Residents at our retirement development in Bristol were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with our management company. Dissatisfaction reached such a point that in November 2008 we decided that we had to take matters into our own hands. Seven of us formed a working party to examine the options available to us and to explore in particular the potential benefits of Right To Manage. During our research we were recommended to the Kingsdale Group Limited; they manage some 2,000 properties across the country and specialise in the management of ‘retirement’ properties, mainly on behalf of Bovis Homes. They were also very used to working with ‘owners’ Boards’ as this is their usual management ‘model’. They ‘ticked the box’ in all other respects and, as it happened, their head office is near Bristol. They had previous experience of the RTM process (we were able to speak to the Board of that RTM company and satisfy ourselves that they were very pleased to have gone down the RTM route with Kingsdale) and they agreed to handle the process on our behalf. They would charge us £20.00 per apartment to do this but they would absorb this cost if we chose to appoint them as our new management company. Having made the decision to go down the RTM route we then had to just sit back and wait for the ‘due process’ to happen.
It was very gratifying that on our initial ballot, independently verified, over 95% of owners supported our aims. The RTM company was set up and our ‘working party’ was suddenly elevated to become the Board of Directors. Again, it was gratifying that 95% of fellow leaseholders also opted to become members of the RTM company.
There were frustrations along the way as the legal route was pursued and different points of view were addressed and anyone thinking of pursuing no fault the RTM route should allow at least 6 months for the ‘due process’ to happen. However, we always remained confident about the final outcome and used the time to start planning for our ‘new future’.
We worked closely with Kingsdale in drawing up a revised service charge budget. We accepted their advice to be prudent in our cost estimates but they were able to obtain more competitive quotes on both insurance and alarm monitoring that saved us £10,000 a year. In other cases we kept those contractors that we believed were doing a good job, even though they were not necessarily the cheapest. Either way, it was still very satisfying being fully involved in the decision making process of choosing our contractors and making changes where necessary.
Management finally transferred from 1st September 2009, coinciding with a new financial year, as we believe this will make the ‘handover’ process much more straightforward. It is obviously very early days but I can thoroughly recommend the process to any ‘waverers’ out there.
Rod Gallagher, Purdy Court (Fishponds) RTM Ltd