This Newsletter Contains Updates On
As we approach the end of our first year managing the company on behalf of all apartment owners, it is an appropriate time to bring you up to date on our activity this year, progress financially and on site, issues still requiring resolution and some of our plans for next year.
This newsletter contains updates on:
Performance against budget - 2007
Budget and Service Charge levels - 2008
Progress with Miller Homes and the Landlord
Building repairs and maintenance
Site issues and improvements
Contact details for the team.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns you wish to raiseplease contact one of the Clarence Mill team - an updated contact list can be found on the last page of this newsletter.
Director and Company Secretary
CMRA Bollington RTM Co Ltd
- Performance against budget - 2007
Now, over three quarters of the way through our first year of self management, we are pleased to report that we have already made significant savings against our budgeted figures. These savings have largely been achieved by reviewing, and changing where necessary, the contracts in place with suppliers. Considerable savings have been made with insurance and electricity supplies.
We currently hold over £30,000 on deposit, and anticipate being able at the year end, for the very first time, to establish a Reserve fund which gives us protection against unexpected contingencies.
We have taken a tight grip on service charge payments, and make it our priority to chase late payers so the rest of us, who pay up on time, do not suffer. Legal action has already been taken against several owners, and warning of impending action given to others. Interest is now levied on all overdue service charges. One owner went into bankruptcy earlier in the year, but we expect to recover all service charges due from his estate. We have also recovered some unpaid service charges in respect of previous years.
- Budget and Service Charge levels for 2008
Service Charge letters for 2008 will be published to all owners by the 25th November 2007, detailing the level of charges due for 2008. Planned budget expenditure for next year will be enclosed with your letter, detailing exactly what your service charge pays for and how funds are allocated across building maintenance, services, insurance and the reserve fund.
Payment of the first half of your charge is due by 25th December 2007.
- Progress with Miller Homes and our Landlord
Apartments - outstanding snagging
Miller Homes have recently repeated their commitment to resolve all the snagging issues on the various apartments we have reported to them. These will be progressively dealt with and over the next few weeks those of you concerned will be contacted directly by Millers’ After Sales Service personnel to arrange appointments with you for the repairs to be carried out. We will continue to monitor progress in this direction.
As you will have been aware from the roof scaffolding in place recently, Millers have now completed some major repairs to a large section of the main roof which were necessary to resolve some water ingress on a number of apartments. The cost of this, borne by Miller Homes, was extensive and has saved us all substantial funding for repairs which would otherwise have had to be met from the service charge income.
We are currently having some minor water leaks attended to on the atrium roof but this section was repaired during the Mill conversion work and if any major defects are found, we have recourse to the sub contractor under a long term warranty.
We have re-invoiced to the landlords some of the charges recently paid to Sky TV engineers for installation defects in parts of the original Sky TV wiring to apartments. At the time of publication these costs, which are significant but not substantial, have not yet been recovered and we are currently following up the matter directly with the landlords.
The main car park defects, in particular the ‘ponding’ of water on the upper levels is now being taken up with the developers and original contractors, Nuttalls. Unfortunately the construction of this was not part of the works carried out by our landlords/Miller Homes and remains the responsibility of the mill owners. Whilst we share parking rights we therefore have no direct legal recourse for defects in the construction. The planning issues are still expected to be resolved between Macclesfield Borough Council and the developers and we continue to try to progress action in that direction.
A number of owners have contacted us recently regarding their liabilities for the payments of ground rent. This annual charge is levied each December by your Landlords and according to your type of apartment is charged at either £150 or £200 per annum - see the front page of your Lease for confirmation. Ground rent is a legal liability on all owners and is a source of ongoing income to the landlords which, unless we are able to buy out our freehold interests (see below) must be paid annually for the 999 year duration of your Lease.
Acquisition of Freehold
As referred to above, our apartments - being held on a long leasehold basis, are each subject to ‘ground’ rent but, due to recent legal changes, in certain circumstances long leasehold tenants can now purchase their freehold interest which would eliminate the ground rents currently payable. However, this is a complicated matter which may be difficult to achieve in our situation, due to the high value of commercial income derived from the Mill. However, we are currently investigating the situation and will submit a report to you on this subject at the AGM to be held next Spring if we then think it is a viable option we can recommend to you.
- Building repairs and maintenance
External window frames; 5 year maintenance programme
The external repainting of all apartment window frames every five years is a requirement under your Leases which we are responsible to see is effected by all owners. We are currently reviewing the matter given that the five year period since the Mill conversion commenced has now elapsed. However, we must stress, that due to the variation of window sizes in the different apartments and substantial expense of meeting this liability, we do not believe these costs can be brought into the service charge budget.
We recently appointed a building surveyor/structural engineer to investigate the standard and quality of the window frames and how the external painting can best be carried out. A full report is currently being prepared and further details will be issued when we have compiled proposals to make to all owners for the repainting - which is of course weather critical and will be scheduled for first half 2008, subject to agreement on costs and funding.
- Site issues and improvements
We are pleased to report that as a result of our investment this year in an on-going upgrade of parts, along with additional remedial work on the two lifts in themain entrance, we are now starting to see some stability with lift performance. Two recent breakdowns have been addressed promptly by Academy Lifts, and the most recent will not be charged for by the maintenance company as it occurred soon after their routine service visit.
Money has been allocated in our budget to install a comprehensive CCTV system, in key positions inside and out of the building, with a control point set up for the Concierge. Three companies have been asked to tender for the work, which will include the replacement of keys to the main doors by electronic swipe cards. The move to this technology will enable cards belonging to tenants/owners who leave the Mill to be invalidated, and provides a higher level of security and peace of mind to remaining residents.
As funds are available this year, and depending on how quickly estimates can be provided by the suppliers, work could start during Q4 2007. Appropriate notice will be given to all residents at that point.
The main front door and header board were repainted in September, in preparation for new signage above the door directing visitors to “Clarence Mill Residents’ Apartments”. Anne Cain of the sub-committee team has arranged for a sign-writer to produce the artwork and paint the sign which will be in place during November. A friend of Anne’s, this gentleman is undertaking this work at no cost to the residents except for materials and mileage.
Plaques have also been placed in the two main entrance lifts detailing location of apartment numbers and respective floors.
Allen Ford has been asked to obtain an estimate from the painter who made good the front door, to repaint the walls, doors and woodwork in the main entrance. This work should be carried out before year end.
A programme of redecoration throughout the building is planned to begin in 2008. Walls and woodwork will be repainted in stages, ahead of the carpet replacement programme detailed below.
The sub-committee’s key task this year has been to research cost and quality of new carpet (or carpet tiles) for the upper level in the atrium. A number of companies have provided tenders for the work with a range of options for us to consider. The sub-committee team are in the process of producing a report highlighting their top three favoured options, along with a break down of costs, for the management team to review and decide upon the best approach.
Replacement of the carpet on the upper atrium floor will be scheduled for Spring 2008. The replacement programme will continue throughout the building subject to deterioration and as funds become available.
Extreme weather during 2007 has resulted in considerable ivy growth on some sections of the Mill walls. Quotes are being obtained from three contractors to cut back the ivy to a manageable level around the residential windows, and put in place a bi-annual maintenance programme as required. This work should be carried out within the next 4 weeks.
The service provided by our current supplier has not always been satisfactory or consistent, and we have been talking to new companies with a view to obtaining estimates for taking over our cleaning contract from Q1 2008. We shall update you as and when a change is made, and provide details of the new cleaning schedule for the new year.
Progress in 2007
The team was formed in the first half of this year to support the management team with on-site tasks and progress ideas and improvements as raised by the residents. Progress by the sub-committee to date includes:
- Grounds maintenance (lawn mowing, litter picking etc.)
- Removal of graffiti on car park walls
- Steam cleaning the stone stairways
- New signage for front door and lifts
- Carpet tenders and selection
- Repairs to the emergency lighting system.
Election process in 2008
The sub-committee meet formerly with the management team and Allen Ford, Concierge, once a quarter, and is currently comprised of seven members. An opportunity for new members to nominate themselves or, for existing members to stand down, will be provided at our Annual General Meeting in Q1 next year, when a formal election process (as with the directors) will be put in place for the sub-committee.
We would like to thank Anna, Anne, Matt, Sergey, Steve, Phil and Gillian for their contributions so far this year. Their work is voluntary and makes a significant difference to the Mill environment.
The first Annual General Meeting of our limited company is planned to take place during March 2008.
This meeting provides an opportunity for members to receive reports from the directors on the company’s financial performance, property developments and issues, to elect their management and sub-committee teams and discuss ideas and projects for 2008.
All residents will be given written notice of when and where we intend to hold the AGM. This will beissued approximately 4 weeks ahead of the meeting, and details will also be posted on the notice boards in both entrance halls, along with nomination forms for the directors’ and sub-committee positions.
Please try and attend if you are available on the evening. Your input and votes are important.
The Clarence Mill Team - Contact Points
To progress any existing or future Mill matters please note the team’s details below:
- General site issues (lifts, lighting, refuse, cleaning, security etc.)
-Allen Ford - Concierge (in Allen’s absence, John Wood - Chairman)
- Legal and property matters (Landlords, Insurance, Lease queries, development issues, apartment defects etc.)
-Roger Fowler - Legal and Property Director
- Financial matters (service charge queries, payment methods etc.)
-Joanne Scattergood, Booth Ainsworth (in Joanne’s absence, Bill Attwell - Financial Director)
- Other matters not covered above (EGMs, site improvements, tenant issues etc.)
-John Wood - Chairman (in John’s absence, Jo Stoneman - Vice Chairman).
Email is the preferred method for contacting the team, but feel free to telephone if the matter is urgent.
Allen Ford07912 848603
Allen’s general hours are between 9 am and 1 pm, Monday to Friday, but he remains on call for fire alarms and other emergencies.
John Wood07753 870988
Booth Ainsworth, Accountants
Joanne Scattergood0161 475
Anna BowdenApartment 41
Anne CainApartment 38
Gillian GarnerApartment 64
Matt WalkerApartment 3
Phil FletcherApartment 24
Sergey NaumkinApartment 31
Steve DeanApartment 78
If you have an idea or concern you would like to raise via the team, please drop a note in the appropriate post box.