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"In regards to the switch to Level PM Ltd, the facts speak for themselves.'

Patrick Slattery

Landlord/ Voluntary Director of Roman Place owners association.

In 2006, my wife and I purchased two apartments at the newly-constructed Roman Place Estate, at Gas Street, Platt Bridge. At the ‘launch’ of the completed units, apartments sold for circa £100,000. However, more recent transactions confirmed a devastating drop in values to £33,000 (2012); £38,000 (2014). This is circa 70% less than some Owners paid for their apartments. Additionally, it came to pass that very few Owners at Gas Street could achieve even the Housing Benefit (LHA) rent rate. It is acknowledged that a global recession took place during the period since 2006. Conversely, it must also be acknowledged that the same period saw the lowest interest rates since the Bank of England was founded in 1694. In 2014, I surmised that if our investments at Roman Place were dangerously struggling when interest rates were at their lowest (most favourable) level for 300 years, a review of the business model was urgently required.

With other owners, a lengthy Transformation Process then commenced. As part of the process, Property Management Wigan Ltd. were requested to manage Roman Place. This switch took place on the 30th March 2015.

The Key Performance Indicators to monitor the performance of the investments confirm the switch which took place to Property Management Wigan Ltd. fifteen months ago, to have been a vital component of the transformation/ rescue process.

The achievements listed since the switch to Property Management Wigan Ltd. have taken place in the absence of any increase in Service Charges. Instead, Service Charge funds are now being expended optimally, with Value-for-Money being paramount. The practice in the past of a supplementary Service Charge bill at the end of the year has not taken place.

In regards to the switch to Property Management Wigan Ltd., the facts speak for themselves.

• Rental income to Landlords is increasing due both to higher rent levels and reduced voids.

• The fee charged by Property
Management Wigan Ltd. is circa £6,000 per annum less than the cumulative fees charged by the previous firm.

• Public disorder has been reduced significantly. No longer are tenants moving out due to trouble and harassment from groups loitering on the estate. Monthly (hour-long) meetings are held by Property Management Wigan Ltd. with the Police. All stakeholders are invited to attend these monthly Police Surgeries.

• Records indicate that the last apartment sale price in Roman Place to have been £58,000 (a 52% increase in sold prices).

• Reserves (ie. Sinking Fund) have increased from £3,809 to £26,707 (an increase of over 700%).

Taking the stress away from owners who self-manage, the full story:

THE DEVELOPMENT:

A high quality gated estate of apartments in the Standish area of Wigan, self-managed by the property owners. The apartments had been well looked after by three directors one of which lived in the apartments. The development benefited from a good set of contractors that kept the communal areas clean and tidy.

THE PROBLEM

Whilst having directors undertaking the roles of self-management was initially a satisfactory solution, it had become apparent that the demands on the onsite director had become an intrusion into their personal life. A decision was made to look at potential options for a managing agent and we were invited into preliminary meetings to assess and provide recommendations for future management. During these preliminary stages we identified a number of health and safety issues that had been overlooked and that they were finding it increasingly difficult to keep up to speed with the demands of changing legislation across a variety of areas.

THE SOLUTION

Following our assessment of their immediate needs we advised that they undertake necessary changes as swiftly as possible to ensure they became compliant and remained valid for insurance purposes. We also advised that they undertake a full fire risk assessment to identify any gaps within their current processes.

 

THE RESULT

The client undertook all necessary works and once completed we were invited into a meeting with all the property owners where we were appointed as the managing agents. We now work closely with the directors to ensure we not only ensure compliance but save time and money where possible. The transition has been smooth and the client is enjoying a more relaxing environment!

Implementation of a planned maintenance programme:

THE DEVELOPMENT:

The development on Wigan Road, Standish is widely regarded as one of the best and most prestige apartment blocks in Wigan. A nine year old gated estate of 21 apartments it takes pride of place on Wigan Road.

THE PROBLEM:

Many of the leaseholders at Wigan Road had unfortunately experienced poor or substandard solutions from previous managing agents. Two of the most common problems were very apparent, they had experienced not only a lack of transparency but also a lack of responsiveness in dealing with service issues at the property. Despite ongoing management, they had also found themselves in a position with no reserves and no planned maintenance program. Due to the lack of ongoing preventative maintenance many areas of the property were beginning to fall into disrepair. The roof had become a major issue with leaks penetrating the penthouse apartments and affecting residents over a number of years. Rather than a thorough appraisal of the roof minor repairs had been instructed by a previous managing agent at the cost of the owners. Not only was this inconvenient but it was a constant drain on funds and resources and was not rectifying the ongoing issues.

THE SOLUTION:

Level PM was appointed as managing agent after demonstrating our ability to make valuable savings and cut hassle during various meetings with leaseholders. Our first task was to undertake a comprehensive survey of the property and look at potentials for planned maintenance and rectify the issue of no reserves. The survey gave us the basis to set budgets for the coming years and see areas which could be improved. Our first major challenge was the roof issues. After consulting with the owners it became apparent the ongoing issues had not been reported to the NHBC despite being within the ten year guarantee. This was immediately reported to the NHBC and surveyed by our own team who established the wrong building materials had been used at the time of construction. Our findings were sent to the NHBC representative who was reluctant to accept our findings. We utilized the skills of our own surveyors to pin point the exact issues from the tile specification to the pitch of the roof. After many discussions between Level PM and NHBC they accepted our findings and a new roof was installed under the NHBC guarantee at a cost of £40,000. A cost that so easily could have fallen into the owners hands, but didn’t.

THE RESULT:

Due to our level of expertise we were able to ensure roof repairs worth £40,000 were undertaken and covered by the NHBC guarantee. We also implemented a planned maintenance program to set the annual service charge, saving the owners not only money but the headaches they had suffered.

We've changed the way so many people manage their properties, why not be next? You've nothing to lose!

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