What Is The Difference If I Own The Freehold To My Property? Why Do I Still Pay Service Charges?
If you own the freehold to your property you will not have to pay Ground Rent to a superior landlord. You already own the land your flat is built on and so do not need to rent it from someone else. However, you will still have to pay Service Charges for the upkeep and maintenance of your block and its communal areas.
Will the increasing cost of living affect my service charge?
When the price of goods and services increases the service charge has to increase, otherwise we will be unable to pay for all of the services your building currently receives and from which you benefit. However, we are very aware of the need to control cost wherever possible, especially when the cost of living is increasing. To help, Orchard regularly reviews and reduces where possible the cost within the service charge through either selective buying or negotiation.
Finances are always being checked to save costs wherever possible.
How Do I Know What My Service Charge Is Spent On?
All flat owners will be sent a budget of ‘Anticipated Service Charge Expenditure’ yearly. This will include a breakdown of both regular charges and expected repairs and renewals for the coming year.
Where Are The Service Charge Funds Held?
Each site has its own individual bank account where only the Service Charge (and Ground Rent if) applicable) is kept. Your money is safe and secure with its own individual account number.
What Happens If I Can't Afford To Pay My Service Charge?
When you purchase a property you must be aware, as per your lease, that Service Charges must be paid. If they cannot be paid then steps must be taken towards legal action, although we do attempt to agree a payment plan where possible.
If you have an issue with payments, you should contact our accounts team immediately on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do OBMS Ltd hold client funds ?
We hold all Service Charge and Reserve Fund monies in dedicated individual Client Trust Accounts, in line with Section 42 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987.
Reserve Funds are ring-fenced separately from Service Charges and any interest received goes directly to that specific service charge account.
How Do I Pay For My Service Charge?
Your lease will explain that once the Service Charge has been demanded there are is a specific number of days in which to pay it in full, and the frequency that it should be paid, for example annually or quarterly in advance.
In cases where the Directors or Landlord have agreed, we are able to provide an Ease of Payment scheme, by allowing leaseholders and owners the option of paying their Service Charge in 12 monthly direct debits with no extra added interest.
Please contact our Accounts Team on Tel: 01604 620422
Why Do I Pay A Service Charge?
All owners, whether they be leaseholders or freeholders must pay the Service Charge demanded to cover the cost of communal work for the development as stipulated on your individual lease.
When do you issue Service Charge Accounts?
We typically issue finalised Service Charge Accounts between 6-9 months after the year-end, although this may be a longer timescale if we have taken over the management of your block part-way through a financial year, or the Directors have raised several queries.
If you require assistance please email our Accounts Team: email@example.com
Why Must I Pay The Service Charge When Not All Services Are In Place?
Your Service Charge bill is split into two sections. The first part is an anticipated yearly budget based on last year’s expenditure for your particular site. The second part, however, is a collection of money for future large scale works such as interior and exterior redecorations, landscaping issues, security issues and/or roof repairs, as sometimes money has to be collected and accumulated before certain works can be carried out.
What is a Contingency / Reserve Fund?
A Contingency, or Reserve Fund is a percentage of money collected within your Service Charge that will be used in the event of either an unforeseen emergency maintenance issue, or a future expenditure. If this money is not used within the year, it will roll over to the next to form a more substantial Contingency Fund for your property and your site.
Rubbish & Recycling
The bins in my block havent been emptied, what should I do?
Please contact the Property Manager for your block to raise the issue. If you are able to take pictures and email these to us, that would be really helpful.
You may also find it easier to contact your borough council website to double check your collection day. The council will not collect split rubbish bags or if the bins are overflowing.
Which bins should I use for recycling at my block and what type of waste will be accepted?
The recycling rules change dependent on the council area, you will be able to find details of what is accepted for recycling in your area by visiting your local council website.
Who can I contact to request emergency repairs to a part of the apartment building?
In the event of a real emergency, such as fire, please contact the emergency services by dialling 999.
If there is an issue at your apartment block that makes it unsafe or unusable, then please contact your Property Manager as soon as possible. Should you need to call when the office is closed between 5.00pm and 8.30am on weekdays, or at any time during the weekend or bank holidays.
We do however, offer an emergency ‘out-of-hours’ phone number for 365 days per year as an additional service to clients wishing to take advantage of this facility. If your block is signed up for this service, the number to call is 01604 973919, we will respond efficiently and appropriately.
There is water leaking into my flat? What should I do?
If you think there is a leak, or you notice signs of water ingress generally, please contact your Property Manager to make them aware of the problem.
There are various reasons why water might be getting into places it shouldn’t, such as wind-driven rain, leaking pipes, overflowing baths, eroded grouting around sinks, showers or baths, etc.
The first action to be taken is locate the source of the leak, and ensure it is stopped as quickly as possible.
Office Hours – 08.30 – 17.00 Tel: 01604 620422
Out of Hours – The number to call is Tel: 01604 973919.
Maintenance and Repairs
What Do I Do If I Have A Maintenance Issue?
Any issues regarding the maintenance of the communal areas at your development are dealt with by our dedicated property team. You can contact them directly by e-mail at either firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone. Office Hours – 08.30 – 17.00 Tel: 01604 620422
If the issue is within the property that you live in, under the terms of the lease this is classed as a ‘demised’ issue and would need to be addressed by the owner of the property.
What should I do if there is a problem with the lift in my block ?
If the lift in your block isn’t working properly or is damaged in some way, please let your Property Manager know straight away. We can then instruct the necessary contractors to attend, however, this may not be the same day.
If someone is stuck in the lift, there should be an emergency contact button inside.
What should I do if there is a powercut in my block or area?
In the event that there is a powercut in your in you block, first of all please consult the Western Power website and enter your postcode. This will show any issues with power in you local area.(Click here for link https://www.westernpower.co.uk/power-cut-information )
If your local area is affected you may need to report this to Western Power who will give you a response time for the repair.
If just your building is without power and all around you is unaffected please report this to Orchard.
What are your block management fees?
Our fees vary depending on the size of your block and the scope of our agreement with you. Some clients may have also requested additional services, specific to their particular block, or have opted for our out-of-hours support service, or remote ‘client portal’ access so there may be additional fees for certain sites.
Remote ‘Client portal’ access allows OBMS Ltd client’s, i.e. director, to access current financial and other updates specific to your block.
Do you charge any extra fees ?
In addition to the block management fees, bank charges are applied each quarter. There are also additional fees charged to individual leaseholders, such as when payment plans are made and agreed, or that payments are late.
Am I allowed to keep a pet dog in my flat?
Flats are neither intended as nor are a suitable environment for keeping a pet dog. It must also be appreciated that the very close proximity to other flats within the building raises the potential of barking being a source of disturbance to other leaseholders, especially when the dog maybe left on its own.
Principally for these reasons, requests for permission to keep any pet dog are refused except for guide and support dogs fulfilling a medical need for which official documentation in support of will be required.
Why Do I Pay Buildings Insurance If I Already Have My Own Policy?
All sites must have buildings insurance to cover them as a property as a whole, as per your individual property lease. Contents insurance, on the other hand, is the responsibility of whoever is living in the house, either the tenant or the landlord.
Where can I get a copy of the buildings insurance for my flat?
You can find a copy of your buildings insurance certificate by logging into the client portal, on the notice board within the communal area of your block, or alternatively, you can contact the office to request a copy. email: email@example.com
Can I claim for damages or repairs on the buildings insurance for my flat?
Depending on the terms of the policy, and the cost of the claim compared to the excess that would automatically be payable.
How Do I Make An Insurance Claim?
The insurance claim procedure can be complicated. Firstly, you must contact the office with as much information as possible. We will then communicate with the insurance company and any possible/relevant contractors. Please bear in mind that anything to do with insurance may take some time. It is also important to know that the final decision about taking on insurance claims lies with the insurance company. There may also be an insurance excess cost. OBMS Ltd. act as a liaison between you and the insurance company and will assist throughout the whole claim.
How Would I Get A Copy Of My Lease?
You should sign and receive a copy of your lease when you purchase the property, as this is a legal document that should be kept safe. If you cannot locate a copy, we can purchase a copy from Land Registry on your behalf, at a cost of £50.00 plus vat.
Should you require this service, please contact our legal team at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are major works?
Major works are generally works of a large scale that are required to be undertaken to the fabric of the grounds and building. These include things such as replacing the roof, internal or external decoration, lift refurbishment and re-carpeting.
What is the Section 20 Consultation?
The law requires that leaseholders paying variable service charges must be consulted before a landlord carries out qualifying works or enters into a long-term agreement for the provision of services. Landlords must consult if these works will cost over £250 for any one contributing leaseholder.
There are three stages of the requirements for the qualifying works whereby all leaseholders are consulted on the proposed works.
Should the landlord or management company wish to enter into a long-term agreement, which is over twelve months, then a consultation would also be required.
I Have Nuisance/Noisy Neighbours. What Should I Do?
If you feel that your neighbours are in breach of their lease in terms of noise, pets or anti-social behaviour, please contact your property manager who will endeavour to help. However, sometime issues can be resolved by speaking to the resident, and if you feel safe to do so, you may wish to try this option first.
We do not have a contractual agreement with the tenants of a property, and so our influence may only go so far. If you feel that your neighbours are particularly anti-social or acting dangerously and this is worrying you, your should seek help and advice from either the police or county council. It may be useful for you to initiate a ‘Log of Events’ to assist in the decision making of any Authority acting to resolve this matter.
Often the authorities will seek an evidence log to establish if there are any criminal/ anti-social behaviour offences being committed, such as: when does it happen, is it over a protracted period of time, who is it, what times, who affected, what are the affects on you personally and others around you etc. Be specific i.e. this time and date, this action, made me feel this way.
Each Local Council will have departments that deal specifically with excess noise and anti-social behaviour. Please visit your local Council website in the first instance.
Police, Ambulance, Fire Emergency only Tel: 999
Local Police None Urgent Contact Tel: 101
How Do I Make A Formal Complaint?
Orchard Block Management Services Ltd. is committed to providing a service of the highest quality. However, we do accept that occasionally things can go wrong.
If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our service, please contact us by telephone Tel: 01604 620422, e-mail email@example.com. Your feedback is important to us.
If you wish to make a formal complaint in writing please send it to:
Orchard Block Management Services Ltd.
1 Adams Avenue
We endeavour to respond to all complaints in 7 working days.
In-House Complaint Procedure
IN-HOUSE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
We are committed to providing a professional service to all our clients and customers. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards.
If you have a complaint, please put it in writing, including as much detail as possible. We will then respond in line with the timeframes set out below (if you feel we have not sought to address your complaints within eight weeks, you may be able to refer your complaint to the Property Ombudsman to consider without our final viewpoint on the matter).
What will happen next?
- We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of you complaint within three working days of receiving it, enclosing a copy of this procedure.
- We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally be dealt with by the office manager who will review your file and speak to the member of staff who dealt with you. A formal written outcome of our investigation will be sent to you within 15 working days of sending the acknowledgement letter.
- If, at this stage, you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for a separate review to take place by a senior member of staff.
- We will write to you within 15 working days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final viewpoint on the matter.
- If you are still not satisfied after the last stage of the in-house complaint procedure (or more than 8 weeks has elapsed since the complaint was first made) you can request an independent review from The Property Ombudsman without charge.
The Property Ombudsman
43-55 Milford Street
01722 333 306
Please note the following:
You will need to submit your complaint to The Property Ombudsman within 12 months of receiving our final viewpoint letter, including any evidence to support your case.
The Property Ombudsman requires that all complaints are addressed through this in-house complaints procedure, before being submitted for an independent review
Someone else keeps parking in my allocated parking space. What can I do?
This is a question we are asked on a regular basis, lack of parking and the use of other people’s allocated spaces is an all too common issue.
If you are unsure as to the terms of your lease as to the conditions set out for the parking of vehicles, please contact your property manager who will be happy to help.
If your flat comes with a dedicated parking space which is outlined in your lease, 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.
Why have I received a parking ticket?
Some sites have chosen to engage with a local parking enforcement agency in the view of discouraging people who do not live at the development from parking there. The conditions set with this type of scheme are that a valid parking permit is displayed on the windscreen of the vehicle at all times.
Failure to comply with these conditions may well result in the owner of the vehicle receiving a fine.
Should you have a query relating to this matter, you should contact the enforcement agency, the details of which will be on the signs within the development.
What Is Ground Rent?
Ground Rent is the payment made by leaseholders to the freeholder or superior landlord of the site who owns the land in which the building is built on. It is usually paid annually in advance, although the frequency and amount is determined by the lease.
What Is The Difference Between Ground Rent And Service Charge?
Ground Rent is the payment made by leaseholders to the freeholder of the site. It is paid annually in advance and OBMS Ltd. will contact you 28 days before it is due.
Service Charge is money collected for the upkeep and maintenance of the site and is formally demanded once a year. We collect money for routine works such as gardening and cleaning but we also collect for larger works as stipulated in your lease. It is less of a financial burden to collect small amounts over a longer period of time than to ask for a large one off payment when works need to be carried out.
Renting Out Your Property
Do I Need To Notify You If I Have Tenants In My Flat?
We need to know if you are self-managing or using a letting agent to ensure we can contact the occupiers in the event of an emergency. To ensure we comply with GDPR, your Tenant must sign the contact form to consent to us holding their details such as their name, telephone number, move in date. You should notify us when the tenant of your flat changes so that we can remove their details.
Selling Your Property
What do I have to do when my property is sold?
Once you have instructed your solicitors that a sale is to go ahead, they will request a ‘sellers pack’ from OBMS Ltd, which confirms such details as to the end of year accounts, position of your service charge balance, expected works, and insurance policies.
There is a charge for this service which is usually paid by the solicitor on your behalf, and correspondence requested by the solicitor.
Any request please contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org