Now is a good time to start on your end of year checklist to help you catch up on anything you’ve missed. We’ve provided some key questions to consider to help you get started.
Who is living in your block of flats?
There are some people that you may only ever see or contact once or twice a year, probably about service charges and any ground rent. So, are you sure your contact details are up to date? Now is a good time to check the list, so you can be confident when sending out correspondence next year.
Even if people don’t move home, phone numbers and email addresses can change. Where flats are sub-let, there may have been a change in tenancy, and even if not are you sure you still have the right details for the leaseholder? They are still responsible for service charges and ensuring their tenant complies with the lease.
Are all the queries and complaints dealt with?
There’s a lot to block management and things that seem quite small to you at the time can be forgotten. Before you know it, molehills become mountains and you’ve got a very unhappy leaseholder taking up a lot of extra time.
Take a few minutes to check your inbox in case you’ve missed anything and at least make sure you respond with a definite plan of action.
Is block maintenance up to date?
The exterior of the building will probably be your main concern this year, as we seem to be racing through the alphabet of storm names. If you have been preoccupied with storm damage, you may need to catch up on some of the routine planned maintenance tasks.
Your insurance policy may cover you for storm damage, but it is not a replacement for good maintenance. An insurance loss adjuster will be duty-bound to take into account neglect to the fabric of the building if you do need to make a claim.
Especially at this time of year, make sure the gutters are clear and able to drain water away. Leaves that were falling just as autumn/winter storms arrived may have been blown straight into your gutters.
Do you know your building’s value and condition?
Check your records - when was the building last professionally surveyed? And have you caught up with any recommendations made by the surveyor? Common defects can include loose roof tiles and signs of water ingress, which need to be nipped in the bud. Once again, loss adjusters would need to take neglect into account when assessing any future claims.
A survey can help to provide an up-to-date valuation of the sum the building should be insured for. The Buildings Declared Value is for a total loss but if you are underinsured any claim you make may be reduced in proportion.
If there has been an insurance survey following a change of cover or a decision to move your policy to a new insurer, you must have complied with any requirements which were listed as requiring immediate or urgent action. Your broker should have actively followed up with you, even if it was just to confirm everything has been completed. If you haven’t had feedback from them, get in touch.
How can you maintain your relationship with leaseholders?
In keeping with the spirit of seasonal goodwill, consider sending a thank you note to leaseholders for collectively keeping the building safe, secure, and well-maintained.
Include reminders about lease terms and ‘house rules’ – a little nudge for those who have become lax about issues such as parking, pets, and noise. Remind them of key 2024 diary dates such as when they will be asked to pay service charges.
You could recap what has been achieved in 2023, for example painting, roof repairs, or new window cleaners. If significant work is planned, reassure them that you have it in hand and update them on progress.
You never know, someone may even write back and thank you for your hard work!
Blocks of Flats Insurance from Gallagher
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