Action urged after claims that Yate residents are used as ‘cash cows’
Yate councillors are calling for action over housing management fees being levied for communal spaces that are fenced off.
The comments come after it was revealed that residents of the Autumn Brook housing development in Yate were unable to access communal areas despite paying management fees.
The situation was highlighted to South Gloucestershire Council by Councillors Mike Drew and John Davis, who called for regulations to be strengthened.
Cllr Drew said: “Management companies are frequently set up by housing developers to maintain open spaces and play areas. Residents moving into new developments are then required to pay these companies indefinite management fees for their services.”
“But here in Yate residents already pay a parish council precept to have green spaces maintained, meaning that some residents are effectively being doubled-charged.”
“In some cases, the management companies are not even performing the tasks they are charging for. Until recently, residents of Autumn Brooks in Yate were being forced to pay management fees for communal spaces that were fenced off and inaccessible."
“This is patently unfair, and Yate Town Council would like the power to take over the maintenance of green spaces from management companies, in order to save residents money and make sure maintenance work is up to standard. We’re calling upon the Government to make this possible for all new developments.”
The Liberal Democrat Councillors put forward a motion to address the situation, which after a few minor amendments, was unanimously approved.
Cllr Davis said: “We’ve found that management companies frequently abuse their position by treating residents as cash cows. They can charge residents as much as £50 a month in some cases. Residents have no choice but to pay up or move out."
“The situation could be improved by making sure that these companies are properly regulated, and that representatives of local residents are given places on the company boards to speak up for householders.”
Now the council is calling on the government to enable local authorities to impose conditions on management companies; to ensure they are properly regulated with local residents on their boards, and to ensure that the fees they charge are proportionate.
David Bond, Technical Director of Barrett Homes, the company that built Autumn Brook, said: " Service charges are required to be paid in advance, and handover of management area is due to take place during the current service charge year.
If at the end of the service charge year, expenditure across the whole budget is below the budgeted amount, this is credited against the future service charges and may result in a reduction.
Purchasers were informed of the management fee relating to the public open space when they bought their properties and these managed area plans were set at the outset of the development.
The Local Council is not due to take transfer of managed space at Autumn Brook, so there should be no duplicate management payments.
Photographs: The fenced off communal spaces at Autumn Brooks.