Why Pay the Rent Charge

09 January 201711:30

ONE of the most frequently asked questions is why the residents of Darras Hall have to pay an annual rent to the Estate Committee, and what do they get in return? 

The simple answer is that the obligation of residents to pay a yearly charge is one of the conditions laid down in the Trust Deed, which everyone is obliged to acknowledge and abide by if they wish to buy a property and live on Darras Hall.  This lays down the rules and regulations that were designed with the sole intention of making Darras Hall a highly desirable place to live.  They are intended to prevent overdevelopment, eyesores, poor maintenance and a host of other things that would lessen the inherent attractiveness of the area. 

The 15 unpaid members of the Committee meet regularly, notching up an average of 60 hours each month, to maintain the virtues of the Estate and to prevent breaches of the covenants that were created to safeguard its uniqueness. However, we live in a democracy and it has to be appreciated that one person’s eyesore is another’s architectural masterpiece.  If some people had their way every house on the Estate would be in the traditional styles of Georgian, Victorian or Elizabethan whilst others would favour monuments to modernity. 

The Committee strives to strike a balance, and of course everyone has a right to appeal. Nonetheless, the Committee prevents developments that are universally objected to, such as high-rise flats, public houses, fish and chip shops and a host of others. 

The Committee oversees hundreds of planning applications to alter existing properties, some of which would have been generally regarded as ruining the appearance of the Estate if they had been granted as submitted, without revisions in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations. 

Although the members of the Committee carry out these duties on a purely voluntary basis and receive no payment or expenses, there are naturally costs incurred in the commission of the work.  There has to be an office, which needs to be lit, heated and staffed to handle the masses of correspondence, telephones to answer residents’ queries, and a room equipped with basic facilities for the Committee to meet each month to consider planning applications. 

The Estate Committee also has responsibility for the upkeep of the Bridlepath and some land on the estate, which incurs cost too.  Outlays in the last 12 months include £2,400 for office maintenance and repairs, a similar amount to replace waste bins on the Bridlepath, £4,800 for tree work to keep areas safe, and £12,000 for land maintenance and cuttings clearance. 

The Estate Committee does not make a profit, with any residue being merely the small surplus between expenditure and income from the annual rent charge, which is calculated as the absolute minimum to enable the Committee to carry out its duties on behalf of residents.