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Do you follow any Government approved codes of practice?
We adhere closely to the codes of practice of these associations (RICS, ARMA, ARHM, IRPM) of which we are members and are bonded for client’s money.
Do you have a comprehensive panel of contractors and what selection criteria do you use for selecting them?
Our selection criteria includes adequate P.I. cover, public liability cover, references from other users, developers or management companies, membership of trade associations and continuing assessment of work assignments. Ultimately, the panel is selected by the quality of the work and response times. We are happy to work with existing contractors at a development and when recommended by residents. If contractors are undertaking work at height or where risks are heightened, we ask for training qualifications, method statements and use a Permit to Work system to ensure compliance with Health and Safety legislation.
Do you have out of office numbers for emergencies?
Yes. If there is an emergency within the communal areas of your development, outside of our normal office hours (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5.30pm) please call our out of hours team on 020 8090 1585.
If you have an emergency within your flat, you will need to appoint your own contractor. Tenants should always contact their landlord or letting agent if there is an issue inside the property.
Do you have the capacity to provide monthly variance reporting?
Via the property management software that we use, it is possible to enquire on the profit and loss of a particular service charge fund at any time.
Overall, Ian Gibbs Estate Management (IGEM) is most experienced in providing budgets for management companies and have a working knowledge of the likely sums that would be required to maintain the properties in satisfactory order. Information is drawn from previous year’s budgets and accounts to ascertain likely sums, take account of increasing prices (inflationary uplifts, further uplifts, for example, for utilities). Most importantly, we would recommend building up adequate reserve funds (sinking funds) to enable such items as cyclical maintenance – internal and external decoration, and capital sums for one off items (such as replacement parts of a building – roofs, rainwater goods, roadways, etc). IGEM regularly, and upon demand, goes to the market to obtain competing estimates for cyclical contracts in order to ensure best value for money for services such as cleaning or gardening.
Whatever the extent of the budget, IGEM understands that justification is always required to the Residents’ Committee/Landlord and the lessees. Budgets are always approved by the Landlord. Budgets are circulated to all lessees. Where heavy additional costs are anticipated, Directors are notified as far in advance as possible. IGEM is fully conversant with the S20 Consultation process for major works.
How can I pay my Service Charge?
You can pay your service charge by Bank to Bank Transfer, monthly Standing Order or Cheque. If you wish to discuss this further please contact this office directly via email@example.com.
We are legally bound to collect monies on behalf of the Management Company or Freeholder in accordance with the Terms of the Lease. The amount detailed on your service charge demand should be paid by return.
If you wish to pay by bank-to-bank transfer using your online banking application or at your branch please use the bank account details specified on your service charge demand and quote your Payment Reference with the payment. Please then e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm that you have made the payment or advise us of your monthly payment plan.
BY STANDING ORDER
Please note that we no longer provide standing order mandate forms by post for monthly payment. If you wish to pay by this method, please contact us at email@example.com as soon as possible so we can calculate a payment plan with you. You can then set up your new standing order directly with your bank online or at your bank branch, using the bank details provided on the demand.
Please remember that standing order must be changed and renewed at the commencement of your development’s financial year in order that the amount paid reflects the current budget and any other outstanding balance. Any previous standing order instruction should be cancelled. If you already have a standing order set up for the full financial year and you have received a half year service charge demand at the mid-point of this period, this demand is for your information only, we must still send in accordance with the terms of your lease.
Please make a cheque payable to your Management Company – the name of this organisation is specified on the Service Charge Demand. Please write your name and address of the property and your Payment Reference on the back of the cheque and send to our office at:
Ian Gibbs Estate Management , 49-51 Windmill Hill, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 7AE.
How do I get a replacement communal key, entry fob, vehicle gate remote or parking permit?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will advise you further. Please note, there is a charge for replacement items.
How do I know how much I owe?
Your service charge is demanded in accordance with your lease. Usually, this will be demanded annually, six monthly or quarterly. If you are unsure of what you owe and would like a statement of your account please email email@example.com.
How do I report a problem relating to my communal areas?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to report any maintenance issues.
How do you deal with complaints?
A copy of our complaints procedure which is compliant with the RICS handling procedure is available upon request. All lessees have legal rights with regard to service charges, consultation and provision of information. Ian Gibbs Estate Management (IGEM) is always happy to provide relevant information where available and aims to work positively with all Resident’s Committees/Landlord/Lessees. IGEM is a member of a number of professional bodies and adheres closely to their codes of practice. If agreement cannot be reached on how to resolve the complaint then lessees will have the opportunity to take their complaint to the final stage of our complaints handling procedure, which is The Property Ombudsman (TPO).
How do you deal with lessees in breach of their lease?
The management of residential blocks of flats is becoming an increasingly complex activity. It requires specialist skills and an in-depth knowledge of relevant legislation. In this way, how we deal with a breach of a lease depends on the nature of the breach and the development concerned. For example, neighbour disputes would be dealt with differently to enforcement of repair covenants or debt recovery. An on-going dispute with recorded evidence (i.e. unauthorised alternations) would be dealt with differently to a new tenant complaint for noise disturbance. Overall, it is worth mentioning that issues and disputes are dealt with impartially and with anonymity as required so as to limit the animosity and division, which could arise, where personal issues become the business of neighbours and colleagues. In addition, we will always call upon professionals (i.e. solicitors, surveyors, the local council) to adjudicate in a matter when required. We have developed a close working relationship with Brethertons LLP (www.brethertons.co.uk) when dealing with more complex matters. Ian Gibbs Estate Management (IGEM) reserves the right to apply administration charges to the service charge account of a particular lessee within the context of the breach and the lease of the development, the work undertaken by this office and how and when they might be recovered.
How do you deal with unpaid service charges?
Ian Gibbs Estate Management (IGEM) undertakes a structured process of arrears collection including the addition of arrears fees (payable by the lessee and not the client/Company). A healthy balance sheet is a primary objective in order to fulfil the obligations of Company or Association. Our arrears process is designed to facilitate prompt payment of service charge demands and keep lessees as debtors off the balance sheet. Our aim is to send demands one week prior to them being due. A gentle reminder letter is sent 28 days after the due date. If no payment has been received within 14 days of the gentle reminder, IGEM will send a second reminder letter. If no payment has been received 7 days after this second reminder, a third reminder letter will be sent and finally, the details of the account of the lessee will be sent to debt collection solicitors and all further correspondence will be handled by these solicitors. In accordance with current legislation, details of the rights and obligations of the lessee as regards service charges and administration charges will accompany any demand that includes such a charge.
How long is my lease?
The length of a lease can vary for each property, and unfortunately we do not hold copies of each individual lease. You should have been given a copy of your lease when you purchased your property, therefore we would suggest you liaise with your conveyance solicitor in the first instance. Alternatively you may be able to download a copy from the Land Registry via this link: http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/ for a small charge.
We are sometimes asked about the cost of extending leases. Leaseholders should be advised to contact the Freeholder and seek independent advice. There are a number of online tools to help Leaseholders calculate the cost of extending their lease.
How many properties do you manage and what is the average size/range of sizes?
Within our estate management department, we now manage approximately 90 blocks that comprise approximately 6500 units. We also manage a further 3000 grounds rents, 275 assured short hold tenancies, and 50 commercial rents. Further expansion is only anticipated by the careful selection of management companies in order to ensure that the standard of service delivered remains as desired. These blocks range from 9 units to 560 units and average 85 units in size.
How many years have you been in the property management business?
The estate/property management office of Ian Gibbs has been operating for over 30 years and opened in 1985. However, the practice of Ian Gibbs Chartered Surveyors opened its office on Windmill Hill in Enfield in 1968.
How often do you conduct site checks and how do you monitor the quality of work done by contractors?
Our contract states that full site inspections are undertaken on a monthly basis. In reality, site attendance is more frequent and dependent upon works being undertaken and/or issues that are raised by residents. The quality of work undertaken by contractors is monitored by your property manager. If works are more complex, we have in-house surveyors with relevant expertise.
Please supply an example of the format of the financial information you will use.
This information can be supplied upon request. Please contact us directly at email@example.com or on 020 8370 4810 and we will be happy to assist.
Please supply three references from Directors of other properties, ideally properties of comparable size?
Relevant references are available on request. Due to data protection we do not list contact details of our referees on our website. Please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 8370 4810 and we will be happy to assist you.
What are my rights and obligations?
What Insurance is included in my Service Charge?
For a block of flats building insurance is usually included within your service charge. Generally speaking, buildings insurance covers the structural parts of your block which are not easily removed such as walls, roof, floors and ceilings. Should you need to make a claim please contact Ian Gibbs Estate Management Ltd in the first instance. Please be aware that if your property is vacant for a period greater than 30 days, any claim you wish to make on the building insurance may not be valid. If you wish to clarify the exact terms of your building insurance cover please contact Ian Gibbs Estate Management or your insurance provider.
Contents Insurance is not covered by your service charge and we would strongly recommend that you take out cover for your personal belongings (including carpets) as soon as possible.
What is a Leasehold Property?
A leasehold property means that you have a lease from the freeholder (sometimes called the landlord) to use your home for a number of years. Typically leasehold properties are flats, but it can apply to houses as well. The leases are usually long term, often 99 years or 125 years and as high as 999 years, but can be short, such as 40 years. Within your lease you will find various regulations that must be adhered to by all parties.
This type of long leasehold property is not to be confused with a Assured Shorthold Tenancy, where a lease is granted to a Tenant from a Landlord for typically 6-12 months. In this scenario, the Landlord may also be a leaseholder.
What is your fee structure?
We apply a flat fee structure. We do not generally differentiate our service proposition (i.e. gold, silver, bronze service) and price according to service offering. Our philosophy is to offer an excellent standard of service for a set price on all our properties. However, we would work with the Directors of the Management Company or Landlord to formulate a fee structure in accordance with the lease, your detailed budget requirements and the type of property (i.e. flat, house or maisonette). We are most experienced in taking over management functions from incumbent agents and in certain instances have had success in gaining the relevant information required from uncooperative sources.
What IT facilities do you have and what information do you record and keep updated?
Ian Gibbs Estate Management (IGEM) has invested in a bespoke property management system provided by Qube Global Software. We also operate standard networked office systems from Microsoft including their Small Business Server suite and MS Office applications.
We update tenant information, income and expenditure heads for each individual service charge account on a daily basis. Qube provides a flexible database facility for all information that is backed up daily with database copies also held off-site.
We operate Barclays Secure Business Internet Banking across all our service charge accounts. We have automated payments to contractors by BACS. We are registered under the Data Protection Act.
What types and levels of insurance do you carry?
We have full and clean PI cover. Via our membership of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, you are protected and can claim against their Clients’ Money Protection Scheme. As a member of RICS, our service charge accounts can be spot audited by RICS at short notice. Our office was last audited by RICS accountants in August 2018 and our processes and procedures were analysed and passed. We are also ARMA-Q accredited.
Which associations are you part of?
We are members for the following associations:
- Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – 1968;
- Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) – 1996;
- Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM) – 2000;
- Member of Institute of Residential Property Managers (MIRPM) – since its formation.
As such we adhere closely to the codes of practice of these associations and are bonded for client’s money.
The Ian Gibbs group of companies is also a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA Property Mark), The Property Ombudsman (TPO), the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
Service charge monies are held in individual Client Accounts dedicated to the various developments that we manage. All interest related to monies earned accrues to the management companies concerned. There is no crossover of funds between companies. Client funds are covered by the RICS Compensation Scheme as well as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Who are your auditors/accountants?
FAO: Graham Jacob, Brindley Millen, 167 Turners Hill, Cheshunt, Herts EN8 9BH.
Why do I pay a service charge, and what does it include?
Ian Gibbs Estate Management Ltd has been appointed to maintain the common parts of the development in which the property is situated. Your obligation to contribute towards your service charge will be detailed in your lease.
The service charge covers the maintenance of any communal internal and external areas. Usually, you can expect your service charge to pay for the following items:
- The cleaning and maintenance of communal areas
- The maintenance of any communal gardens
- The regular servicing of any lifts, plant equipment and electric gates at the development
- The upkeep of any communal heating systems, if applicable
- Carrying out repairs in communal areas.
As managing agents, we are usually responsible for the following tasks:
- Collecting service charges
- Arranging for the recovery of unpaid charges
- Preparing, submitting and circulating service charge statements to owners
- Ensuring that funds are used correctly
- Engaging and supervising maintenance staff
- Arranging and managing annual safety or service checks
- Ensuring the building complies with all relevant fire safety and health & safety legislation
- Making sure that all insurance on the building is up to date
- Communicating with tenants in the building
- Responding to any leaseholders enquiries.
Why do service charge costs change every year?
At the beginning of the financial year a Service Charge Budget is prepared by Ian Gibbs Estate Management Ltd. This sets out the estimated outgoings anticipated for the year, together with the apportionment of the total cost for which you as the Leaseholder will be responsible.