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The best block it can be. In the same vein as my previous blog on plumbing, another large cost in the service charge are electrical installations, usually lifts. We recently had a lift breakdown at one of our properties due to misuse. Having looked over the last few years accounts, we noted an increase in lift costs, due to additional call-outs at the property. Again, this is not an individual cost to owners so they are often unaware of how their actions can directly affect the service charge.
Despite being able to obtain more favourable contract terms for the lift when we took over the management of one property, we cannot stop additional call-out cost being levied, particularly when a lift engineer is called out of hours and the fault is found to be due to lift doors being wedged open. In order to counteract these call outs, we wrote to all owners providing advice on lift usage, (not holding the doors, overloading the lift etc) and perhaps most frustrating, asking them to let the lift engineer in if he had been called out. We also advised that all these issues resulted in a cost to the service charge.
You can imagine our dismay when the response we received was not a favourable one. We received a flurry of emails either suggesting that the residents themselves did not misuse the lift and advising that any additional call-outs should be paid from the service charge.
This has left us somewhat in a quandary, as we thought our advice would be accepted in the spirit it was meant. Owners would take on board the benefits of helping to maintain the lifts, keeping costs low, not using up service charge unnecessarily, and ultimately ensuring that the lifts are running are always available for use at all times for everyone.
Our response can only be to try and provide further information to all residents in the hope that they will understand that we are trying to help them and do what MIH does best and Make it Happen. We still feel that the best management is self-management and working with our residents to make their building the best it can be.
Finally, a word on Rubbish, I wrote about the importance of “binning it” in my previous blog. Aside from the obvious benefits of removing rubbish appropriately, we are often faced with “dumped large items”.
We personally appreciate that it is often difficult to remove larger items, dumping it at the building seems to be a cheaper and quicker option. However, the cost is then shared by all owners as the Managing Agent has to arrange for someone to remove this – hardly seems fair. Often this can be avoided by simply phoning the council who offers a Large Removal Service and who will arrange to remove a number of items at no cost to the owner and therefore not increasing the service charge costs at the building.
Again, MIH treads the fine line of trying not to upset residents but at the same time letting them know how their actions affect others. We do so by providing useful and practical advice to our clients periodically which helps them with knowing what services are available to them. The result of this being that dumped rubbish is disposed of correctly without a cost to anyone
I realised that this blog sounded very negative when I started writing it and have tried to be as humorous as possible about rising costs. I do like my blogs to be entertaining as I think these are the most memorable and useful but at the risk of sounding a nag, the message we want to get across is that the best way to keep costs low and maintain your building is really helping yourself. This in conjunction with working with your managing agent, hopefully, MIH, means that you are unlikely to be disappointed with your home if you do.
If you would like to know more about how MIH can help with practical, cost-effective and collaborative management for your building please do get in touch.