FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any further questions please email admin@ellissloane.co.uk

When does the Section 20 apply?

Section 20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 (as amended) applies to any qualifying works that are likely to cost over £250.00 for any one leaseholder at a property.

Qualifying works: These are works on a building or any other premises , that is works of repair, maintenance or improvement.
Landlords must consult if these works will cost over £250 for any one tenant. Thus, in a property with unequal service charge contributions, the landlord must consult all tenants if any one of them would have to pay more than £250.

The principal purpose of the consultation process is to ensure that tenants who will be contributing towards qualifying works and long-term agreements are able to have sufficient involvement with the landlord’s proposals. This includes the ability to nominate contractors in appropriate cases, and make observations which the landlord must have regard to.

How long does the section 20 process take to complete?

The whole process may take a number of months (or longer). This is for the following reasons:

  • tenants have 30 days to respond to a notice of intention served at the pre-tender stage;
  • if a contractor is nominated by a tenant(s) or Residential Tenants Association (RTA), the contractor may need to be invited to tender;
  • if contractors nominated by tenants or a RTA submit a tender, public sector landlords will need to check whether the contractor meets the necessary criteria (e.g. approved list etc);
  • time spent having regard to observations from tenants;
  • landlords must make a summary of the observations and responses to the notice of intention (first notice), which must be sent to tenants with the notice of landlord’s proposals or statement of estimates (second notice) or made available for inspection;
  • tenants have a further 30 days to respond to the notice of landlord’s proposals served at the tender stage

In addition to the above, the length of time between consultation and having the works started on site may vary depending on costs and whether or not there are sufficient funds available in your service charge account, as there must be sufficient funds available to pay for the works prior to the contractor being instructed.

Are your surveyors and project managers 'in house'?

All of our project managers are employed in house and the majority of our surveying work is also completed by our in house surveyors.

Occasionally we may need the services of a structural engineer if the scope of works exceed the remit of a chartered surveyor, but this is only in rare cases.

From time to time we may also employ the services of outside surveyors to oversee works if it is appropriate to do so but this is not the norm. Any external surveyor that we use will be part of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and will be known to us.

Does Ellis, Sloane & Co have RICS accreditation?

Our surveyors are Members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

What areas of the country do you cover?

We regularly have ongoing projects in the South of England from Devon through to Sussex and up to the Midlands, the M4 corridor and London and Essex.

We also have projects as far afield as Yorkshire and Norfolk

What do your fees cover?

We have both surveyor's fees and project management fees and these are dependant on what we have been instructed to undertake. Therefore our fees cover a multitude of services from visiting site, carrying out a Condition Survey, Schedule of Works, Building Reinstatement Valuations, Schedule of Dilapidations / Schedule of Works, Project Managing works / overseeing works on site and completing the necessary legislation involved in Section 20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act.

The Project Co-ordinator (Ellis, Sloane & Co) acts as the Project Administrator and ensure that the terms of the lease, together with the terms of the consultation process, are adhered to during the progression of a project. We are obliged to comply with all the legislative requirements pertaining to Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act and enter into formal consultation with various parties who have an interest in the property. Where necessary we are required to administer legislation regarding Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Planning Application, Building Regulations, Construction Design & Management (CDM) co-ordination and the requirements of the Joint Contract Tribunal (JCT) Contract.

Below are some of the procedures that should be followed (please note that these procedures are not exhaustive):

  • General Planning in regard to work proposals.
  • Review of the Condition Report and Specification of Works.
  • Consult with Leaseholders on the proposed works.
  • Respond to questions and observations made by leaseholders.
  • Obtain competitive tenders from competent companies.
  • Analysis of the Contractor Tenders received and liaisons until satisfied.
  • Completion of the Section 20 Notice and work proposals all leaseholders. Including all necessary attachments and information.
  • Acknowledgement and review of any leaseholder observations received.
  • Consult with Leaseholders on the quoted works.
  • Review of the work proposals and amendments to proposals if required.
  • Respond to questions and observations made by leaseholders.
  • Rectifying any outstanding issues if required prior to confirmation of work proposals.
  • Conclusion of the work proposals to leaseholders.
  • Ensure that sufficient funds are available towards the works.
  • Preparation of contract documents for successful contractor.
  • Check contract documents, insurance details and reference
  • Notify all leaseholders of the start date for the works.
  • Liaisons during works supervision in respect of Lease Obligations for the works.
  • Liaisons during works supervision in respect of Consultation Procedure Obligations.
  • Liaisons during works supervision with leaseholders and response to any comments.
  • Authorisation if required any variation to the Schedule of Works
  • Authorisation if required any Want of Repairs to Demised Items and send Notice.
  • Correspondence with leaseholders in respect of standard of works/snagging items
  • Remedial works to Supervisor for resolution and conclude leaseholder comments.
  • Approval of Practical Completion Certificate for the works
  • Once defects made good issue payment to Contractor (Less retention 6%).
  • Letter to leaseholders prior to end of defects requesting further comments.
  • Approval of Defect Made Good Certificate for the works.

When the works are due to start on site the surveyor will be appointed to do the following:

  • Arrange and attend pre contract meeting with successful contractor (to include signing of contract documents JCT / CDM if required).
  • Visit property to check on progress and quality of work, which will include:-
    • Ensure works are carried out to a satisfactory standard.
    • Supervise by way of regular visits commensurate with scale, length of the works.
    • Ensure works are implemented to the agreed specification.
    • Ensure works are implemented in accordance with previously agreed contractual costs and time scale.
    • Ensure that the contractor minimises any inconvenience to lessees when on site.
    • Ensure works are completed within current Health & Safety Regulations.
    • To authorise any variations from the previously agreed specification of works.
    • To authorise the use of any provisional sums (check competitive costs).
  • Agree stage payments based on work valuation, i.e.:-
    • Certify any interim payments requested by the Contractor when it is considered that the value and quality of the works completed at the time justify payment (6% retention withheld from each payment).
    • Issue payment certificate.
  • Visit property on completion – draw up snagging list:-
    • Issue snagging list.
    • Visit property to check that items on snagging list have been attended to.
    • Issue completion certificate.
  • Visit property after 6 months to check for any defects:-
    • Resolve any defects.
    • Issue final certificate and allow release of retention.

Our estimates for surveyor’s fees are based on a realistic number of hours he/she will need to fulfil his/her duties. However, being ever mindful of the costs to the service charge, rather than overseeing the works continuously the surveyor will be required to inspect them at relevant intervals in accordance with the size and complexity of the project.

The estimated surveyor’s costs are published in the Section 20 Notice, together with the contractor’s costs and other associated fees that may be attributable to the project. This ensures, insofar as it is possible to do so, transparency of all estimated costs before they are actually expended.

When can we expect works to start?

After the full consultation has ended works can start as soon as it is confirmed that the there is the money to pay for it.

If works are in respect of external areas of the building we would try and have this undertaken in the spring/summer months and if need be, into Autumn but would avoid winter for obvious reasons. Of course, works to internal common parts can be done at any time of year.

How are the works funded?

Works pertaining to Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended) are usually funded via the property service charge account.

Most service charge accounts have a reserve or sinking fund which is built up over a number of years with a view to using these monies to cover the costs of planned maintenance works.

Unfortunately some properties do not have the luxury of a reserve fund and in these cases the works must be paid for in the year that they are carried out.

Obviously works cannot proceed unless there is sufficient money available to pay for it as there is an obligation to have the necessary funding in place before instructing a contractor. If there is not sufficient funding available then the managing agent or management company may raise a supplementary billing in order to have the works undertaken.

Why are we paying Ellis, Sloane & Co to coordinate works, why does this not come under our normal management fee / service charge?

Firstly, if you have a managing agent, we would suggest that you consult your management agreement or leaseholders guidebook if one is provided by your managing agent. Ordinarily you will find that Major Works / Planned Maintenance / Section 20 Works do not form part of the normal management fee and that the agreement will state that this kind of management will incur additional fees.

If you do not have a managing agent then this type of work would be additional to your normal service charge payments.

Section 20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 (as amended) is government legislation and can be difficult to complete. Many managing agents, freeholders, management companies and Right To Manage (RTM) companies find the process too complex and time consuming, which is where we step in as this is our specialist area.

What are contingency sums?

Contingency sums are included within scopes of works to take care of estimated additional costs and / or unforeseen circumstances. It is usual for a condition report to be carried out as a ground level survey and therefore there may be areas at high level or on the roof that may not have been noted.

A contingency sum is therefore used to allow for these items and the amount that is set aside for a contingency sum would be based on the age of the property, the construction of the property and also the state of the repair and decoration. For example, older properties will be more prone to rot, which will only be found once works start on site and therefore it is normal to have some contingency sums available for this estimated additional work.

Of course contingency sums will only be expended in part or in full if actually required. Any contingency sums that are not needed will remain in the property service charge fund.

When approaching contractors for quotes, do you have selection criteria?

When choosing contractors to approach for a tender we use various criteria:-

  • When we write to leaseholders and enclose the schedule of works, we ask them if they know of any local contractors whom they would like us to approach for a tender.
  • We invite contractors who are in the local area and have completed works for us in the past, to tender, in the knowledge that their previous works have been to a good standard and suitably priced.
  • We will also invite local contractors who are not known to us to provide a tender. The reason we do this is so that we can achieve the best possible prices on a closed tender basis. All contractors are made aware that they will be competing against other companies for the works. To prevent the contractors that are used by us on a regular basis becoming complacent we will invite contractors that are new to us to provide tenders, although we do prefer that they have at least been recommended by a leaseholder. This also ensures that we keep our lists of contractors fresh.
  • We tend to approach a variety of contractors in an effort to explore different avenues, i.e. as well as approaching large companies that have offices throughout the country we will also approach smaller contractors, provided that they are equipped to perform the works.

    The reason for this is that some larger companies can often provide lower costs because they have a substantial manpower and can very often command better buying power from suppliers, while smaller contractors have fewer overheads, and are usually more local.

    We will always make sure that a contractor provides evidence of relevant documentation and insurances and that we are provided with references from a similar sector. That said we do of course, also employ a Surveyor to oversee the works at key stages and ensure that all is to standard before suggesting the release of any payment.
  • As part of the legislative process pertaining to Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, we are legally obliged to obtain tenders from a number of contractors. Furthermore we are obliged to give contractors nominated by a leaseholder an opportunity to tender. We are then obliged to comply with the constraints of the current legislation and enter into full and formal consultation with leaseholders.

Do you always choose the contractor that provided the lowest priced estimate to carry out the works?

No. Although it is normal for the lowest priced contractor, or a nominated contractor to be awarded to the project and usually leaseholders voice a preference for a minimal spend, this is not always the case. Sometimes leaseholders have a preference for a more expensive contractor, or sometimes we may think it appropriate to choose a specific contractor based on their skills in a certain area.

If the cheapest or nominated contractor is not chosen then we will detail the reasons for this and further consult with leaseholders so that there is an agreement.

The building belongs to the freeholder so why do leaseholders have to pay for works?

Although a freeholder or a management company usually own the actual building that your flat is part of, it is normal for your lease to contain certain clauses that state that any repairs or redecorations to the building must be paid for by the leaseholders.

Your lease is your agreement or 'contract' with the freeholder / management company and contains certain legal obligations that must be adhered to.

Leases are often confusing but normally the responsibility of decorating and maintaining common areas and common parts of the building and / or estate lies with the Freeholder and should be undertaken periodically depending on the lease terms. The financial responsibility for these works usually falls to the service charge fund, which is paid for by the leaseholders, but if you have any doubt you should refer to your lease.

What if I disagree with the scope of works?

Part of the Section 20 process is full consultation with leaseholders, RMCs and recognised residents associations.

The first consultation is in respect of the scope of works which are proposed and this provides an opportunity to comment. Although the report and schedule of works will be drawn up by a qualified chartered building surveyor, we will have regard to any comments that we receive in respect of the scope of works as it is the residents that live at the property and may have a differing viewpoint.

There may elements that can be temporarily deferred to a later date. However, we must also be mindful of the obligations to the lease (e.g. if the lease says that exterior render must be painted every 5 years, then this should be adhered to). We will also be mindful of keeping works economical (e.g. if scaffold is being used for one aspect of high level work it is more economical to complete other high level work as the costly scaffold is in place, rather than delaying some other high level work and having to erect scaffold again at a later date).

How long after completion are Ellis, Sloane & Co. Responsible?

This is dependant on the wishes of our clients and may vary, but usually we have a period of 6 months after the work is complete in which to notify of any defects. After that 6 month period we will check that no defects have occurred to the work and then hand over pertinent information to the client for future information. We will then close the project.

Do you have a complaints procedure

We are a company that is regulated by RICS and as such we are required to have in place a complaints handling procedure (CHP) in accordance with RICS Policy

RICS Firms' Conduct Rule 7 - Complaints handling

"A firm shall operate a complaints handling procedure and maintain a log.

The complaints handling procedure must include an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism that is approved by the Regulatory Board"

Our Complaints Procedure

Ellis, Sloane & Co Ltd is committed to providing high quality advice and services. We acknowledge, however, that there may be instances where we get things wrong or make mistakes. To deal with this, we have a complaints procedure.

We will Deal with Your Complaint

We will not ignore a complaint. In fact, it may help us to see where our services or procedures might be improved. If you feel that we have made a mistake or undertaken something which you found unsatisfactory or unacceptable, do let us know, even if you do not think your particular concern amounts to a 'complaint'.

How to Complain

In all cases the address for correspondence is:

Mr David Hearn, Director, Ellis, Sloane & Co Ltd, Units 24/25, Barnack Business Centre, Blakey Road, Salisbury, SP1 2LP.

If you have initially made your complaint verbally - whether in person or on the phone - you will be required to send a written summary of your complaint to the address above.

Once we have received your written complaint, we will contact you in writing within seven days. At this stage we will give you our understanding of your case. We will also invite you to make any further comments that you may have in relation to this.

Within twenty-eight days of receipt of your written complaint, we will write to you informing you of the outcome of the investigations into your complaint and let you know what actions have been or will be taken.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our internal handling of your complaint, you are entitled to refer your complaint to one of the follow two independent redress schemes of which Ellis, Sloane & Co Ltd is a member.

If you are a member of the general public:-

If you are a business:-

Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)

 https://www.cedr.com/about_us

RICS Dispute Resolution Service (DRS)

www.rics.org/drs