So what does a managing agent do? Here is an idea of the services you can expect us to provide and oversee.
We maintain detailed records of all income and expenditure at each property and the sums received from each flat for service charges, ground rent and insurance premiums. Our in-house accounts team manage the day to day ledger using our block management software and each bank account is reconciled daily.
At the end of each financial accounting year the block’s financial records are audited by an independent accountant and a copy of these accounts are provided to each leaseholder and the freeholder by way of the online portal or by post. This then forms the basis for the budget for the forthcoming year taking into account any rises in costs such as electricity, suppliers and VAT.
Annual General Meeting
Although we understand that sometimes it is difficult for all leaseholders to get together once a year for an Annual General Meeting it does help all parties communicate and air any views and issues. Our recent meetings have been well received and well attended and have helped with work scheduling, budgeting and communication in general.We would therefore encourage you and your co lessees to attend these meetings.
Association of Residential Managing Agents
We are proud members of ARMA-Q,The Association of Residential Managing Agents. Although the industry is currently unregulated the aim of ARMA-Q is to provide minimum standards in the sector and all members must comply with over 160 published standards.
These include promoting honesty, fairness, openness and timeliness in all areas of residential leasehold management. They also deal specifically with legal compliance, holding client funds and the disclosure of fees and commissions paid to the managing agent. There are currently some 250 agents registered nationally but with only 10 based in Bournemouth and Poole.
Preparing a budget for each block takes time and an experience of the industry is vitally important. We carefully analyse the previous year’s expenditure and take into account any short, mid and long-term maintenance plans proposed in the condition reports.
We also review what funds are being collected to provide a sinking fund and this would then form the basis of the budget. If the budget is ill prepared then the block can run out of funds before the end of the financial year leaving essential services difficult to maintain. Likewise, future unforeseen works can then be costly.
Due to FCA rules, all block insurance policies are placed through our approved insurance brokers. In some instances, our freeholders insure the property and then we collect each leaseholder’s premium. We do not provide contents cover and we recommend this is taken out by each owner. We ask that all properties which will be unoccupied for more than 30 days or in instances where the property is sublet that we are informed. In respect of insurance claims,in most cases the insurers provide a claims line where the leaseholder can deal with the claim directly. This invaluable where any leak is between flats as these incidents are not normally the responsibility of the freeholder meaning we can seldom get involved.
Contamination of Recycling bins
As has been highlighted in the news recently your local authority will not take the recycling bins if they are contaminated in any way. This then causes an accumulation of rubbish to build up which is then very expensive to dispose of. We would, therefore, ask that all residents use the appropriate bins.
We only use only local, referenced and trustworthy contractors to carry out any work at your property. Each contractor must comply with our health and safety policy and hold adequate public and professional liability insurance. Each contractor also agrees to attend to reported problems in a timely manner and to make fair charges for the work. We at SPL Property Management LLP do not receive referral fees or commission for any work we introduce to contractors and always insist they provide the most competitive quote possible.
We welcome regular communication with our leaseholders and freeholders as this does help us manage your property.If there is something we are not doing right we want to hear about it. We will always telephone or email you back promptly and deal with issues in a timely manner.We would ask that you treat us how you would like to be treated yourself. We are approachable and our “open door Tuesday” a great way to meet our staff face to face.
Our aim is to do our best to provide a good service to all in a fair, transparent and polite way.Our role as the managing agents, usually on behalf of the freeholder can sometimes be difficult and a lack of communication usually to blame when things go wrong. We do understand that when there is an increase in budget or where a block is the subject of a section 20 procedure these extra potential costs are unwelcome.We also understand that it is sometimes difficult to correctly communicate an issue over the telephone or email and this is the time to meet with us to discuss either as a group or should you wish individually.
So lets deal with our Complaints Procedure
In the first instance if an issue arises that you are unhappy with speak to our staff and explain in a clear and precise manner exactly why you are unhappy.We will always try to explain things clearly and deal with the response professionally. We would expect that you too will do the same.
If you are not satisfied with the explanation then please write to us at the following address where the complaint will be passed to the managing director and owners of the company for investigation.
The Managing Director,SPL Property Management LLP, Lorne Park House, 1 Lorne Park Road, Bournemouth,Dorset,BH11JJ
We will acknowledge receipt of your letter or email and following an internal investigation will reply in writing within 21 days.This letter will be from the Managing Director/Owner of the company.
If you are still dissatisfied with how the complaint has been dealt with then you should contact The Ombudsman Service of which we are members. Their address is as follows.
Ombudsman Services: Property
PO Box 1021
Phone: 0330 440 1634
Fax: 0330 440 1635
Textphone: 0330 440 1600
When to complain
- if you are dissatisfied with any of our services.
- If we have failed to follow any procedures correctly.
- If you do not consider we have carried out a repair in good time
- If you do not consider one of our operatives has carried out a good job
- If one of our staff has not returned your call or email in good time
- If you believe we have discriminated against you in any form
- If you have a problem with any of our employees.
Cleaning schedules will differ from block to block depending on the size,complexity and general condition of the block. Properties that have a high percentage of tenants can take longer and obviously the larger the block the longer it will take. We have a rolling cleaning schedule and ascertain over the first few months of the time required to complete each block. This is then implemented into our schedule. In the majority of cases your property will be cleaned every three-four weeks and this is reflected into your annual budget. Our cleaners will not always attend at the same time/day every cycle but will usually be within 2 days. A cleaning schedule will be erected on a notice board in the communal areas and signed off after every clean.
Client Money Protect
Whilst each block has its own dedicated bank account we are conscious that the industry is currently unregulated meaning anyone can set themselves up as a managing agent. This also means that the agent can hold substantial amounts of clients funds. Therefore for our clients piece of mind we are voluntary members of The Client Money Protect Service. For more detailed information about the scheme please visit www.clientmoneyprotect.co.uk
Managing the finances of each block is made very difficult when leaseholders do not pay their service charges. The day to day, month to month budget is calculated on the basis that all have contributed and in good time and this is essential to maintaining good housekeeping. We try where possible to assist where people are in financial difficulty by allowing instalments but we reserve the right to make an additional charge for this due to the extra administration time. We issue a free first reminder letter but subsequent reminder letters carry a charge again due to the additional administration time. Persistent non payers are then passed to our legal representatives who will make contact with their lender/mortgage provider if the property is mortgaged as the lenders security is at risk. As a last resort steps can be taken to enforce the forfeiture clause in the lease.
We are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998 to hold information and personal data from clients. In the vast majority of cases we are not able to provide you with other lessees information except in an emergency (water leak) etc.
Disposal of rubbish
The bin store areas should only be used to house the bin for the block. This area is not for dumping furniture etc and it is expensive for us to remove it. Recent price increases mean that for example it costs us £50.00 to dispose of a fridge freezer plus the costs of our time, fuel and waste carrying licence.
Fire prevention and Risk Assessment
We make sure that each of our blocks has a fire risk assessment carried out and any recommendations within it are addressed. The fire and smoke alarms (if present), and emergency lighting are tested regularly and a record of this is left in the communal notice board and logged in our offices.
Ground Rent Collection
Ground rent is collected on behalf of our freeholders and notices served to comply with the Commonhold Leasehold Reform Act 2002, section 166.
Health and Safety and Asbestos
We consider health and safety of our leaseholders and residents a priority. Regular health and safety checks are made at each block by our in house health and safety officer and any items noted are prioritised and acted upon.
Further reports are commissioned in respect of our older blocks for the presence of any asbestos and we closely monitor all other health and safety issues. Notices are regularly erected in the event where communal areas are being used to store bicycles, prams and toys and these items removed if the problem persists.
Our “in house” cleaning and maintenance team regularly visit each property during the course of our day to day work and report back any issues noted. Our property manager will also visit the property periodically to keep a good overview of the property and its condition.
If you decide to sell your property or remortgage either your solicitor or the solicitor for the purchaser will require a significant amount of information from us. The documents we are normally asked to provide will include a leasehold questionnaire formulated by the Bournemouth and District Law Society, copies of annual accounts, buildings insurance policies, budgets and details of any future anticipated works. This legal bundle is time consuming for us to compile but essential for you to be able to sell or remortgage. We therefore will charge a reasonable administration fee for this work.
Some blocks require more maintenance than others. If there is a large turnover of tenants the walls and carpets can get heavily marked and this must be taken into account when we are compiling the annual budget. We welcome feedback from leaseholders on any work that we do or if there is something we have missed.
Most leases allow subletting and we understand that a large proportion of flats have been sold to “buy to let” investors. It is however, your responsibility as the leaseholder to carefully vet in going tenants and ensure that they conform to the lease covenants. In our opinion you should only use a reputable agent and that adequate checks and references are carried out. If a particular flat owner/lessee continually allows anti-social behaviour or disruptive tenants into the property we do reserve the right, in conjunction with the freeholder to enforce the “subletting” covenant contained within the lease. This allows us to issue a “letting license” which can be revoked if problems persist.
If you are renting a property in one of our blocks and have any issues you should contact your letting agent or flat owner. We are unable to take direct instructions from tenants as it is the lessee/owner who are our clients.
We have an “upper tier” waste carriers licence in order that we can safely transport and dispose of any waste from our blocks. Our registration number is CBDU147834
What our clients say about us
We would recommend you to anyone. Nothing is too much trouble it seems.
Mr and Mrs J Stevens