Following the recent updates published on our website regarding how we are providing our services during this crisis, we have summarised below some of the key points and measures that are especially relevant to our clients. If you have any questions regarding our service or your property, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Continuing to Work, From Home
We had foreseen that our staff may be required to stay at home during this crisis and we invested in the necessary IT equipment to enable as many of our services as possible to be operated remotely from our office. When the Government announced their “lockdown” measures on the 22nd March, and many businesses, pubs, restaurants and shops etc closed, we put those plans into action and our offices in Putney are now almost completely unmanned although a skeleton staff does continue to work from there dealing with incoming post and giving out keys to contractors in emergencies.
We are aware that more stringent measures may have to be taken by the Government in the near future in the battle against coronavirus and we have planned for that as far as possible so as to ensure that we can continue to maintain the fullest possible management service for our clients.
Client and Lessee/Tenant Communication
Our property managers and account staff have full access to our systems remotely as do our administrative staff and they can all work from home. You can still contact your property manager and accounts team as usual using their direct dial or mobile telephone numbers.
Our property managers are dealing with all email correspondence as normal and letters that we receive are being opened and scanned in our offices and sent electronically to the PM’s for reply. Where possible we would prefer lessees and clients to use email.
Our Property Managers are contactable on either their email or mobile during working hours (Monday to Friday 09.00-18.00) and their full contact details are listed below:
|General Enquiriesemail@example.com||020 8788 9700|
|Anna Lamers||Anna.firstname.lastname@example.org||078 4103 2035|
|Ashley Wilkins||Ashley.email@example.com||077 6716 5144|
|Douglas Olizar||Douglas.firstname.lastname@example.org||077 6716 5148|
|Elena Pletea||Elena.email@example.com||078 4103 2034|
|Eszter Varszegi||Eszter.firstname.lastname@example.org||077 6716 5150|
|Georgina Young||Georgina.email@example.com||077 1170 1931|
|Luke Sylvester||Luke.firstname.lastname@example.org||077 6716 5145|
|Marta Moutran||Marta.email@example.com||078 4103 2038|
|Natalie Ingram||Natalie.firstname.lastname@example.org||077 6716 5143|
|Robin Hinde||Robin.email@example.com||078 0229 0868|
Property Inspections and Client Meetings
Property managers have been requested by the management team to cancel or postpone site inspections until further notice to help with social distancing and to prevent the spread of the virus. Contact with clients and contractors is being maintained by the use of emails and telephone.
We have also advised our property managers to ask their clients to postpone AGM’s, EGM’s and Board Meetings etc. where possible but if they are essential, to conduct them by either video conferencing or by telephone conference calls. Your property managers can set those calls up for you and assist in the running of them.
“Essential” Maintenance Work
There is some confusion over the meaning of “essential” when describing people’s work and in deciding if it should be stopped. The Government is relying, to some extent, on people using their own judgement. Plumbers, builders, electricians etc. can all continue to carry out reactive repairs and maintenance provided social distancing is applied and it is safe to do so. Contractors have the right to refuse to enter a property or flat if this is not the case.
Out of Hours Cover
Maintracts continue to provide our emergency out of hours cover for our clients and their contact details are telephone: 020 8682 2244 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Company Secretarial and Legal Services
All of our company secretarial and legal services are now carried out online and can be operated by our staff when working from home.
Our accounts department staff are now largely working from home although our Director of Finance and Administration is still based in the office and he is able to maintain those services that can’t be provided remotely.
All lessee and tenant receipt allocation processes are carried out remotely and you should not experience any delays where payments are made electronically. A few leaseholders and tenants do still pay by cheque and there can be a delay in banking these as they have to be manually processed in the office and taken to the bank. Many high street banks are now also operating reduced opening hours.
Where possible we would ask all lessees and tenants to pay electronically.
Our contractor payment processes are operated remotely and provided that the contractors send their invoices to us by email, as most now do, we can still make payment to them promptly as usual. A very small number of contractors do still send us hard copy invoices in the post which have to be manually scanned into the systems from our office. This slows the payment process down to those contractors.
Where possible we ask all contractors to submit invoices by email.
We are able to send out all service charge budgets, annual accounts, interim service charge and ground rent invoices, invoices for the year end balancing charge as well as landlords rent accounts by email and the relevant systems are operated remotely by our staff. However, we can only do this where we have email addresses for the leaseholders and tenants. In a minority of cases we don’t have this information and all correspondence to them has to be printed out in hardcopy and sent in the post which takes time. This can slow down the process.
Service Charge Collection and Credit Control
We are aware that the steps taken by the Government in order to minimise the spread of coronavirus have had a significant impact on many individuals, making it more difficult for some of them to meet their obligations to pay service charge and rent etc.
The Government is doing all that it can to safeguard businesses by providing them with financial support in order to keep them running and they have put in place policies to ensure that individuals still receive an income to help them cover living expenses. This will help the majority of those affected to meet their obligations to pay service charges and of course allow our clients to uphold their contractual responsibilities to maintain their developments.
Neither you as our clients or JCF as your agents can waive or cease to collect service charges or give payment holidays as this will cause cash flow problems and other associated issues. We appreciate that times are difficult at the moment but our advice to our clients is that you should continue to require the leaseholders of the flats/houses in your development to pay their service charges in full albeit that in exceptional cases of hardship you may be prepared to consider reasonable alternative arrangements.
At JCF your property manager is working in conjunction with our accounts department to continue to implement our credit control procedures remotely and to ensure that we do demand and collect as much of the service charge and rent due to our clients as is possible.
The majority of our letting’s management team are currently working from home although one of our Associate Directors lives locally to the office and is currently working there helping to assist with office based functions.
All of our services can be maintained online although we do discourage our property managers and contractors from entering flats at the present time apart from where there is an emergency. Most Letting agents are currently shut and it is now almost impossible to re-let a vacant property in the current climate. However, where tenancies have come to an end and the property is vacant, we still have contractors available to undertake planned works to clean, repair and redecorate flats/houses ready for re-letting to ensure that the property can be marketed just as soon as the coronavirus crisis has ended and the restrictions have been lifted.
We shall endeavour to keep disruption to our business during these difficult times to a minimum and remain committed to continue to service our clients to the best of our abilities. We have also informed all leaseholders and AST (rental) clients about the arrangements currently in place re the provision of our management services and requested them to inform their tenants if they are subletting the property.
We will keep you updated regarding any changes to our services, and we shall publish updates as appropriate on our website.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. If you would like to discuss matters with either of us further or if you have any suggestions as to how our service can be further improved at this time, then please do contact us either by email or telephone.