Owners

Landscape Maintenance services

We are pleased to announce that our grounds maintenance contractor Idverde will be resuming landscape maintenance activities from week commencing Monday the 11th May. We are concerned that further deterioration of landscaped areas may result in fly tipping and an increase in vermin, both of which constitute potential health hazards.  The level of service will initially be limited to ensure that safe methods of working can be delivered at a practical level, and will then be gradually increased as far as current and future Government Health and Safety Guidelines permit. Bridgewater considers the safety of the public and Idverde’s operatives to be paramount.

Bridgewater staff will be working with the contractor to agree the works programme to ensure all our estates are brought up to the standards expected.

All Idverde operatives have been trained on appropriate working techniques and will wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure their own safety and public safety. The operatives carrying out the work will maintain social distancing guidelines, so we ask you to not approach any of their workforce while they are on site. Should you have any questions in relation to the service, please contact us on 0141 812 2237, or by emailing us at factoring@bridgewaterha.org.uk or through our website and we will answer any questions you may have.

 

Landscape Maintenance – Impact of the Covid 19 Virus pandemic

Unfortunately Bridgewater’s landscape maintenance contractor can no longer carry out maintenance activities from today (30th March) for the foreseeable future.  Our contractor, idverde has written to us to say:

“Bridgewater Housing Association Grounds Maintenance

Covid-19 Coronavirus: Suspension of Site Works

We refer to the latest advice and directions issued this week by the Scottish Government and First Minister to prevent, slow down and suppress the spread the Covid-19 pandemic and specifically the more recent clarification and enforcement that only genuine essential work and services should continue.

Despite our many measures put in place to protect the health of our colleagues whilst ensuring continuity of works and services to you over the last few weeks, in compliance with these directives, and to ensure the ongoing health, welfare and safety of our employees, clients, our families and the general public, we believe that our works and services to you, under the circumstances can no longer be considered essential. As a result, idverde is in the process of demobilising our works and services whilst taking all the necessary measures to protect the health of the public and our colleagues.

Effective from Monday 30 March 2020 our work for you across Bridgewater HA’s estate will be suspended. The services will remain suspended through this period of crisis until notified otherwise when directed as safe to return to work. As part of our service suspension we have taken ‘typical’ photographs to confirm current site standards and where safe to do so will check the estates from time to time during this period.”

: Suspension of Site Works           

This will mean for example that grass cutting, shrub and hedge pruning, weed control and litter picking will not be carried out during April, May and probably June as things look at present. The effect of this will be particularly significant as we enter the spring and summer growing seasons. We would be grateful if you would avoid contacting the Association about the condition of the landscaping unless it is an emergency i.e. something that may be dangerous if left unattended. Unfortunately the condition of the landscaping will deteriorate rapidly and will look unsightly until such times as our contractors workforce can return to work. The latest estimated date for this is June although this may change. Unfortunately we have a limited capacity to respond to calls from residents and we are unable to respond to non-emergency calls. Idverde’s supervisory staff will be inspecting and photographing the estate areas from time to time and we are currently working with them to plan for getting the landscaping back into a manageable condition as soon as this becomes possible.

We would advise residents do not go onto open landscaped areas until  further notice.

We are grateful for your support and assistance during this challenging time.

Our Mission

To deliver high quality and responsive land and property management services that meet the needs and expectations of our customers.

Our Vision

Our vision is the provision of a service which is valued by its customers and which consistently delivers value for money.

We have provided every owner with a written statement of services which sets out our obligations to anyone who receives our Factoring Service, as required by the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011. A copy of these statements can be found Here: House / Flat.

The management fee you pay us gives you access to a range of core services, including:

Flat Owners

  • Emergency repairs
  • Day to day repairs
  • Major repairs
  • Cyclical maintenance
  • Building insurance
  • Electricity supplies for close lighting and door entry systems
  • Recovering all residents’ share of costs
  • Arranging close meetings and recording residents’ votes
  • Maintaining common landscaped areas, including unadopted roads, footpaths and car parks
  • Information and advice, for example, through newsletters
  • Complying with legislation, including the Property Factors Act.

House Owners

  • Maintaining common landscaped areas, including unadopted roads, footpaths and car parks
  • Recovering all residents’ share of costs
  • Information and advice, for example, through newsletters
  • Complying with legislation, including the Property Factors Act.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are the costs for my bill worked out?

If you live in a house the costs you pay are apportioned based on the work carried out in your management area. These are called common repairs. Every one of the properties rented from the Association and sold under the Right to Buy is associated with a Management area. There are 4 of these areas:

Bargarran with 795 properties

North Barr with 974 properties

Park Mains I with 719 properties

Park Mains II with 903 properties

Each owner and tenant   pays   an equal share of the total cost for common repairs within their management area. For example, someone living in Bargarran would pay one 795th of the cost of repairs. Tenants pay for their contribution through their rent.

Some houses also have a small footpath which services only a limited number of houses in their street. In these cases owners will also have to pay for the maintenance of these paths. This charge will be shown separately on your account, if it applies.

Owners who live in flats require to pay common charges, and also block common charges, for repairs to the individual blocks of flats they live in.

What are "Common Charges"?

These include day-to-day maintenance work which is carried out somewhere in the management area. Such repairs can include:

  • cleaning out manholes and gullies
  • rebuilding defective brickwork to retaining walls
  • incidental footpath repairs
  • repairs to car parking areas, and so on.

What are block "Common Charges"?

These are repairs which are carried out to the common areas within a block of flats. These can include:

  • Roof and gutter repairs
  • Repairs to the controlled door entry system
  • Repairs to the backcourt, bin store area etc.

If you live in a block which has 6 flats, for example, you will pay a 1/6th share of the costs carried out to common areas in your block.

If you live in a flat you are legally obliged to pay your share of these costs and this is detailed in your Title Deeds.

What are "Cyclical Repairs"?

These include work that is carried out on a programmed basis, normally every five years, and include work such as maintenance painterwork.

What work gets carried out under the landscape maintenance contract?

Most of the landscaped areas within the Association’s management areas are owned by Bridgewater Housing Association, and we have the responsibility for maintaining them. This entails a great deal of work and includes:

  • Grass cutting
  • The maintenance of shrub beds
  • Planting
  • Trimming and pruning
  • Weeding
  • Litter collection
  • Maintenance of trees and woodlands
  • Repairing and replacing fencing
  • Drainage repairs

To give some sense of scale, the Association   is responsible for the maintenance of 57 acres of grass and shrub areas within the 4 management areas. This is in addition to trees, woodland, hedges and hard landscape areas.

As this is a very large contract, the Association employs professional quantity surveyors to ensure that costs are carefully controlled, and properly allocated to the various management areas.

If we did not carry out this work, eventually the deterioration in standards would affect the value of your house.

The work you have described is not near my home. I haven't seen it or walked on it. Why do I have to pay for it?

As an owner occupier you are responsible along with the other owners in your management area to contribute to these repairs. Tenants pay their share of the costs through their rents.

You are legally obliged to contribute to these costs and these obligations are detailed in your Title Deeds. If you are unsure about what’s in your Title Deeds, you may want to speak to your solicitor.

It doesn’t matter if the repair/replacement wasn’t right next to your home, if it was in your management area, then you are legally bound to contribute  towards the costs incurred.

My flat is factored. What does this mean and what do I pay for?

This means that the Association effectively manages the maintenance of the common parts of your block. This includes arranging for communal repairs; monitoring the performance of contractors who work in your block; making payments to contractors; issuing accounts to the owners in your block who have to pay for these common charges; and collecting payments.

The majority of our factored owners have their buildings insurance with us; this is a condition of the title deeds.  As our factored owners are included in our global policy, they receive excellent value for money.

A great deal of work is required in selecting contractors and monitoring their performance to ensure that the Association’s customers are getting value for money.

What is the administration fee for?

The administration fee covers the cost of a range of things. These include organising tenders for the landscape maintenance contract and other work carried out in common areas; managing these contracts including quality control and value for money; dealing with enquiries about the work we do; and the costs associated with preparing and issuing your account.

I have to pay a Management Fee but I don’t know what this is for. Why do I have to pay it?

The Management Fee is reviewed annually and is approved by the Association’s Management Committee. It is currently   £1.73  per week  and  applies to flat owners only.  This covers all the work detailed in the previous question for houses but also includes the costs associated with factoring blocks of flats (see previous question re factored blocks).

Isn't this what I pay council tax for?

Your Council tax bill only includes work carried out by Renfrewshire council. The landscaped areas and many footpaths in the area you live in have not been adopted by the council. It is Bridgewater’s responsibility to maintain these areas and owner occupiers responsibility to contribute towards the cost of this work.

Which areas belong to Bridgewater and which are maintained by Renfrewshire Council?

We have detailed maps in our office which show who is responsible for unadopted pathways and landscaped areas. If you are interested in viewing these maps you are welcome to call into the office. It is worth noting that all roads are maintained by Renfrewshire Council.

Why do the Council not maintain all common areas?

The Council have advised us that they would require the equivalent of 15 years of landscaped maintenance costs to be paid in advance of them adopting the landscaped areas, and all footpaths would have to be upgraded to adoption standard. It would be unlikely that many residents would find this affordable, and it will also require a majority of residents to agree to these changes, which we know from experience, is unlikely to be achieved.

Can I purchase an area of common ground?

It is the Association’s policy not to sell off areas of common land, other than in exceptional circumstances. The Association is reviewing its policy with a view to making it easier for small areas of land to be acquired by residents. We have experienced significant legal and regulatory obstacles in trying to do this, which is prolonging the process. As it stands we are not in a position to sell pieces of land, however, should this change we will write to all residents when there are changes to the current policy.

Information

Mortgage to Rent Scheme

Are you in danger of losing your home?      Help is at hand ……

If you own your own home and are in danger of having it repossessed as a result of financial difficulties, then the Scottish Government may be able to help you.

The Scottish Government operates 2 schemes, as part of the Home Owners’ Support Fund, to help owners who are experiencing difficulty in paying any loans that are secured against their property – the Mortgage to Rent Scheme and the Mortgage to Shared Equity Scheme.

Under the Mortgage to Rent Scheme the Scottish Government can arrange for a social landlord such as a housing association or a local authority to buy your home and for you to continue to live there as a tenant.

The Mortgage to Shared Equity Scheme involves the Scottish Government taking a financial stake in your home.  You will still own your home and continue to have responsibility for maintaining and insuring it. But you will be able to reduce the amount you have to pay to your lender every month.

If you are experiencing difficulty in paying any loans that are secured against your home you should tell your lender immediately.

To be considered for either the Mortgage to Rent or Mortgage to Shared Equity scheme you must have:

  • Failed to reach agreement with your lender on how to manage your arrears or have had a trustee appointed to your estate and our trustee is looking to force the sale of your property; and
  • Obtained independent advice about your financial situation from a Citizens Advice Bureau, Money Advice outlet or local authority advice centre.

In addition:

  • The value of your home must be less than the maximum levels the Scottish Government have set depending on the size and location of your home. Your independent adviser will be able to provide you with up-to-date information on these values.  The information is also available on the Scottish Governments website at scotland.gov.uk.  And the Scottish Government can be flexible if you have a particular housing need as a result of a disability.
  • You must have been unable to make full payments on a loan secured against your home for at least 3 months and have cumulative arrears of at least one month. If you have had a trustee appointed to your estate this condition regarding arrears does not apply.
  • You must be ineligible for help through other UK Government support schemes such as income Support or Mortgage Interest.
  • You must not normally own a home elsewhere. However, in exceptional circumstances, we will consider your case
  • You must have lived in your home for at least 12 months.
  • You must not hold capital in excess of £2,000 if you are under 60 years of age or £4,000 if you are 60 years or older.

To be considered for the Mortgage to Rent Scheme you must also:

  • Hold less than 25% equity in your home except where;
  • You have had a trustee appointed to your estate; or
  • You have a mortgage that is not conducted on a capital and interest repayment basis.

How Do I Apply?

You have to meet with an independent advisor first of all at CAB or Money Advice Centre and complete an application form with them.

It is important that you complete the form in full and provide the Scottish Government with all the supporting information they ask for.  If they do not receive all information asked they may not consider your application or may return it to you to fully complete.  This will delay the decision on your eligibility and may put you at greater risk of losing your home.

Remember, they can’t consider your application if you haven’t taken independent advice from Citizens Advice, Money Advice or your local authority advice centre.

Citizens Advice Scotland –

Money Advice Scotland –

Local Authority Money Advice Centers – Telephone your local council

A full list of advice agencies can be found at     www.scotland.gov.uk

Requests for Information

If you request information from us about our services, which we do not already publish, we may charge you for the staff time required to gather the information (at up to £15 per hour) and for any photocopying and similar costs. We will deal with all information requests within 20 working days. There may be further costs involved if the information you are requesting is of a complex nature or if the information is not readily available. You will be notified of this before the Association proceeds with any work. These costs are subject to annual review.

Complaints

We will always try to resolve any complaints you may make to us as quickly as possible. If you are unhappy with the service we give you, or we have made a mistake, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to tell us.

Our front line staff will try to resolve complaints within 5 working days of being contacted, although this may take up to 20 days if a complaint is complex, or if it requires further investigation, for example by a manager. As a general rule, we follow the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s Complaints Handling Procedure.

Our Homeowner Complaints Leaflet sets out our quality standards for dealing with complaints. You can obtain a copy of the leaflet and our Homeowners Complaints Form by downloading it from here . Copies are also available in our Erskine office reception area and we will be happy to send copies out to you by post on request.

If you remain unhappy with the outcome of your complaint after reaching the end of our internal procedures, you can refer your complaint to the Homeowner Housing Panel. The panel is an independent group appointed by the Scottish Government to review complaints made by homeowners about their factor.

Struggling to Pay?

We know that some customers may have difficulty paying their bills from time to time. It’s important that you tell us about any difficulties you may have in paying your bill as early as possible, so that we can discuss this with you. We will help you in any way we can, and will be able to point you towards support organisations, such as Money Advice Scotland and the Citizens Advice Bureau, for assistance.

It is very important that you contact us immediately if you are having difficulty paying as we will proceed with legal action if an account becomes overdue.

Debt Recovery

We will be sensitive to the individual circumstances of customers where appropriate. However, it is important that everyone pays their fair share for the services they receive. Consequently we take a robust approach to debt recovery to ensure that this happens. Our Debt Recovery Policy is available on request or is available here .

You are obliged to pay your bill within 30 days. If your bill is not paid within 30 days we will:

  • Write to you advising what your outstanding balance is and urging you to pay the bill within 7 days.
  • Tell you what the consequences will be if you don’t pay your bill.
  • Ask you to contact us to discuss the reasons for non-payment.

If payment is not made within 7 days or contact is not made then your account will be passed to our solicitors for them to proceed with debt recovery action. There will also be an administration charge added to the account at this point to cover the additional staff time and resources.

Any administration costs and legal costs associated with debt recovery action will also be charged to your account.

Landscaping

Most of the landscaped areas within the Association’s management areas have not been adopted by Renfrewshire Council. This means that they are owned by Bridgewater Housing Association and we have the responsibility for maintaining them. This entails a great deal of work and includes:

  • Grass cutting
  • The preparation of shrub beds
  • Planting
  • Trimming and pruning
  • Weeding
  • Litter collection
  • Maintenance of trees and woodlands
  • Repairing and replacing fencing
  • Drainage repairs

To give some sense of scale, Bridgewater is responsible for the maintenance of 57 acres of grass and shrub areas within the 4 areas as well as trees, woodland, hedges and hard landscape areas.

If you have a query about who is responsible for a piece of ground we can check this for you.

If you feel standards are not being kept in any areas please contact the Association.

Further Information

Change of Ownership

When a homeowner sells a factored property, the factor is required to work out how much the seller owes for common services provided up to the date of sale. This is called an apportioned account. Your title conditions contain the requirement that you inform us when you sell your property, which is usually done through a solicitor or other agent handling the sale. The Association will provide the seller’s solicitor with an apportioned account, within 10 working days of receiving a written request.

A charge of £30 is made to cover the administration costs involved and is added to the seller’s account. This charge is subject to annual review.

A charge of £70 is made if an apportioned account is required in less than 7 days from the date of request. This higher charge reflects the additional administration costs involved and is added to the seller’s account. This charge is subject to annual review.

A charge of £20 is made if additional documentation is required e.g. copies of building warrants, guarantees, warranties, certificates. This charge is subject to annual review.

Please note a selling owner becomes responsible for the cost of any works, including cyclical and major repair works, at the point we instruct the work. The selling owner must pay these costs even if they are no longer the owner when the work is actually carried out.

Repairs Deposits (Flat Owners)

The Title Deeds of your property may require you to pay us a small repairs deposit, usually between £30 and £100. We will return this money to you if you sell your property or if you move to another factor, provided your account with us is up to date and you have no outstanding debt. If you do owe any amounts to the Association, we may deduct these amounts from the deposit and return any balance to you.

Through our accounting arrangements we ensure a clear separation of funds by ensuring that Repairs Deposits paid by homeowners are accounted for separately.