‘We can’t afford to live here anymore’ – Residents’ fury over huge hike in Park Hill charges

The company which manages Park Hill flats has apologised after some residents faced huge increases in their service charges.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 11:13 am
Updated Thursday, 11th April 2019, 4:48 pm

Leaseholders at the flats - people who own their properties - are furious after seeing their fees shoot up, with one resident reporting a 50 per cent increase this year on top of a 20 per cent hike a year ago.

Some say they have been left with bills of almost £2,000, with a number threatening to take Great Places Housing Group and its subsidiary Plumlife to court, and others simply cancelling their direct debits and refusing to pay.

One Park Hill resident, who asked not to be named, said: “Such high service charges can affect resale potential, and some residents have expressed concerns about continuing to afford to live here.

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The Park Hill estate in Sheffield.

“Many residents have told me that they were told that service charges would not be significantly increasing when they were looking to purchase here.

“Prospective buyers looking at investing in Phase II need to be aware of the potential true cost of living here.”

A meeting arranged by Great Places to explain the increases to residents took place on Tuesday, April 9.

They said the big increases were the result of ‘fluctuation’ in the charges from year to year, with a big surplus last year accounting for artificially low costs 12 months ago.

This, combined with the addition of VAT - which had been mistakenly left off previous bills - had contributed to the large increases seen by some customers, they added.

Guy Cresswell, executive director of customer services at Great Places Housing Group, said: “We are committed to providing value for money in relation to service charges however they inevitably change due to inflation, price increases from suppliers, and evolving needs of the site.

“Increases this year are not solely due to service costs. Last year many residents were due a surplus credit from previous years which was used to offset their bill in 2018/19, meaning that their bill for 2019/20 may seem significantly higher.

“This occurred because we mistakenly did not refund or carry forward surplus credits between 2013 and 2016, resulting in the large surplus credit in 2018/19, which has now been corrected. We accept that this has caused confusion for our customers and for this we are sorry.

“We have made changes to the management services for Park Hill to avoid similar issues reoccurring.”