Tenants beware hidden charges for air cooling

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There is an issue in Fulham Reach which is that the service charge – payable by the owners/landlords – includes the air cooling/heating. It does so on a fixed basis, so regardless of usage, each flat pays a share based on square footage. This charge is not just for the use, but also the maintenance of the system – and it is not metered. If you leave the flat empty, or run it on full blast for 12 months, your charge will be the same. As a tenant of Fulham Reach, you will unwittingly sign a lease drafted by an agency (in my case JLL) which binds you into paying this charge for the landlord – which I think is unfair, especially as the landlord will have paid it in advance and could be transparent with you at the beginning as to what this charge is. My landlord waited until a few weeks after my lease had ended, having never mentioned or disclosed this charge, and then deducted it from my deposit. I took them to the tribunal, but of course JLL’s drafting was very friendly for their client, the landlord, and so I lost. So, two pieces of advice: 1. Either cross out the air cooling clause in your tenancy before you sign it, or agree the charge up front with the landlord (remember, they have paid it in advance); and/or 2. Bear this in mind when you would otherwise be sensibly trying to conserve costs in running the system – you can’t save yourself any cost – it is a fixed charge.

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