Block & Estate Lifts (31.10.2016)

Lift Issues?

Have you seen our article in the latest issue of @FlatLivingLoves?  Read it here http://bit.ly/flm5s We wrote a few paragraphs about how lift failures in blocks can affect vulnerable tenants/residents & it was published in the magazine.

Our Director of Property Management also summarised some of our experiences with lifts:

 

The Trouble With Lifts

My love/hate affair with lifts has been nurtured over many years and being a managing agent, I’ve been on the receiving end of various failures and breakdowns and subsequently learnt a fair few helpful tips:

 

Maintenance Contracts

Your lift maintenance contract should be your primary go-to for making life as easy as possible for both you and your residents. If you don’t have one, get one. There are many lift contractors out there happy to do a deal on various service levels, from periodic inspections through to 24/7 coverage for all call-outs and emergencies. Depending on the age/state of the lifts and your service charge finances, make sure you get the best contract for your particular installation. These contractors will learn and understand your lifts, meaning you have a knowledgeable contractor on the end of the phone if things go wrong.

 

What Is A LOLER Report?

This is a 6 monthly mandatory inspection carried out by the underwriter who holds your insurance for the lift. These inspections are primarily to ensure the safety and functionality of the lift and under the ‘Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998’ the installation must meet a certain standard of safety and operation. There are two types of failure, serious/immediate and recommendations. It is quite easy to overlook the recommendations section as it’s not a requirement but despite pulls on your finances and clients wishes, it is worth considering quotes for these items too, as these will affect the long term life of the lift and a few pounds spent now may save many thousands in a few years.

 

Major Works/Section 20

OK so the main lift control unit and other systems has failed, it’s beyond economical repair, you’re looking at a serious spend to bring the lift back into use and to top it off, it’s probably going to breach the Section 20 threshold for your site. I won’t teach you all the basics but I’ve been there and you have three quotes in, one from your current maintenance contractor and two other competitors and one of the latter has come in the cheapest. The temptation is to instruct the cheapest quote.

This as I have discovered is a false economy and here’s why. That competitor who has quoted may very well have an understanding of lifts, but not yours and if something goes wrong after the installation you may well find yourself in a virtual tug of war between your current lift contractor and their competitor who installed the systems/panels as to who should attend, who should pay and where the blame lays.

Under Section 20 legislation, if you have a reason or preference to use a quote that has come in which may not be the cheapest but it is from your current lift contractor who has intimate knowledge of your lift installation, it may be deemed acceptable to serve a third notice to advise qualifying leaseholders of your preference and proceed on that basis having due regard to any observations/objections. However, if in any doubt, seek legal advice or consider an application for dispensation from the First Tier Tribunal.

 

Long Term Plan/Sinking Funds

Probably the most important advice I can give is to make sure you have a long term plan for your lift installation, i.e. when the lift cars are likely to need refurbishment, when the systems/panels are scheduled for replacement, etc, and start saving into your sinking fund for these works. One of the biggest expenses on an estate after the roof is a lift refurbishment which often gets overlooked and writing to leaseholders asking for a wallet-busting amount due to poor budgeting over the previous years is likely to leave you rather unpopular.

I hear rather often anecdotally that flat purchasers don’t like buying into an estate with a lift or a flat roof. Not just because they are expensive to replace, but due to the reputation of poor budgeting by managing agents and leaseholders receiving huge and unexpected bills, and I’m the first to put my hands up in my early career in block management and admit to overlooking the financial planning, but having dealt with so many issues, if I can shine a spotlight on some of the most typical problems, it may help someone avoid getting stuck.

If you want to know more or need any help & advice on any of the above, please contact me on ben@evolve-management.co.uk