S20 major works consultation, some questions.

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    S20 major works consultation, some questions.

    Hi, this is my first post here. I'm a long term poster on the moneysavingexpert forums but feel I need some more specialised info on the current problem.

    It's actually a few problems!
    I purchased my leasehold flat several months ago. Last week I received a letter that was in my name but addressed to the previous leaseholder. In it was a demand for just over £1000 to cover exterior redecoration of the building.

    After talking to my solicitor and the previous leaseholder it turns out the correct procedures were followed to inform the management company of my details and that the previous leaseholder had returned letters to them with "incorrect address" written on them.

    I've read a lot of info at lease-advice.org concerning the 1985 act and S20. As far as I'm aware, the managing agent has not consulted me about the works and therefore am I only liable to pay the upper limit of £250. I'm going to await their response to this and follow LVT (lease valuation tribunal) proceedings if they don't agree with me.

    Meanwhile, there are some other things amiss.
    Another leaseholder has shown me the consultation letters. The management agent provided quotes for the work. They have quoted £18K for interior and external redecoration.

    I've spoken to the surveyor today and they said that they had originally had the £18K quote but had only actioned exterior decoration for £11K.

    The letter with the bill demand only mentions "exterior redecorations", but says that it will take six weeks! Sounds a bit odd to me.

    Meanwhile I still haven't had an explanation from the managing agent at how they converted £11K or £18K and around £7K of sink funds into 9 bills of £1000. So, a lot of confusion.

    Two specific questions:
    -if they consulted for £18K worth of work but only actioned £11K, was the consultation process invalidated?

    -nowhere in the consultation letters does it provide an estimate of the charge per leaseholder. It only covers the total cost. I've read the guides on lease-advice.org but I can't find a specific reference to having to provide an expected cost per leaseholder. Is there a clause that specifically requires a cost per leaseholder?
    This is relevant because none of the other leaseholders passed observation on the quotes because they assumed that the sink funds would cover the work. No effort was made by the managing agent to provide information on sink fund levels or estimated shortfall.

    #2
    Are you a lessee in a private residential block or council block ? What is the name of your freeholder company and managing agent ? Who employs the surveyor ?

    Why don't you ask the managing agent for proper explanation on how the 11k payment is being made for the external work .

    In last experience of consulatation for work exceeding 250 pd per flat ( in a private block) , the managing agent sent out copies of the quotations and the expected cost based on lowest quotation. Then afterwards, demands were sent out to collect the shared contribution from each flat before stating work..

    In your case, I wonder if your managing agent proceeded on the external work only using the funds held in sinking fund ?

    Comment


      #3
      Do I suspect that you/your solicitor did not ask the freeholder about any planned works at the time of purchase? It seems that the previous lessee was fully aware but conveniently said nothing. Am I right?

      Surely you're not trying to get out of paying your share of maintenance? Surely you would want the block you live in to be properly maintained? Who do you think would pay for any shortfall? Do you really want to find out the consequences of a management company that goes bust? I hope that you will approach this situation from the point of view that work has been planned, consulted, budgeted, undertaken and needs to be paid for.

      Perhaps you should also question why you were not fully conversant with this material fact at the time of purchase - that's one for your solicitor.

      The cost to each lessee is specified in each lease. Read your lease to see what your percentage is.

      Certainly by all means you are entitled to know exactly how the cost came about.

      Comment


        #4
        Are you a lessee in a private residential block or council block ? What is the name of your freeholder company and managing agent ? Who employs the surveyor ?
        Private residenial.
        freeholder:Pemberstone Reversions Ltd
        Freeholder:
        PEMBERSTONE REVERSIONS LIMITED
        WHITTINGTON HALL
        WHITTINGTON ROAD, WHITTINGTON
        WORCESTER
        WORCESTERSHIRE WR5 2ZX
        Company No. 02808709


        agent:
        MAINSTAY MANAGEMENT LIMITED
        WHITTINGTON HALL, WHITTINGTON
        ROAD, WORCESTER
        WORCESTERSHIRE
        WR5 2ZX
        Company No. 04052424

        The agent employed the surveyor.

        Why don't you ask the managing agent for proper explanation on how the 11k payment is being made for the external work .
        I am in the process of doing so.

        In last experience of consulatation for work exceeding 250 pd per flat ( in a private block) , the managing agent sent out copies of the quotations and the expected cost based on lowest quotation. Then afterwards, demands were sent out to collect the shared contribution from each flat before stating work..
        No mail has been sent to me.
        However, I have now seen the letters from another lessee and they only mention total cost, not cost per leaseholder.
        In your case, I wonder if your managing agent proceeded on the external work only using the funds held in sinking fund ?
        I am trying to find out how much was in the sinking fund. I beleive it to be around £7K. The agents provided quotes for £18K of work, but surveyor said £11K of work had been done (int+ext versus just ext).

        Comment


          #5
          Do I suspect that you/your solicitor did not ask the freeholder about any planned works at the time of purchase?
          Solicitor is very good and did ask about planned works.
          It seems that the previous lessee was fully aware but conveniently said nothing. Am I right?
          No, your are wrong. The first consultation letter was sent to the other lessees's after I became a lessee. But no mail to me due to managing agent not sorting themselves out.

          Surely you're not trying to get out of paying your share of maintenance?
          I have no objection to paying for work that is clearly explained and the costs detailed. I think you have to understand how this so called management company work. They charge higher than average service charges, approx £900 per year per 1 bed flat. They have a "cyclical redecoration fund" which accrues £1450 per year. No maintenance has been done since 2001. The window frames were rotting.


          Surely you would want the block you live in to be properly maintained?
          Yes. I have no objection to paying for what needs doing, but this managing agent has just sent a random bill of over £1000 to me with no explantion or detailed cost breakdown. Meanwhile, despite a service charge that's over dobule what a nearby self-managed block charge, they have failed to fix the security lighting, paths, bin shid and left the window frames to rot. All this despite regular phone calls from residents. One neighbour told me that she has emailed them every week with requests for action.

          Who do you think would pay for any shortfall?
          The freeholder is liable.

          Do you really want to find out the consequences of a management company that goes bust?
          The managing agent is a very large concern and a £7,500 pr £750 (depending on how many leesse's dispute the bill) shortfall due to their mismanagement is something of their own making. In fact, it's not even going to be that large if the work cost £11K and the fund contains £7K.

          I hope that you will approach this situation from the point of view that work has been planned, consulted, budgeted, undertaken and needs to be paid for.
          I have NOT been consulted. I think the level of consultation provided to the other lessee's has been poor.

          Perhaps you should also question why you were not fully conversant with this material fact at the time of purchase - that's one for your solicitor.
          The management agent have simply failed to address the letters to the correct location - the previous leaseholder received them and sent them back.

          The cost to each lessee is specified in each lease. Read your lease to see what your percentage is.
          I pay 1/9th since there are 9 flats.

          Certainly by all means you are entitled to know exactly how the cost came about.
          Good.


          I think there might be some confusion here about what I am trying to acheive. I am not some payment dodger who wants to play the system. The other residents have told me about the problems with the management agent. These are: high charges, poor response time to queries, lack of action, poor communication, difficulty in contacting the relevant person. So far I've had stories of lessee's withholding payment, threatening legal action to have a door system fixed, delays in obtaining documents. My solicitor has had no end of trouble with the agent.

          As a result of their inability to manage a basic business I have been landed with a £1000 bill that I had no time to budget for and I have not taken part in any consultation process. The management agent has failed to give estimated costs per leaseholder at the consultation stage, has quoted for £18K of work and then actioned £11K of work. The bill only mentions exterior work (half the job) but seems to refer to "6 weeks of work" which probably be the whole job. No mention has been made of sink fund levels and no explanation is given for how the bill amount was calculated.

          The reason I am looking into all of this is precisely because I do care for the long term good of the block.
          This is why I'm researching forming a RTA, buying the freehold and moving to self managed status.
          I resent paying over the odds for a shoddy service from a profit making organisation.

          Comment


            #6
            Sorry to split hairs with you, I used the term management company. A management company consists of leaseholders who are members of this company registered at Companies House who oversee the running of a block of flats.

            Managing agents are just one of the professionals employed by freeholders and management companies to commandeer and undertake work such as maintenance on a contract basis.

            Who does your managing agents answer to? You should be speaking to them about the managing agents' poor performance.

            Comment


              #7
              You're not splitting hairs. I made a mistake.

              Each leaseholder is a member of "Boakes Drive Management Company". I need to research this part a bit more.
              As I understand it, we actually "employ" the agent. This is why in the longer term I'm wanting us to use our powers to remove the agents.

              From what I understand from my solicitor, it is the freeholder who is liable for a bill due to the management agent not managing their affairs properly.

              Meanwhile, I've obtained some very helpful advice at lease-advice.org

              -the agent does not have to specify estimated cost per leaseholder
              -only doing "half the job" for less money after quoting for the whole job is allowable

              At the moment it appears that the agent conducted the consultation exercise properly with the other leaseholders, so it's only a question of how they managed to turn £11K of work and £7K of sink funds into 9 bills for £1K.

              Comment


                #8
                From behind the clouds came the sun

                So you're becoming clearer about the structure of the building's management and who is responsible for what. I hope it turns out that you are a member of the management company. Either way you should involve yourself absolutely.

                Assuming a majority vote by the members, there is nothing to prevent the management company giving the managing agents the old heave ho if that becomes necessary.

                I think you will find there is probably nothing untoward to worry about after all.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Yes, progress is being made.
                  I'm looking at several things at once here:
                  1) Purchase of freehold for the block
                  The freeholder is owned by a property company and I spoke to one of their directors today. He was very helpful and seemed to think that an offer by the leaseholders to buy the freehold would be OK by him. Whether we look into this depends on the price.

                  2) Self manage
                  I'm reading up on this and have spoken to several people who have done it. I'd like to move our block to self manage if the other leaseholders are happy with the idea.

                  3) Current managing agent and their consultation.
                  They have followed correct procedure for the other 8 leaseholders.
                  They have not consulted me about the works.

                  They have to explain their rather confusing behaviour regarding the bill.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I finally got told the direct dial number for the property manager yesterday!

                    I've just called him.
                    He was quite reasonable actually, albeit in a slightly "I'm looking into it, I'll get back to you" manner. A master deflector I guess.

                    I explained several of our concerns.

                    It turns out that there is £8133 in the sink funds to cover the work, and somehow or other the total cost is £1800 hence the £1000 charge for each of the 9 flats.

                    I still find this hard to comprehend and I don't feel any clearer on how a 2 week redecoration job could end up costing £18000 regardless of VAT or contingency funds etc.
                    The work entailed preparing and painting 31 wooden window units, 2 doors and porches and approx 50m of roof facia board.
                    It took two men approx 2 weeks.
                    They hired lightweight scaffolding for the rear and used a "cherry picker" platform for the front.

                    I struggle to see how this could have cost £18K. The property manager is going to "get back to me" with the numbers.
                    Meanwhile the surveyor is sending me his information, which is good of him.


                    I also informed him that I hadn't been consulted and therefore I was not liable to pay more than £250. He didn't really argue about this, though he didn't positively agree with it either. Sort of wishy washy feeling really.

                    I asked why the letters didn't inform leaseholders of the sink fund levels and expected cost per leaseholder. He didn't really know and said "it's something that I think we should look into for future consultation exercises". How long has he been doing this job? (a few years actually).

                    Comment

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