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6 Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter ASK THE FPRA Q A


No company secretary We need to appoint our first Company Secretary to the management committee (a small block of nine flats) and would value your suggestions as to the key qualities and qualifications we should be looking for – both legal and financial. Are there any obvious pitfalls we should avoid? FPRA Hon Consultant Shula Rich replies: As the Chair of a Freehold Company managing a block of flats since 1996, as well as a lecturer on Block Management, I do hope you won’t be at all offended if I reply that the biggest mistake is appointing a Company Secretary at all. After the 2006 Act there was no need for a Company Secretary any more.


Now if your Memoranda and Articles of Association mention a Company Secretary then you will need to amend the articles and send the new articles to Companies House. Instructions are on the Companies House website or come back to us. If no secretary is mentioned then suggest you do not appoint one. As you rightly suggest it’s a big responsibility and needs special qualities and knowledge, but for small RMCs your returns can be dormant and filed by an accountant or yourselves. Your bank account should be with an agent or in a separate trust fund. So in this type of company we don’t need a secretary to file accounts. Also a lessee secretary may sell their flat, or worse forget to file the accounts – the worst thing that can happen.


Q A


Q A


How much can I charge? As the secretary of our residents’ association, I am required to fill in a Leasehold Property Enquiries Questionnaire issued by the sellers’ solicitors when a flat comes up for sale. What is a reasonable fee for filling in this form? I have been charging £125.00 plus £40 for the notice of assignment charge. Am I right to charge this fee? The form does not ask a figure for filling in, only a box provided for the notice of assignment fee. I hope you can put me right on this, I do not want to be breaking any law. FPRA replies: The normal charge from a solicitors/managing agents can be up to £450 for this type of completion certificate, I would recommend therefore that the fee indication of £165 should be increased to no than £250.


Barbecue summer In our block of eight flats, we have a proposal to obtain a gas barbecue. Can you advise on the regulations we have to abide by on this, or indicate the appropriate legislation? FPRA replies: These matters usually fall to the estate regulations – a typical version of estate regulations are attached. Essentially the usual approach is:


Q


Issue No. 110 Autumn 2014


Members of the committee and honorary consultants respond to problems and queries sent in by members


1) Only permit organised parties, organised by the Freeholder or Residents’ Management Company


2) If a private party is to be agreed to, then require a deposit for damage or burn marks to the grass etc 3) Gas should not be kept near a building in any quantity, so storing this well away from the property at the end of the garden may be a condition 4) Who will clean it? – is the likely problem – if nobody, then it will soon become a rusting eyesore.


Gas canisters are a hazard, but a normal hazard that millions of households would consider a fair and normal risk (one canister for one BBQ).


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Recycling or rubbish Our local council are encouraging recycling and we wonder if there are rules for blocks of flats which currently put everything in rubbish bins, as we fear soon they will not be emptied if contaminated with recyclable items. FPRA replies:


It is difficult to provide definitive advice as all local authorities provide different recycling schemes for their area, but provided you have a separate area for dedicated recycling bins that the Council can access for collection there should not be a problem. The issue I have in my own block is where non recycling materials are placed in the recycling bins and from time to time we have to remind residents what can and cannot be placed in these.


I suggest discussing your individual requirements with a manager from your council’s recycling team on site at your block so you can discuss all the issues and sort out any problems before the recycling bins arrive. Many older blocks were simply not designed with this in mind and it may be it is not practical for your block.


Private road Q A


Some time ago we asked about contributions to the upkeep of our private road from other households who have access over it. We now enclose a copy of the land registry plan which goes with the lease as requested by yourselves. There is a proposed development of 14 houses, all of who will be using the road for vehicular and pedestrian purposes. How can we ensure that they will have to contribute financially? FPRA Hon Consultant Yashmin Mistry replies: Unfortunately there is no way of guaranteeing that the new


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