The Management Company periodically tenders the cleaning within the common areas of blocks of flats so this is carried out effectively at a reasonable cost. Mara Services & Supplies carried out the work from 28 February 2011 but, having been allowed an additional increase for the National Living Wage in 2016, wished to increase the charges again by more than the amount permitted under the contract in 2017. The Directors declined to allow this and from 1 April 2017 the cleaning is now provided by local firm DNK Cleaning.
The weekly cleaning work is usually carried out in each staircase on the same day each week (which may change around public and bank holidays). The weekly work is:
Extending Your Lease to 999 Years
Since acquiring the freehold of the Estate from Laing Homes, The Management Company has made arrangements to allow owners of leasehold flats to extend their original leases from 125 years to 999 years, so preserving the value of the properties. The ability to sell flats should not be affected while over 60 years remain on the lease, until around 2025. However, the value of the property may begin to decrease now less than 100 years remain on 125-year leases. Extending the lease to 999 years in future once the property value has started to drop may increase it again and, consequently, you may start to be liable for tax on this gain. You are strongly advised to consider extending your lease now and to take your own professional advice on this.
By November 2013, lease extension had been completed or, for a few, was underway for 68% (over two thirds) of leasehold flats and almost all used Management Company's solicitor. If you have not already done this and wish to do so, please contact the Managing Agent for more details.
The fees for the Management Company's solicitor to process your lease will be confirmed on application but currently remain £500 including VAT and registration fees in January 2019, unchanged since 2013. They may also act for you if you wish, or you may also appoint your own solicitor at your additional cost. You will also need to pay an administrative charge to the Managing Agent that was of £20 in 2013. This compares to a property value of over £250,000 that you are preserving.
To avoid charges to mortgage companies, the extension is being carried out by granting a second 999 year lease on the same property as the original 125 year lease. This new 999 year lease has the same terms as the original 125 year lease except that obsolete terms relating to Laing Homes or that have expired have been removed, changes to the format required by the Land Registry have been introduced and there is one small wording change of no practical significance. Here is a template of the new 999 year flat leasehold agreement (PDF, 174kb). You must not rely on this sample for any purpose and must refer to the specific legal agreement for your property. In particular, the 'specified proportion' and 'estate proportion' will depend on the type of property and block in which it is situated.
If you have obtained a 999 year lease and you re-mortgage or sell your property, you need at that time to send both leases to your solicitor with instructions provided by the Management Company's solicitor with your 999 year lease. Your solicitor will at that stage need to discharge any mortgage on your 125 year lease, collapse the 125 year lease into the 999 year lease and then apply for the new mortgage with the 999 year lease or transfer the 999 year lease to the new owner.
The leasehold agreement for your flat includes a number of obligations, both on our part as the Management Company and on your part as the leasehold owner. Our responsibilities are listed on the management company page. This section summarises some of the obligations that you entered into when you bought your flat. The obligations apply to tenants who occupy sub-let flats as well as to owner-occupiers, and owners are responsible for ensuring that their tenants comply with the conditions.
The leasehold agreement, to which you should refer for full details (references are respectively to the original 125 year lease and the new 999 year lease, although the actual terms are the same), includes that:
As the Management Company owns the freehold of the building, you may not alter or damage the building including its foundations, floors, roofs, roof beams, walls, ceilings, window frames, windows, doors and any other fittings originally supplied with the flat (clause 3(10) / 3.10). The one exception is that you may fit approved replacement windows as described under obligations, after obtaining the relevant permission. If you are planning any work other than internal redecoration, please contact the Managing Agent before entering into a contract or starting work. You may be liable to the contractor for compensation if work that you have ordered cannot be carried out, or you may be liable to reverse the work and reinstate the original condition.
For reference, here is a sample of the original 125 year flat leasehold agreement (PDF, 109kb). Here is a template of the new 999 year flat leasehold agreement (PDF, 174kb). You must not rely on these samples for any purpose and must refer to the specific legal agreement for your property, which takes precedence over the samples and summaries on this website. In particular, the 'specified proportion' and 'estate proportion' will depend on the type of property and block in which it is situated.
In recent years, there has been a very poor record of water leaks on the Estate and resulting insurance claims. Insurance premiums rose significantly in 2019 as a result. Previous more lenient policies proved ineffective in controlling water leaks, which continued at an unacceptable rate. Together with the claims for movement, this resulted in the building insurance premium more than doubling in 2020 compared to 2019, contributing significantly to flat service charges rising on average by around a quarter despite other annual costs being held to the same level as in the previous year. Leaks into other properties have caused residents considerable distress.
Numerous property-owing shareholders demanded that the Management Company take more action. The Management Company therefore tightened its policies on what plumbing alterations are permitted and on how flat water leaks are handled from July 2020. It is believed these will reduce leaks by ensuring future plumbing work is to proper professional standards and because it is now likely to be more cost effective for owners to maintain plumbing and carry out plumbing work to proper professional standards rather than incur the costs for which they are liable if a leak occurs. Consent is required in advance for flat alterations including to its plumbing.
The Managing Agent notify the flat owner and any tenant of a leak so that it is stoppped at the earliest opportunity. The Management Company's solicitors then write to the owner regarding the breach of lease and the action required to remedy it. Rendall and Rittner is not authorised to provide legal services so its contract does not include legal matters and it would be breaking the law for it to handle legal matters, which must be handled by the solicitors. If the owner cooperates with the action required, the Managing Agent can then handle non-legal follow-up work like inspections by the Management Company's contractor and repair work. Under the lease, the legal fees, inspection costs, costs of repair and, if an insurance claim causes higher premiums, potentially increased charges are payable by the owner of the flat with the leak.
The Management Company has produced a document (PDF, 64kb) that fully explains the policy, the reasons for it and the lease requirements. If the flat owner wishes to query this further, that must be handled by the solicitors at the owner's cost. Property owners confirmed this policy and the standards for plumbing by an overwhelming majority at the 2020 AGM.