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1 Factoring news for homeowners in mixed tenure blocks in East Renfrewshire Winter 2015 Factoring Services News Complete our customer satisfaction survey inside this edition and you could WIN 50 worth of vouchers Factoring Services News Common repairs what happens! page 6

2 Welcome to the second edition of Factoring Services News. Throughout the past year we have been busy setting up and establishing the new factoring service for owners in mixed tenure blocks and we are well on the way to improving the services you receive. In this issue we ll take another look at the legal position on factoring and the processes the council have to go through to consult with you about common repairs and we ll explain what happens when common repairs are reported to the council. Common repairs are often an unexpected cost for owners but there are many options available to customers who are worried about paying for their repairs. We ll explain what options are available from the council s Sundry Debts team and how you can access free money advice from the Money Advice and Rights team. This year we are carrying out our first customer satisfaction survey which you will receive along with this newsletter. We will use your responses to report to the Scottish Housing Regulator and the results will be published in summer We will be inviting some owners who return their customer satisfaction survey to a focus group in February 2016 to take a look at the factoring service in more detail so be sure to let us know if you are interested in getting involved. Customer Satisfaction Survey 2015 This year we are carrying out our first customer satisfaction survey on the new factoring service. Your survey is inside this newsletter, please pull it out to complete and return it. Every year the Scottish Housing Regulator publishes a report that gives an overview of how East Renfrewshire Council has performed against the standards and outcomes set as part of the Scottish Social Housing Charter. Our first customer satisfaction survey on the new factoring service will be used to find out how well we are achieving the outcomes of the charter, identify areas where we can improve the factoring service and report to our customers and the Scottish Housing Regulator. Every completed survey returned by 31st January 2016 will be entered into a prize draw for 50 worth of vouchers. Feedback Questionnaire 2014 Last year we asked you to fill in a questionnaire telling us what you thought about the proposals for the new factoring service. We received a whopping 150 questionnaires back and were interested to read the many comments you had about the proposed service. Everyone who returned their questionnaire in time was entered into a prize draw for 50 of vouchers and the winner of the draw was Kirsty McIntyre from Barrhead. Congratulations Kirsty! 2

3 03 Your tenancy explained Written Statement of Services Factored Factoring Fee First of all we d like to say thank you very much to the 85% of customers who have already paid their factoring fee for The factoring fee pays for the members of staff who prepare estimated costs, carry out inspections at mixed tenure blocks, prepare and send invoices, communicate with owners about common repairs, arrange repairs, further development of the factoring service and general administration and running costs. Basically, it pays for the services that are dedicated to factored owners only. Remember that the factoring fee doesn t cover the cost of work and that you are still responsible to pay your share of the cost of any common repairs that are carried out at your block. Owners Written Statement of Services under the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011 Revised version: April 2015 Factoring and the Capital Programme The council carries out a capital investment programme that is separate from the factoring service. Work done under the capital investment programme is subject to separate fees and charges. You will be notified of these costs separately if capital work is proposed at your block. The income received from the capital investment programme fees doesn t come to Housing. It is used to pay for specialist services required while undertaking the programme such as architects, surveyors and clerks of works. Over the next five years the main area of capital investment in common parts of our housing stock will be to renew old or failing roofs and render. We also intend to invest in rewiring closes where needed, repairing and improving paths, bin stores and other parts of front and back gardens areas renewing failing structural and other walls tackling dampness in people s homes caused by poor drainage or failing damp proof courses improving energy efficiency close doors and door entry systems Written Statement of Services Your Written Statement of Services sets out what you can expect from the council as a factored owner. Your title deeds will specify what your own responsibilities are in respect of common parts of your block and it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with them. They will tell you what your share of the common parts is. You should also be aware of your responsibility for repairs and maintenance to your own property. Please read your written statement carefully so that you understand what service you can expect to receive from the factoring service. Mixed Tenure Scheme The Mixed Tenure Scheme is an award winning, councilfunded initiative which was established in It aims to tackle some of the problems associated with communal repairs and the need for improvements found on mixed tenure estates. A mixed tenure estate is a housing estate where there is a mix of council tenants, owner occupiers and private tenants. Some of the mixed tenure problems resolved through the scheme include close cleaning, close maintenance and re-painting, minor gutter repairs and gutter cleaning, repairs to fencing, tree felling, the introduction of improved refuse management and re-cycling and clearing up fly tipping and litter. If you live in an area where there are mixed tenure properties and you feel the scheme would be of benefit to you and your neighbours, please get in touch with us. We take referrals from individuals, elected members and community groups such as tenant and resident associations. 3

4 Factoring The Legal Stuff All homeowners have a set of documents known as title deeds. Some title deeds have a full factors clause, some have an Eastwood style factors clause and others don t have any factors clause. Below we look at the process the council has to follow when acting as factor for the block and when carrying out common repairs. If you are unsure which category your property is in, please contact us and we can let you know. Full Factors Clause If the title deeds for your property contain a full factors clause, the council has both the responsibility and the right to act as factor for the block and charge a fee for this service. It gives the council the responsibility to carry out necessary common repairs without seeking your consent regardless of how many owners are in the block. If necessary common repairs are required and you have a full factors clause in your title deeds, the council will write to you where possible to notify you of the work required and estimated costs if available. Eastwood Style Factors Clause An Eastwood Style factors clause that gives the council the right to act as factor to carry out necessary common repairs if a majority of owners, including the council, consent to the work being done. Within the terms of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004, the council have the right to charge you a factoring fee for this service as long as a majority of owners in your block, including the council, voted in favour of the council providing factoring services. If necessary common repairs are required and you have an Eastwood style factors clause in your title deeds, the council will write to you where possible to notify you of the work required and estimated costs if available and ask you to sign a mandate indicating whether or not you consent to the work being carried out. This is called a scheme decision. No Factors Clause If neither of the factors clauses are present in your title deeds then the council do not have the automatic right to carry out any repairs at your block without your consent. However, within the terms of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004, the council have the right to charge you a factoring fee for this service as long as a majority of owners in you block, including the council, voted in favour of the council providing factoring services. If any common repairs are required and you don t have a factors clause in your title deeds, the council will write to you where possible to notify you of any work required and estimated costs if available and ask you to sign a mandate indicating whether or not you consent to the work being carried out. This is called a scheme decision. Within the terms of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004, the council can only carry out common repairs at your block if a majority of owners consent to the work and all owners have returned a mandate. A close meeting is needed if one or more owners don t return their mandate. Emergency Work There may be occasions when an emergency occurs and for health and safety reasons or to prevent damage to any other part of the block. This work will be carried out without notification or a scheme decision. The Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 allows for any owner, including the council, to undertake emergency work and homeowners will still be liable for the costs in the same way that they are liable for other common repair costs. Any work in an emergency will be kept to a minimum and if further non-emergency work is required this will only be undertaken after consultation. Improvement Work In all cases, whether there is a factors clause or not, we can only carry out an improvement when we have the consent of a majority of owners AND we have a response from every owner OR we held a meeting within the terms of the Tenements (Scotland) Act

5 Customer Satisfaction Survey 2015 Factoring Service This year we are carrying out our first customer satisfaction survey on the new factoring service. The Scottish Housing Regulator publishes an annual report that gives an overview of how East Renfrewshire Council has performed against the standards and outcomes set as part of the Scottish Social Housing Charter. Our first customer satisfaction survey on the new factoring service will be used to find out how well we are achieving the outcomes of the charter, identify areas where we can improve the factoring service and report to our customers and the Scottish Housing Regulator. Every completed survey returned by 31st January 2016 will be entered into a prize draw for 50 worth of vouchers. Housing Services would be grateful if you could complete this survey and return it in the postage paid envelope provided or to: Housing Services East Renfrewshire Council 211 Main Street Barrhead East Renfrewshire G78 1SY If you respond before 31 January 2016, you will automatically be entered into our prize draw with a chance to win 50 worth of vouchers. You can also complete this survey on line by visiting: housing-services/factoring-service-customer-satisfaction If you would prefer to give your feedback by telephone please call If you do not wish to participate in the prize draw you can do this by ticking the box at the end of the questionnaire.

6 Q1 Have you reported a common repair or maintenance issue to East Renfrewshire Council since the introduction of the factoring service in April 2015? (please tick) Yes No Don t Know Q2 If yes, how satisfied were you with the ease of reporting repairs? (please tick) Very Satisfied Satisfied Neither Dissatisfied Very Dissatisfied Q3 Have you had any common repairs carried out at your block by East Renfrewshire Council since the introduction of the factoring service in April 2015? (please tick) Yes No Don t Know Q4 If yes, how satisfied were you with the overall quality of the repair carried out? (please tick) Very Satisfied Satisfied Neither Dissatisfied Very Dissatisfied Q5 How satisfied are you with the current factoring fee of 90+VAT (please tick) Very Satisfied Satisfied Neither Dissatisfied Very Dissatisfied Q6 Taking everything into account, how satisfied are you with the factoring service provided by East Renfrewshire Council? (please tick) Very Satisfied Satisfied Neither Dissatisfied Very Dissatisfied Q7 Would you be interested in taking part in a Focus Group looking at aspects of the factoring Service in 2016? (If yes, then please include your contact details on the next page) Yes No Don t Know

7 This survey is confidential and although it s not necessary we d be grateful if you can also fill in your name, address and contact details. This is essential if you wish to be included in the prize draw. We may also need to contact you if emergency repairs are required at your block. Name: Address: Phone number: address: I do not wish to participate in the prize draw How would you prefer to be contacted? (please tick all that apply) Post Telephone Text Make sure you fill in your contact details above so that you can receive future information from Housing Services. Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey. How we use your information ERC is the Data Controller. Your comments will be held on our customer satisfaction database. We will retain the information for the improvement of the service and we will use this information for monitoring purposes. Any comments used in publications are made anonymous.

8 This document can be explained to you in other languages and can be provided in alternative formats such as large print and Braille. For further information please contact Customer First on or (Braille) (Customer First)

9 Budgeting and paying for repairs When you bought your home you became responsible for the repair and maintenance of the inside and outside of your property as well as your share of the common parts, including the responsibility to pay for these repairs. Each property is different and it is difficult to provide guidance on what the repair and maintenance of each element should typically cost. It is important that you know your own property well and are able to budget for future repairs and maintenance. A detailed survey can provide estimated cost information as well as details about the condition of the elements of your home. If you are unable to have a survey carried out, you should make arrangements for putting money aside on a regular basis to help you pay for repairs and maintenance when they are needed. Paying for repairs carried out by the council When East Renfrewshire Council carry out common repairs at your block you are responsible for your share of the cost of the work. The council will send you an invoice within 60 days of East Renfrewshire Council receiving invoices from contractors and you are expected to pay the invoice within 28 days. We recognise that common repairs are often unexpected costs that you may find difficult to pay in a lump sum. Once you receive your invoice, you can contact the council s Finance team to discuss a repayment arrangement and other options. If an invoice hasn t been paid and no payment arrangement has been made the council will issue reminders to customers that their accounts are outstanding. After a reminder and a final notice have been issued and no payment has been received or an arrangement made, outstanding accounts are passed to a Sheriff Officer. Outstanding factoring fees are passed to East Renfrewshire Council s Legal Services to take further action. In order to avoid legal action for unpaid invoices you should contact the council as soon as possible if you are unable to pay your account in full. East Renfrewshire Council will explore all reasonable options to assist customers in reducing and clearing their debts. It is important that you know your own property well and are able to budget for future repairs and maintenance. Money Advice & Rights Team If you are struggling to pay your bills, the Council s Money Advice and Rights Team (MART) may be able to help. MART staff offer a range of advice and assistance. They can check your benefit entitlement, help you to apply for benefits, challenge benefit decisions and also provide budgeting and debt advice. All advice given is free, confidential, impartial and independent. The Money Advisers can assist you to negotiate repayments with any companies you owe money to (your creditors ) including East Renfrewshire Council. They will assess your income and expenditure to see what you can afford. Where appropriate they will make an offer of repayment to your creditors on your behalf. They will also advise you of any other options which may be open to you, including the Debt Arrangement Scheme, Protected Trust Deeds and sequestration. In addition, they can offer one-toone budgeting sessions to help you to improve your money management skills. If you want to contact MART for advice: call them free on and quote money advice and rights them at Text money to Freetext and add your name Visit 5

10 Common repairs what happens! What are typical common repairs? The common repairs that are reported the most are roof repairs, gutter cleaning, blocked drains and faults with the door entry system. Your share of these repairs depends on what your title deeds say, your responsibility for garden land and your usage of drains, gutters and downpipes. What other common repairs are there? Problems with the close lights, defective render, broken close windows, cracked or broken external window sills, lintels and mullions, chimney repairs and removals, problems with the building s damp proof course and entrance paths and steps are all examples of other types of common repairs that might be reported at your block. What happens when someone reports a common repair? When someone reports a common repair, the Customer Services Officer has to decide if the job can be instructed immediately or if it needs to be inspected first. If the work needs to be done in an emergency then a repair line is raised and tradesmen are asked to attend straight away. If the repair is not an emergency then an inspection is raised for the Technical Officer or tradesmen to attend and look at the job first to see what work is required and how much it is likely to cost. How will I know if an emergency common repair is carried out at my block? For health and safety reasons, an emergency repair has to be instructed right away so there isn t an opportunity to inform residents before this happens. In some cases we are able to send you a letter or to let you know that emergency work has been carried out but it is not always possible. Follow on work is often identified from an emergency repair and we will write to you with a description of work and estimated costs if follow on work is required at your block. This lets you know that emergency work was done. We are looking at whether we can establish a process to inform owners that an emergency repair has been carried out in all cases, although we have to take into account the cost associated with improving the service. How will I know if a Technical Officer has carried out an inspection at my block? The Technical Officer carries inspection receipts with him to write out on site and most of the time he will provide a receipt to everyone in the block. If that isn t possible he ll provide each of the owners in the block with one. This is because there is usually a financial impact for owners and this gives them early notice that work is required. When will I find out what work is required, how much it will cost and when it will be done? After an emergency repair or Technical Officer s inspection is carried out, the Factoring Team are provided with information of what follow on work is required and what the estimated costs are. The Factoring Team then write to you with the details of the repairs and estimated costs. There will also be information about when the work will be instructed and carried out. Depending on the factoring clause in your title deeds, you may also receive a mandate to sign and return giving your consent for the work to be done. A mandate is not required if you have a full factors clause. How long does it take before work is instructed? There are no set time limits for when work is instructed because it differs for each repair. If mandates are required before work can proceed, it can take longer to instruct the work to give owners time to respond. If no mandates are required the work can be instructed shortly after letters are sent. We try to instruct the repairs as quickly as possible after owners receive the information about repairs or return their mandates. This is to prevent any further damage being done to the building. 6

11 When do I pay for my share of the work? We aim to raise invoices within 60 days of East Renfrewshire Council receiving invoices from contractors. An exception to this is where an owner s share of the work is less than 10. In this case it will be accumulated and recharged along with the next available invoice. What do I do if I m not happy with a repair or my invoice? If you are not satisfied with any aspect of the work that is carried out or the invoice you receive please contact us for the opportunity to resolve the issue. If you are still unhappy with the outcome you can make a complaint which will be dealt with through East Renfrewshire Council s complaints handling procedure. For a copy of the council s complaints procedure, visit our website at or phone Customer Services on If your complaint relates to the council s factoring service and you think that the council has refused to resolve your complaint or has unreasonably delayed attempting to resolve it, you can take your complaint to the Homeowners Housing Panel. To do this you must first notify the council in writing of your reasons the council has failed to carry out their property factoring duties or failed to comply with the code of conduct. The Homeowner Housing Panel contact details are: Homeowner Housing Panel Europa Building 450 Argyle Street Glasgow G2 8LH Telephone: Buildings Insurance It is every homeowner s individual responsibility to ensure that they hold appropriate buildings insurance. All owners in mixed tenure blocks are required by Section 18 of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 to ensure that they hold appropriate buildings insurance for the re-instatement value of your property. Any owner may request evidence of the policy or payment of the premiums from another owner. Each buildings insurance policy is different but it is unusual for a policy to cover repairs caused by wear and tear. The necessary common repairs carried out under the factoring service are usually caused by wear and tear. In the instance that a common repair is required and may be subject to an insurance claim, the council as factor would carry out the work and recharge factored owners for their share of the cost. They would then need to make a claim for their share to their own insurers. Where possible, the council would make any information relating to that repair available to the owner and/ or their insurer. In these circumstances it is still best to report any common repairs issues to your insurer when they occur and inform them that the council will be carrying out the work and recharging you and that you will be submitting a claim upon receipt of the invoice for the work. That way they are informed as early as possible and can begin their investigations accordingly. New IT system and annual accounts East Renfrewshire Council is in the process of developing a new computer software package that will allow us to manage factored customers accounts more efficiently. The new system will allow all aspects of customer s accounts to be managed from the one place including common repairs, invoices and payments and contact details. The new system means that we will be able to send customers an annual summary of their account including the repairs they have been billed for, any factoring fees they have been charged and any payments we have received. In the meantime while the new software is being developed, you can request a summary of your account information from the factoring team. You can call the factoring team on or them at 7

12 Thank you very much to the 85% of customers who have already paid their first factoring fee for Follow us online at:

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