Dear Ashworth Mansions Leaseholders,
This note should be read alongside the document pack for our forthcoming annual general meeting, which takes place on 4 June (details below). I am writing now to tell you what we hope to cover that evening and to encourage as many of you as possible to attend.
Since our last AGM amongst much else work has been done on a proposal for a new lease, fire safety, decommissioning water tanks as well as preparing for major works (which we carry out roughly once every ten years). We also conducted a survey for the first time in 10 years (this will become an annual activity).
You will have seen from the company accounts and service charge accounts (sent separately) that there was a £30,000 surplus. This will be transferred into reserves.
Proposal for a new Lease
Thanks for your responses to the consultation we carried out concerning lease content (12 leaseholders replied; 21 have commented so far including board members). We have carefully reviewed all the comments and taken them in to account where possible.
We are unfortunately though still not in a position to provide you with an offer to consider, as we had originally intended. The process remains complex and legal counsel have advised that there are still too many areas of uncertainty to issue a complete proposal for a new lease, in time for the AGM.
We have though advanced our understanding about the tax position considerably (thanks to the help of a lessee who happens to be a tax accountant). We will obtain an HMRC opinion on the AML tax position before issuing new leases. May I remind you though that the tax advice we obtain is for the companyand not for lessees, each of whose personal tax position will be different and anyone contemplating purchasing a new lease would presumably seek their own tax advice. We expect to be able to engage with HMRC soon; then assemble a package for your consideration, which we would put to you at an extraordinary general meeting.
We are aware that there are different opinions on the length (known formally as the ‘tenor’) of any new lease, whether a new lease should be offered at all (or the old one simply extended on the basis of your legal rights, which will not be affected in any way) and on various clauses in a new lease. We welcome further discussion of these matters at the AGM, at any subsequent extraordinary general meeting we held to consider whether and if so how to take this forward, and in correspondence, as you find useful.
One of the reasons why we are delayed in bringing a proposal to you is that the work on a new lease has brought to light historic failures in the processes used by the then Company Secretary to issue shares. For that reason, we have been advised to put in place a shareholder resolution properly authorising some of the shares already issued.
As discussed at the last AGM, the rooftop water tanks will be decommissioned this autumn. An extensive survey has been undertaken to understand individual flat owners’ positions. There is still some uncertainty although we have a clearer picture of how many flats will need to transfer to the new system in the next six months. We are considering new ways to get to the bottom of the missing information – for example, focusing on one block at a time to get the information we need from residents and owners, and then decommissioning the tank for that block and moving on to the next.
Vaults & bridges
Works on the Grantully side have been greatly delayed whilst we worked out how to re-route the gas supply during the works with the monopoly supplier Cadent Gas.
New block front doors and security
This was a much-discussed concern in the survey, and new doors for each of the ten block entrances have been agreed in principle. We made this decision after a period of investigation into refurbishment versus new doors, and it seems clear that our 100-year-old doors are no longer serviceable.
The new doors will necessarily be installed after the vaults and bridges works (which will cause a great deal of mess as we rebuild the bridges). Until the vaults and bridges work are complete (one side at a time) further minor refurbishment will be done on particularly problematic block doors in order to keep us secure.
We have conducted a statutory fire survey, which recommends the installation of fire alarms, both communal and within individual flats. Further, we will be required it seems to install new front doors for all flats due to uncertainty around their ability to resist fire for 30 minutes (a requirement). We plan that this should be paid for out of the service charge, but this is obviously an unwelcome and substantial additional item.
10-year major works cycle
Planning for the next cycle is underway with extensive preparatory work already carried out by our surveyors and managing agents. As previously, there will be additional costs on top of the service charge and regular payments you make already to the sinking fund. We will give you our best sense of what money will be required and over what period, at the AGM.
Based on last year’s survey, a significant trimming of trees and removal of three is nearly complete. The gardens on the Elgin side, end-of-terrace will be replanted soon. This work was held up whilst electrical cables were made safe.
There is therefore a great deal to discuss and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the AGM, which takes place on Monday, 4th June, 19:00 – 21:00, at Paddington Sports Club, in the upstairs meeting room.
For the Board of Ashworth Mansions Limited