Update to Residents from Residents Association on Property Factor – 23rd April 2022

It is now over 12 weeks (3 months) since the Woodilee Residents Association provided confirmation to RMG that it wished to end their role as Factor for the estate with their role due to end 30th April 2022.  Confirmation of termination was served on Friday 28th January in order to give RMG, as outgoing factor, time to conduct an orderly transition to the incoming factor (NPM).  In over 3 months RMG have still not given the RA, nor residents, a clear and final position on whether they intend to accept their role is over or whether they refuse to accept the vote and continue their role as factor (against residents’ wishes).

In the 3 months since termination RMG have sought through an external legal firm to argue that the vote conducted by the RA to seek a mandate to terminate their role was not in accordance with the deeds.  The RA refute this.  During this time RMG have also confirmed in writing to residents that they have ceased ensuring that critical health and safety checks such as the annual tree survey are completed because “NPM are taking over”.  More recently they have started to send out direct debit schedules to some residents for the upcoming budgetary year (starting 1st May).  RMG have not contacted the RA to agree a budget for the upcoming year.  The direct debit schedules do not look correct in any case given the general annual budgets from previous years.  Any resident receiving these should contact RMG for a clear stance on their position as factor.

In the interests of complete transparency below are the exchanges between the external legal firm acting on RMG’s behalf and the RA:

Please note RMG intend to charge all legal costs for this quite lengthy back and forth to the residents of Woodilee.

Rest assured that the Factors Code of Conduct (Scotland) 2021 contains a number of clauses aimed at ensuring residents can replace factors should they so wish and there are repercussions (and recourse) for factors who fail to adhere to the code, accessible through the Tier 1 Tribunal process.

We await a final position from RMG by 30th April failing which we will proceed with a tier 1 tribunal submission.  Unfortunately we cannot advise residents on what happens from 1st May.  The incoming factor NPM are ready to start but RMG are refusing to perform any transition.

All residents should contact RMG and ask them to confirm their position, we are paying them currently to factor the estate so every resident has a right to an answer.  Likewise, while their emails (shown above) confirm they have now stopped doing their job from late January, we will request the tier 1 tribunal service to review these statements and assess what financial recourse we might have.

Update to Residents from Residents Association on Property Factor – 25th March 2022

On 28th January, 2022, the chair of Woodilee Residents Association (WRA) gave notice to the current estate Factor, RMG, or the WRA decision to terminate RMG as factor as of 30th April 2022. The WRA appointed NPM as replacement factor.

Follow up emails were sent to RMG on 1 February and 3 February. A reply was received from RMG on 3 February stating “we are currently reviewing our position and will be in contact in due course”.  WRA chased RMG on 17 February, but no response was received. 

On 19 February, WRA received a letter from BTO, legal representatives of RMG requesting information on the role of the WRA and details on how the meeting to give WRA power to appoint a new factor was run.  WRA replied to this letter on 21 February answering in detail all questions posed by BTO.  No reply has been received from either BTO or RMG to this letter.

Despite multiple further attempts to contact RMG via email and telephone, no further replies have been received and RMG have refused to acknowledge the notice given and commence handover proceedings to the incoming property factor.

A formal complaint to RMG on the lack of engagement and acknowledgement of their termination was raised by the WRA Treasurer on 15 March, no response has been received to date on this complaint.

On 23 March, WRA became aware of a letter sent by RMG to the incoming factor NPM which disputes the validity of the termination of RMG as factor for the estate.  The letter states “The RA appear to have sought a vote on the right to undertake a tender process but at no stage have the owners been presented with options on factors, which the Deeds suggest is the correct process”

WRA strongly dispute that it does not have the power to terminate RMG and appoint a new factor in their place.  WRA have the power to terminate a factor and appoint a new factor following a motion being passed at an Extraordinary General Meeting of property owners held on 20th October 2021.  The motion ““Members of the association grant the Woodilee Residents Association the authority to decide who factors Woodilee Village estate” was approved by 244 (out of 252) votes cast.  The total votes of 252 represented 29.3% of properties on the estate, far exceeding the quorum requirement of 20% defined in the Deed of Conditions for Woodilee Village. These Deeds give the residents the power “to fix the duration of the Manager’s appointment or to appoint another Manager in his, her or their place”, a power which was delegated to WRA via this motion.

Despite RMGs statement to NPM, nowhere in the Deeds is it required that a meeting of residents must be presented with options on factors.  WRA have complied with the Deeds in seeking the power from residents to remove and appoint a new factor and have acted in line with this power.

WRA also note that although RMG have not engaged with them on the termination, they appear to be presenting a contradictory position to different parties.  As noted earlier, in communications with the incoming factor, RMG are disputing the right of WRA to terminate them and appoint NPM. However, an email sent to WRA Treasurer on 22 March stated that RMG would not be appointing a contractor to complete an overdue health and safety inspection on trees around the estate as “it will be the responsibility of NPM to conduct such inspection”

On the one hand RMG appear to be fighting to remain factor on the estate, and on the other hand they are refusing to work as factor on the grounds another factor is due to takeover in May 2022.

It is a requirement of the updated Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2021 Code of Conduct for Property Factors, effective from 16 August 2021, that RMG’s Written Statement of Services (WSS) must set out ‘inter alia’, “ a clear statement confirming the property factor’s procedure for how it will co-operate with another property factor to assist with a smooth transition process in circumstances where another factor is due to of has taken over the management of property and land owned by homeowners “ [paragraph 1.5 G (21) refers].  No such statement exists in RMG’s WSS.

RMG’s failure to meet this obligation mean NPM’s transition into the role of factor will be more challenging as RMG have access to contact details for all home owners in the estate which they have refused to share.  It also means that NPM will now ultimately start afresh as factor.  RMG will be expected to explain the end of budgetary year financial position (including debt) to all residents.

WRA encourage all residents to raise formal complaints to RMG to complain about the lack of communications relating to their termination and their lack of action to meet their statutory obligation to support the incoming factor, NPM.

Because we believe residents should get access to the facts, attached here are the artefacts referenced in this update.   *Updated 5th April with additional communications

New Factor Update – 18th March 2022

Following our recent update on the appointment of NPM as factor for the estate we can confirm that it is now 7 weeks since the RA notified RMG of the residents’ decision to terminate their role on 30th April. Notification  was sent on 28th January, providing RMG with more than the three months notice specified in the Woodilee Village Deeds and in RMG’s own Service Level Agreement. RMG have not yet responded formally to the decision made by us as residents, nor have they engaged with NPM in order to support a smooth transition, as they are legally bound to do under the terms of the updated Code of Conduct Part of the Property Factors (Scotland ) Act 2011.

We believe 7 weeks is more than sufficient time for RMG to provide a formal response to the  decision of residents and to engage with the incoming factor. It is extremely disappointing that they have not yet done so.

In all the circumstances, we will press RMG to meet their legal obligations. It would also be helpful if individual residents raised  formal complaints with RMG as a first step of a possible referral to the First Tier Tribunal. Several residents are already progressing this route.

It should not be forgotten that the factor role is a supplier into us as client (the residents of the estate). We collectively pay them to perform this service. We have the right to decide who performs this service as per the deeds of servitude and conditions. The Code of Conduct for Property Factors (Scotland) updated in July 2021 is in place to ensure the will of residents is enforceable. We expect RMG to comply with the terms of that code. Letters of complaint from individual residents will be a welcome additional source of pressure in reminding them of that legal obligation.

New Factor Update

Woodilee Residents Association

An update on our appointment of a new factor:

As per our plan on 28th Jan we appointed Newton Property Management as our new factor from start of May and informed RMG that we wish to terminate their role at Woodilee finishing up end April.

RMG have now been in contact through an external legal firm who are reviewing the voting process run in October that provided the RA a mandate to progress these changes.

We are very confident we have done everything in alignment with deed of servitude and conditions.

A comprehensive summary of the process is recorded in the EGM minutes:

http://www.woodilee.org.uk/egm-2021-10-minutes/

Following the vote a tender process (including PQQ and ITT stages) was run with details found on our website:

http://www.woodilee.org.uk/manager-role-update/

It is also worth noting that all mechanisms used to run the vote were reviewed and validated previously by RMG when they were used to return the RA with new role holders (Chair, Treasurer, Secretary) at an AGM that RMG attended in 2020.  These are now being questioned for the EGM, but RMG advised and implemented many of these for the previous AGM.

We feel it’s important residents are aware of this.  Meantime our new factor continues to work towards the transition.

Factor Appointment

The RA can announce that following the vote in October, when residents gave the RA a mandate to select a new factor for Woodilee Village, we have now completed a tender process and selected Newton Property Management as our new factor. They will start in role on 1st May to align with commencement of our new budgetary year when new invoices are issued to residents. We have notified RMG that we wish to terminate their role on 30th April.

Newton Property Management scored top in both our pre screening and Invitation to Tender stages. Their management fees are less than RMG. They are a local company and understand the Scottish market. They have also offered to transition over any outstanding debt, dependent on RMG being willing to pass over final account positions for each unit in the estate. Newton Property Management will be in touch with all residents in due course.

This has been a long and arduous journey over 4 and half years, across 2 formations of the RA. Several residents have dedicated considerable time to this enterprise which is essentially about getting value for money and a decent service.

We hope that RMG will continue to provide the service that residents are paying for to end April as well as supporting a professional transition to our new factor as they are duty bound to do by the Factors Code of Conduct.

Any questions please feel free to get in touch with us at contact@woodilee.org.uk

Further details on our tender process and timeline can be found here

EGM Result

Thanks to all residents who voted by proxy and in person at the EGM. I can confirm the residents voted in favour of granting the Woodilee Residents Association the authority to decide who factors Woodilee Village estate.

252 households voted (29.3% of all households). 244 voted in favour.  8 voted against.

The committee will now consider the next steps and intend to meet with RMG.  We will continue to communicate progress.

If you are a resident and want to get involved please email or message us.

Update on factor arrangement with RMG

Woodilee Residents Association

Following on from our post in January declaring an intent to progress the necessary steps to explore engaging a new factor for the estate, the WRA would now like to progress to the next stage and run a formal vote to seek authority to replace our current factor RMG. In February the WRA created a performance review document, a fact based assessment of RMG’s performance against their own Service Level Agreement. This document formed the basis of a formal complaint into RMG senior management. The document can be found here. RMG made commitments to address the concerns and failings but in the 9 months since the WRA has seen no improvement. Particular areas of frustration have been the inability to remediate longstanding drainage issues, the current asbestos situation, the broken stairs around the estate, inertia around remediating fairly urgent health and safety issues highlighted in Dec 2020 within the children’s play parks, ongoing problems around the grounds maintenance contractor relating to a dispute between them and RMG resulting in the estate grounds being in a terrible state and finally and not least, poor accounting and management systems which result in inordinately delayed and often inadequate communications in response to enquiries from the WRA or individual owners.

Over the next few days we’ll be posting a proxy voting form through every resident’s door. We ask you to provide us authority to decide who factors the estate. The papers will also provide further details on the authority provided and what the WRA proposes to do next. We will also be running an EGM on Wednesday 20th October at 7pm to ratify the vote and answer questions from residents.

All you need to do is sign, date, add your address to the voting form when it arrives, then take a photograph and return it to contact@woodilee.org

As per Part 2 of the Deed of Servitudes and Conditions, we require at least 20 % of owners to complete and return the proxy voting form , as described above. The Committee would strongly encourage every owner to take part in this important process.

Grounds Maintenance

Woodilee Residents Association would like to advise residents that the main contractor for ongoing maintenance of the estate, Root One, have decided to terminate their relationship with RMG and cease providing maintenance to Woodilee on a rolling monthly contractual basis from 31st May 2021.  We understand this is due to ongoing problems with the relationship with RMG which have not been resolved, however Root One are willing to retender on an annual contractual basis. 

We have approved the appointment of a temporary contractor whilst tendering processes are completed to appoint a new contractor. 

We initially engaged RMG relating to tendering the maintenance contract in November 2020 to give RMG sufficient time to liaise with interested parties prior to the new contract date of 1 May 2021.  This process has been significantly delayed due to the lack of action to develop a detailed specification for work on the estate and lack of engagement from RMG to manage the tendering process for new contractors.  We will continue to push RMG to manage the tendering process effectively to agree the next annual maintenance contract.

Local Artist – Short Film Project – MUGA 27th April

Woodilee Residents Association

As previously posted the WRA has granted permission for local artist Jackie Donachie to make use of the MUGA basketball courts on Tuesday the 27th of April for a short film art project.  Jackie previously created the art work ” Irene” for Trails and Tales is making an art film for Folkestone Triennial 2021, public art festival. She will be filming this on the MUGA on Tuesday the 27th of April and is looking for volunteer dancers, to do the slosh! Socially distanced rehearsals, refreshments and also a very kind honorarium is offered.  If anyone of our residents are interested further details can be found here.

MUGA Usage Update

Woodilee Residents Association

In a recent post the WRA flagged the increased demand from both commercial and non-commercial organisations for access to the MUGA to run group activities. Given the number of requests and potential for issues, the WRA have created a set of usage “do’s and dont’s” and a process for seeking permission to use for group activities. The aim was to implement some light touch co-ordination with restrictions on how and how often the MUGA can be used for group activities. As these activities are often used by residents the WRA took a decision to allow them.  You can view the operating guide here and “do’s and don’ts” here.  As always feedback from residents appreciated.

Further, we had a request from a local artist (Jackie Donachie) from Lenzie for use of the MUGA for one day as a location for a short film as part of an art project. It would be 7am-4pm, likely on Tuesday 27th April with contingency dates of Wednesday 28th April or Tuesday 4th May in event of bad weather. It will require full use of the MUGA for the duration.  As this is a community based project and thought it might be quite exciting for the estate the WRA took the decision to provide permission. We’ll post further updates on this in advance.