5th February 2020
Dear Fellow Owner,
This letter like the last is sent to all registered proprietors in The Element, whether or not members of the Owners’ Association. It concerns the responsibilities of each individual owner. Whilst I always encourage owners to register as TENOA members, the Association has a responsibility as all Proprietors’ Representatives to ensure that the Factor contracted as Property Manager is able to fulfil its duties. TENOA’s Committee is satisfied with the work of The Element Factors (TEF) but a number of individual owners have problems reported to me, prompting concern over Cladding and Letting.
The most frequent concerns the inability of owners to get written assurance pertaining to cladding demanded by mortgage companies. Why cannot a “certificate” be produced that will satisfy potential lenders? The answer is both complex and very frustrating. Both TENOA and TEF have been very diligent in pursuing what is required. The ongoing saga in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 has produced report after report, leading to consequential changes in legislation regarding checks and any resultant remedial action necessary concerning building materials used in modern flats both in England and Scotland. Firms competent to carry out investigations and any required remedial work or even to produce reports and certificates are completely swamped with work across the UK and we are in a queue however we try to address the crisis. There remains uncertainty over whether any “certification” would be accepted by all mortgage lenders. That is the nub of the problem. There is obvious fear of the possible consequences of “another Grenfell Tower”. However, materials used in that building have not been used in the building of The Element. We have exerted all the pressure we can on both the Scottish and Westminster Governments and continue to press for action.
The problem is compounded for The Element because of the unsatisfactory way in which the building
was completed following the failure of the original contractor and also because of historic problems with previous factors. That is not the fault either of your Committee nor of the current Factors. There is a lack of records that would assist current investigations. TEF is engaged with the surveyor who carried out a Critical Risk Assessment for TENOA in 2015 and is following leads and advice being offered. But almost every day there is a new requirement that frustrates a pending remedy. I do not wish to discourage anyone from requesting assistance but this letter is to ask for understanding of the diligence with which we are trying to make progress.
I have frequently written of the legal obligations of owners in respect of the title deeds of individual properties – whether or not they are members of TENOA. I have specifically pointed to the fact that even if a property is let through an agent, whether short term or long term, the individual owner is still responsible for what happens in that property. I have tried to warn owners to vet agents used. We are now receiving a snowball of complaints from owners about problems they are experiencing with a particular agent over non payment of rent, lack of TV licence, power being cut off because of nonpayment etc. In each case I have to reply that this is an issue for the owner to resolve. It is not in the power or nature of TENOA to vet letting agents for proprietors. It is, of course, our corporate responsibility to ensure that issues of noise, rubbish, damage and anti-social behaviour are appropriately addressed and we are in the process of taking required action. When there is evidence that impacts upon other residents or damage to the common parts of the building everyone may be assured that both TENOA’s Committee and TEF are taking proper steps to address it. Owners who disregard this advice may find themselves investigated by enforcement authorities, action taken as a result of complaints in the interests of all who wish to live here peacefully and in harmony with others.
Rodney Matthews (Chairman)