5th February 2013 - Ombudsman Service
Remus joins the Ombudsman Service
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25th June 2013 Remus Open Prime Central London Office
25th June 2013 Remus Open Prime Central London Office
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20 June 2013 - New Head Offices Acquired
Remus purchase one of the most prestigious Head Office buildings in Salisbury to cope with business growth
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1 September 2011 - New Office Opens in Cardiff
Remus are please to announce the opening of their New West & Wales Office in Cardiff Bay
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20 August 2012 - Remus Open New Office in Plymouth
Remus Expand their operations in Devon & Cornwall
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4 October 2010 - Award for Maldon in Bloom
Remus Wins Award from Maldon in Bloom
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10 August 2012 - Remus Opens New Office in Chelmsford
Remus Expand their operations in the Thames Gateway and East Of England
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4th January 2010 - Remus Now Accept Credit Card Payments
Remus Now Accept Credit & Debit Card Payments - By Phone
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30th March 2009
New South West Regional Office opens in Salisbury
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6th January 2008 - New Office
New East of England Regional Office in Chelmsford
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24 April 2007 - New Offices
Two New Offices Business Development Continues at a Pace
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June 2006 - MBO completed
Remus announce that they have now completed the management led buyout of the Business.
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Short Term Lettting
Short-term letting and leasehold apartements
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Greening up your apartment
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LVT attacks OM / Peverel Group Connections
OM /Peverel Connected Firms Rip-off Residents say LVT
OFT review concludes Residential Property Management industry works well for most.
READ ARTICLE >
Government say Take Care
Government Says - Take Care When Buying a Flat - Know what the lease says
READ ARTICLE >
Is Your Service Charge too High?
Is Your Service Charge too High? ... and if you think so what can you do about it?
Location, Location, Location
Phil and Kirstie revistit happy couple in Remus managed Luxury Development
Tragic Accident at Allsop managed property
Tragic Accident - child dies after 4th floor fall, are your Health & Safety procedures good enough?
Rendall & Rittner - staff convicted of fraud
Rendall & Rittner - employee steels £120,000 from residents
10 Things about Leasehold
10 Things to Know about Leasehold Property
We are responsible for the maintenance of the main structure of the building, e.g. roof and external walls, and also the general upkeep of the estate.
Certain parts of your property can be shared by all the Residents (i.e. halls, stairways, gardens etc.) and obviously someone has to be responsible for the proper upkeep of these areas. Under the terms of your lease these functions are the duty of the freeholder/management company, who has appointed Remus to act on its behalf. The costs of such repairs and maintenance are recovered from the individual Leaseholders in the proportions detailed in your lease.
Our exact duties will vary according to the individual leases (or deeds in the case of Freehold houses) and the properties themselves but mainly will consist of:
As well as actually organising all the above, we will visit the property from time to time to ensure that work is being carried out satisfactorily and to see if further work is needed.
A major part of the service is maintaining records of all payments and receipts for each property, dealing with individual Leaseholders queries, and also liaising with your solicitors when you are contemplating selling your property.
We are not responsible for the repairs to the interior of your individual property or any design faults in the original construction or conversion.
We allocate to each property an individual Manager who visits on a regular basis, is familiar with the particular property and creates a liaison and communication between us and you (along with any Residents Associations). They will be generally responsible for the day to day activities relating to the upkeep of each property supported by our Accounts and other centralised functions at our head office in Salisbury.
We also have Assistant Property Managers who will arrange and co-ordinate minor items of repair to the common areas. Though your designated Property Manager will keep a watching brief on your property as a whole, it is to the Assistant Property Manager that you should report minor repairs that require attention.
When larger items of planned maintenance are due we use external specialist, Ellis Sloane & Co. who will see to all the necessary arrangements and procedures in relation to the project management of the works and the consultation required by the Landlord & Tenant act legislation.
Monies paid or demanded in respect of Service Charges are held in a Statutory Trust Fund, in accordance with S42. of the Landlord and Tenant Act. The Trustee of the trust fund will be either the Freeholder, a Tenant Management Company that is a party to the lease or a Right To Manage Company. It is usually the Trustee that appoints us to act as their agent.
Various items of maintenance and repair clearly involve the expenditure of money. Most leases provide for advance payments to be made in order to ensure that we are in funds and able to meet bills as they fall due.
Before the commencement of a new financial year, we will send you an Budget of likely service charge expenditure. It is important to appreciate that, this is only an estimate (often based upon experience in prior years and known items of current expenditure). We are not clairvoyant and we cannot anticipate all circumstances. We will then invoice you for advance payment on account of this Budget at least 30 days before the advance payment must be made. Please ensure that your payment reaches us by the due date.
The final figure of service charge expenditure will not be known until after the end of the year and may will always vary (either up or down) from the Budget we have given earlier.
Between 3 and 6 months after the end of each year we will produce a "Service Charge Account" which will summarise all the expenditure incurred in relation to your property for the year in question, including our own fees. Where the expenditure exceeds £300, we will arrange for the Service Charge Account to be inspected by an independent firm of Chartered Accountants who will report on the Account, and whose fees will be charged to the Service Charge Account. Where the Service Charge expenditure is less than £300 we will only have the Account inspected by an independent firm of Chartered Accountants if requested by one or more of the Leaseholders.
The Service Charge Account will be forwarded to each Leaseholder together with a summary detailing advance payments and showing the balance due (if any) in respect of each individual property. Any balance due is payable upon presentation of the Service Charge Account. (Where there is a credit balance this will be carried forward to the next accounting period).
Under the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 any Leaseholder may, upon giving reasonable notice, visit our offices and inspect the books and records relating to the management of his or her property.
Remus maintains client bank accounts separate from our own business bank account. These client accounts are used to contain all of the Service Charge monies relating to each individual property. All contributions from Leaseholders are paid into this account and all expenditure that is undertaken on behalf of your property is paid from this account.
From time to time there may be insufficient monies held for a particular property to meet current expenditure. This may arise for a number of reasons but usually is because unexpected items of expenditure occur, or the lease does not provide for adequate payments in advance. In such circumstances, and at our sole discretion, we may pay such expenditure from our own funds. If we do so we will make an appropriate interest charge at the rate of 4% over Clearing Bank Base Rate on any such funds so advanced.
Where a cash balance of over £2,000 is held for a property, interest may be credited to the account. If interest is credited we will then be required to complete a Trust Tax Return in order for the service charge trust fund to pay the income tax at the applicable rate.
From the tax year 2007/08, following pressure from our industry, a 20% tax band was created for all Service Charge Trust Fund interest income. Where the value of the interest is less than the cost of preparing the Trust Tax Return (currently about £50), in the interests of saving the Lessees money, no interest will be credited.
Payments in respect of Service Charge Expenditure are due to be paid on the dates specified in your lease. We will invoice you at least 30 days before the payment date. It is important that payments are made promptly otherwise there simply will not be the funds to pay for necessary expenses. We must remind you that we are collecting monies due to the Service Charge Account of your property and as the Agent for the Trustees of that account, it is our duty to ensure that all contributions are collected in full and in a timely manner.
If any payments are late we will send you an overdue statement. If payment is still not received, we will send you a firm reminder, which will incur an administration fee. Some property owners take objection to receiving such a communication and we regret its necessity. However a minority of Leaseholders/Property owners take a somewhat casual approach to Service Charges and make payment when they feel like it. This is clearly unfair on the vast majority of other contributors to the Service Charge who do pay on the due dates. We retain the right to add interest at 4% over Bank of England Base rate or such rate as may be allowed by the Courts on any sums that are more than 14 days overdue.
If we receive no response to our reminder we will have no alternative but to place the debt with our solicitors for collection and seek to recover not only the outstanding sums but also interest and legal costs. Failure to pay Service Charges could lead to an action for forfeiture of your lease after we have obtained a certificate from the Court or the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal that the Service Charge is reasonable. If You are Going to Have Difficulties Making a Payment on Time, Please Tell Us Promptly. It may be possible to work out a sensible payment regime. However if you do not communicate with us we will pass the papers to our solicitors and you will then become liable for legal costs as well as the amount outstanding.
Our Management fees are made up of two elements:
Our Fixed Fee is designed to cover all of the activities that we know will happen every year. The fee is based on Multiplying the number of units in the Building or Estate by our standard charge per unit. The charge per unit in 2008 varies, dependant on the size and location of your building and the types of units within it (houses, flats, commercial units etc.). The total of this fee will be charged to the Service Charge fund and apportioned between the individual service charge payers in accordance with their obligations.
The Fixed element of our fee will cover the following items
All Items that are not specifically mentioned above will be charged for in addition to the Fixed fee. This includes, but is not limited to:-
The basis for the additional charges will be the amount of time spent and the skill level of the staff involved in undertaking the work (this is the same way that Lawyers, Accountants and Surveyors charge for their non-standard services).
A full Schedule of our current charges is available to any of our customers, on request.
1. First check if you are eligible to buy the Freehold. In order to do so, the number of "participating leaseholders” (owners clubbing together) must own at least half the total number residential apartments in the building; if there are only two apartments, then both leaseholders must participate. The term of your original lease must be at least 21 years, and no more than 25 per cent of the building can be in non-residential use (shops or offices).
2. Once you have established how many Apartment owners are needed to go ahead with the purchase, you will need to organise as a group. As costs will be involved from this point on it is advisable to have some form of written agreement from all participants as to how costs will be split (this could be equal, or in proportion to the value of the apartments, or by number of bedrooms or any other mechanism you can all agree on).
3. Select a nominee purchaser – which can be one person, or a company formed by the group for the purpose of the purchase – to serve notice on the freeholder of your intention to buy. It is usually considered better if it is a company then you can all own shares in it, this gets rid of the problems that would occur if your nominated purchaser was and individual and was then to get hit by a bus.
4. Once you have a group established that has the Right to Enfranchise (buy) your building, always approach the freeholder directly first and ask them for a price to buy the building. This could save you considerable costs, time and hassle. Even if it does not you have lost nothing by asking.
5. If you cannot agree the purchase directly with your freeholder at this stage you will need to appoint a valuer and a solicitor to determine the likely cost of the Building and to carry out the necessary legal work. Before appointing them do take references in relation to similar transaction they have done before. This is a fiddly bit of law and you don’t want to be paying for them to learn what they are doing. At this point do make the Freeholder a counter offer before you start incurring ever greater legal and professional costs.
6. The freeholder may now be happy to accept your offer and the transfer will be concluded. As well as your legal costs you will also pay the freeholders reasonable legal cost as well (these could be about £1,000 for a simple conveyance, but will rise for larger buildings, multiple buildings, or buildings within a larger development). If your property is part of a larger estate you will still have to contribute to the estate service charges after you have bought your Building.
7. If the freeholder rejects your offer, you will need to serve him with a legal notice stating the price you will pay. He will have a valuation of the building carried out by his surveyor (but you will have to pay for this, £250 to £350 per apartment is not unusual) then come back with a counter-notice. Negotiations to find the right price will then begin (and your costs will grow).
1. If you cannot agree a price with the freeholder, you will need to take the case to the 1st tier Tribunal (Property) to have the matter settled. If you attend the Tribunal your costs will rise. Early negotiation will often be cheaper, less risky and a lot less hassle though it will obviously depend on the amount in dispute.
2. What are the costs? If you can agree a price for the purchase of your Building directly with your freeholder you should only pay, the price agreed, your legal conveyancy costs and the freeholders "reasonable” conveyancy costs these are often about £1,000 plus £120 per apartment. The way the Law is written you will always have to pay these fees whatever route you take.
3. What other costs are there? If can’t agree a price directly with the freeholder you will have to go down the route towards the 1st Tier Tribunal. This starts with you having appointing a surveyor and having your valuation report produced (£750 + £150 per apartment) and see if the freeholder will then accept your offer. If not you will need to serve a Notice of Claim on the freeholder, this will be a few hours work for a lawyer (£500). When a notice is served on a Freeholder they will usually appoint their own surveyor to produce a valuation report for their use (£900 + £200 per apartment) which you will also have to pay for. The two surveyors will then negotiate, this will cost you between £100 and £150 per hour, at is likely to take at least 5 hours (£500). If you don’t reach an agreement at this stage you will need to file your claim with the 1st Tier Tribunal, this will require another couple of hours of lawyers time (£200) and then a hearing fee to the Tribunal (£190). Your surveyor’s preparation and attendance at the Tribunal will be at least 1 day’s preparation (£800) and 1 day’s attendance (£800). If you decide to have legal representation as well as your surveyor there will be more costs (£1,500 for a day of Junior Counsel’s time). The cost involved are very likely to be about £5,000. This approach is therefore only worth contemplating if you are arguing over more than £5,000 between the your and the Freeholder offers.
How to Extend Your Lease
Residents have been finding that once their lease drops below 75 or 80 years it is more difficult to sell their home. However, there is a solution, and it can make you a profit as well.
[you can also get together with other Residents and buy the whole building, but this is more complicated "buy my freehold" above]
1. All long leasehold homes have a "Right” to extend their lease.
2. If you have owned your home for at least 2 years, you can exercise this "Right”.
3. Once you have gained the "Right”, always approach your freeholder first and ask them for their options for extending the lease. This could save you large professional fees, legal costs, time and hassle. It may also give you some more profitable options. Even if it does not you have lost nothing by asking.
4. A freeholder will often offer you an alternative of :-
a. A statutory lease extension (90 years with a peppercorn ground rent)
b. A new 100 year lease with a ground rent. This will be about £1,500 to £2,000 cheaper than the statutory lease extension for every £100 of ground rent you agree to continue to pay. So a new 100 year lease with a £250 ground rent may be £5,000 cheaper than the statutory option.
5. You can always check the freeholders offer is fair, several independent surveyors have online calculators which give indicative values. The multi award winning Marr-Johnson and Stevens have an easy to use one (http://www.m-js.co.uk/buying-freeholds-extending-leases/calculator/). If your freeholders offers seem too expensive ask them to explain their figures.
6. If you are thinking of selling your home you can negotiate the lease extension while you market your property, then pay for the extension when you sell it. Marketing your home with a new 100 year lease will mean you gain all the upside on the sale price, whilst not paying for it until you have the cash.
7. A way to make a profit? Buying a lease extension when selling your home (if it has less than 75 years remaining on the current lease) should always make you an extra profit. The Law says how much you will have to pay for the lease extension; part of that calculation involves splitting (50:50) any of the increase in value (the marriage value) with the freeholder.
8. A new 100 year lease with a ground rent that does not deter a "would be” buyer (ground rents on new build apartments are usually £150-£250 outside London and at this level do not affect marketability) will allow you to maximise the money you make.
9. If you cannot agree a deal with the freeholder then It is possible to force them to sell you an extension.
10. To do this you will need to appoint a surveyor to provide you with a detailed valuation. Valuing a lease extension is a complex business: it depends on a number of variables, including the market value of the apartment, the length of time left on the lease, the value of the freeholder’s interest (how much ground rent is received, how much the apartment is likely to be worth at the end of the lease).
11. Once you have this valuation you can then serve a formal notice of your intention to extend your lease. At this point the freeholder will instruct a surveyor to prepare a detailed valuation report to compare with yours. You will be responsible for paying for this too (this is where the costs start to mount and your profit starts to disappear).
12. Your surveyor and the freeholders’ surveyor will then see if they can get their two valuations to agree and find a price which they both feel is fair.
13. If they cannot reach an agreement on the price, you will need to take the case to the 1st Tier Tribunal Property (a sort of junior Court) where the price will be "determined”.
14. So what are the costs? If you can agree a price for the lease extension directly with your freeholder you should only pay, the price agreed, your legal conveyancy costs and the freeholders "reasonable” conveyancy costs (the freeholders conveyancy should be less than £1,000 (say £750 + £150 Vat, your costs will depend on what you agree with your solicitor). The way the Law is written you will always have to pay these fees whatever route you take.
15. So what other costs are there? If can’t agree a price directly with your freeholder you will have to go down the route towards the 1st Tier Tribunal. This starts with you appointing a surveyor and having your valuation report produced (£750) and a Notice of Claim served on the freeholder. The freeholder will then usually appoint their own surveyor to produce a valuation report for their use (£900) which you will also have to pay for. The two surveyors will then negotiate, this will cost you £100-£150 per hour, it is likely to take at least 5 hours (£500). If you don’t reach an agreement at this stage you will need to file your claim with the 1st Tier Tribunal, this will require another couple of hours of time (£200) and a hearing fee for the Tribunal (£190). Your surveyor’s preparation and attendance at the Tribunal may require 8 hours of preparation (£800) and 1 days attendance (£800). If you decide to have legal representation as well as your surveyor there will be even more costs (maybe another £1,500). As such the costs involved are very likely to be between £2,500 and £5,000. This approach is therefore only worth contemplating if you are arguing over more than £2,500.
The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 gives a majority of Lessees the right to take over the management of their block of flats. (There are various exceptions where there is a resident landlord etc. a more detailed explanation may be found in our "Downloads" section of this website).
Essentially it allows Lessees to take over their management using a special form of company (a Right to Manage Company - RTM) with a prescribed form of Memorandum and Articles of Assocation. The RTM Company has the Lessees as its principal shareholders, but the landlord is also able to own a share. The company has a Board of Directors who are elected by the Members/Shareholders of the Company.
The RTM Company is responsible for carrying out all the landlord's obligations under the terms of the respective leases and is also liable to notify the Landlord of any breach of lease terms.
In our opinion RTM needs to be approached with care and may not be suitable for all circumstances. Where leases do not have adequate provisions for payments on account of service charge or where there are several lessees with poor payment records, the Directors of the RTM Company could find themselves having to finance the running costs of the building. This could be substantial if major expenditure is due. It is important to appreciate that the RTM Company will be taking on some very serious obligations of the Landlord. There may be extra costs relating to running the Company and we would advise the Directors to obtain "Directors and Officers Liability Insurance". If a professional Managing Agent is not engaged, the RTM Company should in our opinion also obtain "Professional Indemnity Insurance" to protect against negligence claims.
We will be able to assist Lessees by advising on RTM and exploring the advantages and disadvantages in relation thereto, forming the RTM Company and serving the various Notices on all of the Lessees and the Landlord. We can liaise with the Landlord on the handover of management and the transfer to the RTM Company of any funds held to the credit of the Service Charge Fund.
If you are unhappy with your present management, talk to us and we can discuss whether RTM is likely to be suitable for you.
When things go wrong with our services, for whatever reason, it is vital you tell us about it so we can put it right.
How to Complain
Stage 1. – In the first instance you should raise your complaint with your property manager. They should then endeavour to resolve the issue, or at least identify a solution, within 10 working days. When raising such a complaint it is useful if in any written communication or e-mail you use the word "complaint" in the subject area and when making the complaint by phone please identify that you are raising this matter as a "complaint" and that it should be logged as such.
Stage 2. – If for any reason your complaint is not satisfactorily dealt with by your property manager, or is about your property manager, please either write or telephone the Regional Manager at your local Remus office to discuss what has gone wrong. You should also feel free to make an appointment to come and meet with the Regional Manager if this is more convenient.
Stage 3. – In the unlikely event that Stage 1. & 2. Do not resolve your issue (or your complaint is about a Regional Manager) please write to the Directors (this can be done by e-mail ) explaining your complaint. It is very important that you mark the letter as a "Formal Complaint” so that it may be dealt with quickly and at the appropriate level. The Directors will ask the relevant Senior Manager to investigate your complaint and respond to you within 10 business days. The Directors will then follow up the satisfactory resolution of the complaint. All Formal Complaints are logged and monitored by the Directors and reviewed at Board Meetings.
Stage 4. – Remus are a member of the Ombudsman Services (for Property). If you are not satisfied with the outcome of our procedure, once you have followed it fully, you have the right to raise the issue with the Ombudsman Services (www.ombudsman-services.org) who will resolve the case.
We recognise that Freehold Landlords, who are frequently commercial investors, require the expertise of a professional managing agent who can relieve them of the burden of day-to-day management and can offer advice on up to date requirements of ever-increasing statutory legislation.
The lease of each block contains covenants for both the Leaseholder and the Freeholder (Landlord). We will ensure that the covenants are complied with, e.g. in respect of sub-letting, preparation and maintenance of service charge accounts, which are held in trust, disputes between leaseholders, the maintenance of the development etc.
We offer our clients freedom from these concerns, allowing them to concentrate on the main core of their businesses. We can provide a service tailored to your particular requirements, including:
We are retained by a number of Freeholder Landlords, who are constantly looking to increase their investment portfolios. Should you own the freehold of a block and be interested in selling, we will be happy to advise and to put you in touch with our clients.
This is a brief description of the service ...
Frequently the responsibility for the management and maintenance of an Estate may be with a Management Company, owned by individual Lessees. We recognise the difficulties, pitfalls and responsibilities facing such Tenant Management Companies, both in terms of ever-increasing statutory legislation, problems of cash collection and the regular issues that occur from day-to-day.
We offer our Clients freedom from such concerns, and especially from the worries that come with the responsibility of running a limited company and the duties in relation thereto.
We have the facility of negotiating lower rates for Buildings Insurance, enabling Management Companies to share the benefits of our buying power. We can also arrange for Directors and Officers Liability Insurance to protect the Directors of the Management Company against any claims for negligence. We will meet with the Directors of the Management Company on a regular basis to discuss management matters and advise on:
In addition we will (if required):
We are able to offer a specialised service for Developers of blocks of flats across the whole spectrum of development issues, covering new build to period conversions.
We can work with the Developer from the planning stage, to formulate leases and services including:
If it is Company policy to sell the freehold interest, we can:
As a member of the Association of Retirement Housing Managers we can advise on all aspects of the management of retirement accommodation including:
We recommend that we should be contacted at an early stage of the planning of the Development.