The Annual General Meeting for St Benedicts (Tooting) Management Company Limited was held at 7.00 pm on Thursday 15th November 2018 in St Nicholas Church Hall, Church Lane, Tooting, London SW17 9PP.
Papers for the meeting were sent to shareholders (property owners) at least 14 days before the meeting as required by company law and links are provided below.
Attendance and Proxies
The meeting opened at 7.02 pm. The two Directors and eight property owners, representing nine properties, attended the meeting. Two proxy nominations were received, one to Mr Herrmann personally with discretion on voting and one to the Chairman with instructions on voting. One apology was received. Two property managers from the Managing Agent, Rendall and Rittner, also attended (but cannot vote).
1. Approve Minutes
To receive and approve the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 7th December 2017.
There were no comments and the resolution was approved by 7 votes to nil.
2. Adopt Report and Accounts
To receive and adopt the Report of the Directors and the Accounts for the year ended 30th June 2018.
It was explained that the Company Financial Statements for approval contain little information and expenditure is set out in the Service Charge Statement for information. The Directors compare this to the budget each year to ensure that only the money required is collected. There were no points requiring explanation this year.
There were no comments and the resolution was approved by 6 votes to nil.
3. Contracts and Maintenance Report
To report on contracts for services, maintenance and periodic work.
The Directors provided a report for information:
- There were no further changes to contracts except for GDPR.
- 5-yearly landlord electrical testing and minor remedial work had been completed. The landlord electrical installations would require replacing to modern standards in the early 2020s and reserves are being collected for this.
- Uneven paving was levelled and smoke brushes were fitted to flat block fire doors with gaps for safety.
- A fire safety officer visit was arranged, he advised against information boxes proposed by the health & safety inspector but suggested improved signage and this will be provided. The updated Fire Emergency Plan will be put on each flat landing and numbers will be provided on flat blocks.
- Several roof repairs have been needed recently, so there is a need for roof inspection, which will be carried out with the next periodic maintenance. The structural surveyor will check walls 5 years after repairs and also one block where internal cracking is reported.
- Flat block door latches were adjusted by the handyman as some did not close securely following entryphone replacement.
- A sewer repair was carried out under one block and another is required for a sewer that is cracked, displaced and in danger of collapse.
- Tree work is finally being carried out, which was delayed for months awaiting Council response to the application. The application for work next year will be submitted early in the year to be carried out in the summer.
- The Council has replaced street lights with an LED type, which are now sufficiently advanced to save electricity. Quotes are being sought to replace two failed Estate street lights in St Benedicts Close, or all four if more economical, although it is proving very difficult to find a suitable electrician who will quote.
- There is a nationwide programme to change Freeview television channels to free more bands for mobile telephony. Since the change around April 2018, some flat blocks can no longer receive additional high definition channels. To avoid potentially unnecessary cost, large flat block aerials will only be replaced if channels remain unavailable and this is necessary after the further proposed change in mid 2019.
Owners raised some other maintenance issues:
- Thanks to an owner photographing it, another roofing contractor has been asked to trace and repair the rain leak under the porch at 29-43 St Benedicts Close, which two contractors had been unable to find.
- Car parking spaces in St Benedicts Close near the trees have become very uneven again and are poorly lit as the street lamps have failed. These will be examined, a contractor instructed to level them and Rendall and Rittner will write to residents affected.
- There was a request to alter the gate to the alleyway in Abbey Drive so it could be opened from both sides. This will be investigated, including an option of push buttons on each side.
- Two further locations for security cameras were suggested.
There was no vote as this item was for information.
4. Air Brick Mesh Covers
To present the results of the trials of metal mesh covers for flat block air bricks and to seek guidance on offering this to owners of other flat blocks at additional cost.
The survey after the first trial at 2-24 Limetree Walk only received two replies and there was no evidence of benefit. The survey after the larger trial at 1-71 St Benedicts Close has reported benefits from fitting metal mesh covers over air brick grilles to reduce mouse entry and an owner present confirmed this. It is proposed to offer grilles to other blocks, which would require collection of additional charges from blocks that choose to fit them. The Directors sought guidance on this.
Those present agreed with the proposal, which the Managing Agent also recommended. There was no vote as this item was for guidance.
5. Insurance and Approve Plumbing Inspections
To discuss the Estate insurance claim history, the consequent large increase in insurance premiums and to seek agreement that the owner of any flat that has a plumbing leak needing a claim or affecting other flats must have a full plumbing inspection at their cost.
The Estate insurance claims history for damage from water leaks is entirely unsustainable, has resulted in a large increase in premiums and will cause further large increases, much higher excesses or such damage to become uninsurable if it continues. The Directors provided a summary of the recent claim experience, with claims last year being several times the premium. As a consequence, the Directors introduced a policy to require a full plumbing inspection of any flat where a water leak occurs that causes damage resulting in an insurance claim or damage to another flat and the Directors sought confirmation of this.
The issue and policy were discussed. The Directors explained that the Managing Agent seeks multiple quotes from insurers each year for the buildings insurance required by the lease but, with the current history of claims, other insurers quoted much higher premiums. Insurers share information on claims, so this may also affect resident contents insurance. The circumstances and likely cost of plumbing inspections were clarified.
The resolution was approved by 11 votes to nil.
6. Rendall and Rittner Contract
To consider Rendall and Rittner's request to switch to an ARMA-Q style contract for its services as Managing Agent and to seek guidance on the conditions for agreeing this.
St Benedicts has contracts with Rendall and Rittner and other contractors based on a template drafted for Estate services. The Managing Agent contract has subsequently been changed by agreement regarding insurance commission and to meet GDPR requirements. Rendall and Rittner has requested St Benedicts to consider an industry standard ARMA-Q style contract.
This would require work by the Directors and require negotiation of changes to protect the current terms that Rendall and Rittner tendered for, which include a service level agreement, fee reductions in the event of continuing significant failure and include all basic services, whereas other estates have to pay extra for some services. There were significant difficulties with the previous Managing Agent, which had a contract without such protection. The Directors sought owner guidance on this request.
The Senior Property Manager from Rendall and Rittner explained about the industry body, the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), its guidance (ARMA-Q) and that the existing service level agreement could be incorporated into the contract.
It was agreed that the Directors should invite Rendall and Rittner to propose a contract with amendments and schedules, would check once that this matched the current terms and advise any discrepancies for correction. If there were no detriment to St Benedicts, the Directors could accept the change but, if there were still issues requiring more work, should remain on the current contract. There was no vote as this item was for guidance.
7. Approve Fencing at 121-135 St Benedicts Close
To seek approval for erecting tall fencing and gates to prevent trespass behind 121-135 St Benedicts Close at the expense of owners in that flat block.
An owner in the block requested that fencing be erected at each end of the block to prevent youths loitering in the secluded area behind the block. The Directors sought owner guidance whether they would accept erection of fencing before obtaining quotes and offering this option to owners in that block, which would require collection of additional charges from that block.
Nobody from the block, which is 105-135 St Benedicts Close, attended nor had submitted a proxy nomination. Fencing would probably need to be provided at both ends of the block, this would involve the Directors in significant work to specify to ensure gardening work was not obstructed and get quotes, it would only act as a deterrent since access would still be possible, a metal fence was too costly, a wooden fence was liable to vandalism and work would be wasted if owners in the block then declined to pay the cost. The Directors made no recommendation on this item.
The resolution was defeated by 1 vote to nil with most abstaining.
9. Election of Directors
To deal with the election of Directors.
This item was taken out of agenda order as time was running short, so the remainder of the meeting could be devoted to discussing waste and any other business. Mr Ravi Joshi and Mr Kevin Herrmann were willing to continue serving as Directors and there were no objections to this. No other owners present volunteered to act as Directors.
No vote was needed on this item.
8. Dumped Waste
To discuss dumped waste and to seek guidance on the frequency and cost of its removal.
Increasing amounts of waste are being dumped on the Estate, especially when flats are renovated or tenants change. Where the person doing this can be identified, the owner concerned is required to remove the waste or is charged for the commercial cost of its disposal. In many cases this is not possible and the costs to all Estate owners are increasing. Dumped waste is currently removed once a month. The Directors explained the cost of this, the increased cost if collection were weekly and sought guidance on the approach.
Owners advised that waste is being fly-tipped by people from off the Estate. One owner had helpfully submitted a list of useful suggestions to the Managing Agent, which were considered. The Managing Agent confirmed that Newsletters are sent to residents as well as owners and multiple letters had been sent on the subject of waste, but these appeared to be ignored. Properties that can be identified as dumping waste are charged for its removal and contractors dumping building materials are reported to the police as fly-tipping is a criminal offence.
The Directors advised that dumping appeared to increase after writing and there are notices in every flat block and bin store. It was not advisable to write to properties in surrounding streets as this would be ineffective and could encourage fly-tipping. Bin store doors would obstruct the cleaning contractor and be ineffective as foxes can climb over them. Council waste contractor lorries cannot handle wheelie bins, which would improve the situation significantly.
Consideration will be given to removing the remaining orange posts. Signs will be posted where waste is dumped advising when recycling should be put out and that dumping of waste is not permitted, as some seem unaware of this. After the new Fire Emergency Plans are put up, the notices in flat blocks will be re-designed and simplified. Information on correct disposal of waste and recycling will be put in a Newsletter again without statements on dumping to avoid encouraging this.
There was no vote as this item was for guidance.
10. Any Other Business
To deal with any other business.
One of those present proposed a vote of thanks to the Directors, which was gratefully accepted. There was no other business. The meeting closed at 8.29 pm.