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If a problem arises within your development, please raise the issue with your on-site FirstPort Property Services Scotland member of staff as soon as possible. They will then investigate efficiently and professionally, naturally giving priority to emergency and urgent situations. If you don't have an on-site FirstPort Property Services Scotland member of staff at your development, please contact our Customer Services team in Glasgow on 0333 321 4077, open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
The maintenance and repair of a building’s lift is one of the most important tasks we undertake, particularly at our retirement developments. In our drive to improve our service standards and deliver value for money, our procurement team - together with a specialist lift consultant (ILECS) - selected three lift maintenance suppliers in March 2014 following a comprehensive tendering process.
Contracts were awarded to:
- Orona www.orona.co.uk
- ThyssenKrupp www.thyssenkrupp-elevator.com/uk
- Pickerings Lifts www.pickeringslifts.co.uk
The lift contracts are fully comprehensive and include parts and four service visits per year for lifts and a twice year service for stairlifts in retirement developments.
Other lift contractors may be used – for example new build developments can have a maintenance contract with a lift company chosen by the developer. In general these contracts typically are for three to five years, and are thereafter reviewed against our central contracts to deliver the best safety performance and value for money.
Communal cleaning is carried out by contracted cleaners we appoint on your behalf. The cleaners will be dedicated to your communal areas and will clean regularly all communal corridors, stairwells and windowsills. If you have any queries in relation to the cleaning within your development, please do not hesitate to contact us.
‘Major works’ is the term we use to describe large-scale or substantial building projects that we carry out to keep your development looking good and working correctly and we undertake it as part of your ongoing maintenance programme. These projects are planned in advance and include things like maintaining:
- The main structure of the building. For example, looking after the roof and external walls.
- Upgrading items within the building. For example, replacing lifts and upgrading fire alarms.
- The decoration of the building. For example, painting the communal areas and protecting the outside of the building.
- The building’s systems. For example, maintaining the lifts.
Occasionally, major work also includes emergency work that cannot be planned for, such as repairing a major roof leak.
What is the contingency fund (often called the reserve or sinking fund) and redecoration fund?
Each year, you may pay into a contingency fund, through your service charge. This fund is money that is set aside, year-by-year, to pay for longer-term maintenance for the development. We use this money to help pay for the development’s major works projects. This goes towards the cost of internal and external decoration of the communal areas. It is there to pay for the renewal or replacement of other major items such as communal items, including carpets, plus the major structural maintenance, e.g. lifts, roofs, fire safety systems.
Maintaining door entry systems, as well as communal internal and external doors, may be covered by your service charge. Door entry systems may be covered by an annual contract and they are maintained to a high standard. All other doors are checked regularly to ensure they are working correctly.
Emergency lighting is covered by an annual contract and is serviced regularly to ensure you are safe at all times. Internal and external lights, where applicable, are checked and maintained on an adhoc basis and will be fixed as a priority if needed. If you notice a light bulb is not working properly please inform your onsite FirstPort staff member and we will ensure the cleaners make the change on their next visit. If you do not have an onsite FirstPort member of staff, please contact our Customer Services team.
Our role is to manage and maintain the building structure and the common areas / facilities within your development. This excludes anything within the four walls of your own individual property – this is your our own responsibility or that of the actual owner if you rent it.
Maintenance of communal areas
- We are responsible for managing the maintenance and upkeep of communal areas.
- We arrange for contract gardeners to maintain the grounds and gardens.
- We always aim to provide an attractive environment for you to enjoy.
If you have any suggestions about the communal areas, please speak to your onsite FirstPort staff member.
When you have guests or want to meet up with other residents, the lounge has plenty of room for you to relax, chat or play cards. Some developments have a TV in the lounge that you are welcome to use. If you wish, and for a small daily fee, you can book the lounge for a private function, subject to availability. You can arrange this with your Development Manager.
Guests may use the residents’ lounge, but please check with your Development Manager to see if there are any restrictions. Residents take priority, but the lounge can occasionally be used by clubs and other outside organisations for a fee. Your Development Manager will have the details.
For the convenience of relatives or friends wanting to visit you, your development will have at least one guest room or suite. This usually comprises a twin-bedded room with a shower or bathroom. There is a nominal charge for use of the guest room – just ask your Development Manager for details.
If your development has only one guest room, the following priorities apply:
1. Relief Development Manager
2. A relative visiting a sick resident
3. Other residents’ visitors
4. The Development Manager’s visiting relative
5. Residents from other developments.
Guest room guidelines:
- The longest anyone can stay in the guest room is usually no more than five consecutive days
- Pets are not allowed
- Young children must be accompanied by an adult.
Does FirstPort receive commissions from contractors?
We don't charge any other fees whatsoever for arranging contractors. We have a procurement function whose role it is to source the best value contracts for customers through bulk tendering, but the cost of this function is included in our management fee. We believe this is unique in the industry.
If we do receive a commission on anything, we are transparent and declare it, in keeping with our codes of practice. For instance, sometimes we place insurance on behalf of the freeholder. When they do, FirstPort Insurance Services Limited takes a commission on arranging the insurance. This is something that is completely normal in the insurance industry. You can find information on any commission payments in the notes on your annual accounts.
We also have an open and transparent process for awarding contracts. When a formal tender process is necessary we invite at least three independent contractors (the only exceptions to this are out of hours monitoring and some fire systems and alarm installation works, where a FirstPort connected business may be invited to tender). Information about whether a FirstPort connected business has provided services at your development and earned a fee is disclosed in the annual service charge accounts.
Why does FirstPort use in-house Building Surveyors?
Your Area or Development Manager will know your building well and have lots of technical knowledge in matters such as health & safety and finance. Major works, such as large internal redecorations, or external refurbishment works, require specialist input from a Building Surveyor. They help plan complex works and repairs and run major works projects that require skilled expertise. They also play an important role in managing the quality control and contractor performance during projects.
FirstPort has a team of in-house Building Surveyors, as we believe that working closely with our onsite FirstPort staff ensures that project communication and the process is made more efficient. We save customers money and inconvenience by being able to intervene early on complex problems, plus our surveyors are able to coach the Development Manager along the way in an activity that is not their core skill. We believe this efficiency is reflected in our competitive rates.
We have a team capable of covering around one-third of the work demanded by the properties that we manage. We use external surveyors for the remaining projects, which means that not only can we cope with peaks and troughs in workload, but also benchmark our skills and rates.
What projects do FirstPort Surveyors work on?
Our in-house team of Building Surveyors work on a project or works that are considered outside the normal repair and maintenance of the property. The majority of projects that will involve the appointment of a surveyor will be large internal or external redecoration projects or internal or external refurbishment works. Sometimes, they will be involved in more specialist work such as a roof repair or lift replacement. They can also help to carry out diagnosis on defects or complex building issues such as leaks.
FirstPort Surveyors will also prepare specifications and tender documents to support the tender process for any major works. When requested, our Building Surveyors will help determine the long-term maintenance needs of a building, by creating or updating Asset Management Plans (this is the tactical plan which sets out how the key elements of the building will be managed over a period of time). This is supported by work on Life Cycle Costing (determining the cost of major building items over a long term period – often 20 or 30 years) or Conditions Surveys (to help determine the current state of repair of part or whole of a building).
Isn't this work covered by the management fee?
The Management Agreement sets out the duties that we carry out for the agreed Management Fee. This annual fee covers the work required for normal residential property maintenance. Major works, such as large internal redecorations or external refurbishment works are considered extra-ordinary work. This is because running a major works project is a specialist operation and requires qualified personnel – normally that of a qualified Building Surveyor. Whilst our Property Managers will know your building well and have lots of technical knowledge, the role does not require them to be a qualified surveyor. This is standard practice across the industry.
Management Agreements vary but some include within the Management Fee, the appointment of a surveyor and liaison with them and contractors throughout a major works process.
We know how important parking is and how it can be a real problem. You should be aware that there are different types of ownership and use regarding parking allocations that will be outlined in your Deed of Conditions. Some people may own a bay, have a right to use an allocated bay or have a shared use that works on a first come, first served basis. These guidelines will affect the actions to be taken in the event of a parking problem. Please park within the boundaries of the development and consider any disabled residents who may need to park close to their property.
If you do encounter a problem we’d recommend that you park your own vehicle safely avoiding further obstructions, leaving a polite note on the offending vehicle as a first approach. Car parking arrangements can vary from development to development:
- For residents in independent retirement living developments please get in touch with your Development Manager
- For residents in general residential developments without on-site staff please get in touch with our Customer Services team.
Your relatives and visitors should use the visitor parking area (if provided on your developments) and, when this is full, please ask them to park elsewhere. Parking restrictions may apply on some estates or developments near town centres and other locations.
Garden maintenance is normally carried out by external contractors. For residents in independent retirement living developments who are keen gardeners, get in touch with your Development Manager as it may be possible to plant flowers or shrubs in the garden. Unfortunately, we cannot make any provision for items such as greenhouses, sheds or vegetable gardens. For all enquiries, please speak to your on-site FirstPort member of staff or contact our Customer Services team.
Within your development you will have a refuse collection area (often referred to as a bin store). This is a communal area and is managed and maintained by us. We do really appreciate your help at keeping this area as tidy as possible.
- Please continue to put everything in sealed plastic sacks.
- Please put the sacks in the bins in the refuse area.
- Please make sure the lids of the bins are shut afterwards.
- If you’ve got an external bin-store with a door, please shut it behind you so it doesn’t slam and get damaged.
- If you’ve got any big rubbish (old electrical items, furniture), please take it to the local tip or ask the council to dispose of it for you. If we have to get it removed, we have to charge everyone in your block or development.
If stated in your Deed of Conditions, contract window cleaners carry out your external window cleaning. They also clean the internal windows in the communal areas.
- For residents in independent retirement living developments please get in touch with your Development Manager for details.
- For residents in general residential developments without on-site staff please get in touch with our Customer Services team in Glasgow.
If you live on the third floor or above, window cleaners may need to come into your flat to clean the outside window surfaces from the inside. Your Development Manager will be able to tell you if this needs to be done.
We perform very regular checks around the communal areas of your home. if we notice a leaking overflow pipe in your block and it is difficult to see whom it belongs to, we’ll contact everyone within that block requesting they check and arrange a repair before there is any damage.
Please note, we aren't responsible for any leaks that may occur within any individual properties.
The heating costs of the communal parts of the development are covered by the service charge. Such costs within your own property are not included.
The communal laundry provides washing machines and dryers for your use.
- A fair usage policy with a roster may sometimes operate to make sure everyone has the opportunity to use the facilities.
- The cost of running the laundry, including any machine servicing and repairs, is paid for by the service charge.
We encourage residents to get together and socialise regularly. Depending on your development, this may include:
- Theatre visits
- Guest speakers and entertainers
- Coffee mornings
- Bridge afternoons.
The following security measures ensure that you and your property are always kept safe.
- The main doors are kept locked at all times, with a security entry system in operation. All residents are issued with a key to the main front door.
- Emergency exits are provided for emergency use only and can only be opened from the inside.
- Within independent retirement developments, trades people are allowed access via a security code at certain times of the day. Only those providing essential services are given the code.
- Visitors are monitored by a door entry system that allows callers to speak to you or the Development Manager before being buzzed in. Video entry, linked to your TV screen, may also be available. Ask your Development Manager if you need help using the entry system.
- The Development Manager will aim to keep an eye on visitors and refuse entry to any unauthorised persons. The Development Manager also holds a master key to all flats, but may only use it in emergencies or with your written permission.
- Within a retirement development, your key will open the development’s main entrance door and the door to your flat only. Your door is fitted with a high security lock and there is no need to adjust any locks or add a chain to your door. Duplicate keys should only be cut using an approved service. Ask your Development Manager for advice.
- Please note that not all developments are fitted with intruder alarms.
While our developments have been built to high standards, repairs are sometimes necessary and are always carried out by competent and approved trades people.
- Communal equipment repairs: if communal equipment - such as the lift - develops a fault, we have a 24-hour emergency call-out facility to solve the problem.
- Major works: there may be associated costs for larger repairs or essential maintenance work. Residents will always be consulted before works are carried out.
- Estimates for major repairs: we aim to obtain at least three estimates for any proposed repair work. Residents may also nominate their own contractor.
- Your right to comment: we always take your views into account and any resident has 30 days from the date of the notice to comment on the proposed repairs.
We discuss and agree these with the local Chief Fire Officer. Your onsite FirstPort member of staff will provide you with a policy that applies to your development. Please familiarise yourself with this when you move in.
All developments are fitted with fire alarms, fire instructions, logbook, notices and fire fighting equipment recommended by Fire Officers. Specialist contractors are responsible for the regular maintenance of fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment.
All fire exits are accessible and clearly marked.
This is automatically switched on in the communal areas during a power failure. No emergency power supply is available to individual flats.
Your home and development are covered by a 24-hour emergency call response service. This service is often provided by Appello, a FirstPort associated company and the country’s leading provider of personal alarm monitoring services. For retirement developments, whenever your Development Manager is off-duty and an emergency arises, you can get help at the touch of a button or pull of a cord.
The on-call team will make sure you get the right kind of help, as soon as possible.
Your emergency call monitoring service provides:
- Development Manager cover: For retirement developments, if the Development Manager is off duty, they will organise emergency repairs and maintenance
- Out-of-hours monitoring: Appello will use its network of approved contractors to provide rapid assistance for emergencies such as flooding or power cuts
- Carer access line: For retirement developments, Appello can provide a secure, dedicated access line for carers. Please ask your Development Manager for details of the 24-hour emergency call response provider.
We make sure the development you live in is comprehensively insured at a competitive premium. The buildings insurance policy covers the building for damage caused by emergencies such as fire, storm, water and accidental damage, including damage to decoration and any fittings or furnishings in communal areas.
Buildings insurance makes no provision for your furnishings and personal effects. You may wish to take out your own home contents insurance policy to cover personal valuables, furniture and other belongings.
You can view more information regarding Insurance here
Do remember: you will need to deal with any damage you cause to the communal parts of the building and, where necessary, pay for its repair.