Property Factors (Scotland) Bill: Scottish Parliament Call for evidence

Written Evidence from Govanhill Law Centre

 

Govanhill Law Centre is a free and confidential legal resource for the Govanhill community. We are a charity and employ qualified solicitors (charity no. SCO30193). We are a branch office of Govan Law Centre and through the legal practice Dailly and Co. Solicitors we undertake expert legal advice, court and tribunal representation in Scotland. We provide legal advice on housing, employment, benefits, education and consumer matters to clients by way of appointments and drop-in surgeries.

We have been asked to submit written evidence on two issues: Firstly, evidence concerning a large property factor on behalf of two of our clients, “client A” and “client T” and secondly, evidence on factors obtained through a survey carried out by Govanhill Residents Group and Govanhill Law Centre.  We would like to point out that the evidence of “client A” and “client T” and the evidence of Govanhill Residents Group relate to separate issues and are given independently of each other.

 

Evidence from “Client A”, “Client T” and Govanhill law Centre

“Client A” and “client T” are both owner occupiers living in block of flats in Govanhill. The block of flats is factored by a large property factor (“large property factor”).  The names of our clients and the factor in question have been anonymised due to the sensitive nature of this evidence and the possibility of criminal proceedings. 

 

A “large property factor”carried out improvement works between October 2008 and July 2009.  “Client A”, “client T” and other owner occupiers have been in a dispute with “large property factor” ever since.  They have attended several meetings but their list of complaints seems to grow after each meeting.  “Client A”  is a former accountant and, having gone through the relevant figures, has calculated that "site preliminary works and head office overheads" have been charged at between 58% and 80% of the works complete, which she believes is excessive and far higher than the industry norm.

 

In addition, “client A” believes from her analysis of the figures that “large property factor” are not applying VAT correctly.  client A” believes “large property factor” may be using the VAT as a balancing figure. A  bill which has recently been reduced as a result of amendments, shows a VAT increase.  In one of the bills VAT has been calculated at 18.6%.

 

Our clients believe that they are the victims of their factor’s serious financial mismanagement and that their factor has broken the law.  Our clients have prepared a detailed breakdown of the bills received to demonstrate their claims and welcome the opportunity to present these to the Parliament, in the hope that the future companies like “large property factor” are regulated in a way that prevents this from happening.

 

Evidence from Govanhill Residents Group and Govanhill Law Centre

 

Govanhill Residents Group has regular monthly meeting which are attended by around 50 people.  They have a mailing list of around 200 residents.  The residents group is very active in the organising positive activities such as voluntary gardening and pushing for change in the community.

 

Govanhill has a particularly high number of private landlords and there are concerns over the state of repair of several properties owned by some private landlords.  There is also concern over the accountability of “absentee landlords” in respect of communal repairs.

 

Earlier this year Govanhill Resident’s Group and Govanhill Law Centre jointly carried out a survey of local residents. We are still collating replies but of 33 responses obtained in one day 85% of respondents said they would like to see factors regulated and 66.7% did not feel their factoring service was good value for money.  Both Govanhill Law Centre and Govanhill residents group welcome the opportunity to share the full results of the survey to assist with consideration of the bill.