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Frequently Asked Questions

Great Denham & Land West of Kempston development - annual charge to property owners for maintenance of open spaces explained

 

Q. What is the Annual Sum?

A. Its is a payment that must be made by the owner of each property towards the cost of maintaining open spaces in the development.  It is calculated as a portion of the costs incurred by the Council for maintenance of the various areas of open space created by the developer to benefit the development at Great Denham and West Kempston and the administration of that scheme.

 

Q. How and when was the Annual Sum created?

A. The requirement to pay the Annual Sum is set out in the original Transfer Deed which was completed when you (or the first purchaser of the new home) purchased the property. 

This document created a binding contractual arrangement by the owner of the property to pay the Annual Sum. The Council has agreed to take on the administration of the scheme and the management and maintenance of the open space within the development .Your solicitor should have advised you of your responsibilities at time of purchase.

 

Q. How much is the annual sum?

A. For the time being this will be £120.

 

Q. When will I receive this Annual Charge?

A. Invoices will be issued in February or March each year.

 

Q. I am already paying a regular sum to the developer, is this the same charge?

A. Probably not.  Most property owners in the development are also required to pay a charge to meet the cost of maintaining the area immediately adjacent to the property.  This can include shared driveways, communal parking, lawns and shrubs.  You should check the request for payment from the developer or management company which should show what the payment is for.

 

Q. Are their any other charges linked with this scheme?

A.  Yes, there is a notice fee to be paid when the ownership of a property changes.

 

Q. What is the Notice Fee and how much is ?

A. The notice fee is a charge that must be paid as part of transferring the title of the property to a new owner, for the time being for the notice is £40 + VAT.

 

Q. Does the Council ensure the Amenity Areas are in a satisfactory condition upon handover?

A. The Council will inspect all areas and ensure that they are fit for purpose before it accepts a transfer of any of them.

 

Q. Is the maintenance of the country park paid for out of the charge?

A. No.  There is a separate agreement with the developers regarding maintenance of the country park. 

 

Q. Will the costs of the annual charge vary across the development, depending on the size of the property or number of people living in it?

A. No. The charges are levied at the same rate for all properties. The number of people living the property does not affect them.

 

Q. Is the charge increased every year?

A. The original Transfer Deed states that the sum is a proportionate part of the sums incurred in managing and maintaining the open space OR £120 whichever is the greater. Until further notice, the Council will set the Annual Sum at £120 which is the minimum sum chargeable.

 

Q.  Do I have to pay any arrears?

A.  The Council understands that no owners have been asked to pay the Annual Sum to date other than when the property was first purchased.   The Council will not be asking for payment of any amounts that were due to be paid before 1 April 2017.

 

Q. If I rent the property am I responsible for the annual charge?

A. Yes. Property owners are responsible for the charge and will need to make their own appropriate payment arrangements with tenants or leaseholders. 

 

Q. How do I pay?

A. An invoice setting out the Annual Sum will be sent annually and payment options will be shown on the invoice.

 

Q. Can I pay by instalments?

A. Yes payment can be made by instalments by direct debit only.,

 

Q.  How much are the instalments?

A.  Normally you will have to pay in advance.  Payments for the following year's charge will begin in April each year and you will pay 1/12th of the annual charge (currently £10.00) each month so that the full charge is paid by the time the payment is due.

However there is not sufficient time to allow monthly instalments in advance for the annual sum due on 1 April 2017 for the 2017/18 financial year.  Therefore, for 2017/18 only payment of the sum due on 1 April 2017 will be accepted over 12 monthly instalments from 1 April 2017.  This means that both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 annual sums can be paid monthly together and the monthly payment during 2017/18 year will be £20.00 (£10.00 toward the sum due on 1 April 2017 and £10.00 towards the sum due on 1 April 2018). 

 

From 1 April 2018 the monthly instalments will be for just the annual sum that will become due on 1 April 2019.     

 

Q. What happens if I don’t pay?

A. If you do not pay the full amount within 28 days of the payment date interest will be added at 4% above the bank rate.  The Council may seek a County Court Judgement against you and take action to enforce payment of the amount due and the Council’s costs in enforcing payment.  The amount due is registered as a local land charge and you will not be able to sell the property without paying the arrears.

 

Q. Don’t I already pay for this service in my Council Tax bill?

A. No.  The Council does not currently manage or maintained the open spaces; therefore, the cost of this service is not included in Council Tax bills.

 

Q. Can’t the annual sum just be added on to my Council Tax bill?

A. No.  The annual sum is not part of the Council Tax charge and by law the Council must send a separate invoice.

 

Q. I rent out my property, why doesn’t the tenant pay the annual sum?

A. The terms of the transfer of the property to you as the owner place a legal obligation on you to pay the annual sum.  The Council cannot charge the annual sum to a tenant.

 

Q. The property is empty; do I still have to pay?

A. Yes, the annual sum must be paid regardless of whether or not the property is occupied.

 

Q. If I sell the property after I pay the invoice will I be entitled to a refund?

A. No.  The sum is payable by the person who owns the property on the day the annual sum becomes due.  There is no reduction in the annual sum if the property is sold at a later date.

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