Advice please

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  • pinathecat
    started a topic Advice please

    Advice please

    I live in a block of (11) privately owned flats.
    I am a resident and a director of the flats maintenance company.
    About 5 years ago, the company engaged the services of a local estate agency to purely run the maintenance side.
    So They just collect the monthly fees and look after the maintenance
    Our contact is the MD of that estate agency.

    Through an incident that occurred in mid-Jan that aroused my suspicions, I asked him if I could see a statement and 2 suspicious invoices.
    He wouldn't let me see anything.

    I am very, very disabled, in a wheelchair and just on benefits.

    I involved the local CAB, and we agreed not to do anything until the end of the financial year, and then I was to ask him for an appointment to view all the 2018/19 financial documentation.

    I have and he still won't let me.

    He holds all files concerning the maintenance company, so I can't view anything.

    He has also said that I can see things, belong to the company, but I must pay him first.
    (He knows my money is tight and I doubt he would be forthcoming anyway.)


    WHAT CAN I DO!

  • Sarah B
    replied
    Your best easiest and cheapest option is to visit another block agent. Tell them your issues, they will tell you what he can and cannot do as they will hope to win your business. As an estate agent he must by law be registered with a property redress scheme and have client money protection, this should be on their correspondence and website. I don't think you should manage it yourself, that is a whole can of worms and requires extensive knowledge. Your questions on here suggest you don't have it, but even if you did you would be well-advised not to. You also need some kind of succession plan, and not just one person doing it.

    Leave a comment:


  • eagle2
    replied
    You should have a problem with the MA taking a commission if it has not been declared to and agreed with the Company.

    The contractor should be able to supply an invoice regardless of how he accepts payment. He could accept payment to his friend, payment in the Cayman Islands, payment in US dollars or even in chocolate bars. The MA should not make any payment at all if he has not received an invoice.

    Unlike others, I am not convinced that it is theft, but you can take legal action against the MA if he does allow you to inspect documents or he fails to forward documents to the Company after he is removed as agent.

    Whether or not the Company can take legal action against the MA, would depend on what the MA has been hiding and the wording of the management agreement. Unless you have proof and the amount is worth pursuing, it is probably best just to change MA and not throw good money after bad.

    Leave a comment:


  • pinathecat
    replied
    I have no problem with him getting a commission, but I do have a problem with him, or the contractor not being able to provide a copy invoice.
    It looks like the MA is just writing cheques to the proprietor of the contract company and not to the ACTUAL company. So neither of them can provide an invoice.

    If we get a new MA , and the registered office changes and he still won't give up the invoices and cheque stubbs, is that then theft?

    Also, if I get those things and they show that he WAS hiding things, can he still be prosecuted?

    Leave a comment:


  • eagle2
    replied
    A similar point has arisen on another thread, you should refer the agent to s388 Companies Act 2006 which requires that a Company's accounting records must at all times be open to inspection by the Company's officers.

    Leave a comment:


  • eagle2
    replied
    Commission in some cases is reasonable, for example an insurance broker who genuinely checks the full market for alternative quotes and deals with insurance claims. Here the agent has added no value whatsoever and I maintain the view that the reasonable price is the net amount received by the contractor. It is purely and simply greed on the part of the agent and he should be replaced and reported.

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    The reasonable price is what they would be prepared to accept from the OP directly. That is not generally the same as what they would accept, as nett after commission from someone who regularly gives them work, especially on a single tender basis.

    The RICS guidelines wouldn't have a section on commission if it wasn't an acceptable practice.

    Leave a comment:


  • eagle2
    replied
    The reasonable price for the work is what the contractor is willing to receive for it and that is the invoice price less the commission. The only thing that the agent has done is to appoint a contractor and that is precisely what he is required to do under the management agreement for which he receives a fee. Ethics should be restored and leasehold reform should be addressing the question of double charging and greed.

    Leave a comment:


  • eagle2
    replied
    The agent is in a position of trust and he should be acting in the best interests of his client. Instead, he appears to be more interested in earning additional monies for himself. You should replace the agent and make it clear to the new agent that you will not tolerate any commissions or other earnings arising from the management.

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    It is only illegal for the agent to receive a commission if they have told you that they won't, although best current practice is now to be explicit about such commissions, in the terms and conditions.

    Commissions aren't necessarily a loss for you as, if you contracted directly, you would probably not be able to get anything off in place of the commission, as the commission is partly for not having to spend money on advertising and preparing quotes that are not taken up.

    Section 12.6 of the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code, which is the section applying to this, is only a "should" section, so it only best practice, not a legal requirement.

    Leave a comment:


  • eagle2
    replied
    You are unlikely to be able to prove that the MA received a backhander and a copy of the invoice is only likely to give you a brief description of the work and the total cost.

    You keep returning to the same points, you have no confidence in the MA, in which case the Company should change the MA and he will not release information, in which case you should threaten and possibly take legal action against the MA.

    Leave a comment:


  • pinathecat
    replied
    The managing agent will not provide the invoice for the contract as it looks like it's the MA's mate and so he is getting a backhander for letting him do it.

    I think that's the reason why the ma won't let me see anything

    Leave a comment:


  • eagle2
    replied
    If the work has been done to a satisfactory standard at a reasonable price, you have nothing to worry about unless the contractor returns and claims that he has not been paid, which does not appear to be the case. A contractor is entitled to ask for payment in any manner he wishes. I suggested in #49 what to do if you are not happy either with the agent or the choice of contractors,

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    I'm confused! We seem to have suddenly introduced a contractor who is not the proprietor.

    In practice though, most building is done through subcontracts to self employed workers and you have no contractual relationship with the person actually doing the work. The prime contractor can still be an individual.

    In the typical relationship, the proprietor is the contractor, even if a sub-contractor actually does the work.

    Leave a comment:


  • pinathecat
    replied
    The contractor quoted and did the work, but I have found out that cheques are being paid 'personally' to the proprietor and nothing is or has been paid to the actual contractor, so there will be no record of the work being done.
    There is no address or trace of that contractor. I managed to trace the proprietors mobile number. I verified that number and the proprietor identified himself and gave me an email address. I emailed him, but he's ignoring me.

    Leave a comment:

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