garton, that’s my point. The £50pw comes from a comment by 'one tenant' in the article. I'm assuming that they receive partial housing benefit and that is their portion of the rent they have to pay. Instead of complaining about their contribution be thankfull you don’t have to pay the full amount and at market rates!

Crazy frog, NO NO NO. If you live in a house your rent has been subsidising the cost of maintaining a communal garden for instance at a block of flats. These new charges mean that the house tenant will no longer be subsidising this and the charge for maintaining a communal garden at a block of flats will fall directly on the occupants of those flats and no one else. Seriously, what is wrong with this concept?

Paul Gadd, not everyone in social housing is vulnerable and not everyone fending for themselves is capable. What about the vulnerable in society struggling to make their own way who are subsidising those in social housing?

kingofpop, I did say most would be on benefits therefore acknowledging that there are tenants who do pay their own way. Albeit at a reduced rate hey.

Crazyfrog, your friend will NOT be paying for green spaces to be maintained by WCHT. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. Your anger is mis placed
Crazyfrog, WCHT owns and maintains a lot of communal green spaces including around blocks of flats etc. That is separate to the greens spaces that are the responsibility of the council. SC Garton, that’s my point. The £50pw comes from a comment by 'one tenant' in the article. I'm assuming that they receive partial housing benefit and that is their portion of the rent they have to pay. Instead of complaining about their contribution be thankfull you don’t have to pay the full amount and at market rates! Crazy frog, NO NO NO. If you live in a house your rent has been subsidising the cost of maintaining a communal garden for instance at a block of flats. These new charges mean that the house tenant will no longer be subsidising this and the charge for maintaining a communal garden at a block of flats will fall directly on the occupants of those flats and no one else. Seriously, what is wrong with this concept? Paul Gadd, not everyone in social housing is vulnerable and not everyone fending for themselves is capable. What about the vulnerable in society struggling to make their own way who are subsidising those in social housing? kingofpop, I did say most would be on benefits therefore acknowledging that there are tenants who do pay their own way. Albeit at a reduced rate hey. Crazyfrog, your friend will NOT be paying for green spaces to be maintained by WCHT. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. Your anger is mis placed garston tony
  • Score: 0

5:34pm Tue 20 Nov 12

crazyfrog says...

re read the article it states service charges for green spaces will be split between all wcht residents, this was confirmed to me over the phone from an wcht operator
re read the article it states service charges for green spaces will be split between all wcht residents, this was confirmed to me over the phone from an wcht operator crazyfrog
  • Score: 0

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