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FAQ

What is a Deed of Conditions?

This legal document outlines your responsibilities and obligations in terms of the titles of your property.

An example of this would be:

The Deed of Conditions says that each owner’s responsibility extends to “maintenance, repair and when necessary the renewal of non-adopted roadways, pavements, kerbs, laybys, play areas and areas of hard and soft landscaping” and “the sweeping, cleansing and lighting” of non-adopted areas in the estate, which includes litter picking and the removal of rubbish from these non-adopted areas.

What does ‘adopted’ and ‘non adopted’ mean?

Adopted and non adopted areas are determined by the Local Authority. This is turn determines whether the maintenance of an area is undertaken by the Local Authority or whether it is the responsibility of the home owner.

Why do I have to pay Choice Places when I already pay Council Tax?

Council Tax is paid to your local authority (eg. East Ayrshire Council) to meet the cost of maintenance items which come under the council’s responsibility eg refuse collection, recycling, adopted areas.

Council Tax does not cover the maintenance of non adopted areas within each estate which are the joint responsibility of all owners in the area.

Which areas are maintained by the local authority and which are not?

This varies from estate to estate, but generally the common responsibility of the home owners within the estates includes:

  • open landscaped areas
  • plays areas
  • minor footpaths
  • car-parks
  • parking spaces
  • Main footpaths (generally those 2 metres wide) are maintained by the local authority, along with access roads within the estate.

The plans we have included within this website are overlaid to help show maintenance responsibilities more clearly.

Who chose Choice Places to organise this work and why not another property management company?

The majority of owners within your estate appointed us.

Atrium Initiatives, now Choice Places, has been undertaking this role for a number of years, however in 2010 and again in 2012, we wrote to all owners seeking authority to act as factor. The Deed of Conditions makes provision for this to be changed if the majority of owners so wish. There are a number of commercial factoring agents who operate in the area, any of whom would have the skills and experience needed to undertake the work.

Can I change property management company?

Yes, you can change factors, provided the majority of the owners in an estate vote in favour of the change.

For obvious reasons we would not want to stop grass cutting, tree pruning, planting, etc. unless an alternative service is in place. Therefore, to avoid major maintenance problems, we would continue to exercise the role of manager unless, and until, the majority of owners in an estate vote to replace us with another body, and so long as it is cost effective for us to do so.

How do I know what my factoring charge is spent on?

At the beginning of each year and the end of each financial year, statements of accounts are prepared showing the estimated expenditure for the year to come and the actual expenditure for the year past.

Individual statements are circulated to all owners, who can be provided, within reason, with further details of any items of expenditure upon request.

How often is my estate inspected?

Formal open area inspections are carried out 3 times per year. These are open to all owners and are attended by contractors and Choice Places staff. We invite local authority officials and representatives from the local community council or residents association. These inspections allow an audit of works which have taken place, future works to be identified and any maintenance issues to be addressed. In addition, ad hoc inspections are carried out throughout the year by Choice Places and contractors. We value the ongoing input from owners and interested parties as our eyes and ears on site.

How does Choice Places select contractors?

Following a plan of works being agreed for each estate, Choice Places carries out an extensive and transparent procurement process to ensure the best value contractors are appointed for both hard and soft landscaping. The procurement process includes open tendering, short listing and one-to-one negotiation to ensure quality of provision and value for money.

Due to the cost attached to open tendering, (which is transferred to the owner as part of our administration fee), new contractors are normally appointed on a 3 year basis. This is a best value decision, as it keeps the administration cost of the tender low, but also means contractors can give their best price as they have security in the contract for 3 years, provided they deliver the quality of service as well.

Who decides what work needs done and can I have my say?

A plan of works is agreed through consultation with owners, community representatives and Choice Places specialist staff. All owners are welcome to have their say at the 3 open area inspections held annually within their estate. All owners will also be notified and invited to any additional consultation forums appropriate to their estate. The role of the factor is to determine what works are carried out in accordance with the Deeds of Conditions. Following consultation, a plan of works will be determined covering ‘maintenance, repair or renewal’.

Are you planning for the future maintenance of our estate?

Yes. Your ongoing factoring bill covers low cost maintenance, repair and low level renewal works. Where more substantial renewal works are required, the costs will be spread over a number of years, and planned in advance. This allows you, the owner to plan ahead and spread the cost of the work, avoiding a large bill. It also ensures that Choice Places has the necessary funds in place before entering into a contract on your behalf.

I live in a flat. What do I have to pay?

If you live in a flat, as well as contributing towards the maintenance of open areas in the general estate, you will have specific responsibilities in relation to the block of flats in which you live. The additional responsibilities will be detailed in your Title Deeds. The Title Deeds will describe which items are the shared responsibilities of all owners in the block and how costs are divided between owners. It is common for owners to use a ‘factor’ or manager to ensure that routine repairs and maintenance are carried out, the appropriate shares recovered and that all owners have adequate insurance. We arrange this insurance through a block policy which is much more cost effective than every individual owner buying their own.

What happens with emergency repairs?

Matters which are considered to be an emergency (i.e circumstances or situations which are considered dangerous or potentially seriously detrimental to the safety of persons or property), will normally be actioned within 4 hours to remove the hazard and make the area safe. Final repairs will be scheduled as necessary.

How do I pay my factoring fee?

As an agent acting on behalf of owners, Choice Places needs to ensure it has sufficient funds to procure the maintenance work for your block. Choice Places therefore requires you to pay in advance. Accounts can be paid by BACS/Fast Pay, Cheque, Direct Debit or card payment.

What if I don’t pay?

You have a legal obligation to pay. In addition, Choice Places is just the agent organising maintenance work on your behalf. If you don’t pay your bill, we won’t be able to pay the contractor; if we can’t pay the contractor, then the necessary maintenance will not get done and your area will suffer. As an agent acting for all owners, we have a responsibility to take action against non-payers, so failure to pay can lead to legal action to recover the debts. You need to be aware that if legal action is taken, it will include an action to recover all legal costs, over and above the cost of the initial bill.

I’ve just moved into a new house – will I have a factor and who selected them?

The House Developer for the estate will have appointed a Property Management Company (Factor) on your behalf. You can find out who this is by contacting the developer or by visiting the Scottish Property Factor Register.

What can I do if I am unhappy with Choice Places?

You can use our Complaints Handling Procedure. A copy of this is included in your Owners Pack and is available this website under Current Owners. You can complain in person or in writing. If you are unhappy with the result of our complaints process, you may have recourse to take your complaint to the First Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).

Ultimately, if there is widespread dissatisfaction with Choice Places, you have the right to seek to appoint another factor in our place. See our Step-by-Step guide to Changing Factor for more information.

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