Who is Horizon Management and what do they do?
We are the managing agent for your development. We have been instructed by either the Freeholder, Management Company or Right to Manage, referred to within your lease, to provide various services and to manage the development. Our aim is always to ensure that the building is well managed to help protect the value of your asset.
If my contact details change what should I do?
It is essential for the efficient running of the development that our records are kept up to date with the correct contact information. If any of your personal details change, please contact as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I directly contact my Block Manager? If so, how?
Yes, each of the buildings we manage has a named Block Manager who is dedicated to you and fully supported by their wider team. You can email, mail or call your Block Manager.
General Property Management Definitions
What is a Landlord/Freeholder?
The Landlord owns the building as a whole and the lease will set out the obligations of the Landlord in respect of maintenance and insurance. They (or the appointed managing agent on their behalf) collect fees for these services from leaseholders known as service charges.
The role of the Landlord is limited and they may contact you to notify you of rent due. Most developments have ground rent to pay. Ground Rents are normally demanded and collected by a Landlord and these are separate to Service Charges.
What is a Management Company?
A Management Company is normally formed by the Developer/Landlord (Lessor). The Company is usually a limited company either by shares or membership and has Directors. Initially, the Directors will be representatives of the developers or their Agents. Once the development of a site has been completed and the last property sold, the existing Directors will resign, and the Lessees/Residents will set up a recognised committee and appoint their own Directors to act for the Company as the Management Board. All Lessees join the Company when they purchase a property and will normally be responsible for the running of the Management Company.
Due to the complexity of operating a Management Company, many companies appoint a Managing Agent to act on their behalf.
What is a Managing Agent?
Sometimes the Landlord carries out the management of a property; alternatively, a Managing Agent may be appointed to manage and maintain the building on behalf of the Landlord, Residents Management Company or Right to Manage, in accordance with the terms of the lease, current relevant legislation and codes of practice. The Agent takes instruction from the Landlord (or Limited Company Board of Directors), not the individual leaseholders, but should constantly be aware of the leaseholders’ wishes and requirements. The Agent will receive a fee, which will usually be paid by leaseholders as part of the service charges. This may be based on a specified percentage of the day-to-day service charges, but good and common practice is for it to be a fixed fee per annum. Where major works are involved, the Agent may charge an additional fee, which will normally be a percentage of the total cost of such works.
Agents are not solely responsible for the operation of development and may need to seek instructions from the Company in respect of lease matters or maintenance.
What is leasehold?
Leasehold ownership of an apartment is simply a long tenancy, the right to occupation and use of the apartment for a long period – the ‘term’ of the lease. This can be for 99 to 999 years and the apartment can be bought and sold during that term. The term is fixed at the beginning and so decreases in length year by year.
Leasehold apartments can be located in purpose-built blocks, in converted houses or above commercial or retail premises. The ownership of the apartment usually relates to everything within the four walls of the apartment, including floorboards and plaster to walls and ceiling, but does not usually include the external or structural walls. The Landlord, who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the building, owns the structure and common parts of the building and the land it stands on.
The Landlord can be a person or a company, including a local authority or a housing association. It is also becoming quite common for the leaseholders to own the freehold of the building, through a residents’ Management Company, effectively becoming their own Landlord. In the event of the right to manage, the lessees will not own the freehold but will be able to manage the building as if they were the Landlord.
What is a lease?
The lease is a legal agreement between the landlord and leaseholder (and in some cases the management company). It explains the rights and responsibilities that the various parties have. When an apartment is sold, the seller passes on the rights and responsibilities of the lease to the purchaser.
What is ground rent?
The lease agreement will usually contain a requirement for the leaseholder to pay a ‘ground rent’ to the landlord. The ‘ground rent’ must be paid in accordance with the lease, subject to the issue of a statutory demand by the landlord or their agent.
What is a service charge?
A service charge is a charge that leaseholders are liable to pay under the terms of their lease – it represents a share of the cost of maintaining and insuring the building or development.
Typically this may include such costs as the cleaning of communal areas, ground maintenance, lift maintenance, repairs and maintenance within the communal areas and which may also include sections of the building that you do not directly benefit from the use of. Your lease will detail the specific items which are included in your service charge.
Service charge amounts vary from year to year and will be based on predicted expenditure. Once the financial year is over and the service charge accounts have been formalised any surplus or shortfall will be dealt with in accordance with the lease.
How is the service charge calculated?
Horizon Management prepares a budget for your block each year according to the criteria set out in the individual leases and based on a review of the expenditure for the previous year and any proposed expenditure for the forthcoming years.
A provision might also be made for cyclical repairs of building fabric and items such as internal or external redecoration and also future, unforeseen expenditure. This is known as a reserve or sinking fund.
The budget is then usually discussed and mutually agreed with representatives of your Management Company or Residents Association before the start of the budget year.
What is a balancing charge or balancing credit?
At the end of the service charge period, a reconciliation of actual expenditure is compared to the amount requested in advance. Any variation between budgeted expenditure and actual expenditure (i.e. a surplus or a shortfall) is then apportioned to each leaseholder.
How do I know what my service charge is spent on?
At the end of each financial year, statements are prepared by an independent accountant showing income and expenditure for your property. The statements are circulated to all leaseholders, who can be provided with further details of any items of expenditure upon request.
What happens if I don’t pay the Service Charge?
Leases often contain a clause allowing the landlord to terminate (forfeit) the lease if the tenant defaults upon their obligations.
If you are experiencing difficulties keeping up with your payments please contact your Block Manager at email@example.com
Alternatively, there are various organisations that may be able to assist. For friendly, independent advice, please contact:
National Debtline; 0808 808 4000
Step Change Debt Charity; 0800 138 1111
Citizens Advice; Search for local contact details.
What is a reserve or sinking fund?
A reserve or sinking fund is usually included within the annual service charge budget for each year and is a fund built-up over a period of time to be used for a special purpose such as a large scheme of work. This could be a roof renewal, re-decoration of the common parts or lift replacement.
The aim of the fund is to spread the cost of these works over a longer period of time to avoid a very large bill in one service charge year.
Typical Service Charge Budget
Each year, agents are required to provide you with a Service Charge Budget. This budget is devised by the Management Company/Agent/Landlord to allow the development to demand reasonable Service Charges. The budgets are devised by comparing actual expenditure and estimated future expenditure. This budget would normally include a provision for future reserve funds to allow the Management Company to deal with the obligations as set out within the lease. This may include external decoration, internal decoration, roof refurbishment and other costly expenses likely to be incurred by your development.
What is a balancing adjustment?
Best practice is for Managing Agents to produce year end accounts and service charge certificates within 6 months of the development’s financial year end. Leaseholders have a legal obligation to contribute to their allocated proportion of actual costs incurred. The service charge certificate will detail the total payable by the leaseholder as well as the total anticipated service charges demanded during the related financial year. Should the proportion of actual costs incurred be greater than the total of the anticipated demands, the leaseholder will be required to make payment of the balance. However, should the proportion of actual costs incurred be lower than the total of anticipated demands, a credit will be to the leaseholders account to be offset against future demands. However this all depends on what is stated in the lease on how surpluses and deficits are dealt with.
What is a repair provision?
A repair provision is an estimated amount, listed in the annual budget, for the predicted repairs and maintenance for the year for any building or estate. The actual costs for repairs and maintenance for the year could be lower, or higher, depending on what maintenance has been required throughout the year.
It is a challenging job to completely accurately predict the exact amount which will be spent on repairs and maintenance, as there are often maintenance items, which cannot always be anticipated at the beginning of the year. These, for instance could be a repair due to a lift failure, or a communal door or fire alarm system, which develops a fault. If the total cost of the repairs are higher than the originally anticipated budget amount, there may be further funds required to pay for this.
Horizon will set the budget for the repair provision, as accurately as we can, with the information we have available to us, at the time the budget is set.
When is a Section 20 notice for qualifying work required?
Section 20 of The Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 requires consultation on one off sets of qualifying works to a building or premises, where any tenant is required to contribute more than £250 towards these works by way of a service charge.
Your Rights and Responsibilities
What are your contractual rights?
Primarily, the right of peaceable occupation of the apartment for the term of the lease, usually referred to as ‘quiet enjoyment’. In addition, the leaseholder has the right to expect the Landlord to maintain and repair the building and manage the common parts – that is, the parts of the building or grounds not specifically granted to the leaseholder in the lease but to which there are rights of access, for example, the entrance hall and staircases.
What are your responsibilities?
Principally, these will be the requirements to keep the inside of the apartment in good order, to pay (on time) a share of the costs of maintaining and running the building, to behave in a neighbourly manner and not to do certain things without the Landlord’s consent, for example, make alterations or sub-let. The Landlord has an obligation to ensure that the leaseholder complies with such responsibilities for the good of all the other leaseholders. These rights and responsibilities will be set out in the lease.
How do I pay for my service charge?
As a leaseholder you will receive a service charge demand at the frequency your lease dictates, typically annually, half yearly or quarterly. You can pay the demanded amount either by standing order or internet banking. If you have any queries regarding your service charge account please contact us. We do not accept cheques.
What happens if I can’t afford to pay my service charge?
We recognise that personal circumstances change and some leaseholders do find that they have difficulty in paying. In the first instance it is important you contact us, without delay, to discuss payment options.
Do I still have to pay service charge if my property is empty, or if I am renting the property to a tenant?
The current owner is liable for making service charge payments, regardless of who is living in the property, even if it is empty. The lease you signed when you purchased the property commits you to pay service charge while you are the owner of the property.
I own my house freehold, why I am I being asked to pay service charges?
A managing agent is appointed to maintain any communal grounds i.e. car parks or landscaped areas, by the Freeholder of these areas. Your Transfer document will detail your requirement to contribute towards the maintenance of these areas; your solicitor should have explained this in detail, when you purchased your property.
What is an excess or balancing service charge and why do I have to pay this in addition to my annual payment?
A budget is set each year for what we anticipate will be the cost of the maintenance at the development. However, it is difficult to get the budget completely accurate, when we have increases in certain prices and maintenance or repairs which could not be foreseen at the beginning of the year, when the budget was set. There is often an adjustment to the service charge after the year end as it is unlikely that an estimate will equal the amount expended during the year.
This adjustment can be a credit if there is an over estimate, or a debit if there is under estimate.
If the amount spent is over the amount budgeted, an invoice will be sent to you for your share of the balance due. If there is an over estimate, the adjustment will be credited to your account or transferred to a reserve/sinking fund for future expenditure.
Do I need permission/authorisation or consent to let my property or rent it out?
Most leases require a leaseholder to request a ‘consent to underlet’ from the freeholder or management company, if any subletting is proposed. This normally involves an application and a fee for the process of the application. You can find the contact details for your freeholder on your service charge and ground rent demands.
Please be aware, any under-letting that is agreed without the freeholders authorisation could be in breach of the lease and could result in legal proceedings against the leaseholder. You must ensure you thoroughly check your lease, before subletting your property.
Do I need permission/authorisation or consent to make alterations to my property, or replace the windows etc?
Most leases require a leaseholder to request consent from the freeholder, if any alterations are proposed. This normally involves an application with supporting drawings and a fee for the freeholder to process the application. You can find the contact details for your freeholder on your service charge and ground rent demands.
Please be aware, any alterations that are carried out without the freeholders authorisation could be in breach of the lease and could result in legal proceedings against the leaseholder. You must ensure you thoroughly check your lease, before making any alterations.
Who arranges buildings insurance?
The freeholder/management company (or managing agent on their behalf) arrange the building insurance for the development. This is paid for within the Service Charges paid by the leaseholders.
However leaseholders are responsible for arranging their own contents insurance for within each apartment.
Making a Claim
Buildings insurance does not insure everything! For a claim to be valid, the cause of the damage usually has to be one of the following; fire, theft, escape of water and a sometimes accidental damage.
Making a claim is not that difficult. The first thing to calculate is how much is the damage. Obtain a quotation for the repair. Is it underneath the excess? if so then insurers will not pay the claim. If it’s just over the excess, is the claim really worth making? Once a value of claim is known, report this to your managing agent who will report to insurers with accompanying information such as the repair estimate. Dependent upon the size of the claim, the insurers may well require a loss adjuster to visit. A loss adjuster are the eyes and ears of the insurers, they are not there to reduce the claim, but to make sure the claim falls within the scope of the policy. Once the scope has been agreed, they will review the damage and make sure the damage is covered by the estimate of the works and report to insurers. Claims payments come from insurers and usually directly to contractors or to the managing agent.
Who is responsible for carrying out repairs within my apartment?
Typically, the maintenance, repair, re-decoration and insuring of contents inside the individual property are the responsibility of the leaseholder. This usually includes the repair and maintenance of any conduit, pipe or supply that exclusively services the individual property.
What if I have a maintenance issue?
As managing agents, we would only become involved with an issue should this be within the communal areas or estate of the property. Anything maintenance-related within your own apartment would be the responsibility of the leaseholder.
What contractors do you use to deal with property issues?
We work with a selection of local contractors, many of which we’ve worked with for years. Over that time, they have consistently proven themselves to be reliable and good value.
Health and Safety
Do we need a health and safety risk assessment?
There is no precise jurisdiction that requires the Health and Safety risk assessment to be carried out. However, the landlord or management company and subsequently any managing agent has a responsibility to ensure that all areas used in common with others (details in the lease) such as the roof, gutters, paths car parks, steps etc are safe for all visitors and residents. A common or communal area is any area that is not contained within the demise of the individual properties, details of the exact description can be found within in lease.
Do we need a fire risk assessment?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires an inspection to be carried out in all communal areas of a block of residential flats/apartments. The responsible person for the property has a legal requirement to reduce the risk of fire where possible and ensure there is a fire safety policy, so that in the event of a fire all residents and visitors will know a safe point of exit. Horizon ensures that regular fire risk assessments are carried out.
Should our communal fire alarm and emergency lighting systems be regularly tested?
Yes! It is important that all these systems are tested, as per the legislative requirements and any freeholder, resident’s management company or managing agent, should be able to provide records to satisfy the testing and maintenance carried out. At Horizon, we ensure that all regulations are met.
What if I wish to make a complaint?
Horizon Management are committed to providing a high-quality service to all of our clients. However, we are always looking to improve our services and would welcome any feedback or comments. In the first instance please contact us with your issue and we would endeavour to rectify any issues you may have.
How do I change my Managing Agent?
If you’re unhappy with the current Managing Agent you have in place, Horizon has a dedicated team to help you make that change. If the Managing Agents are appointed by the Freeholder, then you can direct your views concerning the choice of agents to the Freeholder. We can advise you in this regard if required. If the agent is appointed by the Management Company there is usually the opportunity for leaseholders to make their views known to Directors of the Management Company either informally or at the Annual General Meeting. If leaseholders are part of a Right To Manage then a decision can be made quicker on change of managing agent. If you are considering becoming a Right to Manage please follow this link.
Someone has dumped big bulky household items in the bin store area
If you see someone dumping bulky items, like mattresses, headboards, electrical equipment or leaving bin bags on the floor, please report this to us. This is fly-tipping and is illegal.
My neighbour's music is too loud and is constantly playing at unsociable hours
Loud music travels through the floors and it is very distracting, especially if you’re trying to sleep. If confronting the neighbour doesn’t work, the Local Authority will have a dedicated Noise Control Team that will come to your house a record the noise and then start sending out warnings.
This unsocial activity may also be against the lease and therefore leaseholders are responsible for ensuring residents abide by this and other conditions stipulated in the leases.
Please also report any noise problem to us, with as much evidence as possible, such as recordings, times and dates, and we’ll make pro-active efforts to resolve the problem in a confidential and courteous manner.
Any issues of a criminal nature should be reported directly to the local police.
Selling or Buying Leasehold property
What is the process of selling or buying a leasehold flat?
Selling a leasehold flat is very similar to selling a freehold house. In most cases the seller will need an LPE1 Management Pack which we charge at a set fee. Please contact this when you need one.
The managing agent/management company and/or freeholder will then need to be notified as soon as the sale is agreed; your solicitor will normally deal with this.
There will be some enquiries, from the buyer’s solicitors, in relation to the service charges and the management of the flats, but these will be dealt with between the two solicitors.
One of the enquiries will be in relation to any service charge or ground rent arrears, so please ensure your payments are up to date, in order not to delay your sale.
Once the sale or purchase is complete there will be post completion documents that the buyer’s solicitor will need to sort with the freeholder/management company/agent and the Land Registry.
If you require any further information in relation to the sales process, please contact your solicitor.
How does my solicitor obtain a certificate of compliance, required for registration of the property at the land registry?
Any certificate of compliance required by the land registry will be issued by Horizon, when all service charge arrears, ground rent arrears and registration fees are paid.
What is a ‘retention’ and why do I have to pay this when I sell my property?
A retention of funds is when moneys are paid by the seller when the Service Charge accounts for the end of the financial year have not yet been finalised; the retention amount is paid in case the next finalised accounts show a deficit. It is very difficult to recover funds from a leaseholder, once they have sold a property, so it is very important the retention is collected to avoid any service charges which may not be recoverable. By retaining funds, it also means that the purchaser will not be required to pay moneys owed, prior to their purchase and ownership of the property. The retention amount refers to the current financial year and is refunded in full, in part, or not at all, depending on any deficit shown in the accounts, once finalised; any monies due will be refunded, after the accounts are completed at the end of the period.
Am I liable to pay Service Charges for any period prior to me owning the property?
Your conveyancer should ensure that service charge payments are up to date before you complete the purchase.
Property Management FAQs
When do the bins get cleared?
The communal bins are cleared by the local authority on a weekly basis. Please make sure that all bin bags are places in the correct receptacles as any items left on the floor will not be removed and this will lead to Health and Safety issues. The local authority will not take away bulky items, these items are down to individuals to dispose of in the correct manner.
I've lost my fob; how do I get a new one?
You have to pay for a fob. Send us an email so we can give you the details for payment and then we’ll deliver you a new fob.
I've lost my apartment door key; how do I get a new one?
Unfortunately, we can’t provide apartment door keys; please speak to your landlord or letting agent.
What about pets and my lease?
Your lease will determine whether or not pets are permitted in your block. We can provide advice on this matter on an individual basis. Please send your enquiry to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will look into this for you.
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