'One size does not fit all'
The RICS introduced the Service Charge Code of Practice over 10 years ago and it is now in its third edition. Its whole purpose is to improve general standards and promote best practice, uniformity, fairness and transparency in the management and administration of service charges in commercial property. To ensure timely issue of budgets and year end certificates, to reduce the causes of disputes and to provide guidance on the resolution of disputes if these arise and to assist all users of service charges in deciding what is best practice. Well, what does it mean for you? First always remember the lease comes first and over-rides any best practice provisions – that is what has been agreed with the two parties.
Sometimes tenants breach the terms of a lease. This can be deliberate or inadvertent. It may be unauthorised alteration or change of use. Most usually it is late payment or non-payment of rent, service charge or insurance so what action to take? We make sure you are kept informed of the status of each tenant’s account or any breaches in their lease terms so that you can make the decision. We will advise but you decide to evict the tenant or do you try to come to terms with them. Do you take County Court action; can you send the bailiff in under the new CRAR rules? What is best? There are so many variables from the actions of the tenants to the state of the market to what your mortgagee may think – it is complicated. We aim to give you a full and detailed possession of the facts and the range of options open to you so you can decide. So twist or stick, negotiate or evict – it depends.
All our client accounts are covered by the RICS Client Money Protection Scheme and we have regular inspections by their audit team and the bank accounts are reconciled monthly. We use an on line banking system so we always know the current cash situation.
To us this is the absolute key of all property management. Some property management departments send junior staff to carry out site inspections, some hardly carry them out at all, some are hundreds of miles away, some send somebody different every time. We do not believe that you can manage effectively unless you have continuity of regular inspections. What do we look for – the answer is everything. We keep a written record of each inspection to note any health & safety concerns such as trip hazards. We look for leaks, we see if the tenants are complying with their covenants, we meet them and listen to what they have to say. We report to you however you like – we will email, write a letter, send you photos or send you a video clip if you like. However you want the information - that is fine. Finally I just thought you would like to know the most important thing to look for is the gutters – so many people don’t bother and this can cause so many building problems – leaves in gutters are always on my mind.
After studying geography at Hertford College, Oxford, Paul qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1987 whilst working with Prudential Property Services. He moved to Oxford in 1987 to join Chesterton and in 1991 formed Marriotts where he headed the Management and Agency departments. He has over thirty years experience in surveying. Paul is active in many Wolvercote village activities, has coached boys’ junior rugby at Oxford Harlequins and is currently coaching girls’ rugby at Gosford All Blacks. He is currently studying Pure Mathematics with the Open University.
Elaine started her accounting career with Oxford based accountants Wenn Townsend and, after completing her accountancy qualifications in 1991 at Thames Valley University, joined the Finance Dept. of Oxford University. She worked in various roles, accounting for investments & estates, University Limited Companies and the Surveyors Department. In 2000 she joined Marriotts to set up a computer based property management system and became the Practice Manager. Elaine has lived in Wolvercote since 1989 and is President of the Wolvercote WI and a bell ringer at St Peter's Church, Wolvercote
Mandy grew up in Oxfordshire and has lived and worked in the County all her life. She is an extremely capable and experienced administrator and has previously worked for Morland Brewery as PA to the Chief Executive.
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