VFM Property Managing Agents Services Summary
Financial accounts, budget control, service charges, ground rent collection and arrears management
Property maintenance, repairs and building services including gardening, cleaning, lifts and service contracts
Regular property and estates visits to inspect and survey buildings and contractor service performance
Leasehold management and compliance procedures including nuisance neighbours
Buildings insurances, engineering cover, property management company directors' and officers' insurance
Health and safety legislation, advice, inspections, reporting and recommendations
Section 20 statutory works consultation procedures and guidance
Major works management
Right to Manage or RTM advice
Enfranchisement or freehold purchase
Company secretary services for freehold and leasehold property management companies, RTM's and RMC's
Project management and chartered surveying services
VFM Estate Property Management provides a flexible, functional and efficient property management service. By promoting an attitude of openness and trust between all parties involved in the running of the property we aim to exceed our client's expectations at all times.
Our estate property management services are benchmarked to the quality standards set out by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). VFM is Regulated by RICS demonstrating that we are compliant with the stringent standards set by the Institution. Our managing agent services are analysed and our property block management activities undergo regular and thorough inspection by the RICS. This provides protection and comfort to our customers in guaranteeing property management quality standards and compliance with the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code. Regulation also provides assurance that client monies are properly secured in a designated, protected client bank account under the RICS accounting rules.
Experience has shown that working closely with all participants is the most effective way of achieving results and ensuring that properties and estates are maintained to the quality standards agreed. There are many facets to achieving this goal including:
- Property and estate maintenance - Planned maintenance is an important feature of our block management service providing access to competent, independent contractors at competitive rates.
- Expenditure - We calculate and agree realistic expenditure authorisation limits with the freehold or leasehold property management company, developer or landlord.
- Budgeting - Annual, affordable budgets are prepared and agreed which are tailored to the needs of the estate, are compliant with the lease and take account of the wishes of the landlord, residents and leaseholders.
- Customer service and response - We pride ourselves in our professional, diplomatic approach, aiming to be both sensitive and succinct at all times.
- Cash flow - In accordance with the property lease, we will collect and secure service charges and ground rent payments to meet the agreed financial commitments.
- Client reporting and accounts - Regular financial accounting reporting are presented in a clear, easy to read format.
- Leasehold property management - An essential aspect of our property management responsibilities includes upholding the obligations of the lease, fairly and clearly to all parties.
We will place the necessary people, implement procedures and procure contracts to facilitate our property managing agent and estate management function. A continual process of regular review and improvement will help ensure that our clients benefit from the highest quality service.
In addition to our core professional capabilities in the property management field, our expertise extends to company secretary duties, quantity surveying and project management of major works. Supplemented by flexible and broad ranging property and facilities management advice, we also offer specialist client representative and advisory solutions tailored to meet individual needs.
Our professional estate management agent services are applicable to landlords, developers, freehold and leasehold property management companies and resident management organisations or RTM's (Right to Manage Companies).
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Service Charge - Property service charges are collected including calculation of maintenance charges and preparation of applications for all payments due from leaseholders
Ground Rent - We calculate any freeholder charges due and manage landlord ground rent collection
Expenditure - VFM will administer good financial management, controlling expenditure within the prescribed limits set out and agreed with the freeholder or leasehold property management company.
Budgeting - Annual leasehold budgets are calculated and agreed in conjunction with the freehold or leasehold property block management company, the landlord or residents management organisation.
Cashflow - Income and expenditure figures are carefully managed to ensure sufficient funds are available to meet the estate management company's liabilities in respect of regular outgoings from the service charge client account.
Reporting - Regular reporting of all financial and other block management matters are effected to a professional standard including any specific measures which may be required by the property management company or landlord.
Accounting - We undertake to implement suitable accounting procedures and arrange preparation of year end accounts and audit by chartered accountants in strict compliance with the RICS regulations.
Funds - Freehold and leasehold funds are held in a protected, designated client bank account with interest accruing to the benefit of the client service charge account and leaseholders.
Compliance - We guarantee that all client financial affairs are conducted in compliance with the RICS regulations and current statutory legislation notifying landlords, tenants and leaseholders accordingly.
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Interpretation - we understand the importance of correctly interpreting the Property Lease to ensure that matters are dealt with on a sound legal basis
Communication - regularly inform all parties of their rights and obligations under the covenants of the property lease to help avoid non compliance and to minimize the risk of contravention or breach
Leaseholders - implement suitable procedures ensuring that residents and leaseholders comply with their obligations under the lease and enforcing those terms as may be required
Landlords - implement suitable procedures ensuring that the landlord, freeholder or residents management organisation meets its obligations under the lease and enforcing these covenants as appropriate
Statute - applying effective management procedures taking account of current legislation under statute which may alter or render certain terms of the lease out of date or inapplicable
Contravention - deal effectively with reports or complaints regarding landlords, leaseholders or residents who may be causing problems or nuisance in contravention of the property lease.
Developer Advice - VFM can provide service charge and property management advice to developers during the construction process ensuring that a realistic service charge budget can be agreed and costs apportioned for presentation to prospective purchasers and inclusion in the property lease.
Other advice - assisting with negotiating freehold purchase, RTM or Right to Manage arrangements and negotiating lease extensions.
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Repairs - at all times maintain the building in reasonable repair taking account of its general age and overall condition.
Service contractors - employ service contractors on behalf of the freeholder or developer to carry out regular cleaning, gardening and associated works as may be necessary to maintain the property to a reasonable standard
Procurement - procure the services of contractors as appropriate including a system of fair competitive tendering aiming to achieve reasonable value for the freeholder and leaseholders
Assessment - carry out periodic visits to the property assessing its general condition and identifying items for repair or replacement including scheduled planned maintenance
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VFM will instruct insurers to place adequate buildings cover in accordance with the terms of the lease and the requirements of the leaseholders and freeholder. It is important to determine the correct insured value for the buildings policy by obtaining an estimate for insurance rebuilding costs from a qualified chartered quantity surveyor.
Under an arrangement with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) the RICS is a designated professional body (DPB). As a DPB member, VFM can carry out insurance mediation activity which is broadly advising on, selling, and administration of insurance contracts. We are therefore suitably qualified to arrange buildings and other insurances for properties, freeholds and management companies on behalf of our clients. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website www.fsa.gov.uk. This Firm is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority.
It is also imperative that the insurance cover provided by contractors and suppliers to the management company provides adequate cover in terms of both indemnity value and scope. This is particularly important when larger value contract works are being carried out. The freehold buildings cover is unlikely to offer protection for damages associated with the contractor works and alternative arrangements must therefore be made which are often set out in alternative clauses in standard building contracts. Specific insurances should therefore be considered when agreeing the terms of the building agreement and advice and forward planning is prerequisite.
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Health and Safety
VFM can arrange health and safety risk assessments and inspections in compliance with current legislation
On behalf of the freeholder or property management company, VFM will implement the recommended actions of risk assessments or other matters affected by the health and safety at work regulations which apply to the common areas of blocks of flats. It should be noted that this area is generally deemed as non residential in the context of the current regulations.
Subject to any funding limitations it is vital to prioritise works in accordance with their risk category as may be reported. Interpretation of what may be deemed reasonable where there are funding issues is a complex area and will depend on a number of factors requiring an understanding of the individual circumstances in each case.
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As a result of changes to legislation, major works consultation procedures which were previously covered under Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 are now revised under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. Also known as Section 20 under the new Act, it will still be necessary to consult leaseholders when expenditure on specific proposed items will be higher than the new statutory limits.
Subject to these specific expenditure limits, consultation in the new prescribed form applies to such 'qualifying works' and also to 'qualifying long-term agreements' which are to last longer than 12 months.
There are a number of different stages and consultation periods involved in the process, all being subject to specific and varying requirements. The first stage requires that the landlord issues a 'Notice of Intention'. Following a consultation period, a 'paragraph B statement' must then be issued for qualifying works setting out the estimated costs, again subject to specific details. A further notice must accompany this statement inviting observations from leaseholders. Long term agreements are subject to further and more detailed proposals. Under specific circumstances the landlord must subsequently notify leaseholders once a decision is reached. Such notice being required within a 21 day period giving reasons and responses to observations which have been made.
In view of the above, which is a very brief summary of some of the requirements, it is clear that consultation can be complex and can take some considerable time to complete. Any works or services likely to fall into this category must therefore be planned well in advance allowing an adequate lead in period. As a minimum, a period of many months will be necessary, with further time to be provisioned for resolving any issues or observations which may arise during consultation.
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There are many different aspects to the managing agent services to be provided in respect of major works. These will tend to vary dependant on the size and complexity of each project taking account of any requirement for the involvement of specialist consultants which may be necessary in certain circumstances.
Assuming a relatively straightforward scenario of limited scope and value such as external redecoration of a property, we will generally arrange works in conjunction and agreement with the client. This ensures that there is a clear understanding between all parties involved before work being instructed.
Contractor enquiries would typically outline the extent and scope of work in a tender specification describing the client requirements. This document would also normally highlight any restrictions on working, access arrangements, scaffold, power and responsibility for other site facilities to be provided. It would also stipulate specific controls and sensitive areas where careful working practices are to be enforced. Along with health and safety requirements, such restrictions are clearly particularly important where residents remain in occupation.
Once the tender requirements are agreed, we would then issue these documents in an invitation to tender requesting competitive prices from a number of carefully selected contractors.
We will then carefully review and consider tender returns, reporting our findings to the client, and agreeing on selection and award of contract with the preferred contractor. During the works, again dependant on requirements, we would visit the works periodically to assess progress. On completion we will attend to see that works are generally in accordance with the contractors proposals and specification. For larger works we would normally recommend appointment of independent consultants including a CDM Co-ordinator to protect the client interests on Health and Safety matters however this is only applicable on projects over a certain size and we will advise where necessary. Where detailed specification documents or significant design input is desirable, input from suitable specialist consultants may be considered where this is found to be necessary.
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Company Secretary services are offered to freehold management companies with VFM taking over this responsibility.
Many management companies find this additional service of particular benefit. Duties typically include dealing with all associated company legal requirements, liaison with officers and accountants on the companies behalf, and filing and completion of the annual return to Companies House.
As Company Secretary, we would handle all the key duties in dealing with the Company's books and maintaining these to reflect the composition of the Company's shareholders or members, Directors and Company Secretary.
A Registered Office facility can also be provided whereby company documents will be delivered directly to our offices for safekeeping. This service removes the burden on the management company to receive and forward information and also reduces the risk of any items being overlooked or missed.
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Right to Manage or RTM
The provisions of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 has brought into force a new Right to Manage, or RTM, which enables leaseholders of flats, subject to qualifying rules, to take over collectively the management duties of the building without having to prove fault on the part of the freeholder or pay any compensation. This allows leaseholders to have a greater degree of control over the level of service charges set and the option to appoint their own managing agents and select insurers.
In circumstances where residents and lessees are experiencing problems with their existing landlord and find themselves unable to resolve matters this legislation now presents leaseholders with a solution. By setting up an RTM company they can, under certain qualifying arrangements, collectively take control of the management of the block.
Throughout the process, we can help clarify requirements by assisting and advising leaseholders wishing to consider this option. By co-ordinating efforts between leaseholders and their solicitors we can provide support and guidance through the somewhat complex legal procedures involved.
We are experienced and qualified property managers and can also manage your building following your Right to Manage claim.
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Enfranchisement or Freehold Purchase
Collectively buying the Freehold of your block has been a legal right to qualifying leaseholders since 1993. Subject to certain qualifying criteria and conditions, lessees have a right to collectively buy the freehold from the current owner or landlord. In order to qualify for this right, the majority of leaseholders must commit to and complete the purchase within a stipulated time frame. Other criteria and qualifications apply.
In some cases this solution is an attractive option for existing leaseholders who might otherwise be considering the alternative route of Right to Manage. A new freehold company can be set up by the participating leaseholders. This company will then purchase the freehold title from the existing developer or landlord. In many cases the burden of future ground rent payments will be removed however this benefit will normally be reflected in the freehold purchase value. The existing landlord loses all rights once the sale is completed giving the new freehold company the ability to exercise its management function freely within the terms of the lease.
Throughout the purchase we are able to help clarify requirements by assisting and advising leaseholders wishing to consider this option. By co-ordinating efforts between leaseholders and their solicitors we can provide support and guidance through the somewhat complex legal procedures involved.
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Whilst it is unusual for freeholders to take on and instruct significantly higher value works it is important to understand the fundamental principals which apply when considering a more involved project.
Efficient and effective project management of larger works is an essential component of any successful contract programme. As a result of its specialist nature the role is likely to be a separate appointment to that of the managing agent. The agent duties described under the Major Works section above being intended for smaller, more straightforward operations. Whilst smaller value repairs are important, they carry less risk to the client in the event of problems arising. However the associated risks and liabilities can dramatically increase with the size of the works and it is essential to be aware of these risks and to manage them effectively.
Every project is different and therefore presents a new set of challenges. Therefore the importance of proper planning is key. The role of the project manager has many facets including establishing and communicating the client's requirements, understanding and allocating roles, responsibilities, and risks, and establishing authorisation levels and resourcing. Duties also includes liaison with local authorities, the health and safety executive, planners and all others involved. This helps ensure that all parties are well equipped and able to meet their obligations by properly carrying out their roles.
Balancing the functions of time, cost and quality standards is also vital to achieving the desired results on behalf of residents and freeholders alike in accordance with the lease. The client's project manager must consider and facilitate the specific needs of residents in occupation by meticulous planning and in the specifiying and carrying out of the works. He is responsibile for selecting and appointing a suitable contractor with the necessary skills and expertise to employ efficient, clean, quiet and safe working practices.
Good contractor electing can help avoid poor quality in the form of substandard workmanship. A bad job is of little value and can cause serious problems in the future running and enjoyment of any property. Likewise the potential problems created by time overruns can be equally disturbing resulting in nuisance, upset and disgruntled residents. Associated cost increases can also have a detrimental impact on a project giving rise to payment and cash flow concerns, particularly where design or quality issues arise. Such failures often occur where the contractor is simply unable to shoulder the risks apportioned to it under the contract. The problem having been passed on to the detriment of others and ultimately threatening the success of the project.
As project managers we can offer advice and help to control and manage out these problems. We are also well placed to offer supporting Development Advice as and when necessary and to advise on the need for specialist consultants.
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Appointment of an experienced quantity surveyor (QS) is essential to the success of any sizeable project. QS services cover many different aspects of construction and development. Our core skills in this field being summarised as financial and contractual. Key responsibilities include controlling costs and avoiding contractual problems which all too often eventuate if not professionally managed. There are also instances where neighbouring properties undertake works which cause interference and disruption and it is essential to deal effectively with contractual matters in this regard to safeguard our client's interests.
As Chartered Quantity Surveyors we are ideally qualified and experienced to act on behalf of clients planning to undertake significant works to their property. Our services can cover anything from preconstruction and early sign cost advice, budgeting and estimation, cost control throughout, risk management, negotiation of variations, periodic assessment of interim payments and settling final accounts with the contractor and other consultants and suppliers.
Liaison with designers in the early stages is fundamental to achieving budget and cost control as this is the primary influence on the outcome of the competitive tenders sought from contractors.
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Our estate property management clients can proceed, safe in the knowledge that they have the added benefit and security of VFM's industry-wide property experience and backing. Notwithstanding the nature of our initial block management appointment, VFM's complementary support services may be called upon by our clients on request at any time. Should these facilities never be required, this feature of our property management services may simply afford you comfort and peace of mind in carefree enjoyment of your investment. In the event that any aspect of our additional services is commissioned, we are able to draw from the wealth of knowledge and expertise available from the various disciplines to provide an informed and professional service.
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If you wish to make a complaint please be assured that the firm will handle your complaint in accordance with RICS' Complaints Handling Procedure. A copy of this is available on request.
We are covered by RICS' Client Money Protection Scheme. You may be entitled to compensation through that scheme if we cannot meet our obligations. This will depend on the type of business and the circumstances of the claim
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