OUR FAQ's - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here you can find answers to our Frequently asked questions;
What is a lease agreement?
A Lease is a private contract generally between you and your landlord which sets out the rights and duties of both parties. Occasionally there is a third party within your agreement which is commonly known as a tri-partite lease, and this third party is often a Resident Management Company or Agent. Your lease will allow you to occupy the property for a fixed number of years: typically for 99 or 125 years.
What is ground rent?
Ground rent is a regular rental payment for the occupation of part of an area of land. Ground rent is usually paid to the landlord and increases over time.
What is a service charge?
A service charge is a payment made to the party responsible for the management function of the shared areas. Your share towards the maintainable parts is defined within your lease and usually paid to an agent on behalf of a landlord, Resident Management Company or Right to Manage company and includes a mixture of maintenance and administrative fees.
What is a balancing adjustment/charge?
In normal circumstances, most leases allow for advanced billing based on an estimate of charges for the year ahead. This is to ensure there is appropriate funding in place to fulfil the management obligations. However, it usually is just an estimate. Whilst the lease will define more specifically how to handle any overspend or underspend, a balancing adjustment will be the difference between the initial bill issued based on an estimate of charges and the actual amount spent. This is otherwise referred to as a balancing charge.
What is a Resident Management Company?
A Resident Management Company is a non-profit making company formed to provide a vehicle to enable the owners within a building to undertake the management of that building for themselves, albeit this function usually contracts to an agent on their behalf. A Resident Management Company is often already inserted within the lease agreements from the outset of the build.
What is a Right to Manage Company?
A Right to Manage company offers similar functions to a Resident Management Company, albeit overall, the company will retain the landlord's responsibilities such as arranging insurances, consent approvals etc. It gives leaseholders the statutory right to take over the management of their property from the landlord by setting up a special company - a right to manage company.
Is insurance included within the service charges I pay?
Every lease and property are different. If insurance is included, it will be detailed within your service charge estimate. It is typical for the buildings insurance to cover the building integrity and the normal loss’s such as water damage or malicious damage but will not typically include contents cover. This cover is usually sourced separately by the leasehold owner.
Can I sublet my flat?
It depends on the regulations stipulated within your lease. Some leases prevent subletting, whilst others allow it under controlled conditions.
Can I alter my flat?
It depends on the regulations stipulated within your lease. It is common for the landlord to provide consent for alterations either direct or via the managing agent. Where consent is required you should contact for more advice.
I have a dispute with my neighbours?
It is part of our service to help signpost disputes, and it will depend on the regulations stipulated within your lease.
How do you hold our service charge funds?
Service charges are held in trust in a single bank account specifically for your property, so it is not comingled with other funds. Where reserve and sinking funds are held, these are also held in a separate bank account specifically for your property.
What is Section 20?
Section 20 can be a tricky area to understand if you have not been exposed to it, although its purpose is relatively straight forward. There are three main parts to Section 20, with the most common being qualifying work and qualifying contracts. The legislation is designed to protect leaseholders by offering them a statutory right to be consulted if the cost of any one set of works is more than £250 per leaseholder, or in circumstances where the value of any one contract is over £100 where it is intended to be entered into for a period longer than 12 months. The consultation with leaseholders includes a pre-stage notice, and a tender notice offering leaseholders the opportunity to have their say, propose contractors and vet documents related to the work or contract. The notices are prescribed and must contain certain information to ensure they are valid. There can be financial repercussions for not consulting property in accordance with the act.
What areas do you cover?
We are located in St Albans, Hertfordshire right on the gateway to London with good links around the M25, North Circular and surrounding counties. We cover London, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. We also offer admin/finance management services UK wide.
What size properties do you manage?
We consider properties of any size without limitation, offering professionals with nearly twenty years' experience in the block and estate management field.
What are your fees and what's included?
We operate a tiered system of support, depending on the size and type of property. A gold service which includes out of hours support, subletting management, management of employed staff, and company secretarial services as standard—a silver full management service with optional chargeable extras. We also offer a Nationwide admin only service for self-management requirements. For more details on all services and what is included, please visit our services section on our website or request a copy of our management brochure.
How do you communicate with your customers?
We are proud to be a sustainable business with a minimal negative impact and carbon footprint. In almost everything we do; we conduct our business over email, including service charge demands. Unless otherwise required by the customer.
How can I change my communication address?
Email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I pay my service charges?
Detailed on the bill will be confirmation of the banking details for payment of service charges. This will allow bank transfer payments to be made with ease. We also accept cheque and Standing Order.
How do I report maintenance?
You can report maintenance via email to your dedicated appointed manager, via email to email@example.com, or via phone to 020 8004 2474.
How do I complain?
Our complaints procedure can be found here; https://www.bawtrys.co.uk/copy-of-services-explained
Who do I contact regarding my property?
Each property is provided with a designated property manager contact and a finance manager. Management enquiries can be reported via email to your dedicated appointed manager, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone to 020 8004 2474. Option 1 for management. Option 2 for finance.
Do you take commissions for insurance and other services?
We do occasionally receive commissions on Insurances. However, we do not receive a commission of any kind from contractors.
How do you deal with unpaid service charges?
We have a robust collection procedure ensuring prompt payment of service charges; however, we do recognise that occasionally we will experience collection issues. Providing we have exhausted our internal procedures we would look to recover service charges with the use of a third-party debt collection service.
What is your approach to reserve funds?
It depends on the regulations stipulated within your lease as to whether a reserve or sinking fund can be legally collected. However, we would generally support this as a measure of good management.
How often will you visit the development?
It depends on the size of the property and the requirements of the client. Properties with a small number of units under 30 would typically receive a minimum of quarterly visits. However, larger properties may require monthly visits. In any case, your specific requirement can be discussed.
How do you stay up to date with the legal and regulatory requirements?
In our ever-changing industry, it's hard not to be familiar with the various changes that occur in Law and legislation, although our staff are IRPM (Institute of Residential Property Management) & RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) qualified and under the terms and conditions of membership must complete a certain amount of compulsory training.
How do you select and monitor contractors?
Firstly, we set an expenditure limited within our management agreements requiring director's approval beyond a specific amount which you can choose. Additionally, when we issue a works instruction to a contractor, we would typically set an estimated expenditure amount reducing the risk of receiving large unexpected bills given its a controlled process. The contractor would be required to obtain consent over the estimated amount before going ahead. Allowing some flexibility, we can place any stipulation to the contractor requiring them to comply to ensure payment following completion of any job. We understand that value is important to our clients so we do have a varied contractors database offering both small multi-trades through to more specialists fields.
Do you have a contractors’ charter?
Yes. This is issued to the contractor as part of every works instruction.
How will you deal with the outgoing managing agent?
New clients should expect that we will process and deal with the handover of client records from any previous managing agent, including balance transfers and that we will conduct a thorough lease analysis and audit of the documents that are received.
How do you deal with out of hours emergencies?
In the event of requiring out of hours assistance, please contact the mainline office to be redirected to a member of the team. This is strictly for emergencies only and is a service conducted in house and not by a third-party external company.
Which professional / trade bodies do you belong to?
We are qualified specialists of the Institute of Residential Property Management, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and a regulated member of the Property Ombudsman Redress Scheme which is approved by Trading Standards.
What are your typical response times to calls/email queries?
Depending on the nature of the enquiry as some can be more complex than others, our service commitment is an acknowledgement or response to written correspondence within 24 hours. Calls are handled immediately.
Could you put together an annual list of maintenance contracts with due dates for reporting to us?
Risk and contract management is our speciality. We have a risk management traffic light tool we use to manage all pending a due risk dates such as contract renewals and service dates. We record this in real-time and can export this data into excel/PDF for easy reporting.
Could we have access to figures and accounting regularly?
We would operate to your preference. We can report service charge arrears, including income and expenditure at any interval requested by the client. However, as standard, we offer quarterly or six-monthly detailed financial reporting for added transparency.
Can you provide customer references?
Yes. Any prospective client is provided with varied customer references and those references have agreed to be contacted should you want to discuss our services. This will be contained within our management pack issued to all prospective clients.
Will our service charge account earn interest?
Yes. However, regretfully in this day and age, the amount is negligible.
How much notice do you need to begin managing a building?
We would prefer at least 1-3 months notice, however, we can start immediately in some circumstances.