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Leading agent rails against developers who use low cost property management contractors

Kristjan Byfield says he knows of a luxury block where lift maintenance has a 28-day response rate SLA in place even though apartments 'cost millions'.

Nigel Lewis

A leading lettings agency in London has fired a broadside against developers who offload the management of so-called luxury apartment blocks to low-cost contractors who then make the lives of landlords, tenants and managing agents a nightmare.

Kristjan Byfield, boss of London agency Base Properties says he is especially incensed by Taylor Wimpey, who he accuses of dodging its responsibilities and hiding behind sub-contractors, although he says the problem is common across the new-build sector.

“In my experience Taylor Wimpey will all too often do nothing when landlords or managing agents like us complain that basic services within their shiny new apartment blocks don’t work,  or take months or years to fix things even though the landlords are often paying £15,000 a year in service charges,” he says.

“My opinion is that they want to keep the costs of maintaining these blocks as low as possible during the initial ‘guarantee’ periods post purchase and hope nothing goes wrong before the freehold is transferred and they can wash their hands of it.”

Byfield gives the example of a three bedroom apartment within a recently-completed Taylor Wimpey Central London development marketed as Onyx Apartments in Kings Cross.

It was bought by an investor for £1.2 million and rented out for £3,500 a month but for a year there have been ongoing problems with its heating and hot water and more recently the entire building’s air conditioning packed up, with the contractor involved unable to give a fix date for the problem despite a heat wave due this week.

Compensation

“Unsurprisingly the tenants have asked for compensation which hasn’t pleased our client landlord,” says Byfield, who says other developers behave similarly and also ‘drive him and his team mad’.

“I’m increasingly finding with developers like this the only thing that prompts them to take action is to name and shame them on social media or in the press, and in my view that did the trick when we had water ingress problems at the City Mills development in Haggerston,” says Byfield.

“When we raise the problems with developers like them we’re too often told ‘it’s the sub-contractors’, but how does that help the landlords who are paying thousands every month in management fees?”

Taylor Wimpey told The Negotiator: “Taylor Wimpey holds itself to high standards of customer service and we have extensive protocols in place for this reason. Having been in direct communication with the leaseholder of this particular property, we’re satisfied that these issues were resolved a number of weeks ago.”

June 23, 2020

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