News

30th September 2019
JB Leitch Receives Leading Recommendations for 2020
JB Leitch Receives Leading Recommendations for 2020

The Legal 500, widely acknowledged as the world’s largest independent legal referral guide, has published it's rankings for 2020. Based on a broad series of criteria, including strong technical ability available for the most complex and innovative work, client recommendation and results, the rankings provide a comprehensive view of the merits of best law firms across the world.

Liverpool based property solicitors JB Leitch have received tier 4 Leading Firm status, with specific recommendations for property litigation and real estate areas of practice.

The firm is also celebrating specific recommendations for leading team members including principal solicitor Jonathan Leitch and head of real estate services, Rob Denman. The published rankings also see legal director Phil Parkinson awarded Rising Star status, granted to standout performers who are driving both the business and industry forward.

Jonathan Leitch commented “We are again delighted to be recognised by the Legal 500, without question the most thorough guide to law firms and solicitors in the UK and beyond. The personal recommendations provided this year are also a great compliment, including recognition of Phil’s growing stature and successes within the industry”.

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30th September 2019
Birmingham leaseholders' roadshow offers hope to cash-strapped homeowners
Birmingham leaseholders' roadshow offers hope to cash-strapped homeowners

Property owners stuck in troublesome leasehold agreements are being supported in an innovative series of roadshows coming to Birmingham next month.

It comes as some 4.3 million homeowners across England are being compensated for excessive charges on their leasehold property.

An increasing number of people are facing bills of thousands of pounds if they want to move or even re-mortgage their house or flat as their properties came with 99-year leases when they were built in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Many are being asked to pay large sums to extend their leases or buy the freehold of their house. Serious concerns have been raised about whether the terms applied under such leasehold agreements are fair. Some apply a string of administration and service charges on top of the ground rent itself.

According to most recent Land Registry statistics, in the West Midlands, some 98% of flats, 5% of houses and 16% of all property transactions are completed on leasehold terms.

In the most serious cases, leaseholders are forced to pay hundreds of pounds per year in ground rent, with payments doubling every 10 years. These charges often make it difficult to sell a property, as few people wish to buy a home subject to such an onerous contract. The so called toxic lease scandal.

Now, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a formal investigation into leasehold agreements amid fears that homeowners are being treated unfairly. The Law Commission has also recently issued two consultation papers on how the cost of extending a lease or buying a freehold might be reduced and how Commonhold might be made to work better. And yet another on how the weaknesses in the legislation giving tenants the Right to Manage their leasehold flats might be remedied.

The CMA said it would also examine whether leaseholders may have been missold when they bought their property in the first place.

Leasehold specialist Mark Adcock said there was an urgent demand for clear, sound guidance on leasehold issues and that the CMA probe could lead to some very welcome good news for home owners.

He added: “More than ever, home owners need to know their rights. For example, they may not know that they can extend the lease of their flat and never pay ground rent again.”

“With expert help they can often reduce their service charge, take control of the management of their building and even seize ownership of it.”

“It’s also perfectly achievable to get the freehold of their house at a price that's affordable.”

Mark, of Lichfield-based Adcocks Solicitors has 20 years’ experience in leasehold law and is a former part time lawyer with the Law Commission advising on leasehold.

He will also explain how the law may be changing.

The event, which Mark describes as a ‘must attend’ for leaseholders, is free and is being held at the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre on Saturday, 19th October from 9.30am.

Anyone interested in knowing more should call 01543 442100 or visit the firm’s website at https://www.adcocks-solicitors.co.uk/roadshow/ to register. 

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17th September 2019
FirstPort partners with Centrepoint to help vulnerable young people into employment
FirstPort partners with Centrepoint to help vulnerable young people into employment

FirstPort has partnered with youth homelessness charity Centrepoint to provide on-the-job learning and interview skills to help young people who have experienced homelessness to find a job.

Residential property management company FirstPort has supported Centrepoint as a fundraising partner since October 2018. Now the company is also working with the charity’s training and employment programme, Centrepoint Works, to help young people become more employable.
Centrepoint Works helps young people to turn their lives around by gaining essential life skills and puts them on the path to lasting employment through apprenticeships, traineeships, support to obtain English and Maths qualifications, and other learning programmes designed specifically for people looking for work or to progress in their chosen career.

FirstPort will be providing its first placement traineeship at Lockes Wharf in east London in the safe hands of Robert Williams. Robert has been FirstPort’s Development Manager for five years and comes with a wealth of experience and skills to nurture and coach the new trainee.
Verity Wylde, HR Business Partner at FirstPort said: “We believe this to be the first such programme to be introduced across the residential property management sector. Together we can make a real difference to the lives of our society’s most vulnerable young people.

“Supporting young people, through training, coaching and guidance into their chosen careers is probably one of the best elements to my role at FirstPort. Seeing people grow and develop is really rewarding and I am really excited to be leading on this partnership.”

Yvonne Pick, Operations Manager for Centrepoint Works South, said: “We are so pleased to be partnering with FirstPort to provide work placements for young people at Centrepoint. We work hard to equip and train young people for the world of work and placements are an excellent opportunity for them to put their learning into practice and increase their employability skills.”

Robert Williams added: “We’re so proud to be involved with Centrepoint and in particular their innovative ‘Introduction to work project’ which is very worthwhile, providing young people the opportunity to experience a work environment. I believe this is a great stepping stone to help young people into work, giving them a feeling of self-worth in order to lead full, enjoyable lives. The team and I at Lockes Wharf hope to give them an overview and training in a busy work environment boosting their confidence in the workplace helping them to move forward in their careers.”

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16th September 2019
Compliance Manager appointed by Principle
Compliance Manager appointed by Principle

Principle Estate Management has appointed a Compliance Manager to its staff as the business continues to expand.

Rebecca Gibson joins the company from JB Leitch Solicitors in Liverpool, a law firm that specialises in property management, where she was a senior account manager.

She started in April 2014 as a legal assistant after taking a law degree at the University of Liverpool and has since built up extensive knowledge of the sector.

Ms Gibson’s new role at Principle will include ensuring systems are fully up to date to record all assets on every development.

She will make certain that any testing and maintenance regimes comply with statutory or best practice requirements, that they are tendered, contracted, diarised and undertaken, and that any reports are acted upon.

Ms Gibson will also be involved in management of credit control and client reporting.

Ian Smallman, operations director at Principle, said: “We’re delighted to have appointed Becky and we are sure she will be a quality addition to our expanding team. Tracking and reporting on assets at our developments is crucial, especially because many modern developments are becoming increasingly complicated. More and more clients want us not only to actively manage their developments but to also report that we are doing so, and Becky will be responsible for reviewing and overseeing this process.”

Ms Gibson, who has recently moved to the Midlands, said: “With my law degree and background I am well placed to take on this role. I have learnt a lot over the last five years and am grateful for that opportunity. I am now looking forward to this next career challenge.”

Brett Williams, managing director at Principle, added: “Becky is the perfect fit for this role as from her background she is used to reporting to clients with high standards. We’re now looking forward to further enhancing our client offering by using Becky’s specialist knowledge and experience.”

Principle Estate Management was launched in 2018 by Brett Williams, the former head of residential property management at CPBigwood in Birmingham, and a past-chairman of ARMA.

The company is based at Cornwall House in Lionel Street, Birmingham, and offers a national property management service.

It has become the UK’s fastest growing residential estate management business just over a year after its launch, managing over 100 developments across the country.

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16th August 2019
Elaine Bald joins FirstPort Scotland as Business Development Manager
Elaine Bald joins FirstPort Scotland as Business Development Manager

FirstPort Scotland, the factoring company which manages the homes of over 11,000 people throughout Scotland, is set to expand. Elaine Bald has been appointed as Business Development Manager and will be developing the business’s profile to new build and retirement property developers in particular.

Elaine has 25 years’ experience of property management in Scotland and has worked at senior management levels with Redpath Bruce as Associate, Ross and Liddell as Associate Director and RMG as Regional Manager. Previous to that she also had experience of the hospitality sector having managed a hotel and serviced apartment operation.

Roger Bodden, Head of FirstPort Scotland said: “This is an opportunity for FirstPort to utilise the enthusiasm, experience and business network of an accredited property professional in the industry in Scotland to raise our profile locally and secure a pipeline of new business.”

Elaine Bald said: “I am looking forward to focusing on building relationships and our profile across the residential property market, retirement, and new builds in Scotland. My Operations experience is hugely advantageous in preparing management specifications for large or small scale developments and offers insights for both our clients - the housebuilder and the homeowner.

I was keen to join a forward-thinking, progressive company that cares about the service they deliver, and the people who deliver it. FirstPort is the largest residential property manager in the UK, so this is a great opportunity to build on a really positive company ethos, fantastic resources, systems and expertise.”

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14th August 2019
CAMDEN VILLAGE LOCKS IN NEW BLOCK MANAGEMENT TEAM
CAMDEN VILLAGE LOCKS IN NEW BLOCK MANAGEMENT TEAM

Pennycuick Collins’ award winning block management team has been appointed to manage a prestigious residential scheme in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham.

81 Camden Village in the Jewellery Quarter was signed over to Pennycuick Collins on 13 August and its residential service charge team will be block managing the premises on behalf of its residents. The scheme was converted into apartments in 2006 by Sapcote Developments and comprises 38 private, residential apartments.

Commenting on the new appointment, Lyndsey Cannon-Leach, director of Residential Service Charge at Pennycuick Collins, said:

“We are thrilled to have been appointed Camden Village, expanding our list of block managed residential properties in the Midlands area. We currently already manage over 5,500 units at 155 schemes in the West Midlands, which are supported by our committed service charge team offering a hands-on, highly personable service to residents on a day to day basis. We’re looking forward to working with Camden Street Management Company going forward.”

Wendy Dixon, director of the residents’ management company, Camden Street Management Company, also commented:

“Pennycuick Collins demonstrated its commitment and invaluable knowledge of working with tenants living in block residencies. We are delighted to be working with Lyndsey and the service charge team in the upcoming months, and we are looking forward to seeing some positive results in the interim.”

Pennycuick Collins service charge portfolio has grown considerably throughout 2019 already, welcoming other block management schemes including Peel Heights in Tamworth and The Old Library in Stourbridge. Pennycuick Collins was also recently awarded the Residential Managing Agent award at the Insider Residential Property Awards in June this year, as well as the Major Works Project of the Year award at the ARMA ACE Awards in London.

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12th August 2019
FirstPort launches Mental Health First Aiders
FirstPort launches Mental Health First Aiders

Craig Rowe, Verity Wylde, Naz Islam, Emily Salmon, Andy Harris, Dan Perry, Fran Hibbert.

The first cohort of 40 volunteers who attended a two day course to qualify as Mental Health First Aiders at FirstPort was announced during Mental Health Awareness Week.

It is believed to be the first such programme to be introduced across the residential property management sector. The mental health first aiders come from different roles and departments across the business. They are available to talk to by anyone including those who might feel uncomfortable discussing stress related issues with a line manager or a departmental colleague.

Mandy Ferries, Director of Human Resources at FirstPort said: “A healthy workplace is one where employees and managers work together to protect and promote their health, safety and wellbeing and the sustainability of the business. Just as a regular first aider would administer the first line of care to a physical injury before referring a patient onto a professional medic, our mental health first aiders will provide the initial reassurance and support if someone is feeling unwell before assisting them to find the best possible professional to assist them."

Emily Salmon, one of FirstPort’s Mental Health First Aiders continued: “Some of our colleagues work a lot on their own, or, due to the nature of the environment they are working within, such as within our retirement brand, may at times have to deal with some emotionally difficult situations. To have people in the business who are trained on mental health first aid who they can ring up who are there just to listen and support them is so invaluable.”

Emily added: “According to Mental Health First Aid England one in four people suffer from a mental health condition. A few years ago, I suffered from a personal situation that made me feel unwell whilst at work. Had there been a mental health first aider available at that time, then I would certainly have called them at that time which would have been highly beneficial and supportive and would have made a significant impact on my recovery. I do feel that this is really a key investment from FirstPort that will benefit the wellbeing of each of us.”

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7th August 2019
Klevio Announces Partnership with Hostmaker, a Leading Property Management Company
Klevio Announces Partnership with Hostmaker, a Leading Property Management Company

Klevio, the makers of Klevio One, a smart intercom which allows you to open doors from anywhere using your phone, has today announced a partnership with leading managed home rental service provider, Hostmaker. Hosts will be offered an exclusive rate to install Klevio, so future guests can gain access to the property via an app on their phone.

The Klevio team, based in London, is pioneering innovation in an action we all take for granted: opening doors. Physical keys have been around for thousands of years and Klevio’s team - with several startups under their belts - are leading the charge in bringing access into the digital age.

Rather than replacing your lock and keys, Klevio One connects to an existing intercom system inside a home and is operated via an iOS or Android app. Klevio can be fitted in any home with no need to change existing locks. It works with multiple doors and there’s no need to modify the communal area of apartment buildings when installing it, since the device is located within the flat. The app connects to the device, allowing users to open their private and communal doors from anywhere with a swipe and press of a button.

For guests heading to a Hostmaker home where Klevio is installed they will be able to accept a digital key which can be restricted by time and location - to access the property on arrival and throughout their stay. This is a big benefit for guests and hosts in the situation where travel disruption can mess with plans for key handovers. For short-let agents you can open doors remotely for late guests, and remove the need for a lock box to store the physical key. Smart access gives hosts added security and makes it easier to monitor entry, providing a log of who entered the property and when.

Aleš Špetič, Co-Founder and CEO at Klevio, added: “For companies like Hostmaker, Klevio offers a fantastic solution to two common problems - greeting visitors and key management. A lot of time and money goes into having a person available at the property to meet guests and handover keys, and into getting keys to anyone who may service the space, like a cleaner. Klevio removes the hassle and provides the company with a log showing when people have accessed the property, and keys can be revoked at any time. So when delays happen or plans change, there’s a new option to ensure guests gain access easily, without the use of a lock box. We’re delighted to be partnering with an industry leader like Hostmaker, and excited to see Klevio One installed in many of their host properties.”

Špetič continued: “Technology is changing our habits in many ways: from how we relate to one another to how we live our daily lives. Even the money we use is electronic, so why aren’t keys the same?”

Veronica Rivas the Head of Guest Services of Hostmaker, added: “Klevio was a no brainer for us. We’ve been eager to work with the team and make the technology available to our hosts for a long time. Having Klevio installed as standard for all our future host properties will make a marked difference to us as a company and to our guests. We were one of the first to spot the opportunity to make home sharing hassle free for Hosts and Guests and believe we’re doing so again when it comes to improving our services. We want to provide added reliability to our guests. Sometimes travel disruption can cause problems outside of everyone’s control, and we want to be able to give access to our guests remotely, as well as in person, to ensure a great quality of service, security benefits and easy of control and tracking for our overseas property owners.”

Hostmaker works with over 2000 host properties across London, Cannes, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Florence, Rome, Lisbon and Bangkok.

Since launch last May, Klevio has made partnerships with a host of other property management firms including Resident.ly, Stay Keepers, Perch, Club Living, and Urang Group.

Ben Khiaban, Lettings & Residential Manager at Urang Property Management Ltd, commented: "Klevio is a game changer disrupting the Property Management Agency industry. The time, money & hassle saved by remotely letting in contractors, surveyors and anyone else is staggering. Klevio has not only improved our efficiency but differentiated us from other management firms on the market.”

Since launching in London last year, Klevio is increasingly expanding to other metropolitan areas across England, adding over 200 users each week.

For more information, go to klevio.com.

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30th July 2019
JB Leitch Adds Further Expertise
JB Leitch Adds Further Expertise

Liverpool based property solicitors JB Leitch continue to add to an already impressive pool of expertise with a series of new appointments.

The Legal 500 firm, which acts for some of the largest organisations in the property management sector, has further bolstered its compliment of 140 staff with new senior additions to both the Commercial & Marketing departments, as well as a number of account management and supporting roles across the firm.

Sarah Hall

Sarah joins as a Senior Associate, with a focus on technical and complex cases, primarily specialising in commercial and mixed use property litigation matters on behalf of institutional landlords and asset managers. Having qualified in 2007, Sarah brings a wealth of experience across the full spectrum of property litigation matters. dealing with disputes arising from property management, arrears, breach of covenant, service charge disputes, dilapidations, possession / trespasser proceedings including forfeiture, business lease renewal, consents, boundary disputes, rights of way, trespass, nuisance and property damage.

Steve Sherlock

Steve joined as Head of Marketing in early May, bringing nearly 20 years’ experience in brand development, marketing and research in both the private and public sector. As a new role within the company, Steve’s role will encompass developing the whole suite of promotional materials as well as further developing online channels and the overarching brand strategy.

As part of the ongoing expansion of the firm, JB Leitch continue to actively seek the best talent. To learn more, visit their website for more information

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29th July 2019
Principle appoints experienced finance manager as it continues to expand
Principle appoints experienced finance manager as it continues to expand

An accountant with nearly two decades of experience has been appointed as finance manager at Principle Estate Management as the business continues to expand.

Paul Richardson, who has spent the last 18 years as financial controller at Jobson James Insurance Brokers, will be overseeing all clients’ accounts in his new role.

This will include managing service charge budgets, the sales and purchase ledgers, credit control and invoicing for rents insurance and service charges.

Mr Richardson, who’s an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, will also be finalising annual service charge accounts and handling all client reporting.

Brett Williams, managing director of Principle, said: “We’ve been looking for the right person to join our existing team of staff and consultants, and we’re thrilled to have recruited Paul as finance manager.

“Finance is the engine room of property management and adding Paul’s skills to our team will allow our personnel to be comforted that we can provide the highest standard of service to our customers.”

Mr Richardson, who lives in Harborne, said: “I have been aware of Principle for some time and am delighted to take up the opportunity of being part of such a dynamic team.”

“I am looking forward to helping make a real difference as the business continues to grow.”

Principle Estate Management was launched in 2018 by Brett Williams, the former head of residential property management at CPBigwood in Birmingham, and a past-chairman of AMRA.

The company is based at Cornwall House in Lionel Street, Birmingham, and offers a national property management service.

It has become the UK’s fastest growing residential estate management business just over a year after its launch, managing over 100 developments across the country.

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