Service charge is ‘highway robbery’

9th May 2011' Residents are angry at a service charge which equates to almost 20 per cent of their rent bill from WDH, which claims it pays for a Care Link, garden maintenance and repairs. They already pay a separate bill for the care link and the other two services are included in their tenancy agreement.'Pictured: Linda Banks, John Brown.' PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
9th May 2011' Residents are angry at a service charge which equates to almost 20 per cent of their rent bill from WDH, which claims it pays for a Care Link, garden maintenance and repairs. They already pay a separate bill for the care link and the other two services are included in their tenancy agreement.'Pictured: Linda Banks, John Brown.' PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

RESIDENTS who are being forced to pay for services they do not use are fighting back against Wakefield and District Housing (WDH).

People living on Madeley Road, Havercroft, have been told that they are part of the nearby Whin View Court Independent Living Scheme, which means they have to pay a service charge for its facilities - including guest rooms, a communal lounge and laundry rooms.

But Linda Banks and John Brown said the Whin View building was separate to their flats and that it was unfair to have to pay the £11.69 weekly charge, which has increased by around 30 per cent per year for the last two years.

Miss Banks, 53, said: “We have been told the charge pays for Care Link, which we already pay separately for, and repairs - but they are covered in our rent, the same as every other WDH tenant. The other facilities are in Whin View Court, which is fenced off from our homes. Why do we need a laundry room and lounge when we have our own? It is unfair, especially as it is only the ground floor flats that have to pay.”

Mr Brown said: “We are going all the way with this and are considering legal action. It is highway robbery. It was only a few quid when I first moved in but now it has gone up and it needs looking into. We want our money back.”

Martyn Durant, WDH service director for enterprise and health, said: “The tenants concerned are part of the Whin View Court Independent Living Scheme and therefore have full access to the facilities that are available and it is their choice if they do not wish to use them.

“At the beginning of their tenancy these properties would have been allocated on the basis of being part of an Independent Living Scheme and all of the tenants signed a tenancy agreement that included their obligation to pay for these service charges.

“All the charges relate to the cost of running the service and are divided between all the members of the scheme. If these properties were excluded from the scheme then the costs to the remaining tenants would increase.”