Major works

An overview of major works, how we will consult with you about major works, and your payment options.

About major works

Occasionally we will need to carry out work to improve or repair parts of the building or estate for which we are responsible, such as the communal and structural parts of buildings, communal gardens, parking areas and roads.

If the cost of works is estimated to be more than £250 for each property, then we call these major works.

Under the terms of your lease you are required to pay a proportion of the cost of these works as well as any professional fees, such as consultants, surveyors and architects and planning fees. You will also pay an administration fee.

Major works can take some time to complete, and we will not know the exact cost of the works until they are completed and the accounts have been confirmed and agreed. However, we will provide you with a breakdown of the estimated costs beforehand to enable you to budget in advance and we will tell you of any change to your costs as soon as they are known.

We appreciate that major works charges can sometimes be very high and we offer a range of flexible repayment options to support you.

Sometimes we will erect scaffold around the building as part of major works. Some home contents insurance providers require you to keep them informed if scaffold is put up around the building. We encourage you to update your insurer if scaffold is erected, as failure to do so may invalidate a claim should you need to make one. 

We aim to ensure that all works undertaken by our contractors are carried out to a high standard. We will inspect all works after completion, and where defects are found we will inform the contractor immediately. 

Once the works are completed we can recall the contractor to correct or improve any work that does not meet our satisfaction. This is usually valid for six months after completion and is know as a defects liability period. 

Major works consultation

We are required by law to consult with you over certain items of expenditure, such as:

  • cyclical works or repairs that cost more than £250 per property
  • service contracts or (qualifying) long term agreements that are valid for more than 12 months and/or cost more than £100 per property within a 12 month period. 

We are committed to consulting with all of our leaseholders and your feedback influences the work that is carried out. 

If we fail to carry out proper consultation, the amount that we can recover is limited. There are several different schedules of consultation that could be required, depending on the value, contract or duration of works.

There are several different types of consultation that could be carried out:

Qualifying works

There are up to three stages of this consultation.

1. Pre-tender stage

We notify you of the works we propose to carry out and the reason they are considered to be necessary. You then have 30 days to make written observations about the proposed works. If a public notice is not required, you also have the right to nominate a contractor to be invited to tender for the works. If public notice is required, you do not have the right to make a nomination.

2. Tender stage

We notify you of the tendered estimates from at least two contractors and estimate your proportion of the costs. This is known as a Section 20 Notice. You are entitled to view the tenders referred to.

This stage also includes a summary of the observations received during pre-tender stage and our responses. You then have 30 days in which to make written observations about the contractors and the costs.

3. Award of contract stage

We tell you our reasons for awarding the contract and provide you with a summary of observations received during tender stage and our responses. You then have 21 days to make written observations.

This stage is not required where the contract has been awarded to a nominated contractor, or the lowest tender.

Qualifying long-term agreement

There are up to three stages of this consultation.

1. Pre-tender stage

We describe in general terms the works or services to be provided and our reasons for considering such an agreement to be necessary. If the contract includes qualifying works, we state our reasons for considering it necessary to carry out the works.

You then have 30 days to make written observations about the proposed works. If public notice is not required, you also have the right to nominate a contractor to be invited to tender for the works. If public notice is required, you do not have the right to make a nomination.

2. Tender stage

We provide you with at least two proposals (estimates) and notify you of the intended duration of the agreement. We also advise you of your estimated contribution to the cost. You have the right to view the proposals referred to.

This stage also includes a summary of the observations received during pre-tender stage and our responses.

You then have 30 days in which to make written observations about the contractors and the costs.

3. Award of contract stage

We tell you our reasons for awarding the contract and provide you with a summary of observations received during tender stage and our responses. You then have 21 days to make written observations.

This stage is not required where the contract has been awarded to a nominated contractor, or the lowest tender.

Qualifying works under a qualifying long-term agreement

Where consultation has already been carried out for a long term agreement, there is one stage of consultation.

1. Pre-tender stage

We will notify you of the partnered contractor and date the partnership began, the works we propose to carry out, why they are necessary and your proportion of the costs. This is known as a Section 20 Notice.

You then have 30 days in which to make written observations about the works and/or costs. You do not have the right to nominate a contractor to tender for the works.

Other forms of consultation

We believe in the value of consulting with our leaseholders and often carry out other forms of consultation, such as:

  • out of hours meetings
  • Home Ownership Working Group
  • telephone or postal surveys.

We will always arrange for the relevant people to attend meetings to answer any questions you may have.

We also aim to tell our leaseholders when we are carrying out non-chargeable works to estate buildings, such as community centres.

We will always endeavour to carry out informal consultation when emergency works are necessary.

Emergency works

If major works are required in an emergency, we may not be able to consult with you in the way that we would for planned works. In some cases consultation could delay the works and compromise safety or seriously damage the buliding or people's homes. 

However, we will always do our best to carry out informal consultation when emergency works are necessary. We may also write to all leaseholders in a block before we carry out any works and ask for their agreement not to consult. 

The law allows us to proceed with the works first and go to a First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) later to ask them to dispense with the requirement to consult leaseholders for that particular work.

Section 20 (b) Notice

We aim to prepare the final account and notify you within 18 months of making the first payment to the contractor. If we do not meet this timescale, we are legally obliged to serve you with a Section 20(b) Notice.

The Notice states the current estimated cost and advises you that we will seek to recover the full costs when they are known.

If we do not serve the Section 20 (b) Notice we will be unable to recover any costs above the estimated amount shown in the original Section 20 Notice.

Major works payments

We appreciate that major works charges can sometimes be very high, and we offer a range of flexible repayment options to support you. You can use any of the following methods of payment, and when paying by Direct Debit or Standing Order you can spread the cost over a longer period. 

If you are having difficulty paying please contact us as soon as possible. Please note that major works are a part of your service charges as defined in the lease and failure to pay service charges, where there is no dispute, is a breach of covenant.

Direct Debit

If you live in the property and cannot afford to pay in full immediately, you can spread the cost of major works over up to 36 months from the date payment is due (interest free) when paying equal monthly instalments by Direct Debit. Dependent on individual circumstances, it may be possible to increase this repayment period by up to 24 months.

Setting up a Direct Debit is the easiest way to pay. Your service charges are paid to us directly from your bank account and can be collected once a month. You can choose for your payment to be made on any day of the month so you’ll always have the money in your account when it’s needed. 

Most importantly your payments are protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee. This means you can cancel your Direct Debit at any time and means we’ll give you at least five working days’ notice of any changes to the payment amount.The guarantee means that even if we did make a mistake, you would be entitled to a full and immediate refund from your bank or building society.

Once you’ve signed up to direct debit you don’t need to do anything else as your payments will be amended automatically when your service charge is adjusted. We also guarantee that you will be notified of any changes at least 10 days in advance.

Standing order

If you wish to pay by standing order please pass the following details to your bank or building society:

Account name: Phoenix Community Housing
Account number: 40489565
Sort code: 20-00-00
Reference: this is the 10 digit reference that can be found on your remittance advice.

The date of payment is entirely your choice. However, please note that if you do choose to pay by this method you will need to arrange for the amount to be adjusted in line with any changes to your service charge and the balance must be paid in full by the end of January. Please don’t forget to let us know when you have set this up. 

Other payment options

You can pay in full within 21 days of invoice by the following methods:

Cheque: Please ensure you include your address and reference number on the reverse and make cheques payable to Phoenix Community Housing.

Payment card: You can pay in full using your Phoenix payment card at any Post Office or shop displaying the Paypoint or PayZone logo. Payment must be by cash, cheque or debit card. You can also use your Phoenix payment card to make debit or credit card payments over the phone or online. For telephone payments, call 0870 243 6040. To pay via the internet, visit www.allpay.net.Please note this card cannot be used for regular monthly payments. 

Remortgage or bank loan

You may approach your mortgage lender to pay the charge. They can add the payment to your existing mortgage to be repaid over the term of your mortgage.

You may also apply for a bank/building society loan to pay the charge.

Service charge loan

If you bought under the Right To Buy within the last ten years, you may apply for a service charge loan which is administered through the Homes and Communities Agency. Interest will be charged on the loan, and it will be secured by a charge on your property.

A service charge loan is dependent upon the equity you have available on the property and may not be suitable or available to all leaseholders.

Charge on the property

If you cannot make any payment at all, we may consider securing the debt by way of a charge on the property to be repaid when it is next sold. This is an alternative to taking county court action against you for failure to pay.

This option is only available to owner-occupiers who purchased under the right to buy and only in the event that none of the previous options are suitable.

You must agree to a full financial assessment before this discretionary option may be offered to you. This method can only be offered by approval of the Phoenix Board and their decision is final.

Interest will be added to the debt annually and must be cleared annually. Legal costs will be incurred, but can be paid separately, or included in the charge.

The ability to agree to a voluntary charge will also be limited by the amount of equity available in the property.

We recommend you seek independent financial advice before taking out a loan that is secured on your property.