This firm is now able to offer an Expert Service Charge Review to Landlords and Managing agents.
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers:
Q. We have our service charge audited by an accountant do I need this Expert Certificate as well?
A. An accountants audit doesn’t look at all of the aspects of a service charge that are open to challenge from tenants such as benefit derived from services, the reasonable apportionment and allocation of costs or the nature and cost of services provided or works undertaken. Our expert review sits alongside your accountants audit and considers the above points and more. We believe that this report will set the standard in the industry and prevent tenant disputes on properties issued with our Expert Certificate.
Q. What does your Expert Review consist of?
A. We believe that this is the best and most comprehensive independent third party service charge analysis available in the market today. Firstly we undertake a desktop analysis of the current service charge budget and reconciliation and review all the occupational leases. Secondly we arrange to review the service charge file, the invoices and contracts. Thirdly we arrange to discuss the service charge with you and/or your managing agent. Finally we either issue a certificate that states “In our professional opinion as independent service charge experts the service charge for the year ending [….] has been reconciled and issued in accordance with the lease and the current RICS service charge code” or we provide recommendations to work towards achieving this standard.
Q. When can the analysis be conducted?
A. At any time.
Q. Can any property get a certificate?
A. No. We only deal with commercial properties (not residential) and if the property doesn’t meet our standards we won’t issue a certificate. We can’t act on a property where we are already acting for a tenant that occupies that property.
Q. What is the standard to get a certificate?
A. 85% based on our proprietary scoring system.
Q. So if I get less than 85% I won’t get a certificate?
A. Correct. If you get between 75%- 84% you will get recommendations and areas that need to be addressed within 21 days to get 85% or above and to get the associated certificate.
Q. What if I get a low score do you tell me everything that I need to do to set up and run my service charge?
A. If you get below 75% we will write to you with recommendations what you need to do and where applicable provide a proposal for consultancy services to help you achieve this.
Q. Do I get a report with your findings?
A. Yes. With this service you a report plus a certificate or recommendations.
Q. How many times can I apply in a year for a certificate for each estate? (If I don’t get one first time around and have recommendations to comply with)
A. Once we have issued our recommendations and your score is 94% or below you have a period of 21 days to show us that the recommendations have been fully complied with. If you think that you have made changes to get to 95% or above we will only issue a certificate if we are satisfied that changes have been made and you have achieved the standard and if you have proven this to us within the 21 days. If your initial score is still below 95% after 21 days you will need to re-apply and pay the fee again or instruct us to assist you with consultancy services to help you achieve the required standard.
Q. Won’t you just use the information that you find out against the managing agent or the landlord?
A. No. If we are instructed on a particular property we have to remain independent so won’t then act for a tenant against that landlord on that property (or vice versa) for that year or at anytime during the period of the instruction using information obtained during this process.
Q. What if we as the landlord or managing agent are not happy with the recommendations that you provide?
A. Our findings are independent and our true opinion, however we will consider comments from the instructing party that are received within 10 days of issuing our report and confirm either that we stand by our findings or we will agree to alter them in light of the comments received.
Q. Do you tell the Tenants where a property does or doesn’t get a certificate?
A. No. In the event that a certificate is not issued and we provide recommendations this is simply communicated to the instructing party (landlord/managing agent) and they can deal with as they see fit and either undertake the recommendations or not. The recommendations are provided for the benefit of the service charge as a whole and not specifically for the sole benefit of the landlord or the sole benefit of one or more tenants. The landlord and managing agent retain full control of how the service charge operates.
Q. Do you defend your certificate where challenged by a Tenant, third party or court?
A. We are prepared to stand by our certificate and provide reasonable justification to the instructing party for issuing it. Our service does not mean that we take on the role (directly or indirectly) as advocate for the landlord or managing agent against the tenant(s) in a dispute. Our certificate should provide an exceptionally high degree of comfort to Tenants and their advisors but it doesn’t mean the service charge is not open to challenge. Where a certificate is issued and a tenant challenges the service charge we are able to provide a separate fee proposal to assist with resolving any dispute.
Q. Are your costs for providing this certificate recoverable under the service charge?
A. It depends on the leases but in our experience the answer is usually yes.
Q. So how much does this cost?
A. The fees are fixed fees depending on the size of an individual building, shopping centre or estate.
Q. How long does the certificate cover?
A. Certificates relate to one service charge year.
Q. How long does it take from you being instructed to issuing a certificate or recommendations?
A. Our USP is that providing the instructing party can meet our timescales for providing access to information it takes only 14 days from receipt of the information requested to issue our certificate or recommendations.
Q: What if I have questions?
A: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01225427267 or 07914245609.
Q: How do I get started?
A: Provide your contact details and property name and postcode and we will contact you with the next steps.