HYDE Martlet residents are facing ‘extortionate’ rises in service charge fees of up to 1,000 per cent, it is understood.
Tenants of the housing association are said to be facing bills of close to £1,000 a year - paid monthly - for the maintenance of communal areas.
The Observer understands that people living in Hyde housing in Bishop Luffa Close in Chichester have seen service charge increases to £17.23 a week, equating to £895.96 a year.
Others living in Green Lane have spoken of rises from around £2.50 a week to up to £15, while some in the Midhurst area are said to be facing hikes from around £2.30 a week to more than £23, an increase of 1,000 per cent.
Not all of the 5,000 Hyde Marlet tenants in the Chichester area have to pay for service charging, but those who do will see a steep rise from April, along with rent increases.
Chichester district councillor Alan Chaplin called the rises a ‘real concern for residents’.
He said: “Hyde Martlet has sent out letters with rent increases which seem to be reasonable, around 2.2 per cent.
“The issue is around service charge increases which seem to vary from 400, 500, 600 and even 1,000 per cent.
“This is an extortionate hike and this is a very current issue which is very worrying for tenants.
“For elderly and vulnerable residents not on housing benefits, a rise of £500-£600 is an enormous amount.”
“Many council members are concerned by this, it’s ridiculous.”
Responding to the price rises, Chyrel Brown, director of resident services (regions) for Hyde said: “I appreciate that some residents have concerns about increased bills and would urge anyone who is worried about payment of their service charge, to contact us straight away to discuss the detail of their situation and how we can support them to pay.
“Service charges relate directly to the type and level of service that an individual resident receives.
“We do review charges to ensure we’re achieving value for money; however if a review shows that the level of service charge does not in reality reflect the range of services being provided, the charge has to be increased.
“The latest increase of charges at Bishop Luffa Close means that residents are now paying an amount that is representative of the services they receive under the terms of their tenancy agreements.”
Hyde Martlet bosses including Ms Brown met with district councillors last Tuesday ahead of the full council meeting.
Cllr Chaplin said the meeting was positive, but added that there were still ongoing issues with how the company dealt with tenants’ complaints.
“Chyrel Brown gave a slide presentation and it was generally agreed to be very good, but members were saying there are still lots of problems we need answers to.
“Of particular concern is the way complaints have been handled. We know they got things wrong, and my question was have you recovered, and what has been done about it? There are hints that is has improved, but we need more answers.”
Cllr Chaplin said informal plans had been made for another meeting in six months.
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