Exempt Accommodation..Stonham…again!

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    We have a scheme in the LA for young people aged 16-25 and the landlord / support provider, is Stonham. Having read A22/2008, I am still a bit perplexed.

    The rent for a 1 bedroom property is £264.81 per week. For reference, our LHA rate is £138.46.

    Last year, we had some concerns and we made some investigation into the high charge and it seems that the majority of the rent is the service charges and the majority of this is for a concierge service.

    The concierge provides 68 hrs per week and they state that the main duties are;

    1 – To maintain a safe and secure environment for tenants
    2 – To supervise the entry and exiting of the building for security purposes and safety of tenants
    3 – To maintain full and accurate log of evens during the shift
    4 – To actively ensure the security of the building by monitoring CCTV and patrolling at regular intervals.

    The cost of providing a concierge on an annual basis is £62,000.

    I have serious concerns over the amount of the service charge but have some questions;

    1 – We accepted these charges last year, with unease, and the rent increase this year is acceptable so I am not using 13Za. Am I too late to do anything about the total charge now?

    2 – The duties all seem to fall into the category for them to be included – could anyone give me their views?

    3 – If I consider that the service charges are excessive, what level of evidence do I need and infact, is this a battle that I just won’t win?

    I would say that our housing section are keen to see these increases agreed as we assist a lot of people in the scheme and my HoS has said that as things go, if I don’t pay them, Housing will have to meet the costs of housing claimants elsewhere?

    Just seeking views please? Any help would be most appreciated!


    I would be inclined to say that the services provided by the concierge are a mixture of personal support and accommodation-related service. Apportioning the time spent on each might not be an exact science – maybe allow two thirds of it? Also the provider might have already isolated a portion that they acknowledge is for support in which case you would have to judge whether the split errs too much in favour of eligible services.

    If there is a surcharge added to the concierge salary costs, check that it is realistic: a typical surcharge is 15% for central admin, but you are entitled to question whether it really costs that much to administer the work of a concierge. You should read CH/3677/2008 (ET v Rossendale), which was concerned with management surcharges added to a Stonham concierge service charge.

    That decision also talks about “having regard” to comparable services. Basically you don’t have to benchmark the charge to an alternative provider’s equivalnt charge if you have enough evidence to test the reasonableness of the charge in isolation – basically, how many staff does it take to provide the service, how much do they earn, what are the employer’s on-costs and if you spread it out between the service users is that what they are being charged? Do you think the staff are overpaid, or does it look about right?


    Based on my experience of concierge services, the ‘concierge’ provides security only – typically overnight. I think the list of duties you have provided suggests it is the same at your property

    We have either refused to pay (not realted to the provision of adequate accommodation/unreasonably high charge- still waiting for these to go to Tribunal, or paid a percentage. We paid 20% for 1 provider (not Stonham), and they have subsequently withdrawn their appeal.


    I have a similar issue re: huge increase in concierge costs.

    Scheme is again for vulnerable 16-18 year olds, room only- all shared facilities.

    Concierge costs have increased 5 fold from last year!

    When this issue was raised and mentioned that maybe the rent would have to be referred to the RO, the LL's said they would fund some of the cost themselves and could we make the rest HB eligible.

    But obviously, it is not as simple as that?!

    Will look at  CH/3677/2008, but any other advice would be great.






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