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Granby House: 'Let This Be A Lesson'

Resident's victory over building managers (GNC) and inflated service charges

Written by . Published on October 1st 2014.


Granby House: 'Let This Be A Lesson'
 

THE GRANBY House Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) ruling is in – and it’s good news for owners.

De Roo believes that fighting the LVT instead of listening to the residents and simply improving the maintenance will have cost GNC more than £130,000 plus legal fees over the last eighteen months.

Not only will they get a backdated refund of excessive service charges but building management company, Guinness Northern Counties (GNC), has also been ordered to pay more than £46,000 into the building’s Reserve Fund for window painting that was ruled unnecessary.

For context on the Granby House debacle see here (7 March), here (8 April) and here (18 July).

It’s a significant victory for the leaseholders and long-term resident, Martijn de Roo, who led the fight. He told Confidential: “It’s a very good outcome. We are all very happy.”

An understatement perhaps, some leaseholders could end up having almost £2,000 refunded as well as seeing their on-going monthly charges reduced.

“It should be a lesson to all management companies that they cannot continue to take money from leaseholders for services that they do not provide," said de Roo. “It has been a long eighteen months to get to this point but we are very pleased that the tribunal panel listened to our points and acted accordingly.

“There have been some key issues raised and won but getting a refund of the full cost of the window painting, a job that should never have been done in the first place, is an amazing result.”

Granby HouseGranby House

Other costs reduced include the caretakers salary of £17,024, which should be halved given he only spends half his time at Granby House.

Invoices for City Response, GNC’s own repair company, were reduced by £1,336.

The owners also got £360 back for a roller shutter on the basement car park.

However, they're still required to pay for the caretaker’s phone and problems with the front door, which residents claimed was a result of poor repair, but was ruled to be more likely 'over enthusiastic use' by residents.

The tribunal panel paid a visit to the Grade II listed building before the first hearing. The report says:

“The annual fee charged per apartment ranges from £218.20 to £253.45.

“Mr de Roo accepted that these fees would be within the range which would be reasonable for a good quality residential development in central Manchester managed to a high standard.

"We Agree with this.

“However, we also agree with the applicants’ view that the building has not been managed to a sufficiently high standard to justify management fees falling within this range.”

Ouch.

Mr de Roo outside Granby HouseMr de Roo outside Granby House

The report cites the style and quality of the building’s common parts, in particular stating the standard of furnishing, decoration and cleanliness is relatively poor with damp and mould in the basement which has not been attended to.

It says the finish of doors, door handles and cable conduits are dated and/or unsightly and that GNC’s reaction time to management issues is too slow with not enough done to address the serious issue of leaks.

Confidential likes the judgement’s language...

“In his evidence to the tribunal, Mr Mundy (From GNC) commented that the applicants expect more of the management service than Guinness expects to provide. This may well be true.

“However, the problem with this argument is that Guinness has also been charging for a higher standard of management services that, apparently, it expects to provide.”

Ouch again.

So it reduced the service charge backdated to 2007 and suggested GNC bear this in mind when they finally get around to setting the 2013/2014 figure.

De Roo believes that fighting the LVT instead of listening to the residents and simply improving the maintenance will have cost GNC more than £130,000 plus legal fees over the last eighteen months.

GNC now have 28 days to appeal. It will be interesting to see if they do given that several other GNC managed blocks are preparing their own LVT evidence.

When the celebrations of the LVT victory have died down, Granby House leaseholders plan to go for a Right To Manage, meaning they can appoint their own managing agents.

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36 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Brilliant Result, about time Guinness were accounted for! They have made residents lifes a misery since they have been 'managing' the building. I believe more buildings 'managed' by GNC are also taking them to the LVT. Good to luck to them all. We are now looking forward to getting a new Management Company to care for our building and to listen to residents. (Which GNC have NEVER done). Well done Martijn, and all other residents who have helped with this outstanding result!!!!!

Kevin PeelOctober 1st 2014.

This is a real victory for residents facing bad management of their building and an example of what can be achieved when residents unite to stand up against such bad practice. My colleagues and I have supported residents at Granby House from the outset, organising meetings with the managing agent, calling for improvements and attending the hearings in support of residents. We're thrilled with this result and would urge Guinness Northern Counties to accept it and not spend time and money on a lengthy appeal. Any residents wishing to take similar action should contact councillors for advice.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Kevin, this was driven by residents not you and your 'task force' swooping in towards the end sniff out some credit on the run up to the General and Council elections next May. You are spin obsessed!

Kevin PeelOctober 2nd 2014.

If you're going to spout rubbish have the courage to put your name to it, Anon. We've been proud to support the Herculean efforts of dedicated residents from the outset.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Still taking a vow of silence on the the Coop Kev?,despite once telling all and sundry how you proud be associated them.Why don't you talk about the the subsidies and help you gave to The Coop development.Now they sold it,are they paying any of it back?.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Kevin, I'm sure you have been supportive but did you really have to be the second comment on her telling everyone what a great job you did. 'Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast'.....Try being a bit more like Joan and Beth.

Flor JaramilloOctober 9th 2014.

Of course residents are the ones that need to take the lead in changing the dreadful situations we could be in with some Management Agents. Nobody knows better the situation than the residents and is up to US to get organized and work for free in benefit of the Building and our pockets. But it is thanks to Councillors raising this issue than more people could decide to DO something and have and starting point guidance. No one will fight our own battles. WELL DONE for all the people involved!!

Trish KarneyOctober 1st 2014.

Let's hope they don't put a "Muriel" of Myra Hindley on the side of the building ;)

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Nah, reckon we'll have a big party x

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Well done Martijn, Mark & Rachel. You showed the true colours of GNC & I hope others living under their neglect can do the same. You worked tirelessly for hours on this each week, where others had no stamina left and were so browbeaten we'd given up. Hours you'll never get back but you sacrificed in your persistence. Though I'm sure these trashbags will appeal and make as much fuss as possible, ecstatic with the result. They have threatened residents for speaking out. They have left people in chaos without help or solution. The report speaks of how when the caretaker was full time his work was only part time as he does so little. Though GNC dislike him the reason they keep him on doesn't really need to be said, as it is what he knows. Though I am sure they will things difficult to the very end as cowboy 'social housing landlords', what a great chance we have to get rid of them thanks to you. I hope all buildings in the city follow your lead. Martijn & Mark you need a big holiday and we need to buy you a night out! Thanks so much for helping us to get close to kicking in the waste disposal, where they belong.

Peter CoppingOctober 1st 2014.

BUT GNC are still the Managers! and have spentWill this one have a sequel £130K aand got nothing, and usually lease see legal cost are for the service charges.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

RTM coming next Spence. Different processes. (Yes the paperwork is endless and tedious). If the current lies that are being spread to landlords and owners that a service charge will go up to £500 under a private management are not believed that is. Anything is better value and better protection than GNC and these insane figures are sabotage and baloney. Hope people have more sense than to believe what they have been told. I think this exposure will say don't ever trust what you are *allegedly* being told by GNC employees. Good!

Peter CoppingOctober 1st 2014.

Peter CoppingJust a moment ago. BUT GNC are still the Managers! and have spent £130K and got nothing! Will this one have a sequel. usually leases say legal costs are for the service charges. Has the Tribinal decided on costs?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

GNC agreed in the last meeting they would not try to recoup their legal fees for the process (18 months) through the service charge, only potentially a very small portion related to Section 20 (dispensation) that was challenged.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

GNC, eh? I live in a council apartment block (new build, 2 years old) in central/east Manchester managed by them. None of this behaviour from their end surprises me at all. Getting adequate and timely repairs out of them as landlords is like getting blood from a stone, and though they have on my records that I'm hearing-impaired and prefer to deal with them by email or text message, they *keep* calling me. As for service charges - yes, they do like to charge more than they deliver don't they? Window-cleaning has been part of the issue with them where I live, too. So very unsurprised by this article.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

“The annual fee charged per apartment ranges from £218.20 to £253.45." Surely that should read more than £2000+ per year?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

This is the annual Management fee that forms part of the overall service charge (£16K in our case, divided by 61 flats). The range is the various amounts over the years in question. So for instance in 2008-2009 the management fee per flat was about £240 pounds per flat per year for management fee only. Hope that makes a bit more sense?

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

A great victory for the residents of Granby House - a beautiful Mancunian building that has been mismanaged and left to rot by Guinness Northern Counties. Appalling customer service, near non-existent 'management' and an utter disregard for both the leaseholders and for the building itself. All now proven in a court of law. That GNC have been overcharging the leaseholders of Granby House for this 'service' does not surprise. They are either completely crooked or utterly incompetent - probably a bit of both. I would hope that GNC have the good sense not to appeal this decision, and I should imagine that this judgement will go a long way towards the RTM. Great news for residents, and no more than GNC derserve. Well done to all involved.

Hero
NiBsOctober 1st 2014.

Very well done. RTM is not so difficult I'm a leaseholder in a block formerly managed by Places For People, it took time but leaseholders were successful in the end - I suggest some of the money you get back now is put aside to provide the legal fees to for RTM and then to buy freehold. Choose your new management company very very carefully. Doing it yourselves is OK if you've got qualified people prepared to put the time in. Good Luck -- Alistair Niven

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

I'd never buy somewhere managed by GNC as a result of reading these articles, congrats to all who fought them in court, great result :) wishful thinking to think they've learned their lesson though !

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

I live in a property 'Managed' by GNC their attitude stinks! rude unproffesional behavour!

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Great news. As a former tenant of Lancaster House, I hope that the owners of flats in there are one of the GNC managed blocks preparing their own LVT evidence mentioned in the article!

TomOctober 3rd 2014.

No doubt Guinness Northern Counties will try to recover their losses by adding the costs onto their other properties. It has been known they add hidden costs (£25K for India House for example), so GNC Customers keep a close eye on your accounts. It is about time this organisation gets investigated properly and brought to Justice. Well done on Granby for standing up for the little man!

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2014.

Having lived at Granby house for almost 8 years I am SO pleased that we decided to go to the LVT with our issues with GNC. We gave them so many opportunities to avoid going to the LVT but alas they did not listen once! The extortionate 'service' / 'management' fees let alone their disgusting attitude to home owners. They acted as if they owned us, GNC 'management' need to address these issues urgently. Good luck to the other schemes who are taking GNC to the LVT ........... Even after the LVT result the issues are still going on at Granby house! you would of thought they would of listened by now!!! Get your bags packed GNC cause your on your way out! you have ruined our Grade II listed building....... but don't you worry once we have the new management company in to sort out your mess, I will forward on photos of our new building to show you what you should of been doing!!!

MeOctober 3rd 2014.

“The annual fee charged per apartment ranges from £218.20 to £253.45." Mine is £140 per month... seems like a good deal to me

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 3rd 2014.

Is the £140 your monthly service charge? So £1680 per year. For that you should get a nice, well managed, clean building in return with customer service to match I hope? The £250 relates to the Management Charge as part of the Service Charge (last year Granby Residents paid £1776 per year). Once you break down your Service charge it is surprising to see what your money is actually spent on.

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2014.

Wow, that's double my council tax! Up the 'burbs. :)

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2014.

Well done to those involved. Our block was managed by Suttons City Living who just happen to own a maintenance company called Cleancut. Guess who did all of the cleaning an maintenance at an extortionate rate?.....Fortunately they jumped before they were pushed. They sold the business on a month before residents became directors.

StockportOctober 5th 2014.

Very good news indeed! Our building is managed by GNC and the issues discussed on this forum only seem all too familiar. Our Residents Association is also contemplating going down the LVT route (suggestions welcome). It would be good if we could get guidance on this as it seems like a long process that needs simplefying.

LizzieOctober 6th 2014.

I also live in a building ‘managed’ by GNC. Threatening behaviour from GNC Staff (our Leasehold Manager), a Customer Service Team who do not understand our problems and GNC internal processes that seem to favour GNC rather than their paying customers. The whole organisation needs to listen to what their customers say!

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2014.

Guinness Northern Counties have (wisely) decided not to appeal against the Granby House LVT Decision! Granby House residents are well aware this does not change the current situation but at least we can finally close off the years 2007-2014 and in particular the last 18 months!

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2014.

Congratulations!!!!!!!!

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2014.

Amazing result for Granby House indeed! With more and more buildings taking their management companies to Leasehold Valuation Tribunals (and quite a few taking Guinness Northern Counties to a tribunal) this is very encouraging for all! Let's hope people learn from this! #justiceforgranby

Anthony BOctober 23rd 2014.

It will be interesting to see whether GNC will try and claim back their losses through their other schemes. I hope these guys get audited properly. GNC Customers be aware and check your accounts properly!! I sold my GNC managed flat last year after they failed to properly repair a crack in the outside wall of my building, resulting in the current leaseholders being charged thousands for something that GNC could and should have avoided. They are a disgrace!

AnonymousOctober 26th 2014.

Here's another great article related to dodgy Management companies! www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/council-crackdown-dodgy-landlords-bid-7994499…

Jack FrancisNovember 17th 2014.

So what can the residents do now ? Right to manage ? Collective enfranchisement ? Interesting times ahead I guess...........

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