FAQs

At Charles White we fully understand how difficult it can be to obtain pertinent advice and information quickly and when you most need it.  To make life easier, we have collated the answers to the questions most frequently asked.  Simply click on the question to reveal the answer.

Should your question not be listed please contact us for a response.

 

Accounts

How do I inform CWL of a change of postal / email address?

Please contact us providing your current details along with your change of address, email, telephone number etc.  You can also contact your Client Relationship Manager or assistant via the “my charles white” account or app using the email link provided.  Alternatively call 0131 447 8191 selecting – option 2 – to speak directly to a member of the team.

What is my float and why do I have to pay this?

The float is a one-time payment/deposit of an agreed sum, normally set out in the Deed of Conditions, which allows the factor to pay tradesmen’s accounts prior to issuing common charge accounts to the owners.  The factor requires a working fund to ensure efficient payment of generally recurring services.

All float funds are held in a bank account exclusively for the development and all invoices are settled from this development account.  The float is effectively topped back up when you pay your quarterly bills and is payable back to you if you sell the property minus any outstanding balance on the account.

Why when I make a payment does the outstanding amount keep increasing?

This is possibly because your account is in credit. If your account is in credit it is shown with a minus sign.

I pay by BACS, why do I still have an outstanding balance?

Your monthly payments are allocated upon receipt toward the quarterly generated invoice balance and monthly payments should be one third of same. You can contact our Accounts Department to enquire whether you should increase your payments either by calling 0131 447 8191 – option 1 for the dedicated payments line or by email  contact us

Can I pay by direct debit?

Yes.  For those developments already on annual budget invoicing we offer equal monthly installments. For those developments on quarterly invoicing in arrears we highly recommend our variable, quarterly direct debit collection as this option ensures only the balance due is paid and also provides at least one month’s notice prior to collection. We also accept monthly direct debit collections to those being invoiced quarterly in arrears, however please be aware your quarterly invoices may vary and as a result clients should monitor their payments. Direct debits are collected on the 7th of the month or nearest working day. Should your direct debit need to be amended we will contact you in advance in writing.  If you wish to set up a direct debit please contact us

Why is development debt charged?

We carry out strict in-house credit control procedures, however on occasion persistent payment defaulters require a small claims payment action to be raised against them.  In the event that we obtain Decree against a defaulter on behalf of the proprietors, as required by the Scottish Property Factors Act, we will advise all proprietors of debt and invoice as per the Deed of Conditions a share to each proprietor accordingly.  We will continue to pursue once enforceable information is obtained and any share will be credited once payment is received.  The debt is charged to aid cash flow and enable the proactive maintenance of your development, allowing contractors to be paid for works carried out.

Where can I find my client account number

Your client account number can be found at the top left hand corner of every invoice, on documents issued to you, in the subject header of  your invoice and on the home page of your “my charles white” portal account.

Client Portal "My Charles White"

What is "my charles white" and what are the benefits of the online client portal?

“my charles white” is an online facility for clients to register their property (s) to view their account via a web browser.  Once activated you have access to all invoices, documentation and a snap shop of the credit control of your development.  Making on line payments is a quick and easy process  and you also have the facility to contact your Client Relationship Manager.

Additionally if you opt in for paperless billing and correspondence you will save £12.00 plus vat per year on administration fees.

I have forgotten my password for "my charles white"

Please go to the log in page client portal to request a reset password email be sent. Once access to the account is granted clients may click into account settings and chose a more memorable password.

I have forgotten both my username and password for "my charles white"

Please go to the log in page client portal to request an email be sent which will confirm your username.

Why do error messages occur when users log in to "my charles white"?

As your “my charles white” online account holds personal data, if the application is left inactive for any significant length of time it will time out and where possible clients should log out of the account and log back in.  An error message will appear to advise of this.

Charles White App

is the "my charles white" app free to download?

Yes the “my charles white” app is free to download and can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

Can I view development documents via the "my charles white" app?

Yes all the functions of your account can be accessed via the “my charles white” app, invoices, documentation, a snap shop of the credit control of your development as well as having the facility to contact your Client Relationship Manager direct via email.  Making on line payments is quick and easy.

Additionally if you opt in for paperless billing and correspondence you will save £12.00 plus vat per year on administration fees.

Is a username and password required for the "my charles white" app

Yes, your password for the “app” and  “my charles white” are the same.  The password can be reset at anytime by visiting the log in page client portal

Can I make payment via the "my charles white" app?

Yes we accept payment by all major debit & credit cards with the exception of Amex.  There is no surcharge for credit card transactions.

Additionally if you opt in for paperless billing and correspondence you will save £12.00 plus vat per year on administration fees.

Can I view contractor invoices via the "my charles white" app?

Yes once logged into your account, by expanding the charges on each invoice and selecting the drop down arrow, you will be able to open a pdf contractor invoice.

Selling your Property

I am selling my property what is my next step?

It is the responsibility of the home owner  in conjunction with your solicitor to inform CWL that you are selling your property.

Normal conveyancing practice is for your solicitor to send a factoring letter requesting information from CWL and also to confirm the date of sale and the purchasers details, without the notification from your solicitor we are unable to process the sale and this may cause a delay.

When will I receive my final invoice and why can this not be issued at the point of sale?

Your account will be finalised at the next quarterly/six monthly bill six – eight weeks after CWL receive a written confirmation of the sale completion date from your selling solicitor. This is to allow for contractor invoices received for any works carried out prior to the date of sale to be included in your final invoice.

If your development is on an annual budget, you will receive an apportioned budget invoice within a few weeks of receipt of confirmation of the sale from your selling solicitor. At the end of the budget year, you will receive an actual invoice together with a float refund and a handover fee.

What is a handover fee and why do I need to pay it?

A handover charge is a fee to cover administration work carried out in relation to your sale such as corresponding with your solicitor, updating details, completing handover, apportioning charges, issuing additional invoices, refund of float etc.

Our management fee covers day-to-day management of the development and does not cover sales.

I have just moved in to my new property and recieved my first invoice, why am I being charged before/past the sale date?

The description of the charges might show dates prior to the date of purchase as we cannot change the description on an individual invoice however rest assured that the charges have been apportioned.

Property Management

I pay Charles White a management fee, why do I have to pay for external consultancy services?

In addition to the core services provided within the scope of the standard management fee, Charles White Ltd can provide project management services for Project Works.  Project works include more complex packages for work, works where design is required and works which are deemed an improvement to the development, for which the standard fee is 10% plus VAT of the value of the contract.  Charles White Ltd will confirm whether such works packages are out-sourced to external partner consultants in the first instance or provided in-house.

Nobody told me about a Factor when I purchased my property, why do we have to pay for a Factor?

This is the responsibility of your solicitor who should provide basic information about factoring arrangements.  The Title Deeds or Deed of Conditions which forms part of your property titles provides for the appointment of professional managing agents or Factor to manage the common parts.

I have just moved into the development, what happens now?

A welcome pack will be sent to you within 2 working weeks from the date your Solicitor confirms that the sale has taken place.  The welcome pack will include a welcome letter, your new account details, float invoice, new owners detail form for completion, Written Statement of Services  and block buildings insurance documentation.

What is a Title Deed or Deed of Conditions?

The Title Deed or Deed of Conditions is a legal document outlining the obligation of the owner and their co-proprietors in terms of the title of the property and shared responsibility for the common parts.  It may explain the common parts and in what proportion you must pay for any maintenance to them.

What is a Residents Committee/Association?

Residents’ Committee/Association are organisations formed by groups of people from  a development who come together to address issues within their development or local area and act as a voice for their community.

A Residents Committee can only be set up by owners within the development after following the requirements of the deed on this matter.  Once a committee is in place, they represent the interests of the owners with regards to management of the development and Charles White Ltd will take instructions from them.

What parts of a development are classed as communal / private?

This is dependent on the burdens and obligations placed on you as an owner in the Deed of Conditions attached to the Titles for your property but abbreviated in the Written Statement of Service for your development.

What is common area land?

Common land is an area(s) of land within the boundary of your development which have not been allocated to a private property and are the responsibility of the collective owners as per the Title Deeds.

Complaint resolution

If you have a complaint you are referred to our Customer Feedback Information Sheet.

You should in the first instance formalise that complaint with you Client Relationship Manager (CRM) who will respond within 28 days.  If the matter cannot be resolved to your satisfaction then your CRM will confirm their final position and refer your complaint the the Line Manager who will respond within 14 days.

If this is still not to your satisfaction, you are referred to the Housing and Property Chamber (HPC) should you wish to escalate your complaint.

Housing and Property Chamber

 

NHBC - Issues with the policy/buildings guarantee

The policy / buildings guarantee provided by NHBC / Zurich / whoever is provided to the homeowner and can be transferred to successive homeowners within the period of cover.  The policy holder can, subject to the terms of cover, make a claim under that cover.  If the claim is in respect to a part of the building exclusively disponed to the policy holder then that is a matter for the policy holder to resolve directly with the Buildings Guarantee provider.

If the claim is in respect to a common interest part of the building managed by Charles White Ltd, then Charles White Ltd can, for a fee and by mutual agreement with the policy holder(s), act on behalf of the collective policy holder(s).  Alternatively the collective policy holder(s) are entitled to manage the common property claim themselves with their Block Buildings Guarantee provider.

How do I change Factor?

Most Deed of Conditions will state that there must be a Factor.  Normal practice is for a quorate meeting to be called and a majority agreement is required.  For more information refer to your Title Deeds or Deed of Conditions or Written Statement of Services for guidance.

The constituted Owners Association made a decision at the recent meeting that I do not agree with, am I bound by it?

The Deed of Conditions will lay down how different types of decision are to be made.  However, if it was a proper decision made at a quorate (quorum is the stipulated number of owners attending any meeting which makes the meeting valid), within the terms of the Deeds, then you are liable for your share of any agreed expenditure.

I rent out my flat, can the Tenant pay the Factors bill?

No.  Our contract is with the owners of the flat.  If you let your property you will need to inform your Factor where to send correspondence, other than the tenanted address, for you.

However, if an owner wishes for a tenant to pay the factors bill, this would be a private contractual arrangement between the owner and their tenant.  Any unpaid fees etc will still be pursued with the owner as our contract is with the owner of the flat and CWL.

Can you help me with my noisy neighbours?

This is very much a social issue falling out-with the factors remit.  Factors have no power to engage with “noisy neighbours”.  We recommend that you contact your local police office or consult the Local Authority anti-Social Behavior department.

All noise complaints can also be raised by calling the police non-emergency number 101

My neighbour has erected their own satellite dish, can the Factor get this removed?

There are two issues here: a) did your neighbour obtain appropriate Planning Consent from the Local Authority? b) Has the aerial/dish been attached to the building in contravention of the Deed of Conditions?  We have no authority simply to have the aerial/dish removed.  However we can assist by suggesting an appropriate course of action towards removal of the offending aerial/dish.

I don't own a car, how can I ensure that no one leaves their car in my allocated parking space?

This is always a difficult situation, however hopefully the person is not aware it is your space.  The best thing to do would be to leave a polite notice on the car to see if it is moved.  If CWL are made aware we can put a note in the next newsletter to ensure that people park in their allocated spaces.

Items left in the stairwell

If items pose a trip hazard or present someone exiting the stair in the case of an emergency,  a note will be put on the item and 14 days will be provided for the item to be removed.  If after 14 days the items are still in the stair a letter will be sent to the block explaining the items will be removed at a cost to the  block/development.

Items left in the electricity cupboard

A note will be put on the item and 14 days will be provided for the item to be removed.  After 14 days a letter will be sent to the block explaining the items will be removed at a cost to the  block/development.

I would like to rent my property on Airbnb or another holiday letting website, what do I need to do?

There are many advantages and disadvantages of offering short term, long term or holiday lets at your  property, it is strongly recommended that you seek advice regarding this before you decide to proceed.  In short there may be several subjects that need to be given careful consideration to ensure that any kind of letting is done legally and above board.

As a starting point CWL advise checking the following points

  • Your title deeds, is this something that is permitted at your property?
  • The Deed of conditions will not permit you to attach lock boxes for example to commonly owned property e.g. walls/doors in the stairwells
  • Does your mortgage lender and insurance provider permit this and if so do any amendments need to be made to the terms of the policy to ensure that they continue to be valid
  • Check the policies of your local council to ensure you are compliant with the holiday letting regulations in your area
  • Research how this might affect your tax status and whether any other fees might be applicable
  • What Health and Safety Regulations do I need to comply with (e.g. gas safety certificates, smoke alarms etc)
  • Carefully consider the impact to your neighbours to ensure that nearby residents are not adversely affected by noise, damage or unfamiliar faces in the neighbourhood

Maintenance

My intercom isn't working - is it my responsibility to get it fixed or is that part of the service charge?

If the issue is with the entrance panel this is a communal charge, however if it is directly related to your property this is a private charge.  Unfortunately, until the engineer attends we will not be able to ascertain this.  In most instances there will be a small repair.  There will be a callout charge, this excludes any parts that may be required.

My windows leak. Is this something that would be covered under the building insurance?

The buildings insurance will not cover defects, these will need to be repaired at your own cost (windows are private).  If there is any water damage  to the property as a result, that exceeds the insurance excess, then this will be covered under the policy.

Condensation within a property

Condensation is normally caused due to moisture in the air which then is attracted to cold areas of a property.  The best way to keep condensation away is to keep vents/windows slightly open to allow air to circulate.  If you dry clothes in the property try to keep them off radiators an windows slightly ajar as well as this will cause extra moisture in the air.

Top Ten Tips for Condensation

 

 

Insurance

I already have buildings insurance, why do I have to pay the factor?

Block insurance is a stipulation of Charles White Ltd being appointed on new business.  In the majority of instances your Title Deed or Deed of Condition, requires you to arrange a Common Buildings Insurance Policy via the Factor.  There is, in these cases no need to have private buildings cover.  It is possible that your private insurers will consider a premium refund, once you explain your obligations as a joint owner.

The contents insurance of your property does not come under buildings insurance cover and will need to be arranged and covered by the owner.

Why do we have common insurance and can we not all just do our own thing?

In the majority of instances your Title Deed or Deed of Condition, requires you to arrange a Common Buildings Insurance Policy via the Factor. There are huge advantages to a common policy, not least, an uncomplicated claims process in the event of a major claim.  With only one insurer involved, devastating losses such as fire, storms and serious burst pipes can be dealt with far more expeditiously by a single loss adjuster appointed to manage the entire claim process ensuring that the building is restored as quickly as possible.  Only one excess payment applies rather than many individual excesses.

Why should I pay insurance excess for a claim that is not mine?

In terms of the policy cover, the requirement to pay any excess lies with the claimant regardless of the nature or cause of the insured incident.  However, in block of flats insurance the claimant is “the Co-Owners” and not necessarily any one individual.  Your Factor may agree a specific policy with the block Owners in advance of agreeing the management contract, or, have a specific policy on how to treat excesses for the Owners.  This can be to charge them as a common expense or as individual charges.

Do you get commission from the insurance company?

Yes. We will negotiate a commission commensurate with the work involved in arranging the insurance, notifying claims, liaising with owners and insurers and maintaining compliance with FCA regulations as an appointed representative of Deacon. We complete works on your behalf as the client to provide peace of mind that your buildings insurance is as per the Deed of Conditions for your property and the best cover is provided.  If you require a commission disclosures please contact Deacon directly.

What is the Buildings Sum Insured?

The Buildings sum insured shown in your policy schedule is the maximum amount the insurers will pay for rebuilding in the event of a loss.

It should represent the total cost of re-building assuming a total loss, including damage to outbuildings, car parks etc, and should also have an allowance for inflation during the period of insurance and any period of rebuilding.  As this inflation allowance is difficult to estimate for future years, we recommend you arrange cover on a ‘declared value basis’.

What does building declared value mean?

Policy schedules often show two values on the buildings: one referred to as the declared value and one as the sum insured.  The important difference between these two is how the policy protects you against inflation in rebuilding costs.

When you calculate the declared value, it is the same as calculating the sum insured except that you do not need to add anything for possible inflation which may occur during the policy period or during the time taken to repair/rebuild following a claim.  The policy then makes includes an allowance (typically adding a maximum of 50%) for inflation during the year and, more importantly, during the rebuilding period, which, in the event of a serious loss, could be a number of years.  The insurers will then pay the maximum of the declared value, plus the amount by which inflation has increased the declared value stated at the start of the policy period the added allowance protecting you from inflation, without you paying more premium.

Declared value is often referred to as ‘day-one value’.  We always recommend you arrange cover on a ‘day-one declared value’ basis.

What is Public liability cover?

Any person or company who owns or uses property has a legal duty to provide a safe environment for visitors and any other person legally on the premises – visitors, contractors, the postman.

If you fail in this duty of care the owners could be held legally liable for the injury resulting in huge costs and damages being awarded against you.

Public liability will protect you against these costs.  This type of claim is, in fact, quite common.  We often see claims for such things as tripping on cracked pavements, slipping on wet floors, and eve apparently small injuries can result in claims well over £1,000.

Its also worth noting that if you are insured, the insurers will pay to defend you against spurious claims.

Did you know…. you can be held liable if a trespasser or burglar hurts themselves whilst illegally on your property!

What is Directors' and Officers' cover?

When you agree to act for a residential management company in a formal capacity as a director (or on an informal basis as a committee member), under company law you are treated no differently to a director of a major PLC.

So if you, or your fellow directors, make an innocent error or fail to do something you should, you can be held personally liable for the financial consequences.

This insurance protects you financially as the insurers will defend you if possible, and if not pay the legal costs and damages awarded.

Why are property valuations important?

Failing to insure your building for the correct value can be disastrous.  If you under-insure the buildings the insurers will reduce your claim in proportion to the under-insurance.  For example, if you insure for 50% of the correct value, only 50% of your claim will be paid.

Whilst many policies make provision for cost increases over a period of time, if the base value is wrong this does not help much.  So we recommend you get the buildings valued by a surveyor with experience of insurance valuation.  The valuation exercise should be repeated every three to five years, as although insurers may index-link the sum insured each year, this is based on national indices and the actual cost changes can vary on a regional basis over time.  So over time, your declared value may vary from the true buildings valuation.

What is meant by 'trace and access' cover?

In blocks of flats, water damage is the biggest cause of claims (over 70% of claims).  We often see situations where water damage has been caused, but the source of the water leak is not apparent.

To find and solve the cause of the loss can be a time-consuming and expensive process.  It could involve dismantling walls and drilling holes in floors throughout a building.  If you have ‘trace and access’ cover, the costs of finding the leak and repairing the damage made while finding it will be covered.  This is essential cover for a block of flats.

This is for internal issues in blocks only and is not covered for water ingress from external sources.

Index Linking

The costs of materials and labour usually increase over time due to inflationary factors and as a result the cost of repairing or rebuilding property becomes more expensive.  To ensure that you are adequately insured, Deacons’ policies include an allowance for costs increasing due to Index Linking during the policy period.  The amounts by which the buildings sum insured is increased will be based on widely published data such as the building cost information service inflationary figures published by the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors).  Contents index linking will be based on statistical data published by the Government such as the Retail Price Index or Consumer Price index.

Underinsurance Average Clause

When insuring a property it is the cost of rebuilding it that largely determines the insurance premium.  Therefore it is important that the insurer receives the correct premium in order to pay out any claims in full – most policies include an ‘Underinsurance’ or ‘Average’ Clause that means if a customer underinsures their property then the insurer will reduce the amount of any claim by the amount that the property has been underinsured:  For example, if a property should be insured for £100,000 but is only insured for £75,000, the property would be underinsured by 25% and therefore any claim payment would also be reduced by 25%.

My neighbour caused a leak and brought down the ceiling, why should I have to pay the insurance excess charge?

In terms of the policy cover, the requirement to pay any excess lies with the claimant regardless of the nature or cause of the insured incident.  However, in block of flats insurance the claimant is “the Co-Owners” and not necessarily any one individual.  Your Factor may agree a specific policy with the block Owners in advance of agreeing the management contract, or, have a specific policy on how to treat excesses for the Owners.  This can be to charge them as a common expense or as individual charges.

My windows leak. Is this something that would be covered under the building insurance?

The buildings insurance will not cover defects, these will need to be repaired at your own cost (windows are private).  If there is any water damage  to the property as a result, that exceeds the insurance excess, then this will be covered under the policy.

Contractors

Are contractors employed by you, subsidiaries of your firm?

No, we operate an approved list of contractors where there is strict criteria and vetting of contractors to ensure that they are competent and have the necessary insurance and health & safety policies in place.

Do you receive commission from contractors?

No we do not receive a commission from contractors, we do however invoice an admin fee of £50 plus vat per annum for contracts over £1,000 for contractors with multiple maintenance contracts.

A friend of mine is a contractor, can we use them?

Yes, providing it is agreed by the owners and they pass the criteria for approved contractors.  All contractors must hold relevant liability insurance and health and safety policies.

cwl – making a difference