Unlike other firms, we don’t buy managements. All our blocks have come to us by personal recommendation. Accordingly we retain our managements through client & customer satisfaction, rather than the strength of contracts. We do have our own standard form of management agreement which can be provided upon request. We are also happy to enter into the RICS standard form of contract. We will also consider an appropriate draft which may be offered by your own solicitor.
Examples of Our Basic Management Services
We visit our buildings on a regular basis but at sufficiently varied times to maintain spot checks on the appearance of staff and their attendance on duty.
We prepare in consultation with the client, an annual estimate of expenditure on service charge costs and calculate the ‘on-account’ charges for each leasehold unit within the property. We then charge and collect service charges in accordance with the provisions of leases and pursuing arrears up to the point of instructing clients’ solicitors as necessary. We have an in-house arrears controller to ensure that solicitors’ costs are only incurred as a last resort.
At the end of the financial year, we prepare the financial data for the client’s accountants to assist in their preparation of the annual audit. We then circulate the accounts to all leaseholders with notice of the Annual General Meeting.
Aside from the recruitment of porters and cleaners, we issue instructions to contractors to carry out repairs and maintenance of a periodic or recurring nature as well as ordering fuel and other consumables such as lamps, refuse sacks, cleaning materials, uniforms and such other materials as may be required for the proper management of the property.
We are always on hand to advise our clients and committees on matters of management policy and statutory requirements of the myriad Landlord & Tenant enactments.
Buying Power in Insurance
Most of our clients are able to take advantage of our long-standing relationships with key brokers affording a bulk buying power which is second to none in the block insurance market and enabling the keenest rates without the expensive strings that are usually attached to ‘cheap quotes’. (Offers of cheap insurance which are “subject to survey or further risk assessment” usually indicate nasty surprises in store with mandatory risk improvements which outstrip many years’ worth of illusory savings in premium.) It pays to have clout in the insurance market and this is what we are able to deliver for our clients.
Even More Buying Power for You
Our accounting procedures go beyond the minimum requirements of ARMA and RICS guidelines. All blocks are set up with separate trustee client accounts, including reserve accounts for major works with all accrued interest re-credited to the leaseholders’ fund. By joining our family of managements, your reserve funds will earn the interest rate available to the pooled millions of pounds of our block reserve funds and still have your funds securely ring-fenced with its own Trust Account number.
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After each incoming bill is coded as to property and expense, it requires approval by the assigned manager before being passed to the accounts department for payment on one of the weekly cheque runs. All cheques require two directors’ signatures; usually that of the Financial Director followed by the Managing Director. Each one will spot check bills for different flaws. The FD might check the VAT rate on an energy bill. The MD may ask why a particular cost was not recovered from insurance. Each raises their own queries and will withhold signature until clarified by the manager.
We recently invested £100,000 in further upgrading our industry-standard software which can generate a higher level of reporting than previously possible. If clients wish to upgrade from standard financial reporting, either in terms of frequency or type of report, this can be arranged via our FD.
All too many agents still charge full fees for carrying out major works of all descriptions in-house. It’s obvious that they can’t be Jacks of All Trades. If specifications are not watertight, losses and overruns can be punitively expensive. And when there is a dispute, the agent then takes up a defensive position against his own client.
At Parkgate Aspen, we believe that major works are best specified and supervised by qualified and experienced independent surveyors, M&E consultants and engineers. They are clearly the best placed to write a tight specification, handle a sealed tendering process and administer the actual works with valuation of stage payments and release of final retentions. We appoint such specialists that have served us successfully on previous projects and we negotiate their fees for our clients. Our own fees are limited to administration costs of the appointment process, attendance at site meetings as well as the processing of statutory notices upon the lessees of the Property and the overall administration and accounting duties directly relating to the project.
In this preferred situation, we can remain uncompromised in any building disputes within which our client requires our support. A saving of a few hundred pounds on surveyors’ fees, is a bad trade-off for the tens of thousands that are often lost in costly overruns and substandard works.
Additional management services are available but fall beyond the scope of our basic management fee. Should you wish to discuss these further, we will be happy to provide a fee structure. Such services include company secretarial services and representation at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal which is the main arbiter of residential leasehold and service charge disputes.
Freehold Purchase & the Right to Manage
This may be your first management appointment after freehold purchase by enfranchisement or in preparation for an application to secure the ‘Right to Manage’ under recent legislation.
If so, we are well placed to advise on the many practical issues that are often not addressed by solicitors either in advance or after the process is completed.
In addition to working with specialist enfranchisement valuers and solicitors, we have set up many Right to Manage schemes which have freed hard-pressed lessees from decades of dictatorship by landlords. However welcome, this freedom does come at a price and it pays to get the best practical guidance from the outset. We believe that our direct experience in this field is unmatched by any other independent firm specialising in quality block management.