A shameful article about Property Managing Agents failing their client when looking after their property, favouring one leaseholder over another and, critically, failing to arrange insurance despite collecting the premium.
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I have claims to make, yet no service
I first met Paul at breakfast and found him hugely charming and terrible engaging. Not many people will dance their way through a presentation yet that’s exactly what he did. We clicked and discussed many things other than dance and risk reduction.
He introduced me to Gail who was having difficulty getting any service from their property’s managing agent – it was a terraced house in central London split into four apartments – despite water leaks needing to be fixed and repairs to her flat undertaken. Gail explained that the Property Managing Agents were so unresponsive they had decided to start their own company and take matters in-house. However, they had already paid for an annual insurance and wanted to make a claim.
There’s no cover!
For the right person, I am always happy to take over a policy and ensure that the claim is settled fairly. Gail and her neighbours authorised me to do this and Axa Insurance acknowledged receipt of our letter within days of it being submitted. It then slowed down and despite many calls Axa were unresponsive.
Another leaseholder raised the urgency when a lender requested evidence of insurance in order to authorise a remortgage. We pressed the Axa panic button, making contact with the most senior contact we have at that insurer and were told in hushed tones “the Property Managing Agent did not pay the premium so we cancelled the cover… last year”. What is it about people not being able to bring themselves to give you bad news? I’ve never shot a messenger in my life.
All systems go!
I arranged an alternative within minutes of Gail authorising me to do so. We are talking about a property close to £1,000,000 with a history of water damage so it’s lucky we know which insurers want to cover these. Axa were unable to help in the timescale required! The annual investment was settled by credit card and documents were sent to the lender to ensure funds were released in time.
Gail has been trying to obtain a refund, to no avail, and is going to the Insurance Ombudsman. I fully expect the Property Managing Agent to be struck off the FCA register although I doubt their governing body will prevent them managing properties. The saddest thing is that it appears that one of the leaseholders is loosely connected to the fraudsters so it is a tricky scenario. They are an absent landlord and their lack of care in selecting tenants is causing problems for all the residents, not to mention their neighbours. Legal process is the only avenue open to them yet that has already started.
Wrap up: Leaseholders have a right to know where their fees are being spent. If you ask an agent what they are earning from insurance they have to tell you. They can be struck off for remaining silent.
Some Property Managing Agents charge ridiculously low fees but they top them up with hidden charges in insurance premiums. It has been know for them to cream 40% off the top and an accountant I know recovered £80,000 in fraudulent fees from a particularly deceitful company.