1. Do we require a management company?
When you purchase an apartment you normally share a number of responsibilities with your neighbours such as maintenance of the common areas, cleaning, insuring the common areas and the building, providing public lighting and generally keeping the complex to a high standard to ensure that the value of the properties in that complex retain and indeed increase in value. Therefore, to ensure that these items are looked after, a management company or agent is required to ensure the responsibilities are carried out in a fair and professional manner.
Insurance is obligatory to cover all the buildings and the common areas as well as engineering insurance for the lifts and any other plant that may be in the complex as well as directors and officers’ liability insurance to protect the Directors of the Owners Management Company (OMC).
The Directors have the responsibility to arrange and carry out these management functions and they in turn appoint a management agent such as Absolute Property Management Ltd. The management agent is directed by and takes their instructions from the Directors appointed by the owners. These are known as an Owner Management Company (OMC).
2. Who decides the management charges?
The management charges are decided at the beginning of each year based on previous years’ expenditure experience and the budget for the following year. This function is carried out by Absolute Property Management who prepare the estimates in accordance with the lease and in agreement with the Directors. The lease which you signed at the purchase of your property will clearly set out what you must do and what your responsibilities are in relation to owning a property in the complex. At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the complex, the audited accounts and the budget for the year are presented and each owner can at that stage have input into costs and control of costs. These estimates will previously have been approved by the Directors. The amount of money that owners are asked to pay is based on the estimates for the year divided among each owner in accordance with the terms of the lease.
3. Are all service charges the same?
Costs of running each complex differ depending on the nature and size of each complex and whether it has lifts and the amount that is allocated to the sinking fund.
4. Why am I asked to pay service charges in advance?
Absolute Property Management set up a dedicated bank account for income and expenditure for each complex and all costs for providing services are met from this account. The account cannot go into an overdrawn position and, therefore, items like insurance, electricity and other necessary works cannot be undertaken unless there are sufficient funds in the account to meet the cost of the works. It is, therefore, imperative that each owner pays their service charges promptly as not to do will result in insufficient money to provide the services to the complex and may result in services being withdrawn.
5. How can I pay service charges?
Absolute Property Management accepts payment of service charges by way of credit transfer, Standing Order, cash or by cheque. Credit card payments are not possible at this time.
6. What happens if I don’t pay my service charge?
Failure to pay your service charge is unfair to other owners and you have a legal obligation to pay these charges in a timely fashion; failure to do so will result in the debt being handed to a debt collection agency or to a solicitor for legal action. Absolute Property Management, as the appointed agent, has a responsibility and a legal obligation to ensure that we carry out our functions as management agents in accordance with the Directors’ instructions and that we have the funds necessary to run the complex.
7. What happens if I have difficulty paying my service charge? What can I do?
To avoid the accumulation of arrears and the debt being handed to a debt collection agency or to a solicitor, it is important that you contact us as soon as you are aware that a problem has occurred or is about to occur. We can help by working out a payment plan with you and thereby avoid incurring legal or administration charges.
8. What is the management company responsible for?
Please refer to your lease which should set out what you are responsible for. However, the management company through their agent, Absolute Property Management, is responsible for the buildings, all the common areas and all the services to the common areas but it is important to note that the management company or its agent, Absolute Property Management, do not have a responsibility for individual units or the contents of individual units and this is solely the responsibility of the owner. In some complexes, Absolute Property Management manage units for owners. In these cases, please contact our office. We have a 24 / 7 answering service.
9. What am I responsible for?
As an owner, you are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of your unit and your financial contribution to the upkeep and maintenance of the common areas.
10. Can I have a say in the management of the complex?
Yes and this can be done in a number of ways. The most appropriate way would be to become a Director of the Owner Management Company and this is done by putting your name forward at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). This is done through Absolute Property Management as it is necessary to put your name forward in a timely fashion, normally 21 days prior to the AGM. Another way is to be co-opted as a Director and this can be done by the existing Directors, co-opting you at any time and this is then ratified at the next AGM. Ultimately, the decision as to whether you can become a Director lies with the members and the current Directors who decide whether you can become a Director. In reality, it is never an issue and normally anyone who puts their name forward wishing to become a Director is more than welcome. Your responsibilities as a Director are to work for the common good of the complex and to liaise with Absolute Property Management on policy decisions and the day to day management of the complex. If your complex or development doesn’t have a management company it is still possible for you to become involved by organising a residents association and Absolute Property Management can advise on how management associations can be set up and properly constituted. They do differ slightly from your responsibilities as a Director in that directorships carry with them the responsibility of statutory duties in the same way as any other company Director. The responsibilities of a Director should be taken seriously and a Director should be in a position to work with Absolute Property Management through regular contact with your appointed coordinator so that you can review progress and monitor quotations and invoicing and attend meetings. Absolute Property Management insists on a minimum of 4 meetings per annum.
11. What happens if I want to sell my property? Do I still pay management charges?
Yes. You, as owner of the property, are responsible for the charges up to the time that the property is legally transferred to the new owner. Absolute Property Management issue a receipt which you give to your Solicitor at the time of the sale and your Solicitor will apportion the costs and recoup the balance from the purchaser. At the time of the sale all outstanding management charges will have to be paid to date and the sale cannot be completed until the outstanding management charges are paid.
12. Who pays for insurance?
The insurance for the common areas is organised by APM who on an annual basis bid out the insurance for quotation and together with the Directors decide to whom the insurance will be placed with. The payment of the insurance is included in your management fee. Insurance cover will always an excess and this varies from complex to complex. The insurance for the contents of individual units, including personal belongings, and accidental damage is the responsibility of each owner and we strongly advise that owners and residents put this cover in place.
13. What about maintenance and repair?
All maintenance and repair issues should be reported to Absolute Property Management by telephone or email. Absolute Property Management provide a 24/7 service for emergency maintenance and repair and we only provide maintenance and repair by approved and qualified service personnel who are properly insured and compliant and with whom we have negotiated preferred rates of engagement. The response time depends on the nature and type of the reported repair but any items that are considered to be health and safety items are dealt with immediately. Absolute Property Management acting on the instructions of an owner where the callout turns out to be non-emergency and non-essential will carry the normal charges.
14. Are management fees tax-deductible?
Landlords can claim management fees as a tax deductible expense in their annual tax returns.
15. When I contact Absolute Property Management, to whom should I speak?
We have nominated a property coordinator for your development whose name and contact details you will be given and this person deals exclusively with your complex. However, in the event of that person not being available any other member of our team will be delighted to speak to you and deal with your issues.
16. How do I log in? I am a property owner.
Login details are sent by post to owners with notification of the AGM. If you have lost or forgotten your login details, please contact us and we will assist you with the provision of this information.
What information can I access once I login?
Annual accounts, newsletter, notices. We encourage owners to log in occasionally during the year for updates relevant to the property.