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Journal cover: Property Management

Property Management

ISSN: 0263-7472

Online from: 1983

Subject Area: Built Environment

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Accounting for service charges in the UK commercial sector: Barriers to change and the quest for best practice

Document Information:
Title:Accounting for service charges in the UK commercial sector: Barriers to change and the quest for best practice
Author(s):Andrew Holt, (Department of Accounting and Finance, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK), Timothy Eccles, (School of Surveying and Planning, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK), Kellie Bennett, (Property Solutions (UK) Limited, Bristol, UK)
Citation:Andrew Holt, Timothy Eccles, Kellie Bennett, (2011) "Accounting for service charges in the UK commercial sector: Barriers to change and the quest for best practice", Property Management, Vol. 29 Iss: 1, pp.7 - 33
Keywords:Accounting, Disclosure, Service changes
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/02637471111102914 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the issue of compliance with a voluntary professional Code of Practice. It aims to take service charge management as its subject and it also to discuss how current notions of “best practice” have evolved in order to explain the poor performance uncovered. From this it seeks to derive an alternative perspective and develop a new framework for managing agents to consider utilising in order to advance the generalised principles within the existing RICS Code of Practice, Service Charges in Commercial Property.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper applies an inductive reasoning by applying best practice from other disciplines (the specific) to commercial property (hence arguing for their adoption to the general). It utilises a critical review of the secondary literature on the wider aspects of best practice and original data on commercial service charge management to devise an ideal type framework for accounting for service charge moneys.

Findings – It provides an idealised conceptual framework for managing agents to consider applying to their management of the service charge process, specifically with regard to accounting issues therein. The paper is not proposing a definitive adoption of accruals accounting, but provides an analysis of the potential advantages – and problems. The intention of this work is to drive consultation for better practice, rather than provide a de facto template for adoption.

Originality/value – The work relies on data previously generated by the authors, and produces an original template and example for the practitioner. The work's primary value is that it proposes an innovative approach to the occupation of the commercial service charge manager. Within this, it also offers advice to the wider profession on how to better regulate the discipline. While the proposed approach offers advantages over the existing best practice paradigm, it generates its own conceptual problems that will need to be considered by professionals.

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