Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
New guidance is being issued daily to help keep the public safe
This week, both ARMA and the Government have issued formal coronavirus guidance. Ringley will be circulating this information to our clients and to directors of management companies. Below is a summary of the most important points.
Payment of service charges and ground rent
While private and social renters will be protected from eviction for three months under upcoming legislation, and homeowners have the offer of mortgage repayment holidays, we are already being faced with leaseholders unwilling to consider service charges an essential payment. Ringley cannot agree to service charge payment holidays. This is because to keep your building running, we would need client or directors loans to cover shortfalls.
However, we want to share with you that ARMA is in discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) about any current or future plans to introduce support for leaseholders so that service charges can still be paid to keep essential services going. Credit control and management of cash flow are vital in these challenging times. It is just possible that the suspension of all forfeiture cases could mean that lenders become more reluctant to pay arrears and protect their security, as it?s not at risk for three months, so this could have an impact on your accounts and cash flow.
Major works, maintenance, and inspections
Essential works, for example, repairs to leaking roofs, will continue for the time being.
Plant Inspections - most suppliers are continuing plant inspection, testing and maintenance. We are monitoring this.
Statutory fire testing - is still permitted and is arguably even more important when most people are at home.
Lifts - The government and HSE have both taken a more hard-line standpoint on the requirement for LOLER inspections, as a number of insurance companies have already stated that they will NOT be carrying out inspections (at least until lift engineers are designated as key workers). Unfortunately, the Government's latest guidance is that if we are unable to get an inspection, the lift should be isolated from further use. Our Support Teams are now analysing this and will report any problems.
Supply chain issues
We are beginning to have some trouble in sourcing parts for repairs on-site as, for example, Jewsons and Travis Perkins have taken the view that Government advice requires them to close their outlets. Again Government is being approached for clarification on this.
EWS1 forms, building safety and remediation works
As we reported in this blog yesterday, making buildings safe, including progressing the remediation of high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding - and particularly those with unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding - remains a priority for the Government. The view is that this work is critical to public safety. Additional project management support has been put in place together with construction expertise to help oversee remediation. Read more here.
Key workers and essential services
The full list of key workers can be found on the Government? is website here and continues to evolve. ARMA/BPF/IRPM/UKAA are working with the BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to update the list of key personnel to take account of roles needed in high density residential dwellings. James Brokenshire, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office, has extended key worker status to all security and fire safety personnel who are actively working to improve public safety.
Waking watches must be maintained as usual, but Competent Persons and Fire Safety Officers must observe social distancing guidance. Should we be notified of sickness or people isolating in any of our buildings that affects a waking watch we will liaise with the local Fire & Rescue Service accordingly.
ARMA are awaiting an answer to their question regarding Key Workers for the Block Management industry. This was raised with the Secretary of State and Housing minister on 26 March.
Common areas and onsite facilities
Given the Government? is enforcement that we practice social distancing, ordering the closure of cafes, restaurants, clubs, bars, pubs, health clubs, and gyms, and other social venues to try and slow down the spread of COVID-19, we have had to severely restrict or close all your communal facilities and amenities with immediate effect. This includes gyms, residents lounges, etc.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in your building
Please do report to us if you are aware of a positively confirmed case of COVID-19 on your block. If a case is reported, we will be following the guidance from Public Health England on the cleaning required, the appropriate disposal of waste and cleaning materials, the disinfection of equipment and hard surfaces, and the personal protective equipment (PPE) that should be worn. You can read this here.
Please note that a deep clean of the communal areas may be required in accordance with guidance from PHE. This may result in an unbudgeted expenditure item to achieve this - but is not a choice - please consider it a requirement.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
Runs HQ & site lease-up teams. Drives rent pricing, mobilisation, marketing, happy residents!
Jon Curtis MRICS Head of Building Engineering
Chartered Building Surveyor. Lectures on EWS1 & building safety. Runs CapEx programmes.
Kate Robinson MIRPM MD Blocks/FM Management (London Region)
Master plan setup, ops and staffing and resident engagement. ISO45001 champion.
Lee Harle Partner Ringley Law
Plot conveyancing. Debt litigation. Group Company Secretary.
Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
Stakeholder engagement. Mixed tenure specialist. Budget management. Plant audit, PPM compliance.
Chris Georgalis MRICS Head of Commercial Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental valuations: retail, leisure. IRR modelling and valuations for secured lending. Compulsory purchase & rent reviews
Nichola Pughe MRICS Head of Residential Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental development & mixed use valuations, IRR modelling. Leasehold enfranchisement specialist
Libby Chen MSc Compliance Manager
Operational Plant & Equipment strategy PPM Compliance lead, Asset tagging Client major projects
Dipesh Parekh Director PlanetRent
Customer centric, vertically integrated PropTech/fin-tech solutions.
Leana Aristodemou MIRPM MARLA AssocRICS Strategic lead: ESG & Asset Business Plan delivery
Financial modelling, valuation analyst to support underwriting & fund reporting.
Natalie Birmingham Helpdesk Support Manager
Trainer & Helpdesk Manager: people, systems,contractors. ISO45001 supply chain accreditation.
Steve Norman Planning Director
Land due diligence (opportunities & constraints) Has contributed to a number of award winning schemes.