Frequently Asked Questions
Got a question about Open Spaces? We've answered your frequently asked questions about estate charges.
Yes, the council are not adopting these areas therefore we are appointed to maintain them. You have signed a legal document (TP1) or lease agreeing to pay towards the upkeep of the public open space. Your conveyancing solicitor will confirm this.
If the estate is handed over in phases, the service charge will increase based on the additional land but the number of properties contributing will also increase.
Our budgets are prepared from the plans provided by the developer years before we take it into management. It is an estimated charge, based on the whole site being handed over complete and is subject to inflationary increases, revised plans, statutory requirements and provision of additional common areas/infrastructure from date of issue.
Property owners on privately owned estates are required to contribute towards upkeep of public open space areas due to the council not adopting those areas. The charge is levied to help fund services, repairs and maintenance on the estate and in most cases, all property owners share the cost. Ground rent is a charge to leasehold properties who do not own the freehold title to their property. The cost of the ground rent is dictated by the lease.
Your TP1/lease document states that you are responsible to contribute towards all areas of public open space, not just those near to your property and this is highlighted on the management plan sent to you with our welcome letter and should also be in your TP1/lease.
The developer often hands over the estate in phases. As per the legal transfer /lease you are obligated to pay the charge, you are only charged for the areas in management. Any queries regarding this should be referred to your conveyancing solicitor/ developer.
We do not manage the roads and footpaths therefore this does not have any impact on us managing the development.
Once the year end accounts have been issued, you will have the opportunity to request to see all invoices in our office, by appointment with your Estate Manager. We are not obliged to provide copy invoices throughout the financial year.
Yes, you will receive a set of accounts each year, following the financial year end showing where the money has been spent and you will receive a credit to your account, or an additional charge if there has been an overspend.
This could be for a number of reasons. Each homeowner pays an advance service charge, this is typically calculated based on the service charge year end and the completion date of your property. The annual invoice amount is the same if the estate is charged an equal apportionment, but your statement amount will differ.
If you have a property which has access to a shared drive/courtyard, you may be charged an additional amount for the upkeep. This should have been explained by your conveyancing solicitor.
If you have paid an advanced service charge on completion to your solicitor, this will be reflected on your statement, therefore it is the statement amount which is due, as per our covering letter. We are legally obliged to serve the demand for the full annual amount.
This payment option is a concession and a service we are not obliged to offer. The £10 annual fee is to cover the costs of administering the direct debit for the duration of it being in place.
If you do not wish to pay the £10 fee, payment should be made in line with the terms of your TP1/lease, which typically states in full within 14 days.
The TP1/lease states that all public open space areas must be insured and this cost is passed to the residents as specified in the document
If the estate has a Resident Management Company (RMC) set up, Open Spaces (Kingston) are often appointed to act as Company Secretary, in addition to the Managing Agent.
The duties include:
- maintenance of the company’s registers and file annual returns
- providing a registered office
- filing of accounts
- act as company secretary
- ad hoc support such as the documentation required to approve agreements or change Directors
- a dedicated administrator who has access to electronic filing to enable efficient updating of appointments etc.
Where an estate has a Resident Management Company, resident Directors are required, as detailed in the Memorandum and Articles of Association. The Directors work with the managing agent in setting the budgets, approving accounts and dealing with any day to day issues. The Directors are also required to approve any consents, as detailed in the TP1/ lease.
AGM stands for annual general meeting. They are no longer required by law but are recommended for good relations between residents, Directors and the Managing Agent. Open Spaces (Kingston) as company secretary take minutes of the meetings and Directors are expected to chair the meetings.
Open Spaces is a trading division of Kingston, a member of ARMA, however as it stands, this is for leasehold properties only. The Property Ombudsman is available for both freehold and leasehold homeowners. As a subsidiary of Bernicia, a non-profit making organisation, all of Open Spaces’ profits go to Bernicia to build new homes and to the Bernicia Foundation www.berniciafoundation.com
This is dependent on the TP1/lease agreement. If there is a Resident Management Company, notice can be given at the end of the management agreement which ranges from 2-5 years from the date of final handover.
If the land has been transferred to Open Spaces (Kingston) by the developer, there is no opportunity to change agents unless specified in the transfer document. Open Spaces will always try to improve the working relationship with our customers if there is a sense of dissatisfaction.