10 Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter Ask the FPRA continued from page nine
to recover more than £100 per leaseholder in any accounting period towards the costs under the agreement. Examples of potentially qualifying long-term agreements include: • agreements affecting the building generally (e.g. lifts, entry-phone systems, waste management or maintenance contracts)
• cleaning and gardening • insurance • utilities and • management agency agreements.
Some of these services may only have one realistically possible supplier. Nonetheless, consultation must be carried out, unless dispensation from compliance has been granted by the Tribunal. Contracts that are not qualifying long-term agreements include: • contracts of employment • an agreement between a holding company and its subsidiary, or between subsidiaries of the same holding company (the definitions following those in the Companies Act 2006)
• an agreement for less than five years which was entered into at a point when there were no leaseholders or leaseholders at the property (for example on a new development)
• an agreement for more than 12 months which was entered into before 31 October 2003.
Issue No. 110 Autumn 2014
forthcoming. The managing agent is now demanding that we provide a list of the membership of the association and provide “proof” of their application to join us. Both those parties have been provided with a copy of our Constitution in which it is clearly stated that each member will have completed an application form and will have paid a membership fee. Are we obliged to provide the information demanded by the managing agent? Whether or not we are under any obligation, would the provision of such data raise any issue in connection with the Data Protection Act? Our Committee is opposed to providing the information to the managing agent, but we will value your guidance. FPRA Hon Consultant Yashmin Mistry replies: If the landlord asks to see documents such as the association’s constitution, membership list and minutes of meetings, be aware that these are private to your association and need not be copied to the landlord. From a practical point of view however, these things (save for the minutes of meetings) will of course need to be disclosed in the event a formal application is made for recognition and therefore it may well be worth disclosing to the landlord on request.
Making money I am the secretary and newly appointed treasurer of our residents’ association and would like to do something more productive with our reserves. We have a separate Barclays current account for receipt of leaseholders service charges and payment of monthly invoices such as garden contractor invoices. We also have a Barclays Business Saver account for our reserves which pays 0.05 per cent interest. I have read all the information I can find on your site and other sites that you recommend and apart from contacting all banks and building societies to ask what their best deal is, if indeed they have one for residents’ associations, is there anything that you are able to suggest that might point me in the right direction? We have approximately £5k to invest. FPRA Hon Consultant Colin Cohen replies: My answer would be that money held in reserve cannot strictly be invested, to obtain the best interest rates, as it is money held in trust and not to be speculated on with different banks rates. This could lead to disputes between leaseholders who could find better rates, hence my advice is to hold such amount in a basic deposit account that can be operation at any point when funds are needed. Interest rates in an event for such amounts are not large at present anyway.
Proof demanded We have formally notified the landlord/freeholder and his managing agent of the formation of our association, requesting the usual acknowledgment. This has not been
Trickle windows How desirable are trickle ventilators in replacement windows? We intend to replace our existing timber-framed windows with uPVC framed ones and, since we are in a conservation area, need planning consent. After initial objection by the conservation officer, we think we have identified a suitably similar profile and colour to match that existing – she seems content with it. However she is concerned that fitting trickle ventilators in all the windows will detract from the appearance of our prominent building (built 1982) and is asking us to justify their installation. I consider that their incorporation is desirable and this seems to be a common view but I lack authoritative backing for that view. Any available factual evidence would be helpful. This is more a property management query than a planning matter. I gather that building regs only require trickle ventilators in replacement windows if the existing windows have them – which the conservation officer is using as an argument to resist them. FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies:
My own view from experience of living in and managing a block where the flats are prone to condensation is that trickle vents are highly desirable for mitigating condensation and indeed my own local authority actually have ‘recommended’ them when environmental health officers have been called to investigate cases of damp and/or condensation. So my advice would be to contact the environmental health department of your local council for advice as to how best to ventilate the flats within your development. (Most authorities have this advice online and/or leaflets). Personally, I don’t think it is unreasonable for a planning application to be granted for these vents provided all the
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