Residents at Downy Court in Poole are voting to end their live-in house manager service at the end of the month as a way of cutting service charges.
The flat is one of hundreds owned by FirstPort that was granted a lease in 2009, when Vincent Tchenguiz, who owns the freehold, also owned Peverel, which became FirstPort last year.
The residents have already received £6,200 in LED lighting and FirstPort will put £5,000 into the contingency fund.
A two-bedroom flat at Downy Court is offered for sale at £118,000, so if the residents vote to end the in-house manager’s service they will also be making an extremely generous gift to FirstPort.
On behalf of the residents, Carlex raised a number of questions with Keith Shields, the MD of FirstPort Retirement who responds below:
Does the flat at this site belong to FirstPort? If so, from what date?
Yes, the flat belongs to FirstPort and has done since May 2009.
The residents tell me that FirstPort is prepared to pay £11,200 into the contingency fund if the residents vote for a visiting manager and the flat is sold. Is this the case, and if so why are you prepared to pay this sum rather than the established £10,000?
The contribution made by FirstPort is usually either a cash contribution into a development’s contingency fund or an alternative contribution tailored to the needs of the development e.g. LED lighting upgrades, lift upgrades, communal furniture or carpet replacement. The final settlement varies on a case-by-case basis depending on a range of factors, but in particular recognising the wishes of the residents.
In the case of Downy Court, a sum of £6,200 was agreed to provide for the installation of LED lighting – something the residents were very keen on.
As this fell below the typical amount offered, we agreed to a cash contribution of £5,000.
They also say that two years ago they had to pay £10,000 on the house manager’s flat, including a new kitchen and bathroom because they were told the freeholder had requested these improvements. Did the residents spend this sum on improving the flat?
I can confirm the following has been spent on the Development Manager flat since it was first built in 1990:
- The kitchen was refurbished in 2014 at a cost of £4,560 (including VAT)
- The bathroom was refurbished in 2013 at a cost of £4,056 (including VAT)
- New carpets in 2010 at a cost of £1,551 (including VAT)
All of the costs highlighted above have been for the benefit of the Development Manager living in the property.
This is their home, and we have a duty to ensure that it is maintained to a good standard. At the time of the refurbishment, the kitchen and bathroom had been in place for over 20 years, so would have been coming to the end of their life and were due an upgrade, regardless of any future plans to sell.