Service Charges

SHAC receives frequent and sometimes shocking reports about problems with service charges. Our latest research is captured in two reports:

Click here to download the combined report.

Forensic Audits

We have been lobbying housing associations to carry out forensic audits based on a sample of three estates, preferrably chosen with SHAC’s involvement.

To support ths process, we have produced a Forensic Service Charge protocol after being asked to do so by one of the larger housing associations. The protocol has been written in a way that makes it applicable to all landlords, whatever the size.

If you are having service charge issues, please feel free to send it to your landlord and ask them to use this protocol to check your accounts (click the image to download the document).

Writing to Your MP

Writing to your MP can be very useful, and we are encouraging everyone to ask their MP to press for our recommendations to be included in their manifestos as we approach the next general election.

You can download a template text for a covering email here and attach the report above.

One of our members wrote to her MP, who in turn put her concerns to Baroness Scott of Bybrook (the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities).

Baroness Scott replied, and noted:

“… the Government’s rent policy states that registered providers should endeavour to keep any service charge increases for tenants within the limit on rent increases (which is 7% in 2023-24), to help keep charges affordable. Service charges should relate to costs and it would not be acceptable for Registered Providers [housing associations] to increase service charges simply as a means of making up for the effect of the 7% rent cap.”

Baroness Scott of Bybrook replying to Catherine West MP on 17th August

This may be useful as a quote when contacting your landlord.

Some landlords are clearly worse than others. However, across the sector it is evident that tenants and residents are getting a raw deal, and the ability of housing associations to manage this aspect of their business responsibly is questionable.

Living in an NHG shared ownership property has probably shortened my life.”

Service charge abuse victim

Many articles published on this issue tend to read as though incidents of overcharging are scattered and isolated.

But contrary to this narrative, SHAC and campaign partners FindOthers have collated evidence which demonstrates that overcharging by housing association landlords is widespread and systematic, and deliberate in the sense that even when they are alerted to it, they continue overcharging.

A video shown at the Housing 2023 (29 June 2023) evidencing the national scandal of service charge abuse by housing associations. It draws on evidence compiled by SHAC and campaign partners FindOthers.

The presentation is a scaled-down version variation on presentations to Baroness Scott and officials from the Department for Levelling Up, the National Audit Office, and the Regulator of Social Housing.

The Evidence

  • Peabody Scrutiny Panel Service Charges Report – This is a report compiled by Peabody’s scrutiny panel which investigated service charging by the landlord and found widespread overcharging and malpractice. Normally such reports are published by the landlord, but they initially refused, and it was then leaked to SHAC for publication.

Help and Support

SHAC and FindOthers have teamed up to develop a unique online tool to request and chase service charge packs. It is part of a long term campaign to end service charge abuse by housing associations.

The platform removes a lot of drudgery from the process with pre-set letters to which users can add their contact details and landlord name. The service is pre-programmed with the contact email addresses of most housing associations. See here for more details.

SHAC has compiled a report on the abuse of the service charging mechanism by housing associations. We now aim to use this report to get sweeping changes enforced.

Campaign Demands

SHAC believes that tenants and residents rights should be strengthened so that they have easy access to:

  • Clarity on the landlord activities which are covered by rents, and those which can be billed separately as service charges;
  • Mandatory itemised billing with supplier receipts;
  • Set timescales for refunds;
  • Mandatory reporting through regulatory returns on overcharging and undercharging errors;
  • Automatic reporting to a regulatory body when overcharging exceeds a certain level;
  • Automatic compensation to tenants and residents (beyond like-for-like refunds) when overcharging occurs;
  • Automatic compensation to tenants and residents when landlords are slow to reimburse tenants after overcharging; and
  • A mandatory requirement to pass on efficiency savings to tenants and residents when supplier costs reduce.

It is only through such measures that the system of service charging can be made transparent, and tenants and residents can be sufficiently empowered to address errors.


  • Letter to your local Member of ParliamentSee here.
  • Landlord letter templates See here.

Videos of the Speakers from the ‘Challenging Service Charge Abuse: The Courts and Other Approaches’ meeting on 15th February

7 thoughts on “Service Charges”

  1. Unfortunately, my MP is utterly useless; too busy after the main chance. What are my options?

    1. Generally the system is stacked against us, so a campaign should shame all into supporting us. I always include campaigns, unions political cllrs MP’s from all parties, trades councils when I send anything around. Give them template letters to write to your housing association (read purpatrator) as just like us, they have a lot to do.

  2. Unfortunately so many of them are! We would still encourage you to write to them. If enough people lobby them, they will ultimately be forced to act, or will be replaced by someone who will. You can also ask to meet them (virtually or in person at their surgery) so you can stress the need for them to support what we are trying to do – make housing associations accountable. Outside of this, we need as many people as possible to get involved in campaigning so that our collective action can’t be ignored.

  3. In 2018 this Government issued a white paper saying it would “ CRACKDOWN “on Managing agents . ( MA) In 2919 Lord Best submitted his final report recommending strict mandatory regulation of MA’s. 3 yrs later and NOTHING! Why? I believe because the corrupt Residential property sector I’d the Tory Party’s largest donor.

    We need mass peaceful robust protest. We are treated as as SERFS. ENOUGH!

  4. I have emailed my M.P. Mike Freer for years about this. His latest reply was he had nothing more to add than he already has and to seek litigation. I sought advice from a solicitor it is not legally aided and the cost is £350 per hour for their services. Because we have fixed charges, which they are not as they vary from tenant to tenant and have an array of errors every year, the First Tier Tribunal refused to correct my service charges on the ground of the Rent Act 1977 and that the service charge is fixed and therefore reflects the actual costs. I wouldn’t have been trying to go to court if it was not for the fact that they are incorrect and do not reflect the costs!

  5. What is even worse is when you have a social landlord that harasses you and illegally convicts you of criminal behavior (3 years worth so far), it makes every waking hour a misery and costly to defend against lies and made up accusations.

    It took us a year and a half to get Anchor Customer relations to withdraw an illegal criminal behaviour order against us because we asked for basic compliance from them regarding the tenancy contract.

    Their Head of Customer relations a type of stasi – was forced/pushed to resign/fired.

    What a disgrace that a UK Housing authority can break the law and convict innocent tenants and get away with it.

    These landlords conduct business on tenants in an incivilised, criminal manner and we still have to pay to be illegally convicted of criminality just because we speak up within the law.

    Sick system……. sick housing slumlords.

  6. I’m with clarion housing they entered a contract with the scummy ark pest control adding it as a service charge on peoples rents in April ark came around and put 3 bait stations outside the block near me and one poison bait station outside a residents window I was disgusted by that we are surrounded by forestry with tawny owls bats woodpeckers crow’s magpies fox’s badgers hedgehogs and other species a dead poisioed dead rat is going to cause secondary poison to the wildlife animals I listed above. I had a row with my housing officer he did not care. Typical clarion then not long ago on Monday ark retuned placing 6 more bait stations . outside the same block and one around mine Clarion are paying ark pest control out of the charges that the Tennants are paying by dumping bait stations everywhere to try and wipe out our wildlife animals we have. Clarion and ark are both disgusting and vile I got the wildlife crime officer involved he expressed his concerns about this to Clarion but they ignored him I want both ark and Clarion exposed. I have emailed my local MP about it

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