Block Management in Oxford
Based in Oxford, Common Ground Estate & Property Management is ideally located to provide property management services to the Oxford and surrounding areas block management market.
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Professional Block Management
The company was set up in October 2008 to address the shortcomings the company’s founder Alan Draper had experienced as a leaseholder. He had become frustrated with his then managing agent who rarely visited the site and doubled the service charge during their tenure. He wrote this poem to describe the experience:
£95 to change a light bulb
You’ve got to be having a laugh
What about a visit to my block of flats
Say 2-00 pm at my gaff
I’m sorry sir we can’t do that
Oxford’s a very long way
We prefer to sit on our back sides
Spending your hard-earned pay
So where is it going, my service charge?
Can I see the accounts for the flat?
You’re welcome to view it in our offices
But we also charge you for that!
To address these failings and provide a better, more transparent service to the Oxford block management market, Common Ground was born. The Oxfordshire based company now manages 2,142 flats and 609 houses across 97 estates, with more than half of these being in Oxford or Oxfordshire.
At the Heart of Oxford
Transparency is at the heart of Common Ground’s success with customers able to view our accounts and see that what we are doing is right. Common Ground is also Leasehold Knowledge Partnership (LKP) accredited and actively campaigns for leaseholders’ rights.
We have a number of Oxford Block Management case studies, including:
Common Ground Estate & Property Management Ltd
East Point Business Park
Why Common Ground?
We focus on relationships with directors and residents and never lose sight of the fact that we are managing YOUR home.
A professionally maintained block or estate will add value to your property, improve relationships with neighbours and allow you to enjoy your home.
Financial Transparency and Control
Directors of Residents Management Companies can track financial information in real time. This means no nasty surprises after year end.
Our unique portal system allows all stakeholders to track progress of news, events and maintenance 24/7
The Common Ground Leasehold Library cuts through archaic legal jargon to enhance your understanding of all things leasehold.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check our frequently asked questions and knowledge base for information about Common Ground and the services that we offer.
What are your fire saftey tips for leaseholders?
- All escape routes and electric cupboards must be kept clear at all times. If you have any items of storage, combustible items or any obstructions in the stairs, electrical cupboards or escape routes, please remove them immediately.
- Door mats are provided by some flat front doors. If you have a door mat outside your flat, please remove it, as in the event of a fire they could become trapped in a flat door and allow fire or smoke to spread into the corridors or stairs.
- Read the Fire Action Notices in the communal areas to familiarise yourself with the action to take in a fire, and the location of the designated fire assembly point.
- Flat Fire Doors: All flat entrance doors that open onto the escape route must be fire doors fitted with a serviceable self-closing device and an intumescent strip/cold smoke seal with a 30 minute fire rating. It not, a fire occurring within one flat could spread into other dwellings and also compromise the means of escape. All flat entrance doors that open onto the escape route must be upgraded ASAP to include a self-closer and a third fire rated hinge if these are not already fitted. Please check your door for combined intumescent strips/cold smoke seals; these must be fitted if they are not already. If your flat door has a letter box this must be filled over or have fire resisting letter boxes fitted on the inside of the flat doors.
- The standards are (serviceable self-closing device and an intumescent strip/cold smoke seal with a 30 minute fire rating installed into either the door edge or doorframe) conforming to BS 476 part 20:22 and BS 476 part 31:1. BS 476 – Fire doors and doorframe, BS EN 1154 – Self closers, BS EN 1154 – Hinges, BS EN 1906 and BS EN 12209 – Door handles and locks.
- It is recommended that a Grade: D LD3 system in each flat (non-interlinked) with a smoke alarm in the room/lobby opening onto the escape route to protect the sleeping occupants of the flats.
What happens if a landlord proposes major works with leaseholders?
If a landlord proposes to carry out works that will cost any one leaseholder more than £250 or is looking to enter into a long term qualifying contract (Longer than 12 months) that will cost any one leaseholder more than £100, the landlord is required to go through a consultation procedure under section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
A section 20 process is made up of three distinct stages
1) Notice of Intention to Carry Out Works” upon all lessees. The Notice must generally describe the proposed works, state the reasons for considering the proposed works, and invite leaseholders to make written observations within 30 days
2) At the expiration of the 30 day consultation period, at least two estimates should be obtained:
“Notice to Accompany the Statement of Estimates” must also be served in conjunction with the Statement of Estimates, which sets out the hours and place where details of the estimates may be inspected, inviting lessees to make written observations on the estimates within 30 days, specifying the address to which those observations should be sent.
3) Award of contract
If at the expiration of the consultation period, the chosen contractor did not provide the lowest estimate, then a “Notice of Reasons” must be served upon all lessees
Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenants is the subject of a great deal of case law and is a subject of discussion in it’s own right
For further reading see https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/section-20-consultation-private-landlords-resident-management-companies-agents/
What is Ground Rent and how is it different from a service charge?
Ground rent is the money that you pay as a leaseholder to the Landlord or Freeholder for basically renting the land that the leasehold property sits on. This is usually a fixed sum and is paid annually.
The service charge is payment for all the services (such as maintenance of gardens and communual areas) that you as a leaseholder will use but will not be specifically responsible for. This will often be an estimate of what the landlord will anticipate will be for the forthcoming year.
Ground rent can be collected directly by the Landlord, by the managing agent or a specialist ground rent collection company on behalf of the Landlord or Freeholder
"I very highly recommend Common Ground. Their conscientious team is highly professional, experienced and efficient, which is extremely reassuring to Directors and responsible owners of properties. They are pro-active, helping to plan ahead and to anticipate problems, which they can deal with firmly but sensitively. They are a pleasure to work with."
“We moved to Common Ground from one of the large national agents. The list of maintenance items that required attention was growing longer and longer as we were moved from one property manager to the next. Common Ground stood out from the day the MD came to assess the site and fixed two of the outstanding maintenance items during that visit.
Common Ground worked through the maintenance items which we were able to track through their portal system. It’s also been a pleasure to have the same property manager and accountant throughout. The continuity is important, so it is good to work with an agent that retains its staff.”
“Our relatively small development was rescued by Common Ground after a disastrous initial situation caused by the inefficiency of the managing agents appointed by the developer. After examining the situation Common Ground came up with a first rate transparent management system which gave directors full and instant access to accounts and other matters, such as legal advice and rights of leaseholders. They make managing easy for directors and attend to everyday problems promptly.”