The party who owns the freehold owns structural fabric of the property, the land it sits on and the space above it.
Freehold ownership is the most common form of ownership for houses.
In flats, the freeholder may be a developer, a third-party owner, or the leaseholders if they have come together to purchase the freehold interest.
The freeholder is also referred to as the landlord.
Leasehold ownership means that the owner has a legal interest which allows them to exclusively possess the property but only for a fixed number of years as set out in the lease agreement. Leaseholders do not own the fabric of the property and they must ensure that they are complying with the terms of the lease.
Put simply, leaseholders have a contractual right to exclusive use of the property but only until the end of the lease term. Ownership of the property returns to the landlord when the lease comes to an end. Lease lengths usually vary from 99 to 999 years.
Leasehold ownership is very common for flats and apartments, with the freeholder retaining ownership in the structural fabric of the building.
The leaseholder is also referred to as the tenant.
The lease is the contract between the landlord and the tenant.
Within the lease are the contractual obligations of the parties. The leaseholder’s obligations will include payment of the ground rent (if any) and contribution to the costs of maintaining, insuring, 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 service charges from all the leaseholders, insure the building and keep the accounts.
It is very important that you understand your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder and to do this you should read the lease. They are normally written in legal language and can vary from property to property so you may want to seek advice from a solicitor to ensure you have fully understood what obligations are imposed on you.
If you do not have a copy of your lease, then you should be able to get this via one of the places below:
- If you have a mortgage, your mortgage provider will probably have your lease. You should be able to request a copy for a nominal fee.
- The solicitor who handled the purchase of your property may have a copy.
- You can get an official copy of your lease via the Land Registry website: landregistry.gov.uk
It is fairly common now that private estates will have communal areas for all homeowners to enjoy. Where this is the case a clause is usually entered on your deed of transfer (TP1 from Land Registry) detailing your contribution towards the maintenance of the communal areas. This is known as the estate rentcharge.
The estate rentcharge is not usually a fixed amount but will vary depending on the costs of running and maintaining the communal areas.
As with a lease, a TP1 sets out any restrictions in respect of owning the property so it is important that you read and understand this document.
RMCs are companies set up solely to deliver management and maintenance services to the property. They are parties to the lease but usually only to the extent that they are responsible for delivering management and maintenance services and collecting the service charges to pay for the same. They do not usually own a legal interest in the property in the same way that the landlord and tenant do.
The RMC will have Memorandum and Articles of Association (Mem & Arts) specifically drawn up to allow the company to manage and administer a leasehold property. They are run by directors, who are usually unpaid and appointed from the residents themselves.
RMCs provided a solution by giving leaseholders of new properties the ability to self-manage (where the developer included an RMC in the lease that is). However, this did not allow an effective means for leaseholders to take control back when the leases were granted without an RMC.
The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 sought to deal with this issue by introducing the Right to Manage (RTM). RTM gave leaseholders the statutory right to take over the management and maintenance of their property under an RTM Company without having to prove that any fault had occurred by the responsible party under the terms of the lease.
There are qualifying restrictions and a procedure that must be followed to obtain the RTM, however, if successful, the RTM supersedes the lease and any rights in terms of management and maintenance (including arranging insurance) becomes the responsibility of the RTM Company.
RTMs are structured in the same way as RMCs, being run by unpaid directors usually appointed from the residents themselves. They will have specific Memorandum and Articles of Association that allow the company to control the services and collect the service charges.
Leaseholders are usually required to transfer the ownership of their share in the RMC/RTM to the new leaseholder when selling their property.
RMCs/RTMs allow leaseholders to manage the development as they see fit, allowing them the ability to control costs and protect the value of their investment.
Directors hold the following responsibilities:
- Holding meetings, both Director meetings and AGMs
- Notice of change of Directors or Secretaries to Companies House
- Notice of change to registered office to Companies House
- Notice of any other changes to the company to Companies House
- Always make decisions for the benefit of the RMC and its leaseholder members – never for the individual
- Ensure compliance with all relevant Health & Safety and fire risk legislation
- Arrange the necessary insurance cover to help them fulfil their responsibilities as a director, to ensure both they and the development are adequately protected
- Ensure that the obligations of the lease are carried out by the managing agent
- Promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members
- Inform the other directors and shareholders of any potential conflict of interest or if any director might profit personally from a transaction the RMC makes
- Preparing the RMC statutory accounts, signing and submitting to Companies House as well as the Confirmation Statement* and all changes (i.e., appointments, resignations, change of registered office, etc.)
*Every company, including dormant and non-trading companies, must file a confirmation statement at least annually. It confirms the information Companies House hold about the company is up to date.
- Arranging the signing of all other statutory documents
- Approving the annual service charge budget
- Working with the property management company on expenditure and major works
It is important to remember, the obligations you take on as director of an RMC are vital to the future of your development. The obligations are often statutory and carry serious consequences for non-compliance.
About Warwick Estates
Warwick Estates are a managing agent, providing property and estate management services for a wide range of clients. Operating under three brands, our aim is to partner with our clients to deliver the best possible service to them and our customers.
Over the past decade we have achieved significant investment, embedded our brand values, and emerged as a focused leader in the management of leasehold properties.
We are proud to be a national company that delivers a local service across England and Wales.
We rely on solution-oriented thinking, open and professional communication, qualified staff, and their teamwork commitment.
Warwick Estates are appointed by the party who has the responsibility to manage and maintain the building. This might be:
- The landlord if there is a lease between the landlord and the tenant
- The Residents Management Company (RMC) if there is a lease between the landlord, the RMC, and the tenant
- The Right to Manage Company (RTM) if the leaseholders have been successful in this action
We refer to the party that instructs us as our client and we deliver services to our customers who are the leaseholders who own the homes we manage.
Warwick Estates fully meets the regulatory and best practice requirements for the delivery of block management services. We are proud to be part of professional industry bodies and to work with them to improve standards for our customers.
|We are regulated by RICS and adhere to the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code 3rd Edition.|
|We are full members of the Association of Residential Managing Agents and follow the consumer charter and standards.|
|We are members of the British Safety Council.|
|We actively support the IRPM qualification and work with our team via the Warwick Academy to achieve this.|
Below is an indication of our standard block management services but these may vary dependent on the terms of our appointment.
- Preparation of an annual budget for service charges in accordance with the terms of the lease
- Regular billing and collection of service charges, including management fees
- Provision of a periodic budget report of income, expenditure, and cash flow
- Arrange for the preparation of draft accounts in anticipation of an examination by an independent accountant
- Preparation of a reserve fund plan relating to cyclical maintenance as required in accordance with the terms of the lease
- Weekly/monthly payment of invoices
- Arrear’s collection management
- Provision of advice on block insurance and any other appropriate cover
Relationship with Residents
- Attend to routine enquiries from lessees and residents
- Respond to solicitors’ and lessees’ enquiries regarding assignments and licences
- Attendance at general meetings of residents (frequency as agreed by the client)
- Administration of insurance claims
Repair and Maintenance Management
- Regular site inspections and contractor meetings (frequency as agreed by the client)
- Risk management, fire and health and safety compliance
- Preparation of a long-term maintenance and repair plan
- Deal with day-to-day repairs and maintenance promptly and efficiently
- Preparation of maintenance plans and contracts for plant and machinery
- Advise on major contract work and the use of specialist professionals and contractors
- Ensure compliance with the terms of leases and policy agreed with the Board and where necessary, subject to landlord authorisation, instruct solicitors in relation to breaches
- Represent the landlord at County Court, arbitration, and Tribunals
Landlord and Tenant Advice
- Advise the Client on residential landlord and tenant procedures including statute and practice
- Advise the Client on a suggested management policy
- Provide a status report of financial, maintenance and legal matters
- Keep Client informed of status of agreed actions
We are paid for our services via our management fee. You will see this as a line item on your service charge budget and accounts. In accordance with the RICS Residential Management Service Charge Code, we charge every property a fixed fee, based on a per unit basis.
Some clients may have also requested additional services, for example accounts preparation or out-of-hours support, and therefore there may be additional fees applied. We pride ourselves on our transparency so if you would like specific clarification on the fees, we levy for your property then please ask your property manager who will be happy to assist.
The information contained within our pack should be helpful for, and may be required by, any solicitor acting for a prospective purchaser. It includes a range of information about your property including, ground rent and lease details, information about the service charges, details of any planned maintenance works, confirmation of any breaches and details of our after-sale requirements.
For more information about what is included as well as the fees and timescales please click here.
Requests should be emailed to email@example.com.
Notices, deeds, certificates and other legal obligations may need to be met following the sale of a leasehold property. These will be detailed in the lease.
Warwick Estates levy a charge for their administration in addressing these requirements and for more details of these fees and how to make payment please click here.
As per the terms of the lease, consent may be required for a number of matters including sub-letting, pets and alterations.
Warwick Estates levy a charge for dealing with the administration of the various types of consent which are detailed further here.
Our trained professionals are available from 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday so we can be there for you when you need us.
We offer a variety of contact methods:
- Live Chat: this is in operation from 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday and manned by our in-house trained employees
- Tickets: if you are an existing customer you can open a ticket via our portal. Our team can interact on the ticket so you can see live updates on how the matter is progressing
- Calls and Call Backs; Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm. We also offer a call back service for any customers who do not wish to wait if our phone lines are busy.
- Emails: we are happy to share our teams work emails with you so you can communicate with them directly.
In the event of an emergency please call the Warwick Estates mainline number on 0800 888 6768. This will then be automatically redirected to our chartered loss adjustors who handle our out of hours calls. They have direct access to our system and are well placed to assist if and when required.
Should you wish to update your email address or phone number you can do this via the tenant portal. Simply head to My Account on the menu bar to update your details.
If you need to update your correspondence address, we will require this from you in writing, e-mail is sufficient. Simply email a member of your property management team or firstname.lastname@example.org with your tenant reference and correct correspondence address and they will update this for you.
This will be on all the correspondence we send to you. Sometimes it is referred to as an account reference. It will be 5 numbers followed by a hyphen and then 4 numbers, for example, 98721-2003.
If you are unable to locate this reference on any communication from us then you can use our Live Chat facility on our website, where a member of our team will be happy to provide these to you. Alternatively, you can call or email us to request these details.
In order to access our customer portal simply head to www.warwickestates.net.
In the top right-hand corner, you will see a ‘Log In’ option which will take you to the login screen for the portal.
When you reach the log in page you will require your tenant reference number and your password to access your account.
If you do not have these details, you can use our Live Chat facility on our website, where a member of our team will be happy to provide these to you. Alternatively, you can call or email us to request these details.
Please log in to the tenant portal and head to My Account on the menu bar. If you have not verified your email address, a message will appear at the top of this page to advise that you have not done this. You are then given the option to ‘Resend Email’, which will resend you the verification email to allow you to verify your email address.
Once you have verified your email please make sure that the answer to the question ‘Do you consent to being contacted about your property via email?’ is set to yes. This question is also on the My Account page.
Please remember to save your changes before logging out.
Paying Your Bill
We currently accept payment by bank transfer. Each of our properties has its own ring-fenced bank account so we are unable to provide the bank details here. You will however be able to locate these on the request for payment you have received. If you do not have the bank details to hand, you can use our Live Chat facility on our website, where a member of our team will be happy to provide these to you. Alternatively, you can call or email us to request these details.
Please ensure that all payments received quote your individual tenant reference number as the payment reference.
You can access your statement of account on the tenant portal. Simply log in and click Account Statement on the dashboard or Statement of Account under My Account on the menu bar. Here you will be able to see your current account statement including your current outstanding balance and the charges that make up this amount.
If you would rather have a PDF of the statement you can request this using our Live Chat facility on our website, where a member of our team will be happy to provide you with a statement of account. Alternatively, you can call or email us to request this.
It is very important that the site has good cash flow to ensure that we can continue to pay for essential services such as electricity and water as well as being able to appoint and pay contractors. We do appreciate that these matters may be overlooked from time to time so we will send a reminder letter if payment is not received on or before the due date.
If payment is still not forthcoming you may be charged an administration fee and/or a debt recovery fee. Once the matter is passed to the debt recovery specialists all communication must be referred through them until the matter is resolved.
Service charges are for services that are delivered to the building including insurance, utilities, maintenance, repairs, and the costs of management.
Much like in your own home, these costs do not stay the same each year. There may also be additional expenditure that we need to collect for, for example, if we know that a large tree will need felling in the next year or if there are roof repairs required etc.
The budget is an estimate of what we believe will be spent in that budget year. It will vary year on year, but this is driven by the running and maintenance costs of the building itself. You should receive details of any variances with your budget demand however if you do have any questions your property management team will be happy to help.
Each year we set a budget at the beginning of the service charge year based on what we anticipate will be required for the running and maintenance of the property. The service charge year is usually stipulated in the lease. At the end of the service charge year a set of accounts are produced detailing what was actually spent and on what. This is then compared to the budget and will result in either a surplus (where we collected more with the budget than we actually used) or a deficit (where were spent more in the year then we budgeted).
If you have received a balancing charge this will be because there was a deficit and if you have received a balancing credit this will be due to their being a surplus. You should have received a detailed set of accounts with any balancing amount however please do not hesitate to contact your property management team if you have any questions.
If you are an existing customer, you can open a ticket via our portal to report an issue. Our team can interact on the ticket so you can see live updates on how the matter is progressing.
You can also report an issue via Live Chat on our website which is in operation from 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday and is manned by our in-house trained employees.
These are the best ways to contact us to ensure that you quickly report an issue and receive updates however you can also call and email us if you would prefer.
To order a new key or fob we would encourage you to open a ticket via our portal so you can communicate with our team and easily see how this is progressing.
You can also request a new key/fob by emailing your property manager or property managers assistant who will be happy to assist.
Whilst we understand that some residents may not have space in their individual flats, we do have to advise that the halls and corridors form part of the common areas and do not belong to flats, nor do residents have permission to use them to store any items.
Communal halls and stairwells are there for the benefit of all residents and in the event of an emergency they must provide safe passage for anyone attempting to evacuate the building or for the relevant authorities to gain access. As such communal areas should always remain free from obstruction.
Additionally, storage of any materials within these areas presents a fire risk as it allows fire to quickly spread between floors.
We therefore ask that if items belong to you that you kindly remove them. As they present such a massive risk to the safety of residents, if items remain in the communal areas, we will have no option but to have these removed and disposed of.
We do of course apologise if you are receiving these letters and they are not applicable to you. We thank you in advance for your understanding and assistance regarding this matter.
- Approach the person causing the disturbance when the problem has stopped. Communications are likely to be calmer and clearer at this time, providing a better opportunity to discuss the issue.
- Politely explain that they are disturbing you and the impact this is having on your life i.e., you couldn’t sleep.
- If you are not confident enough to approach your neighbour directly you could write to your neighbour.
Often people are unaware that they are causing a problem, and most will be glad to take action to reduce the disturbance. We would advise, however, that you approach the matter carefully if you think that your neighbour might react aggressively to a complaint.
If your attempts to deal with the matter amicably do not resolve the problem, then you should ensure that persistent noise nuisance is recorded in a noise diary so that the extent of the problem and its effect is recorded. We would recommend contacting your Council to understand their process and assessment for whether the noise amounts to a ‘statutory nuisance’.
We would also ask that you raise the issue with your property manager so they can keep a record and provide further assistance as and when required.
If you live in an apartment and have located a leak, or noticed signs of damp or water ingress generally, then the first thing to do is report this to your property manager via ticket, Live Chat, e-mail, or phone.
There are many issues that may cause a leak in your property and we need to quickly establish where the leak is coming from to address the underlying problem. Once we are aware, we can confirm next actions required as well as who is responsible and assist with any necessary repairs as required.
If the matter forms part of an insurance claim, we can also provide you with guidance on next actions.
Firstly, it is important to check your lease to confirm the parking arrangements for your building. Sometimes you may assume a bay is allocated because you have treated it as such for a long period of time, but it is important that this is confirmed in the lease.
If the lease specifies that your flat comes with a dedicated parking space and someone else is using this then you are completely within your rights to politely ask your neighbours not to use the space, provided you feel safe/comfortable doing so.
If you continue to have a problem, then please let your Property Manager know, so that we can help you to resolve the issue. It could be that we need to send a reminder to all residents in the block, put up private parking signage or increase/put in place car parking control.
We would recommend that any suspicion of illegal activities is reported to the relevant authorities so that they can be investigated and addressed as required. Whilst we can update our records with any reports, we will not be able to assist in investigating or resolving any suspected illegal activities.
If you live in a property whether is a Residents Management Company (RMC) or Right to Manage Company (RTM) you may be eligible to become a director of the company, giving you significant rights and responsibilities in respect of the management of the property. Please contact your property manager in the first instance who will be able to confirm the criteria and guide you in this respect.
Where there is no RMC or RTM, it is possible for a group of owners to set up a Residents Association to act as a collective voice for the residents and provide input into the ongoing management of the development.
The Residents Association must represent the majority of owners and be formally recognised in order to request information on behalf of its membership and be consulted on the management of the development. If you are interested in forming a Residents Association, please contact your property manager who will be able to provide you with guidance in this respect.
Most leases contain some restrictions around pets. Some leases do not allow pets at all and some are very restrictive in the type of pet you are allowed to keep. We would recommend that you contact us at email@example.com who will be happy to review your lease and confirm any requirements.
If you live in a leasehold property, it is likely that your lease will require you to obtain consent before you rent out your property. This is so that we can ensure that there won’t be any issues long term in respect of the property reverting back to the legal owner. Where you are considering renting your property please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org who will be happy to review your lease and confirm any requirements.
As the landlord is responsible for the building structure, most leases require that consent is gained before making any changes to the property so the landlord can ensure that the structural integrity and appearance of the building will not be impacted. Where you are considering making any alterations to the property please contact your property manager in the first instance who will be able to advise what is required.
The premium for your building is based on the buildings declared value and is impacted by the claim’s history of the building, the area, the age of the property and the type of construction.
In order to determine the buildings declared value, a Reinstatement Cost Assessment (RCA) is carried out by a qualified surveyor. They are extremely important as they take into account the cost to replace, repair and rebuild a property in the event of loss. This will also take into consideration matters such as the cost of removing debris, including demolition, and shoring up damaged or partly damaged areas of the building and the cost of professional fees incurred in the reinstatement of the building.
RCAs are important in securing appropriate insurance cover, particularly in the event that you have to rebuild your property. In the event of a claim, if insurers find that the property is not adequately covered then you may only be entitled to a part-payment of the overall reinstatement cost.
As per section 12.4 of the RICS Code of Practice ‘Service Charge Residential Management Code and Additional Advice to Landlords, Leaseholders and Agents (3rd Edition)’, there is a need for regular review of the level of insurance and reinstatement value. RICS further advise in the Reinstatement Code Assessment of Buildings 3rd Edition a full RCA is undertaken in every third year or sooner in the event of substantial alterations being undertaken to the property.
Day one uplift is a useful tool to protect against the effects of claims inflation. The basic principle is that at the start of each policy term the policyholder is responsible for declaring a reinstatement sum insured – the buildings declared value which is determined by a Reinstatement Cost Assessment.
The policy then offers protection against claims inflation by means of an uplifted sum insured. The sum insured is the total amount the insurer will pay. The uplifted figure is typically between 15-50% greater than the declared value and is known as the building sum insured.
Sometimes known as Property Owners Liability cover, Public Liability provides cover for any claim that is made for death or injury, or damage to third party property, occurring at the property. Whilst it is necessary for the person making any such claim to prove negligence, it is also imperative that appropriate cover is in place to handle any such claims should they arise
For many people living in residential properties, acts of terrorism seem like something you may only ever see on the news and it is tempting to decline terrorism insurance when considering renewal. However, it isn’t that simple.
What is an Act of Terrorism?
Most people’s thoughts immediately focus on what is in the news and equate terrorism with political acts linked to overseas events. The policy definition of terrorism is broad, and a typical insurer defines terrorism as an act:
- That includes but is not limited to the use of force, violence or threats on any person or group of persons
- Made by someone working alone or on the behalf of or in connection to any organisation or government
- Committed for political, religious, ideological, or similar purposes, including the intention to influence any government and or to put any section of the public in fear
This can include other groups with agendas relating to environmental issues or animal rights. These activities may be planned or happen in residential areas and many individuals may be involved or be targets, for example, employees of an animal testing facility or vocal internet users with extremist views. It is also important to consider, where a bomb may be assembled, what route it will be transported on- these activities often take place in low profile areas and the explosion could be unplanned.
If it is so important, why is it not included as standard?
Historically, damage from terrorist events has been covered by a buildings insurance policy. This changed following the detonation of a massive bomb by the IRA near St Mary’s Axe in the City of London 1992. The damage caused by this event was so severe that reinsurers (the companies that provide insurance backing to insurance companies) refused to provide cover for terrorist events in the UK. Insurers themselves were left unable to provide this cover, as any potential loss could be so large that they would be financially unable to pay the claim and so a government-backed solution was needed. This is why terrorism insurance has to be requested and an additional premium is payable.
Is terrorism insurance really optional?
The short answer to this is no as often the lease will make it a requirement. Older, pre-1990s leases may not mention terrorism specifically, but if there is a requirement for full or comprehensive property insurance you might need this cover. The obligation to have comprehensive cover could, by definition, mean protection from the risks of explosion caused by terrorists. This is a matter that has been tested in law in what is known as the Q-Dime case. (Qdime Ltd -v- Bath Building (Swindon) Management Company Ltd Various lessees of the Bath Building  UKUT 0261 (LC)).
The court appeal in the “Qdime case*” (July 2014) upheld that if an insurance clause in your lease includes a requirement to insure against explosion, then this should include terrorism. The ruling made clear that this cover is a requirement of most leases. In addition, individual leaseholders’ mortgagors, as lenders, may insist on it.
Key features of a Terrorism Policy
The policy will provide you with cover against the following:
- Damage to the buildings by terrorist action as defined up to the policy sum insured.
- Prevention of access to the building due to police or other emergency service action which necessitates alternative accommodation.
- Loss of rent or alternative accommodation costs following damage resulting in the premises becoming uninhabitable.
We are very happy to provide this to you. You should be able to find details of the current insurance on your noticeboard, on the tenant portal or you can contact us for this information using our Live Chat facility. Alternatively, you can call or email us.
Please refer to your property management team in the first instance who will be able to give you guidance on next actions dependent on the type of claim.
The building insurance includes plant and machinery against all normal perils. The meaningful addition for engineering insurance is ‘sudden and unexpected damage’.
For example, if the building burns down the building policy will cover the new lift. If, however a lift fails due to a power cut and the occupants self-release to escape, the buildings policy wouldn’t pay the claim- the engineering policy would.
Cover normally provides for:
- Cost of repairs following an unforeseen breakdown
- Legal liability to others
- Mandatory inspections by an independent engineer
Certain items of plant and machinery could cause damage or injury if not properly maintained. In a block of flats this could include lifts and window cleaning cradles which could drop unexpectedly and cause injury and communal boiler systems and pressure vessels which could explode. As a result, legislation is in place for thorough inspection to be conducted periodically by an independent, competent person.
Normally an insurance company will only offer the insurance element of an engineering policy where they also offer the inspection services.
A limited company’s liability is, as suggested by the name, limited to its shareholding. In the respect of a Residents Management Company (RMC) or Right to Manage Company (RTM) this is only a small sum of money. Directors can however be held accountable for their acts, errors and omissions and this liability extends to their personal wealth. It is therefore not unreasonable that directors would wish to carry appropriate insurance against claims and this cover must have the ability to respond to actions brought against them.
Directors and Officer’s insurance (D&O) indemnifies directors against acts, errors or omissions while acting in their capacity as director of the company. The basis of cover is to protect against ‘wrongful acts’ which normally means a negligent act, error or omission resulting in a breach of any duty. Such breaches could be financial or legal, i.e., breach of trust, warranty, or authority.
It is important to note that these covers only apply to the Directors or Officers while acting in this capacity for the management company. The cover does not cascade down to insure them in respect of their personal affairs or in their capacity as a leaseholder.
We have a number of financial controls in place to ensure that your service charge funds are protected. In the first instance each property we manage has its own separate ring-fenced trust account. Where a reserve fund is collected, these funds are also held in separate trust accounts providing additional security. Any interest accrued is credited to the client account as evidenced on the annual accounts.
Our system has an inbuilt works order process which greatly improves the end-to-end ordering workflow. It records all instructions, invoices and payments to contractors allowing for much tighter controls. Any invoice over £1,000 must be second approved by a Regional Manager or Director.
Ground rent is a payment made by a leaseholder (aka tenant) to the landlord (aka freeholder) as required by the terms of the lease. It is, very literally, the rent for the ground. As explained under ‘What is Freehold Ownership’ the landlord owns the ground on which the property sits, and the leaseholder is able to use the property as per the terms of the lease. A condition of most leases is that an annual ground rent is payable
It is possible to divide service charges in to three broad categories:
- Day to day expenditure: this covers items of expenditure which are required to keep the building in good repair and management. These will be items such as services, general repairs and maintenance including insurance and management fees.
- Cyclical expenditure: this covers items of expenditure that are required at regular intervals (often set out in the lease) such as external painting, internal decorating etc. These will include repairs and maintenance (and possibly improvements depending on the lease terms).
- Periodic long-term expenditure: this covers items of expenditure that are normally large in value, and time, but are infrequent. These will almost always be major works as defined under Section 20 and cover major repairs and maintenance (and possibly improvements depending on the lease terms)
Your lease should define the accounting year and should stipulate when you are required to pay your service charges and at what proportion. Service charges are normally payable both in advance and in arrears as most leases require leaseholders to pay charges on account for anticipated expenditure during a fin
Reserve funds (sometimes called sinking funds) are monies held as a contribution towards expenditure which will be required at some point in the future, for example, a lift refurbishment. Reserve funds are held in separate trust accounts to the service charges, so they are ring-fenced for each development.
The lease must allow for a reserve fund in order for one to be set up however, this may not be stated in the same way. The lease may simply permit the landlord to budget for future as well as current costs, but this wording is enough to create a reserve fund.
Leaseholders have no general legal right to a refund of contributions previously made to a reserve fund.
Section 20b Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that the Landlord must meet one of these two conditions.
- The landlord sends a demand for payment to the leaseholders within 18 months of a cost being incurred
In this respect a cost is incurred either on the date the landlord receives a demand to pay, or the landlord/service charges makes payment of the cost, whichever happens first.
The demand can be for payment ‘on account’ for an estimated future service charge liability so in most cases this condition is met in advance of the cost being incurred due to the budget demands issued.
There are however instances where the total expenditure for the year is more than the budgeted amount. In these instances, the landlord must ensure that the year-end accounts are issued. The year-end accounts reconcile the income from the service charge demands against what was spent and where there is a deficit, this will be recharged in accordance with the lease terms, usually as a balancing charge.
- A Section 20B Notice is served
This is where the landlord notifies the leaseholder in writing within the same 18-month period that a cost has been incurred, the amount of that cost, and advises that they will be required to pay that cost as a service charge at a later date.
To summarise, the law says that if a landlord can’t, for any reason, send out a demand for payment within 18 months of a cost being incurred they can send a special kind of letter out (known as a ‘Section 20B Notice’) instead of a demand for payment.
If you have received a Section 20b notice this means we are currently unable to comply with the first condition as the accounts are not yet available to be issued. On this basis our team have issued a Section 20B Notice and you will be provided with the accounts and any balancing amounts when these are available.
For each service charge year (defined by the lease and usually 12 months) a set of year end accounts are produced. This is a formal summary of all shared costs which details what and where service charge monies were spent.
The accounts also provide a reconciliation between the budget that was issued and the actual expenditure. They highlight any resulting surplus (under-spend), or deficit (over-spend) compared to the budget.
Service charge accounts for all properties with more than 4 homes must be certified by an independent Accountant who reviews the accounts to ensure accuracy. In some instances, where the lease or the client requires, these may need to be audited.
Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002) details obligations on the landlord in respect of consultation with leaseholders (aka tenants).
Qualifying works arise where a landlord intends to carry out work which would require any one leaseholder to contribute more than £250 based on their service charge apportionments. Qualifying work is defined in the legislation as ‘works on a building or any other premises’. This definition is intentionally broad and includes works or repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the property.
Qualifying long term agreements is an agreement made for a period of 12 months which would require any one leaseholder to contribute more than £100 per annum based on their service charge apportionments.
Landlords, be that RMCs, RTMs, or freeholders, usually delegate the responsibility to comply with Section 20 to us via the management agreement.
In general terms, leaseholders should be consulted on the general idea of the work/agreement and given the opportunity to comment and nominate contractors. Landlords are required to get at least two quotes, one of which must be from a contractor who is wholly unrelated to the landlord. Leaseholders must be notified if the appointed contractor is not the cheapest or a nominated contractor.
All service partners/contractors must first achieve accredited status by completing our Contractor Accreditation Process. The information required is as follows:
- A fully completed application form
- Public liability insurance certificate (minimum £2million and £5 million for all M&E, fire protection and high-risk activities)
- Professional indemnity insurance certificate (where applicable)
- Generic RAMs
- Health and Safety Policy (if there are more than 5 staff members)
- Qualification certificates/evidence of competency/evidence of basic training for the services they provide
- Evidence of trade association memberships (where applicable)
- Sub-Contractor Selection and Monitoring Policy where sub-contractors are used
- Three references demonstrating good value for money and quality of work
All contractors are audited annually to ensure that their documentation remains up to date and relevant for the services provided. Where this is not achieved, the contractor will be removed from the ability to tender for future works.
Site inspections are carried out in accordance with the terms of our management agreement and is driven by the size, complexity, and requirements of the property. You can clarify the agreed site attendance with your property manager.
Our property managers will always attempt to provide advice warning of when they are attending site, however if you are keen to meet them then please do contact them directly to clarify dates and times.
If you have any performance concerns with any contractors, then please let your property manager and/or their assistant know asap so they can address this.
Health and Safety
A general risk assessment is a legal requirement under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR). MHSWR requires employers (and the self-employed) to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk to health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected (e.g., visitors, residents, and contractors). Please note that communal areas are considered a place of work.
The purpose of risk assessment is to try to anticipate potential harmful occurrences/situations in the workplace and to take reasonable and legally required measures to prevent them from happening. Risk assessments must be regularly reviewed and audited, especially when situations and/or personnel in the workplace change.
The size, complexity and frequency of the risk assessment will vary widely depending on the size of the building and/or development.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/632) Asbestos: The Survey Guide HSG264 (Second edition published 2012)
As required by the above legislation, a professional must be appointed to undertake an asbestos survey at all properties where the said property was constructed prior to the year 2000. The asbestos survey must incorporate all communal areas and where access cannot be gained then it must be assumed that asbestos is indeed present.
As asbestos does not pose an issue if it remains undisturbed then it will likely be signposted, and a register maintained. Any property containing (or assumed to contain) asbestos-containing materials must be inspected at least annually to check the condition of the material.
Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 IEE Wiring regulations 17th edition January 2008 amended July 2011 Electrical safety in communal areas of residential properties – detailed guidance from the Electrical Safety Council May 2011
In accordance with the above-mentioned legislation, a periodic inspection and test of electrical systems within the common parts of the property must be undertaken as recommended by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) Wiring Regulations. The IEE Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) require that Periodic Inspection and Testing of electrical installations are carried out at such intervals as are consistent with the type of installation, its use and operation, the frequency of maintenance, and the external influences upon it.
As a matter of course, the Electrical Safety Council recommends that electrical installations within communal areas are periodically inspected and tested at least every five years.
Where gas appliances, such as heating boilers, are located within the common parts of the premises the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 requires that such appliances are serviced at least on an annual basis by a competent contractor registered under the Gas Safe Register. Such contractors must also have been through the Warwick Estates Contractor Approval Process.
They must also ensure that all gas appliances, fittings, pipework, and flues are maintained in a safe condition per the manufacturer’s instructions or on the advice of a Gas Safe installer.
Any liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used on site must be subject to maintenance and inspection by a competent contractor. In accordance with the legislation all LPG cylinders must be stored in an upright position and in a manner so as to reduce risks of ignition, vandalism, and explosion.
Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3242), The Control of legionella bacteria in water systems – Approved Code of Practice & Guidance revised 2013, The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
In accordance with the above-mentioned legislation, legionella risk assessments must be carried out and reviewed annually at all properties where there are common water services that extend beyond mains water supply pipework direct to the individual flats. Such assessments must identify the risk of Legionellosis from all activities, water sources and systems within the premises and identify any precautionary actions required.
These must be reviewed at least annually (or more often where required) and must be undertaken by a competent person.
Engineering insurance covers potential damage, the risks of operation and risk to people and surrounding structure from that operation. Cover normally provides for:
- Cost of repairs following an unforeseen breakdown
- Legal liability to others
- Mandatory inspections by an independent engineer
Under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), all lifts, lifting equipment and accessories, must have a thorough examination undertaken by a competent person every six months for lifts and lifting equipment used for lifting persons and twelve months for goods lifts and other lifting equipment where these do not carry passengers. This is covered by the engineering insurance.
In addition, LOLER requires that all lifting equipment such as passenger lifts and cradles are serviced on a regular basis in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This is separate to the thorough examination and is covered under the lift maintenance contract.
In the first instance, we would encourage you to discuss any problems with your principal contact within Warwick Estates. We hope that this resolves any issues you may have but should you feel that your issue is not resolved we would encourage you to initiate our formal Complaints Handling Procedure which can be downloaded here.
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has been providing consumers and property agents with an alternative dispute resolution service since 1990.
The Ombudsman’s resolutions are designed to achieve a full and final settlement of the dispute and all claims made by either party. The Ombudsman can, where appropriate, make compensatory awards in individual cases. Please note that the Ombudsman will require you to have followed our in-house complaints procedure before escalating your complaint to them.