Block Management Fire Safety Nottingham

Let’s avoid any fire related disasters!

The whole country, if not the whole world, is waiting to see how the public inquiry into the fire disaster at Grenfell Tower which commenced on 14th September (3 months after the event) progresses. Many of those who lost friends and family amongst the 80 plus persons whose lives were taken are dissatisfied with the timing and structure of the Inquiry.

Here at Walton and Allen we also are keen to know the results and conclusions of the inquiry, but we are not speculating on the results nor are we sitting around and waiting for them.

As soon as we were aware of the tragedy, we put in place a professional team to review all aspects of fire safety in all the blocks where we act for the RTM Companies as the Managing Agent.
We are progressively going through the details of every block establishing any faults and detailing the rectification works necessary to make the buildings compliant with current Fire Safety Regulations. Naturally this takes time for correct and proper inspection and involves cost for the survey works and ultimately costs for the remediation works which in some instances may be considerable.

Whatever the costs may be, they will pale into insignificance when considered against the scenario of loss of life and material goods a la Grenfell Tower.
We would stress that we are working to the best of our ability and with haste to come up with answers in the form of recommendations for remedial works. This involves close liaison with the Local Authority and Fire Authority.

Ultimately we have a responsibility to report the facts and advise on action to the Directors of the RTM Companies. The final decision and responsibility for dealing with these matters is that of the appointed Directors who have a legal responsibility and duty of care to the leaseholders and the property.

The consequences of not getting things to a correct and proper state could be devastating for the building the leaseholders and the Directors and we all need to work together to avoid any disaster.

Find out more about what we do as Managing Agents.

Walton & Allen Commended by Nottingham City Council

Walton & Allen have been commended by Nottingham City Council for being so proactive in working towards a safer environment for all residents in managed blocks.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, Walton & Allen have announced they have put in place with immediate effect a dedicated Fire Safety Team for all their 43 residential apartment blocks, managed across the East Midlands.

Whilst safety has always been top priority for residents within all blocks, Walton & Allen want to ensure every occupant is as safe as possible when living in their apartment.

The Fire Safety Team will carry out a wide variety of tasks, including:
• Day to day safety checks
• Fire risk assessments
• Liaising with fire departments, governments and local councils to ensure that all statutory and legal requirements are met
• Conducting surveys for each building
• Reviewing building materials previously passed by regulators and taking action if appropriate
• Checking the construction of the buildings and rectifying any inadequacies to ensure the integrity of the buildings

Walton & Allen are confident that they are the only Managing Agent actively taking as many steps as possible to minimise the risk of fire and would encourage all other agents to produce a similar plan of action immediately.

Apartment Safety and Security

Safety and security in blocks of apartments

Living as a community

A big topic in the media at the moment is around security and safety in the places we live. There has never been a better time in life for you and your neighbours to come together to build a community to further improve the safety of the places that you live. We are not asking you to become friends with everyone in your block but just to be more aware and vigilant in relation to reporting and challenging (when you feel it is safe to do so) suspicious behaviour.

W&A have a very good working relationship with the Police forces in the areas we manage blocks in. It is important to note if you have first-hand experience of any crime or witness it directly; that you report this to the police as the first port of call. As primary evidence carries a lot more weight in a court of law than secondary.

As Block managers we can try and make sure front doors automatically lock and gates are working but there are number of community improvements you can make as a resident in a block or complex to make the place you live much more safer:

1) The British way is to be polite and open doors or hold them for people behind you. Please try and stop this. Treat the communal door like it is your front door. Would you hold your door open for a stranger? So please don’t do it at a communal front door. It is ok to ask someone to prove who they are or use their own fob to gain access. If you do see someone suspicious don’t let them in and report them to the police on 101.
2) Please report any suspect parcels or packages left in communal areas to the on-site caretaker or W&A during working hours. Although, If you do feel like an item left on the premises is very suspicious or it is out of office hours, please don’t report it to W&A. Call the police. Do not ever investigate the package or parcel yourself.
3) If there is suspicious behaviour in and around the apartment block whether from residents or people coming onto the site for no reason, please report this to the police, anonymously if you like. Different types of crime usually go hand in hand, for example, in our experience if you have a drug dealer set up camp on a complex you usually see an increase in robberies. Just because you live in a block of apartments it doesn’t mean you can’t build a community.
4) Without reporting crime the police cannot work with ourselves and the council to stop it.
5) Report repairs and security issues to W&A. We want you to report when locks have failed or you are having problems with un-welcome strangers/undesirable visiting the sites to us.

Problems such as replacement locks are easy to repair but sometimes the issues are more difficult to resolve, such as social issues where we have to work with the local council and Police to try and resolve. It may appear sometimes that improvements are not being made or take time but without you reporting these issues (Especially the issues with security that occur outside our office hours) we do not have the evidence and information to work with the Council, Police and security companies to make improvements. These can be issues such as homelessness.

In the past we have addressed issues with homeless people by working with local support groups to find them long term residencies rather than them living on the streets or breaking into our complexes to find somewhere to sleep or stay out of the cold at night.

Fire Safety in Residential Blocks

In view of the recent tragic events we could all benefit from a check of our fire protection systems whatever type of property we reside in whether it is a house or a managed apartment block.

Whilst not common in most domestic dwellings the item of most importance is a smoke detector. Statistics show you are twice as likely to die in a house fire that has no smoke alarm than a house that does. Installing a smoke alarm could help save your home and the lives of you and your family.

Smoke alarms are self-contained devices that incorporate a means of detecting a fire (smoke detector) and giving a warning (alarm), usually a very loud beeping sound. They are about the size of a hand and are normally fitted to the ceiling. They can detect fires in their early stages and give you those precious minutes to enable you and your family to leave your house in safety. These can be purchased for as little as £3.95.

These require very little maintenance
• Vacuum it using a soft brush attachment to remove dust from the sensors.
• Test your smoke alarm each year. It is recommended by The Fire and Rescue Service that this is done when putting up the Christmas tree, in addition to this being a memorable day it is when extra flammable materials, decorative lights and tea lights and candles are being brought into the home.
• Once a year change the battery (unless it’s a ten-year alarm).
• After 10 years it’s best to get a whole new alarm.
If you live in an apartment block familiarise yourself with the location of fire extinguishers and the fire policy of that particular building be it an evacuation procedure and fire escape route or a “stay put” policy. This applies also to any building you visit or in Hotels you will find this information on back of your room door.
It is also important to be aware of the condition of all electrical appliances you operate.
• Check your sockets regularly – if you see burn marks or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check them.
• Regularly check flexible cables on kettles and other similar appliances – look for signs of fraying cable, general wear and tear or a loose plug. Do this before you plug anything in. If you have any doubt have your appliances PAT tested by a qualified Electrician.
• Don’t overload adaptors or sockets.
• Also in communal areas only deposit rubbish in designated refuge bins for safe disposal as this creates a fire hazard.

Automatic sprinkler systems are used more than any other fixed fire protection system and over 40 million sprinklers are fitted worldwide every year.

Sprinkler systems have been in use for over 100 years. Possibly the oldest here in the UK was fitted in 1812 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and in an updated form is still in use today.

Sprinkler systems can be fitted during new build projects and Walton & Allen have retro fitted sprinkler systems during the refurbishment some Victorian houses on Mansfield Road, Nottingham. This was at a cost of approximately of £3,000 per property. This was a Building Control requirement as there are 2 or more floors more than 4.5 metres above ground level.

We at Walton & Allen test our fire alarm systems weekly and emergency lighting monthly in all our blocks to ensure correct performance. In addition a fixed wiring test (periodic inspection) is carried out at all of our buildings every 5 years as this is a legal requirement.

Finally, call the Fire and Rescue Service immediately if you smell burning that cannot be explained. They will have equipment such as thermal imaging cameras that will accurately detect objects that are overheating.

Many local Fire and Rescue Services will come to your home and carry out a Home Fire Risk Check to help keep you and your family safe. For more information on fire safety, visit www.direct.gov.uk/firekills, or contact your local Fire and Rescue Service (not 999).

Block Management Property Noticeboards

Block Management Information

My name is Steph and I have been working for Walton & Allen for almost 2 years. I started out here as a Receptionist for the estate agent side of the business and am now an Administrative Assistant in the Block Management team.

Through the support from Walton & Allen I am currently studying to take the foundation IRPM exam to increase my knowledge in property management. My day to day duties can vary as there are never 2 days that are the same, however the rest of the team are always there to help when needed! My main role is to assist the property managers with their admin duties, this can include anything from helping with letters being sent out, updating records and contact details and posting updates onto the Walton & Allen website.

Property Noticeboards

Each building managed by Walton & Allen has their own bulletin board on our website. Part of my role in the Block Management team is to make sure any information which could be helpful for residents and/or Leaseholders of the buildings are posted onto the bulletin board. Information such as bin collection days, cleaners’ attendance dates and any other relevant info is posted. It is important that updates are posted as soon as possible to ensure each bulletin board is always up to date, therefore any issues that have been reported to us that residents may need to be aware of will be uploaded. If it has been arranged for a contractor to visit site to carry out a repair, or if a member of the Walton & Allen Maintenance team has been on site doing maintenance works in the building (such as replacing lights etc.) this will also be posted, as well as any work which is carried out by the on-site caretakers or roaming caretaker. If a Property Manager has attended a building to carry out a walk around inspection of the communal areas, then this will also be uploaded as well as any actions or meetings that were carried out, to ensure residents and Leaseholders are always informed of what’s been happening at their building.

Reporting Building Issues – Block Management

How do you go about reporting building issues?

My Name is Kerrie McKie and I have worked at Walton & Allen for nearly 5 years. I started as an Administrative Assistant for the Block Management Department with little experience in the Property Sector. Throughout my time here I have continuously progressed with support from my Managers, Directors and Colleagues throughout. I am now a Trainee Property Manager and also a member of The Institute of Residential Property Management Limited. I have passed two exams so far with the most recent being the IRPM Associate Exam. I am not going to say this journey has been easy, and like every company, you have your good days and bad days but the Block Management Department is a well-managed team consisting of great people who support each other throughout. I can’t say my job is every boring, that’s for sure!

Reporting Building Repairs or Issues

Our main role is to resolve communal building issues and repairs; Working along-side our clients for each Building, the Budget we have prepared each year and the cash flow for the building. Although a member of the Block Management Team will visit each site once a month to carry out a walk around inspection to look for any issues or repairs required or check on recent instructed works, we do rely on residents in the meantime to report any required repairs on-site. E.g. Lights out of order in the communal areas, security issues like the main door not locking, gates or roller shutters out of order etc.

You would be surprised that the majority of the time, Residents do not report these issues to ourselves. It isn’t the first time I have heard “oh, I assumed someone else had already reported it” or “when is it going to get fixed?” and we are not aware of the issue. Residents should never assume that someone else living within their apartment block has reported an issue, it is always best to report the issue to Walton & Allen as the sooner you report an issue to ourselves the sooner we can resolve the issue. Don’t wait for a member of the team to visit site and find communal lights out etc, report them and we can get these issues resolved. Help us, help you.

Reporting Issues to Walton & Allen is easy, just phone the Block Management office (0115 924 1813) or send an email to Blockmanagement@waltonandallen.co.uk. However, we understand that the majority of the time Residents may notice an issue when they are on their way out to work etc. We understand that you may be in a rush or think ‘I will report that when I get to work’ and then forget. Therefore Walton & Allen have made it even easier for Residents to report issues to ourselves via our App. It is free to download from your app store by simply visiting www.waltonandallenapp.co.uk on any smartphone.

Residents can also check if we are already aware of a repair or if a repair is underway by looking on our website. We have an online bulletin board for each of the buildings we manage where we provide updates on repairs, contractors attending site and what’s generally going on. You can access this by visiting our Buildings pages. You can also view this page via our App on the “My Block” tab. Understandably we do not advertise on the notice boards when doors or gates are out of order for Security reasons but if you ever want an update on an item just simply phone or email us.

What is a Property Credit Controller?

Our Credit Controller, Nichola, chats to us about payment plans for service charges and ground rent.

As I’m sure many will imagine, a typical day in Credit Control can be very challenging! However, what may seem like many less positive days is outweighed by Walton & Allen as a whole being a rewarding company to work for. I have worked here for almost four years and, although when I first began as a Credit Controller I found the role daunting I have learnt a lot about Service Charges, Ground Rent and Leases which has in turn helped my confidence to grow within the daily workloads.

The basic description of my job role is to ensure Lessee’s are paying Service Charges and Ground Rent within the time frames stipulated within the individual Lease Agreements to each apartment. Should a Lessee fail to pay on time, unfortunately they will follow our Debt Collection procedure which consists of the following:-

  • 1st Reminder – Sent 14 clear days after the due date should no payment or contact be received from Lessee (no admin fees added)
  • Final Reminder – Following on from the 1st Reminder if no further payments or contact has been shown a Final Reminder will be sent to the Lessee in question after a further 7 days and a £60.00 Admin Fee will be added to their account.
  • With Solicitors – In addition to the above steps, after a final 7 days if no progress has been shown following the first two reminders the account will then be passed onto our third party Solicitors to deal with the case further. An additional £60.00 fee is also added to the account.

As you can see, from the procedure stated above this can be a lengthy process in order to collect arrears on the 38 different buildings we manage. This therefore can make my inbox and telephone extremely busy during the due dates! Although the work load can become over whelming, once the procedure has come to the end it is rewarding to see the arrears percentages drop and individual accounts be brought up to date.

Another extra to my duties as a Credit Controller is to arrange and monitor payment plans. Usually this is the total Service Charges spread over a number of months to help ease the pressure of a large payment in one go. This is offered as a good will gesture from Walton & Allen as the Lease states payments must be made on the date they become due, however as a company we work towards helping make payment methods that little easier by offering this option. After any payment plans have been agreed I ensure this is put in writing to each Lessee, so this can be easily understood and managed.

In addition to chasing non payers, I also update new owners to our systems and ensure any monies outstanding are correctly outlined to the new Lessee of the property. I also send out Emergency Contact Forms to confirm we have the correct correspondence details.

Overall I must admit I do enjoy my job role, this is greatly encouraged by the Walton & Allen staff members. Since day one I have felt welcome and part of the team who are always willing to help out and muck in when large printouts are being sent out for Service Charges & Ground Rent (this can take a while for one person alone!).

Block Management in Nottingham

Block Management: The process of dealing with or controlling things or people

Like it or not, everyone has to manage themselves at some stage of their lives. For many, the challenge is managing their finances and other aspects of their lives including their families and in particular their children.

For most, it is a challenge that they are prepared to take on and fully embrace but for some it is a really arduous task which, at worse, they will try and avoid and hope that somehow things will sort themselves out. In some people it would seem that it is an inbred skill whilst others have to work at developing the same.

Here at Walton & Allen we provide services to many people who are looking to either rent or buy property but also we manage a lot of property for owners. We pride ourselves on the quality of service we offer and achieve.

Our block management team take the responsibility of looking after other people’s interests very seriously, and whether they have natural skills or not, we are trained in all aspects of management to take away the pain and strain which arises from inherent problems. We strive to give the best advice to our clients in order to jointly arrive at the correct decision to enable us to successfully manage on their behalf.

We have a great record of managing for our clients and many of our new clients come to us on recommendations. Having said this, we are never complacent and are always happy to listen and take on board any constructive feedback or positive ideas.

To understand exactly what we can offer for you in terms of block management across Nottingham and across the UK, you can visit our block management page.

It’s always good to talk so contact us today to try out our block management services!!

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Keeping Your Car & Valuables Safe

We manage a number of buildings in city centres with car parks. City Centre living can be so exciting with bars, clubs, shops and easy access to transport links on your doorstep.

One downfall with city centre living is the risk of car crime. The worst part of mine and my teams day is talking to our residents who have been the victim of this type of crime.

There are lots of deterrents Block Management companies can do to try and deter crime at a building, for example CCTV, fob access, electronic gates.

Block Management companies can do all of the above and more but from our experience, the main reason someone’s valuables from a car becomes a target to criminals is one of the following:

  • Leaving keys, wallets, Sat Nav’s, mobile phones on view in the car
  • Leaving the car unlocked
  • Phone charger cables left in cigarette chargers
  • Leaving the car park access system fob on show in the car
  • Leaving coins and change on show in the car
  • Leaving anything on the back seat. Even a sheet covering a back seat can lead criminals to think there is something worth stealing that is being covered
  • Leaving items in the foot well
  • Not wiping the marks on the window screen from where the Sat nav has been affixed to the window screen
  • Not putting your parcel shelf down especially when any items are in the back (Especially sheets or clothes)
  • Leaving items in the glove compartments
  • Do not leave bags especially laptop bags anywhere in view. Not even pushed under the seat

Most car thieves who operate in city centre car parks want quick sale items like mobile phones and sat navs. They are not usually looking to steal your car. Therefore please be smart. Stealing items from car has a low punishment in relation to the quick sale value that thieves can make. We have seen examples of CCTV footage where thieves have not even covered their faces and stolen items from cars directly under CCTV cameras.

Therefore the best way of making sure you do not have your car broken into in any city centre car park (Private or public) is making it less of a target. If you have nothing on show and its clean and tidy, the thief will think there is nothing of value and move onto the next target.

Also, we cannot further highlight the need to make sure you have the correct insurances in place.

Please make sure you have a read of the crime stoppers website below for more helpful tips.

https://crimestoppers-uk.org/keeping-safe/vehicles/

Please keep yourself and your valuables safe. We don’t want to hear of people being victims of crime so please do everything you can to not be the criminal’s next target.

Walton&Allen Secure £2k Refund for Property Owners

Directors of Forman House have this week received a £2,005 refund from Nottingham City Council thanks to the efforts of Walton&Allen’s block management team.

 

Forman-HouseSince 2007 the owners of Forman House have been charged for the collection of three bins at the building, although they have only ever had two bins to be collected. They informed their previous property management company who were unable to resolve the issue.
When Walton&Allen took over the property in May 2015 we set to work putting this issue right. Initially the council agreed to repay the overcharged amount dating back to when Walton&Allen first took over. After further correspondence the council have now agreed to backdate the full amount dating back to 24/08/2007 – a total refund of £2005.00.
All told it took Walton&Allen’s block management team just three months to resolve an issue that had stumped previous block management companies for nearly eight years.
If you don’t feel like you’re getting a full service from your current block management company and you’d like to explore your options further with Walton&Allen please get in touch with a member of our block management team today.

Tel: 0115 924 3304 / 0115 924 1813