Make Things Better – how to give your property a facelift

So far in our Make Things Better series we’ve helped people who suspected they were getting poor value for money from their managing agent and an individual who felt the works carried out to repair their property were not up to scratch. This week, our help is required to outline the correct process for giving the property a facelift…..

I’ve decided it’s time we had the external walls of the property repainted but I don’t know how to go about it and I don’t always trust my managing agent with their advice. What is the process I need to follow? 

A fresh lick of paint on a building can make a fantastic difference, lifting the spirits of everyone who owns it or lives there. But you’re right, it’s not a straightforward process to get it done and you need the help of a solid managing agent every step of the way.

The first thing you must do is to look at the lease to see what it says about carrying out such work. Some leases will say that maintenance of the outside of the property needs to be carried out every five years, some will be longer, and so this will tell you what expectations the leaseholders already have about how often they should pay for such work to be carried out.  You then need to check when it was last completed.  If it’s not due to be painted yet according to the lease then it will be a challenge to get the works approved unless there is an issue with the building that needs to be resolved.

The next stage would be for your managing agent to get a cost for the work – a simple rough quote – in order to check if it would go over the Section 20 threshold.

If it’s not above the threshold, then we would get three quotes for the work as is our standard protocol to do so. We would then liaise with the directors or the leaseholders with regards to the costs to agree on which contractor will be appointed.

You also need to take into account whether or not it is a listed building as that will present some restrictions over what you can do. There’s also the consideration of whether or not the decorating needs to be done using a specific type of paint.

The other thing to consider – and again your managing agent should flag this – is that some of your window frames may need to be repaired before the painting can take place. You’ll need to find out who is responsible for the repair of the window frames as it could be each leaseholder. If this is the case, it could slow the process down significantly if you ask each one to repair the windows themselves. The approach we would take is to send out letters to each leaseholder to inform them that they are responsible for the repair, but that we can arrange for this work to be carried out as part of the painting work and pass the cost back to them. This speeds up the process whilst also ensuring full transparency for everyone involved.

Once all agreed, we’d make sure that all leaseholders and residents are made aware of when the works would be taking place to minimise inconvenience and disruption.

Finally, once the job is in progress, your managing agent should oversee it from start to finish to ensure that it’s completed to a high standard. Nothing should be paid until they have signed off the work and have possession of all assurances, method statements and other paperwork.

As you can see, it’s not straightforward but with the right managing agent in place, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Do you have a problem with your current managing agent? Get in touch with us here and we’ll talk you through how we can make things better.

Make Things Better – paying for poor work?

The purpose of our Make Things Better series is to help anyone in need of a little extra advice or support for managing their property. Too often, managing agents are put in place that lack the time or knowledge required to deliver an excellent service to clients, and that is affecting the reputation of our industry. So we’re in a mission to change things and Make Things Better for you, and for us.

This week, we heard from a property owner and member of a RMC with this issue:

My managing agent organised for some roof repairs to our property but just one year later we need them to be redone. Clearly the supplier wasn’t very good. Is it fair that we need to pay again or is the managing agent liable for some of the repair costs?

First of all, we’re sorry to hear that this has happened to you. At TCML, we can say with confidence that we would never let this happen because of the guarantees we put in place for all major works that are carried out. There would be guarantees for the contractor as well as for the materials. That is very important and ensures another layer of protection if the contractor were to go bust.

Where your managing agent may have fallen flat is in their selection process of the contractor who carried out the work. No managing agent should take a chance on a new supplier. We have long standing relationships with the highest quality suppliers so you get suitably qualified and experienced people working on each and every job.

Unfortunately, it’s commonplace to find contractors who claim they can do any kind of maintenance or repair works when they’re not actually plumbing experts or roofing experts and therefore lack the specific knowledge required to do the work well. The only contractors that should be hired should have a solid track record for doing the job required and multiple references.

Also, all work should be inspected at several stages during any job and upon completion by a surveyor to sign off the project.  This ensures that the job has been done properly and you have an independent expert to verify that.

It’s not right that you have to pay again and we would recommend looking at the support you’re getting from your managing agent.

Have you got an issue you’d like to run past us? Get in touch with us at mail@townandcity.com or find out how to switch to us here.

Make Things Better – overpaying for managing agent support?

We aim to give our clients peace of mind that their property and interests will be cared for now and far into the future. And for those of you who aren’t our clients, we’ve found a way to help you too with our new advice series, Make Things Better.

To kick things off, here’s a query that came through to us just last week…..

“I get little contact from my managing agent and yet the service charges are really high. Is this normal?”

Sadly this is a regular occurrence with many managing agents, providing poor and infrequent communication, and in some cases not even an acknowledgement of a query.

More likely than not, the reason for this will be the size of the agent. Some companies are too big and you’re just a number to them. At Town & City, we see ourselves as small enough to care and big enough to cope. That means we’re small enough to be able to talk to people on an individual and personal basis, and treat each person well; but can also provide the best support and advice whenever and wherever in the country it’s needed.

We’re a mid-sized player in market and we’ve invested heavily in how we communicate through the hiring of high quality staff, training and our new client portal. What’s more, we never underestimate the importance of getting back to people properly and as quickly as possible. Why? Relationships are important to us. So much so, that some of the leaseholders we work for are now good friends too.

There could of course be another reason for the “little contact” you receive from your managing agent. The number and frequency of site visits depends on the contract – you could be entitled to weekly visits and around the clock one-to-one support. Or, a quarterly ‘check in’. You have to be aware of what you’re actually paying for. If you’ve noticed a reduction in the service and attention you’re receiving but the service charge has gone up, that is something to investigate.  With regards to transparency  of what should be offered, it’s all in the contract.

The last potential reason for radio silence from your managing agent could be that they have something to tell you that they know you won’t want to hear. Is that acceptable? No.  There’s no smoke and mirrors with us – nor should there be with any agent when it comes to giving the best advice for preserving your property. You need to resolve a problem in the best way possible and sometimes that way isn’t easy or cheap. There may be a legal route that has to be taken in certain circumstances. It may be that an inspection or investigation into a problem has uncovered bigger issues. Sometimes managing agents have to deliver bad news – it’s how they help you resolve the problem afterwards that matters.

Have you got an issue you’d like to run past us? Get in touch with us at mail@townandcity.com or find out how to switch to us here.