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Problems in retirement property

(5 Posts)
McNursey Fri 03-Feb-17 09:11:43

My 84 yr old mother lives in a development of retirement flats. There is a management company that oversees painting and decorating etc.

The company have appointed one of the residents to the management team, let's call him Bob. I have no idea how Bob got onto the management team, but he has seems to have let the position go to his head a little.
I have raised a concern with the company when he circulated health forms for the emergency call system. I didn't think it was appropriate for him to be given my mother's medical history! I was told as he was effectively a manager it was all ok, I disagreed. We eventually sent the form directly to the service provider.

The latest issue is to do with the communal lounge. There are 2 issues, he wants to be informed every time some of the residents want to use the lounge. My mother and a friend met up to play scrabble. He wanted to know dates and times. The lounge is huge and has sofas, armchairs etc. Bob has now decided that it is unsafe to have more than 14 people in there at a time. Apparently it's a fire hazard! Surely when the development was designed the space was made large enough for the population? There are 44 apartments. Bob is a little obsessed with fire hazards. The large side board in the lounge is a fire hazard as well.

My mother is very fed up with this man, but unfortunately a lot of people are in awe of him. I want to help her sort this out but don't really know how to go about it. I said she should ask to see the risk assessments for the use of the lounge.

It's her home and she shouldn't have someone spoiling her enjoyment of the facilities.

Needmoresleep Fri 03-Feb-17 09:57:15

I have just had a similar problem in a (non retirement) block of flats. One, share-of-freehold Director took it upon himself to co-ordinate, decisions and liaise with the management company and then failed to organise any AGMs, etc and vetoed any expenditure for common parts, even those required in the lease.

It took several years before we realised why the common parts were looking shabby.

Our solution has been to go back to the paperwork. It should all be in there. (Possible paperwork might include the lease, How people are appointed to the management team, right of consultation etc.)

I assume Bob has been appointed because either:

a) he was a pain so they though it easier to have him on board than not.
b) they are saving money because otherwise they would have to pay someone to do what he does.

I would aim to have as little direct involvement with Bob as possible. One real lesson I have learned in life is that if you are having problems with someone, others probably are as well. It is better to complain about the issue than the person, as they have then to address the issue, rather than palm it off as a personality clash. Let someone else take the flack on the personality problems.

I would then write a letter, which could hint at though not threaten further action. In my case legal action against the problem Director though your unstated threat might be to take it to a body that regulates sheltered or general housing. (Another life lesson don't issue threats unless you are ready to carry them out, but no harm in letting people think you are organised and persistent and could take things further.) In my case once we looked at the Memorandum of Association we realised we could call an AGM, become Directors and make decisions based on a transparent and democratic process. .

Be clear about the problems. Say that the restrictions are diminishing your mother's enjoyment of her otherwise lovely property. (Always be polite and reasonable in any correspondence which may be used again, or read say by an industry body.) Say the lease promises access to the day room, or whatever. Quote any consultation requirements. Say you are writing because it is difficult for a 84 year to be assertive. Ask how these restrictions were put in place, and whether they plan for the lease to be amended to reflect these. Ask generally about the process through which residents are involved in the day to day decision making that involves their access to facilities.

In short, and as clearly as possible sound clear and organised and make the letter sound as if it is a stage one complaint which will be taken further if they don't respond. In short failure to rein in Bob's petty rules will ties them up in more paperwork than they want.

Research governing bodies both for sheltered housing and for property management companies. Google "I want to complain about my management company". Decide what elements of the problem might cause a reason able complaint. (Withdrawal of current access to facilities without consultation etc) Again quote rules and bodies. Google the housing and see whose recommended lists it is on, ie local SS, and if you want to go all guns blazing could suggest you would speak to them as well, given the distress caused to a vulnerable resident from their high handed approach. (Always their approach, not Bob's because they have allowed him to act in their name.)

That should do it!

McNursey Mon 06-Feb-17 14:17:12

Thank you for replying!

I think it's time to have a long talk with my mother and see what she wants to do next. He is having an impact on her enjoyment of her home.

Time to write a letter I think.

CatOnAWarmTinRoof Mon 06-Feb-17 14:23:18

If Bob insists on being told each and every time someone uses lounge, I suggest your mother starts arranging Scrabble games for 3am. And 4am.

McNursey Tue 07-Feb-17 18:00:00

I shall pass your idea on Cat!

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