Over the years JCF has managed many blocks that contain lifts and we continue to do so today.
Lifts can present unique challenges to a building and its residents – and the property management company needs to be able to anticipate them where possible, plan for them and where necessary arrange repairs quickly and efficiently. Different buildings and types of lift can require different skills and knowledge, from health and safety regulation through to the aesthetics of lift interior design.
Here we discuss a selection of the issues that any building with a lift could encounter. What we would say however, is that a well maintained lift that is managed by a professional property management company is likely to have a longer life, fewer maintenance issues and less likely to attract unexpected costs.
Clear instructions in the event of being stuck in a lift
If a resident is unfortunate enough to get stuck in a lift, there must be an obviously displayed telephone number to call and a fully working auto dialler that can connect the trapped resident to a lift operative. A regular lift inspection will ensure these two criteria are met. Aside from the resident being quickly calmed and assured by the operative at the other end of the line, it also helps reduce the likelihood that the trapped resident will call the fire brigade from their mobile phone – typically an unnecessary step that can result in expensive damage caused by the fire brigade releasing the resident.
Incorrect usage of lifts
Sometimes issues with a lift can be caused by the residents themselves (unintentionally or otherwise). Overloading a lift can cause faults, careless usage can damage the interior (from scuffs to dropped paint tins), or even antisocial behaviour such as forcing the lift doors open can all add up to additional costs to keep the lift maintained and running. It’s well worth clearly communicating how the lift is to be used and what is considered appropriate/inappropriate behaviour with regards to using the lift.
Using appropriate professionals
It can seem like an easy corner to cut: not using skilled third-party professionals in relation to the lift’s inspections and maintenance. But it can certainly be a false economy. Using professional services – from health and safety companies, to surveyors and lift consultants – is one of the best ways to operate a reliable, safe and properly costed lift. The right professionals will be more thorough in their examinations (e.g. going into the lift shafts to inspect) and will help the residents more effectively budget for future maintenance – and of course enjoy using a safe lift.
Tasteful lift refurbishment
Not all maintenance of a lift relates to its mechanics, sometimes it also requires a design eye. A refurbishment or replacement of a lift in an old building for example, might well require that the new lift blends with the existing building’s aesthetic. A modern lift interior is likely to visually clash with a period property with ornate detail, for example. These subtle issues matter to residents and it requires a property management company with the right skills and connections to bring together the appropriate professionals to tastefully marry a modern lift install with a period property.
Sufficient reserve funds
When the right property management company and the right mix of specialists oversee the care of a building, planning for future lift costs is much more reliable. The life cycle of the lift can be more accurately mapped and the associated costs defined and spread across the leaseholders in the form of a reserve fund (or sinking fund). That makes for a much more palatable approach to most residents than them being surprised with the need to make unexpected additional contributions. Additionally, if the extra contribution is more than £250 including VAT for any one residence, the leaseholders must be consulted (known as a Section 20 Consultation) which can typically take 60-90 days including the time required to gather each person’s contribution. During this time, the lift may remain out of order, causing significant inconvenience for many; all because the reserve funds were not professionally managed.
Availability of parts
A specific challenge that few residents will consider – until they are affected by it – is whether the parts required to repair a lift fault are readily available. In some cases, replacement parts can only be sourced from overseas and can take days if not sometimes weeks to arrive in the UK. In the meantime, the lift is out of operation and residents may be limited to using the stairs. Whilst it’s not possible to plan for every potential fault a lift might incur, professionally and regularly maintaining the lift can greatly reduce these types of lift failures by planning improvements before they become faults.
Safety regulations and the role of the competent person
A lift, being a piece of equipment that can carry people or goods, is subject to safety regulations and certification – in particular the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), as well as the Health and Safety at Work Act. One requirement of the regulations is that the lift undergoes inspection by a ‘competent person’ (usually, but not exclusively, the competent person is appointed on the landlord’s behalf by his/her insurers or insurance brokers).
The competent person will examine the equipment and the surrounding environment to ensure the lift installation is safe to be used and worked on. They have the power to turn off the lift if it is deemed unsafe, issue defect repair notices and call for additional tests as required. A well maintained lift is of course more likely to pass these examinations and not incur unexpected repairs or costs.
If your building has a lift and you have concerns about your property management company’s ability to offer the skills and professionalism you require, get in touch with us today.