Services for Property Developers
Building and maintaining excellent relationships with our leaseholders ensures that our freeholder and property developer clients are not burdened with leaseholder enquiries or complaints. To ensure the successful management of the development, we require developers to agree to Common Ground’s code of ethics for developers (see below).
When working with developers and new builds, we appreciate that keeping service charges as low as possible makes the properties more marketable but it is also important that they are realistic. We can advise at all stages of development to help you create a development that will ensure a low but realistic service charge.
Whatever type of management advice or expertise you need, we will work with you to decide exactly what services you need and develop a tailored management handover plan to suit your needs. We can;
- advise on the design, construction and legal framework of the development
- set up and implement residents’ management companies
- help you set up and manage service charges, budgets and reserve funds
- recruit maintenance contractors, porters and other maintenance staff
- help you work with groups of private leaseholders
- collect ground rent on your behalf
Code of Ethics
We always regard the leaseholder as our primary client and this only works if there are no conflicts of interest between Common Ground and it’s developer clients. As such, we require all developer clients to agree to the following code of ethics:
- If selling the freehold, grant leases for a minimum of 125 years
- Create an honest and realistic budget from day 1 to include contributions to reserves to cover at least the first re-decoration cycle and any items that may need to be renewed within the 1st ten years
- Include snagging beyond the first 2 years, ideally up to 5 years.
- Rectify any building non-compliances or faults at your cost (never the leaseholders)
- Do not sign long term “rental” agreements, where the rent of such equipment is added to the service charge. All too common with access control systems.
- Prevent the installation of equipment tying leaseholders to a single maintenance contractor.
- Create a leaseholder-run residents management company that has responsibility for the management (or appointment of managing agent)
- Do not sub-contract the issuing of the final building compliance certificate to the same organisation that provides buildings warranties/insurance.
- Peppercorn ground rents (Now a requirement of The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022)
- Not to offer capped service charges to parts of a development (meaning other parts have to cover potential shortfalls).
- Ensure the management company has responsibility for both selecting and arranging insurances
- Sign up to this code of ethics and include it in their sales packs
Common Ground is actively campaiging for the abolition of leasehold to be replaced by commonhold. To this end, from 11th October 2022, upon appointment, we require developers to vest the freehold interest with the resident’s management company and 999 year leases granted to each leaseholder at a peppercorn rent. For further information please see our annoucement
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.”