Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
We discussed the practical implications of the new Fire Safety Act for managing agents and leaseholders in our blog post. Today, we are examining service charges, which are yet another crucial component of the law.
The recently enacted legislation represents a significant overhaul of the fire safety regulations for apartment buildings; it is a retroactive lease revision. Managing agents who have spent years trying to persuade tenants to participate in voluntary fire door replacement and upgrade programs will find it to be a blessing. Now that these programs are set up, block managers may collaborate with freeholders and RMC clients to make them valid service fee expenses, improving everyone's safety. Previously, the Housing Act of 2004 gave the Local Council the exclusive authority to compel such an issue through the issuance of an Improvement Order.
Ringley has been distributing factsheets in support of Fire Door Action Week and has long sought opt-in fire door improvement programs. However, the service charge did not allow for the collection of money. Councils were too busy to take action, and there was no opt-in reaction. Uniformity was lost and the building's value decreased if one or two owners upgraded or altered their doors. The new Act takes care of all those problems and makes sure that flat front doors are improved to the necessary quality.
The drawback for residents, however, is that service fee prices will increase due to fire door improvements and routine fire door inspections (of owners' front doors and common fire doors), and it will be difficult to enforce the new regulations. The difficulties managing agents will now encounter in scheduling a contractor to inspect every fire door in a building on a specific date are unimaginable. A significant failure rate will inevitably arise from owners refusing to allow access to their apartments, failing to communicate with their tenants or both. These problems will all result in more expense increases.
What then is the response? If people do not take part in this new regulation, it will not work and flat owners will incur the consequences. We would want to see a government push to educate and assist people to realise this. Are the new regulations going to cause people additional trouble? Most likely, yes. Will it, however, make their houses safer? It is our sincere hope that the new inspection regime will be met with cooperation from the people.
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.