What is a Year End Balancing Charge?

At Inspired Property Management we like to make it clear and transparent with all our charges and what is involved in the service charge and balancing charge.

Many service charge payers do not realise that the charge they pay at the start of the service charge year is actually an interim payment. It is an initial estimate of future expenditure for maintaining the building and is not the final service charge payment. In fact the service charge payment cannot be considered to be finalised until after the completion of the service charge accounts.

The service charge accounts will compare the amount budgeted for the year with the amount actually spent. If the actual is more than the budget then a deficit will be produced, if less was spent than budgeted, there will be a surplus.

This balancing charge, which in the event of a surplus will actually be credit, will ensure that the service charge is no longer an estimate. After the charge is invoiced you will only have been billed for the services/work carried out during the service charge year.

Previous Owner

Once you purchase a lease you become responsible for it; this includes the liabilities of the previous owner. For this reason solicitors should always ensure that arrangements are made for the payment of any outstanding service charges prior to the lease changing hands. They should also make enquiries into the financial position of the service charge and determine if a retention is required in case of a deficit.

18 Month Rule

18 Month Rule – As a leaseholder you can only be charged for expenditure within 18 months of the landlord or management company incurring the costs. This includes the balancing charge. This is the reason why service charge accounts have to be produced within 6 months of the year end (18 months from the year start and the first expenditure). However you may find that this is not the case, instead you could receive a section 20b notice, which provides a summary of charges. This provides the landlord or management company more time to produce accurate accounts and should also give you notice of the possibility of a deficit or surplus.

You may find that even though the accounts are produced within 6 months the charges are not applied for some time after this. This is perfectly fine as long as your landlord or management company provide a notice with the accounts (usually in the form of a covering letter) stating that there is a deficit and you will be invoiced for a balancing charge.

Ensure you read your Lease as it’s not 100% guaranteed that balancing charges will be required. Leases are all different and some may not have the provision for balancing charges. Some leases have the provision to recover a deficit position by charging however there is no provision to credit back a surplus.

If you have any questions about your Lease and would like further information about services charges please take a look at the FAQ section on our website where we have answered some of the common questions we get asked.

Benefits of a gym in your development or apartment block

There are many benefits to having a residential gym in your development or apartment block. It encourages people to exercise, increases the value of a property, and builds an excellent community amongst tenants and home owners.

Residential gyms are now at the forefront of a property developer’s mind when designing accommodation. They are now a key feature that sets properties apart in an already fiercely competitive market.

According to a 2018 survey, the UK fitness market is growing at an incredible rate. It’s currently the fastest growing business sector in the country, with an annual growth rate of 8.5%. In simple terms – people today care about getting fit and healthy as part of their lifestyle.

IPM have outlined the top benefits of having a residential gym:

The biggest barrier of going to the gym is the convenience factor. Waking up in the morning and knowing that there’s a gym 30 seconds away can make the world of difference to tenants.

Some of us need a little more motivation when it comes to getting up early and having a good workout. Building a gym is a fantastic way of encouraging people to commit to staying healthy.

The fact that residents do not need to leave the building means they are free to use their own bathroom.

Being able to go home after a workout to use your own shower full of your specific products, towels etc. is such a great advantage.

Returning to your own flat after a workout at your residential gym also means avoiding otherwise busy changing rooms at peak hours in any other gym. This leaves you free to change in the peace and quiet of your own home with no queues.

Most residential gyms are big enough to accommodate a wide range of equipment, giving users a level of variety in their workout, which is hard to get from a personal gym.

Let’s face it, bad weather can stop even the most committed keep-fit fan from leaving the house for a run – especially in winter months. Having a gym in the same building that caters to running, rowing, weights etc. makes exercise far more tempting.

Residential gyms can help to build a community for users and their guests. It’s easy to get to know your neighbours when you work out together. You can encourage each other, motivate each other and become real gym buddies.

For more information about how we could assist with managing your property and our experience of luxury developments with gyms please get in touch with a member of our team 01302 729 500.

Top 5 Property Management Tech trends to watch out for

The rise of “Proptech”

For all its intriguing, futuristic promise, “proptech” is still a rather nebulous concept. While developers or investors look to contain ever-expanding technology into bricks and mortar assets, proptech might mean anything from installing facial-recognition security sensors to tracking energy usage. It might involve enabling occupier employees to customise individual heating preferences with a smart phone app, or using sensors to follow individuals’ movements.

The Cloud

Rewind to a few years ago, “the cloud” was seen as a mysterious pocket of the internet that eluded principals and agents alike. Fast forward to now and the cloud is fast becoming the norm and legacy server-based software is quickly becoming obsolete.

This is due to the many benefits of cloud property management software including time and cost savings, scalability, increased security and greater accessibility. Additionally, cloud-based systems have client access which allow tenants and owners to log in and see their property and financial information 24/7, reducing the amount of communication required. At IPM was have already invested in the technology to allow all our tenants fuse free access anytime, anywhere using the on-line tenant portal.

Augmented reality and virtual reality

With VR, potential buyers and renters can virtually view a property from anywhere in the world, at any time. This means that the property is open for inspection 24/7, allowing agents and clients to save time and money while increasing efficiency and engagement.

Meanwhile augmented reality (AR) apps superimpose a computer-generated image of an object into real life, allowing people to do things like capture Pokemon (if that’s your thing) or virtually decorate a space using their phones or tablets. For brokers and developers, they’ll be able to showcase the potential of an unfinished space using AR to present a desired lifestyle and decrease time on market.

The chat bots

The modern consumer expects immediacy. They want answers to their questions and they want them now. That’s where property management robots like chatbots, voice bots and virtual assistants come in. Not only can they help answer consumer queries with little to no delay to keep consumer expectations at bay, but they can also free up your time to focus on what really matters.

Push technology

Another property management tech trend to watch this year is push technology. While this technology has been around for a few years, it has become increasingly popular as more and more agencies develop their own smartphone apps.

Agencies can use push technology to send content alerts to a smartphone’s locked screen and other notification areas in order to get users back on the app again and generate leads (phone calls).

Inspired Property Management take a view to invest in technology that not only offers our clients and tenants a better service but also allows them to manage their accounts freely and easily. For more information about how you can use our tenant portal click on the link here.

Why your development should have a Resident’s Association

A Residents’ Association (RA) is a local group, made up of local residents who represent the interests of everyone living in a particular area or building, they are set up for everyone to join and membership is open to all local residents (tenants and leaseholders). For the RA to be successful and effective it should represent and include all residents in the area its serves.

Why are they worth having?

A collective voice is a powerful voice. Being united with other people who share your living environment, means that you have the opportunity to influence and shape the quality of the services to your local community and improve residents’ quality of life.

For example, you can…

  • have a say on the services provided by Network Homes – i.e. cleaning and repairs.
  • develop the environment and community i.e. apply for funding for safe play areas and carry out social activities that bring you and your neighbours together.
  • lobby the council for local provision i.e. recycling facilities, improved lighting etc.

The formation of a residents’ association is a simple process, which requires a group of interested individuals with a common interest and an agreed constitution, by which the activities and rules of the association are governed. The recognition of residents’ associations is in Schedule 19 of the Housing Act 1980, as amended by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and 1987. This act of law entitles RA’s to certain rights and access to information which is not typically shared, such as work invoices, detailed transaction reports, stock condition surveys and fire risk assessments (FRA). This transparent and open approach with a small group of elected members is often valued by the wider majority; seen as an honest attempt for transparency, improved communication and better relations.

When carrying our planned work or major repairs, RA’s are a great sounding board for ideas and feedback. They are often happy to ballot members for when multiple options are on the table, or similarly, they will make the final decision on behalf of their members, as elected to do so. This approach put people and the centre of what we do.

For Managing Agents and Landlords, there is little administration required when working with an RA. It is easier and far more effective for RA’s to meet frequently with the Inspired Property Management team to ensure your goals are recognised for the development and your ideas are heard. If you’d like to know more about how our team at inspired can work with your RA please get in touch with a member of our team.

Decorate your apartment without upsetting your landlord

A few nifty tricks to give your home a very merry makeover without so much as a pin in the wall… Handy if your landlord has stipulated no holes in the walls.

Hosting Christmas for all the family in your new rental home? We have all the tricks of the trade to make your house feel Christmassy, festive and merry without pinning or painting anything.

Keep your landlord, and even your mother-in-law, on side with these nifty decorating techniques that won’t damage a wall, skirting board or doorframe…

If you can’t hang things on the walls or pin anything to doorways, then opt for ornaments. Glittery reindeers, giant nutcrackers and charming nativity scenes will create a traditional Christmas feel without upsetting the landlord. Smother mantelpieces, top tables and decorate the base of your tree.

Redecorate with a wreath

If you can’t go crazy inside, then you always have outside. People are putting exterior lights up, perching trees on their porches and of course the time old tradition – hanging beautiful wreaths. If you don’t want to pin it to your door, cascade the circular garland from ribbon tied to a door handle or brickwork above the frame.

Go crazy for candle displays

Candles omit a Christmassy glow, warming winter scents and can be glammed up to create opulent table displays. Surround simple tower candles with conifer cones, berries and rings of holly to give off an easy Christmassy vibe without redecorating a thing!

Go gaga for garlands

Bring the forest inside this winter by draping garlands of holly, ivy and fir across fireplaces, mirrors and winding them up staircases. Botanical displays around the home will instantly give off the smell and look of Christmas without damaging anything.

Invest in warm wintery accessories

With just a few hours of light a day (and even those are clouded, snowy and drizzly!) we all love wrapping up in a cosy onesie and nestling into our cushioned den with a chunky throw. Accessorise this winter with Christmas-inspired and adorned cushions and blankets that will transform that bleak sofa into a sanctuary.

Decorate a traditional tree

If you’re unsure about pinning things on walls then simply go to town on your Christmas tree. Get the biggest one you can, or a collection of tiny trees, and adorn it with a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands, a scattering of fairy lights and top with a beautiful angel.

Top it off with an amazing table display

We all spend a large amount of the big day in the dining room eating and drinking and eating some more, so decorate your table extravagantly. Invest in a large centrepiece and compliment it with fanciful dinner platters, serving spoons and festive flowers for a truly beautiful banquet.

How will you be decorating your apartment home this Christmas?

Tips courtesy of idealhome.co.uk – read more here

The impact of advances in AI on your home

Over the next five years, we are about to witness the world we live in entirely disrupted by improvements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Children today are growing up with AI assistants in their homes (Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa and the newly launched Vector Anki aimed at children) — to the point that you might consider their mere presence an extension of home organisation and home assistance. As voice and facial recognition continue to evolve, machine learning algorithms are getting smarter. More and more industries are being influenced by AI, and our society as we know it is transforming.

We all have various technology we use in our everyday lives like our smartphones, laptops, tablets and fit bit devices but with the ever evolving changes in technology, are we getting nearer to a home run by A1?

New technology is now available like the smart thermostat or smart lighting which can save you money, but what’s infinitely more exciting to people is the smart home could offload any decisions/choices and work by completing tasks independently.

A Smart Home Driven By Artificial Intelligence

In many industries, when you interview an ambitious leader, he or she will talk with you about how they will reinvent factory-built housing or the fitness space or retail. However, in some, people will talk about how they are part of an ecosystem and how their success is in large part predicated on the success of other companies in the ecosystem. In the case of the smart home, almost all of the players I interviewed talked about a future where the holy grail was a home driven by Artificial Intelligence.

Think of Artificial Intelligence as computing power that is able to perform particularly complex tasks that would otherwise require a human brain to perform. A motion sensor might trigger a light to turn on. But if a home had Artificial Intelligence, it might consider the time of day, the person walking around the home, and where she was walking in deciding which light to turn on and how long to keep it on for. Not every person I spoke to used the words “Artificial Intelligence.” A hot phrase you’ll hear again and again from experts is that a house needs to be “aware” or “contextually aware” before you can bring Artificial Intelligence into the home.

Let’s imagine the universe of things a house can be aware of: it can be aware of the presence of the people who live in the house (along with their personas); it can be aware of what they’re doing; it can even be aware of what every device in the house is doing. If you want the house to think like a human, the house needs to be able to analyse the data a human would analyse before making a decision.

Whether you are pro A1 or not this is definitely something which is shaping our homes in the future.

Changes to the rules concerning assured shorthold tenancies for Landlords

Changes to the rules concerning Assured Shorthold Tenancies come into place on 1 October this year.

How will this affect you as a landlord?

The Act brought into force new rules in which Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England could be granted and terminated, which can restrict the Landlord’s ability to serve a notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to terminate the AST.

Between 1 October 2015 and 1 October 2018 these requirements only applied to an AST created on or after 1 October 2015. However, from 1 October 2018 the requirements will apply to all ASTs irrespective of when the AST was granted.

Q. What is the effect of the act?

A. A landlord will only be able to serve a Section 21 Notice once he has first complied with the regulatory requirements under the Act. These are that the landlord must have provided the tenant with the following:
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) free of charge.
A Gas Certificate.
The current version of the ‘How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England’ booklet.

Q. What if the tenancy was granted prior to 1st October 2015?

A. There is no longer the option of serving the non-prescribed form of Section 21 Notice which does not require compliance with the Act. Only the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice can be used from 1 October 2018.

Q. Can the landlord comply with the requirements after the tenancy has been granted?

A. This is a topic of much debate. In a recent County Court case which is non-binding which was heard in February this year, it was held that the Gas Safety Certificate must be provided to the tenant at the start of the tenancy and that a Landlord is unlikely to be able to serve a Section 21 Notice where it is served late.
The view is that it cannot have been Parliament’s intention to give a tenant full security of tenure and the Landlord cannot be forever precluded from serving a Section 21 Notice. Binding authority is required to give clarity.

Q. Does the landlord have to use the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice?

A. Yes, from 1 October 2018 the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice must be used for all ASTs.

Q. Can possession proceedings be issued after 1 October 2018 relying on a Section 21 Notice served before 1 October 2018 which was not in the prescribed form?

A Yes, the Act should not affect the ability to issue proceedings after 1 October 2018 but relying on a Section 21 Notice which was correctly served prior to that date.

Q. Will the Court grant possession where there has not been compliance with the statutory requirements for an AST granted before 1 October 2015?

A. It remains to be seen whether the Courts will grant possession where a prescribed form Section 21 Notice has been served on or after 1 October 2018 but the Act’s requirements had not been complied with prior to 1 October 2018. It cannot be the case that the landlord will forever be prevented from obtaining possession although Courts may not be sympathetic when faced with a landlord who has failed to take action during the three year transitional period.

Q. Will it affect the accelerated possession procedure?

A. The current Claim Form for Accelerated Possession requires compliance with the Act’s requirements. There are therefore difficulties with using the current claim form and relying on the accelerated possession procedure when the Act has not been complied with for pre 2015 tenancies.

From 1 October 2018, a landlord may only be able to proceed by means of the ordinary possession procedure route.

Holiday Checklist before leaving your apartment

We’re always a little nervous after we leave our apartment for a long holiday. Are we going to come home to a stinky house because we forgot to take out the trash? Will I have a leak? Let us help to allay them with this handy checklist of things to do before you leave your apartment.

Compiled from our own experience of queries we have received from tenants and our excellent customer service team. This list can help you remember everything that is easy to forget in the excitement of preparing for a trip of any length of time. Follow this list and we promise you won’t come home to a stinky house (and hopefully you won’t have a swimming pool newly installed in your bedroom, too).

Temporarily stop mail and newspaper delivery

 or arrange for a neighbour to take care of it.

Prepay bills

that will come due while you are away or any service charges for your apartment.

Finish up perishable food in your refrigerator

or donate to neighbours.

Take out the trash and recycling

no one likes returning to a smelly house.

Do the dishes

you’ll be so glad on your return

Run your garbage disposal

to stop any nasty smells on your return

Coming home food

leave a meal waiting in the freezer

Unplug appliances like

coffee machine, computer, TV and other appliances and electronics. Make sure any electronics left plugged in have surge protection

Time your lights

or consider doing this to keep burglars at bay.

Turn down the AC and heat

 unless of course a pet sitter and pets will be there and think of the season you are too.

Put on clean sheets

 it’s always nice to come home to a clean bed.

Water plants

or arrange for a neighbour to water them

Close and lock windows

to make sure your apartment is secure

If you’ve got a spare key hidden

 somewhere outside your house, you may want to remove it, unless of course, you’ve forgotten to take your key on vacation with you.

Sprinkle a little baking soda

 in toilets and down the sink drains to avoid coming home to the stench of stagnant water.

Make sure you have not left any wet clothes

 in your washing machine or drier. Consider turning off all the water, but at least turn off the water supply to your to washing machines, dishwashers, ice-makers and toilets.

Now turn on your email out of office.

 Do this even if you are planning on checking email. It will relieve you of the pressure to answer quickly and reduce the number of emails you get.

Got any great tips that we have missed, then why not email one o our team.

Happy Holidays…

9 HOT TIPS TO COOL DOWN YOUR APARTMENT

How to keep cool in your apartment when the thermometer rises

The UK is currently experiencing one of the longest, summer heat waves since records began. While some apartment-dwellers have been blessed with air conditioning, many other apartments haven’t required such a luxury, as the UK is not known for it’s long hot summers. The team at IPM have put together some tips of how to keep your home cool when the thermometer goes up.

Keep your blinds closed

Did you know that limiting the amount of sunlight coming into your house can help keep your house cool? Sunlight carries a large amount of heat, and blocking it out can mean estimated savings of 10-15% on your cooling costs.

Leave those doors open

Nothing halts a cooling breeze or draft quicker than a closed door. By allowing air to circulate naturally, your apartment will automatically feel cooler.

Use this ice-cold fan hack

Yes, this really does work. Fill a large bowl with ice or ice packs and put it directly in front of a fan. When the fan blows across the ice, it produces an air conditioner-like chill that’s sure to cool you down.

Don’t forget those extractor fans

While we’re on the subject of fans, why not put those exhaust fans you have in kitchen and bathroom to good use? Both can suck the hot air out, allowing cooler air to move in — particularly useful after a cooking session or a hot shower.

Think about fabrics

Are your sheets, pillowcases, pyjamas or other clothing summer-friendly? It might be time to step away from the flannel and fleece. Switching your fabrics to cottons and other lightweight material lets your body breathe easier and stay cooler.

Chill yourself out

While your apartment may be hot, there are still things you can do to ensure you’re keeping yourself as chilled as possible. Focus on wearing lightweight clothing and use a cold washcloth to cool down areas such as your head and neck. A cool bath can also be very refreshing, and don’t forget to keep downing the ice-cold drinks.

Make use of the night

When it comes to cooling your apartment, nighttime is indeed the right time. Temperatures generally fall in the evenings, giving you a chance to set up some fans near your windows and suck in that cool breeze.

Stop cooking indoors

It’s a fact: when you turn on the oven, it heats up your apartment. Instead of meals that require your oven, focus on cooling summer salads, BBQ’ing outdoors or even look into a slow cooker which can cook your food without all the extra kitchen heat.

Keeping your apartment cool in the summer is no easy feat without an air conditioner. What are some of your top tricks for staying cool when the thermometer is in the red? Share your tips with the IPM team and we’d be happy to publish them here.

Be cool!

 

World Cup Fever

Football can change the way friends, neighbours, especially people of different political opinion, ethnic nationality think about one another.

Although other sports have the capability of bringing people together the number of countries and people involved in these sports: basketball, handball misnamed football and long tennis or volley ball and tracks among others are small compared to the number of people who play, watch and act as soccer fans.

The World Cup can still be a magical time in the city, seeing pockets of people gather to watch and cheer and talk. The world’s game, celebrated in cities all around the UK by different cultures and nationalities. For a few weeks, it is everywhere you look. In bars and restaurants and cafes. In living rooms. In the lobbies of office towers and the TV screens behind the counters in variety stores and gas stations.

The games themselves are exciting to watch, but many of us find them more fun if we have a community to watch them with. The current World Cup 2018 is a great opportunity to bring friends and neighbours together. Endless possibilities abound with the latest World Cup and England’s current top performing team.

The eight last-16 ties will be played from from Friday 30 June to Tuesday 3 July. On each day of football, one match will kick-off at 3pm UK time and one match at 7pm.

Teams that have reached the last 16

  • Uruguay (winners of Group A)
  • Russia (runners-up in Group A)
  • Spain (winners of Group B)
  • Portugal (runners-up in Group B)
  • France (winners of Group C)
  • Denmark (runners-up in Group C)
  • Croatia (winners of Group D)
  • Argentina (runners-up in Group D)
  • Brazil (winners in Group E)
  • Switzerland (runners-up in Group E)
  • Sweden (winners in Group F)
  • Mexico (runners-up in Group F)
  • Belgium (winners in Group G)
  • England (runners-up in Group G)
  • Colombia (winners in Group H)
  • Japan (runners-up in Group H)

Why not get to know your neighbours better and invite them to join you in watching the next game. Football helps bring people and communities together.