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Practices in NHSPS - GPC advice re Service Charges

Some of you may be aware of a recent article written in the Financial Times in connection with the NHS Property Service Limited’s desire to move towards full cost recovery when it comes to service charge recovery from their tenants (including GP practice tenants) and the attempts to recover backdated demands.

We are writing to re-circulate a short form note that was first disseminated in 2015 on the recovery of service charges. This provides guidance on the costs that can and cannot be recovered by any landlord, including NHSPS, through service charge demands. The ultimate position is that any landlord attempting to charge service charges (whether those charges are backdated or current) must have regard to the specific circumstances relating to the tenant from whom they are seeking recovery. In particular they must have regard to the lease agreement that is in place (if any).

If you or any colleagues are being issued demands for service charges which bear no resemblance to what you have agreed (whether in writing or otherwise) then please do not hesitate to query the basis upon which that is being claimed. Indeed, if a blanket approach towards recovery of service charges is being taken it is highly probable that practice/tenant specific arrangements are being overlooked. If you have ongoing concerns about the treatment you are receiving when it comes to service charge demands please take professional advice to ascertain your legal position in connection with paying the same.

In order to seek to avoid the ongoing concerns over transparency when it comes to issuing service charge demands and the impact that full service charge recovery may have on practices we have, as part of our discussions and negotiations with NHSPS and NHS England in connection with a template lease with NHSPS which are now drawing to a close, sought provisions, commitments and reassurances which should go some way to address these issues. This includes transitional funding that has been offered by NHSE to support practices in the payment of service charges to allow efficiency measures that NHSPS are committed to deliver to filter through.

The above aside, and turning back to the article in the FT, if you or your colleagues are being issued service charge demands (whether backdated or otherwise) where there has been no agreement towards their payment (whether that agreement is in a lease or elsewhere) please do send us details to info.gpc@bma.org.uk so we can collate the information and seek reassurances from NHSPS, as part of a committee that is being established between representatives of NHSPS, the Department of Health and the BMA, that consideration will be given towards practice/tenant specific circumstances.

Click here to download the document "Focus on Service Charges NHSPS".

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