pdfBlock Management - Our Aim

Are you a landlord or a member of a residents association struggling to deal with the complexities of block management?

Does all the work involving the administrating of service charges fall on the shoulders of one or two individuals within the resident management company?

The answer is to appoint a professional managing agent with a proven track record since 1953 in the highly specialised field of block management.

The management and administration of purpose built blocks of flats, converted houses and privately run residential estates is a quite unique form of property management requiring specialised skills and an in-depth knowledge of legislation not normally found within the average residential letting agency.

Stuart Smith [Derby] Limited have a proven track record in the highly specialised area of Block Management. We have the experience, and take a very proactive interest in the properties we manage to ensure that the value of properties is not only maintained but enhanced wherever possible.

We offer bespoke packages to include:

  • Well-qualified and experienced staff with an in-depth knowledge of the complicated legislative issues and administration procedures involved in Block Management.
  • Computerised accounting with a high level of detail to reduce audit and accounting costs.
  • Access to competent contractors at competitive rates.
  • Annual budgets, planned maintenance and regular site visits.
  • The experience and diplomacy needed to deal with any problems and to resolve any disputes that may arise within the community.
  • Competitive management fees.

Above all, we offer an extremely flexible approach to Block Management enabling you to select the exact level of service you require. We can manage as much or as little as you require - from merely collecting the service charges through to a full management package including acting as company secretary.

Costs

  • Typically £13-£15 per flat/unit per month, depending on no of flats/units and complexity of management. This figure rises for more complicated properties
  • Management of Section 20 works: 5-12% + VAT @ 20% depending on size and complexity  
  • References available upon request

A full list of leaseholder fees is avaliable here Leaseholder Fees 2018

If you are fed up with your existing agents or want a competitive quote for management of your property contact us TODAY.

All you need to know about leasehold property


What is a leasehold?

Leasehold flats can be in purpose-built blocks, in converted houses or above commercial or retail premises.

Leasehold ownership of a flat is simply a long tenancy, the right to occupation and use of the flat for a long period - the 'term' of the lease. This will usually be for 99 or 125 years and the flat can be bought and sold during that term. The term is fixed at the beginning and so decreases in length year by year. Thus, if it were not for inflation, the value of the flat would diminish over time until the eventual expiry of the lease, when the flat reverts to the landlord (although an assured tenancy would them become a possibility).

The ownership of the flat usually relates to everything within the four walls of the flat, including floorboards and plaster to walls and ceiling, but does not usually include the external or structural walls. The structure and common parts of the building and the land it stands on are owned by the landlord, who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the building.

The landlord can be a person or a company, including a local authority or a housing association. It is also becoming quite common for the leaseholders to own the freehold of the building, although residents' management company, effectively becoming their own landlord. With the advent of the right to manage, the lessees will not own the freehold but will be able to manage the building as if they were the landlord.


What is a lease?

A lease is a contract between the leaseholder and the landlord giving conditional ownership for a fixed period of time. It is an important document and leaseholders must ensure that they have a copy and that they understand it. The wording of the leases is usually in legal language and can vary from property to property. Leaseholders who cannot understand their lease should get advice.

It is difficult to change the conditions of the lease after you buy, so make sure that the services provided in the lease are those that you want or can accept.

The lease sets out the contractual obligations of the two parties: what the leaseholder has contracted to do, and what the landlord is bound to do. The leaseholder's obligations will include payment of the ground rent (if any) and contribution to the costs of maintaining and managing the building. The lease will probably also place certain conditions on the use and occupation of the flat. The landlord will usually be required to manage and maintain the structure, exterior and common areas of the property, to collect contributions from all the leaseholders and keep the accounts.

Leaseholders are not necessarily entirely free to do whatever they want in ore with the flat - the lease comes with conditions, to protect the rights of everyone with an interest in the building. For example, retirement schemes will usually have restrictions on the age of those who can live there.

When a flat changes hands, the seller assigns all the rights and responsibilities of the lease to the purchaser, including any future service charges that have not yet been identified.

Read the lease - understand your rights and responsibilities. Ask if the landlord or manager produces a plain English summary for you to read whether there are any additional house rules.


What are your contractual rights?

First and foremost, the right of peaceable occupation of the flat for the term of the lease, usually referred to as 'quiet enjoyment'. In addition, the leaseholder has the right to expect the landlord to maintain and repair the building and manage the common parts - that is, the parts of the building or grounds not specifically granted to the leaseholder in the lease but to which there are rights of access, for example, the entrance hall and staircases.


What are your responsibilities?

Principally, these will be the requirements to keep the inside of the flat in good order, to pay (on time) a share of the costs of maintaining and running the building, to behave in a neighbourly manner and not to do certain things without the landlord's consent, for example, make alterations or sub-let. The landlord has an obligation to ensure that the leaseholder complies with such responsibilities for the good of all the other leaseholders. these rights and responsibilities will be set out in the lease.


What are service charges?

Service charges are payments by the leaseholder to the landlord for all the services the landlord provides. these will include maintenance and repairs, insurance of the building and , in some cases, provision of central heating, lifts, porterage, lighting and cleaning of common areas etc. Usually the charges will also include the costs of management, either by the landlord or by a professional managing agent..

Service charges can vary from year to year; they can go up or down without any limit other than that they are reasonable..

Details of what can (and cannot) be charged by the landlord and the proportion of the charge to be paid by the individual leaseholder will all be set out in the lease..

The landlord arranges provision of the services. The leaseholder pays for them..

All costs must be met by the leaseholders; the landlord will generally make no financial contribution. Most modern leases allow for the landlord to collect service charges in advance, repaying any surplus or collecting any shortfall at the end of the year..

The landlord can only recover those costs which are reasonable. Leaseholders have powerful rights to challenge service charges they feel are unreasonable at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT).

When considering the purchase of a leasehold flat, it is important to find out, for personal budgetary purposes, what the current and future service charges are likely to be. Also check if there is a reserve fund, and what plans are there for major works that could affect the service charge in the next few years after your purchase.


What are reserve funds?

Many leases provide for the landlord to collect sums in advance to create a reserve or 'sinking' fund to ensure that sufficient money is available for future scheduled major works, such as external decorations or lift replacement. The lease will set out the sums involved and when regular, cyclical, maintenance works are due.

Contributions to the reserve fund are not repayable when the flat is sold.


How is the building insured?

The lease will normally require the landlord to take out adequate insurance for the building and the common parts, and will give him or her the right to recover the cost of the premium through the service charges. The policy will not normally cover the possessions of individual leaseholders.


What happens if the leaseholder doesn't pay?

It is the leaseholder's obligation to pay the service charges and ground rent promptly under the terms of the lease. If they are not paid and the landlord is able to show that the charges are reasonable, then he can begin forfeiture proceedings. If approved by a court, this can lead to the landlord repossessing the flat. However under the Common hold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, the right of the landlord will be restricted.


What is a managing agent?

Sometimes the landlord carries out the management of the property himself; alternatively, a managing agent may be appointed to manage and maintain the building on behalf of the landlord, in accordance with the terms of the lease, current relevant legislation and codes of practice. The agent takes instruction from the landlord, not the leaseholders, but should constantly be aware of the leaseholder's wishes and requirements. The agent will receive a fee which will usually be paid by leaseholders as part of the service charges. This may be based on a specified percentage of the day-to-day service charges, but good and common practice is for it to be a fixed fee per annum. Where major works are involved, the agent may charge an additional fee, which will normally be a percentage of the total cost of such works.


Where does my money go?

Question

Why can a flat not be freehold?

Answer

Because flats are constructed with one dwelling above another it is not possible for the owner of each flat to also own the land the flats stand on.

Question

What is a freehold?

Answer

The freeholder is the owner of the ground that the flats stand on.

Question

What is ground rent?

Answer

The owner of the land that flats stands on allow the use of the land on the basis of granting a long lease, in return this usually has the right to make a rental charge called ground rent.

Question

What is a management company?

Answer

A management company is a company limited by share or guarantee whose members are residents of a development. Companies run by directors elected from amongst the residents who in turn usually appoint managing agents to administer the company and manage the developments.

Question

What is a service charge?

Answer

A service charge is a sum payable by the owner of the flat to cover the costs of insuring and a maintaining the common parts of a development.

Question

Why is there usually one insurance policy for all of the flats and development?

Answer

It is better to have a block policy that covers every flat because if it was left to individual flat owners to insure their own property and if one property was uninsured this would create serious problems for the adjourning parties. It would be extremely confusing and cumbersome settling an insurance claim where there are a number of insurers involved.

Question

If I am not happy with my managing agent can I sack them?

Answer

All lease holders have rights concerning management of there property. If the managing agents are appointed by the freeholder the latter should take into account your views concerning the choice of agents. The formal process for insisting the freeholder changes agents is laid down by the statute and we would be pleased to provide advice and guidance in relation to this. If the agent is appointed by the management company there is usually the opportunity for leaseholders to make their views known to directors for the management company either formally or at the annual general meeting.

Question

Can I buy the freehold of my development?

Answer

The law provides a legal framework to allow a group of residents to purchase their own freehold. However before embarking on this it is sensible to obtain specialist advice on the acquisition process and the value of the freehold. Stuart Smith has the expertise to assist in this area.