Ethical Maintenance

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Ethical Maintenance's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Ethical Maintenance is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.ethicalmaintenance.org

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | ETHICAL MAINTENANCE
Kevin Wilkinson, Managing
Director
Owners meeting to decide
on property maintenance
Kevin Wilkinson has previously worked in social and
community forestry. In 1993, he entered the property
management sector through the greening of derelict land
around Glasgow. In 2007, he formed Ethical Maintenance CIC
to seize an opportunity in Scotland to “do the right thing” in
the management of common areas in apartment blocks and
on housing developments. Kevin tells
The Parliamentary Review
that these communal areas were a serious topic of debate for
homeowners, and explains how Ethical Maintenance seeks to
empower homeowners to manage the services they receive.
In 2007 the debate about property management in Scotland was in full flow in
the newspapers, on TV and in parliament. It was clear that many homeowners felt
trapped in a service that didn’t meet their aspirations. As such, we put ourselves in
our homeowners’ shoes and asked ourselves if we would be happy with the service
we provided. We wanted to show we cared, to be responsive and to make the
market a better place. These values shaped Ethical Maintenance to be different.
The Office of Fair Trading and Consumer Focus Scotland both reviewed the
industry and drew unfavourable conclusions. Five years later, the Glasgow Factoring
Commission reported on “the negative image and reputation … of individual
factors … which has become ingrained in the public psyche”.
In our experience, homeowners were happy when they were involved and were
provided with a good service. The basics of the industry – building maintenance, repairs,
cleaning, gardening, and health and safety – were not difficult, but the governance
of the service was clearly a challenge. That’s where we set out to be different.
FACTS ABOUT
ETHICAL MAINTENANCE
»Managing Director:
KevinWilkinson
»Founded in 2007
»Located in Stirling and
Aberdeen, Scotland
»Services: Management of
common areas in flats and
housing estates
»No. of employees: 9 in
the office; more than 50
maintenance, cleaning and
gardening contractors
Ethical Maintenance
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | ETHICAL MAINTENANCE
Kevin Wilkinson, Managing
Director
Owners meeting to decide
on property maintenance
Kevin Wilkinson has previously worked in social and
community forestry. In 1993, he entered the property
management sector through the greening of derelict land
around Glasgow. In 2007, he formed Ethical Maintenance CIC
to seize an opportunity in Scotland to “do the right thing” in
the management of common areas in apartment blocks and
on housing developments. Kevin tells
The Parliamentary Review
that these communal areas were a serious topic of debate for
homeowners, and explains how Ethical Maintenance seeks to
empower homeowners to manage the services they receive.
In 2007 the debate about property management in Scotland was in full flow in
the newspapers, on TV and in parliament. It was clear that many homeowners felt
trapped in a service that didn’t meet their aspirations. As such, we put ourselves in
our homeowners’ shoes and asked ourselves if we would be happy with the service
we provided. We wanted to show we cared, to be responsive and to make the
market a better place. These values shaped Ethical Maintenance to be different.
The Office of Fair Trading and Consumer Focus Scotland both reviewed the
industry and drew unfavourable conclusions. Five years later, the Glasgow Factoring
Commission reported on “the negative image and reputation … of individual
factors … which has become ingrained in the public psyche”.
In our experience, homeowners were happy when they were involved and were
provided with a good service. The basics of the industry – building maintenance, repairs,
cleaning, gardening, and health and safety – were not difficult, but the governance
of the service was clearly a challenge. That’s where we set out to be different.
FACTS ABOUT
ETHICAL MAINTENANCE
»Managing Director:
KevinWilkinson
»Founded in 2007
»Located in Stirling and
Aberdeen, Scotland
»Services: Management of
common areas in flats and
housing estates
»No. of employees: 9 in
the office; more than 50
maintenance, cleaning and
gardening contractors
Ethical Maintenance
41ETHICAL MAINTENANCE |
HOUSING
We set out to empower homeowners
to control the service we provided.
To give owners confidence, we
set up differently from the other
companies, forming as a community
interest company – a new corporate
structure created by the Companies
and Community Enterprise Act 2004.
We are a social enterprise serving our
communities and are governed by an
external regulator. The ethical part
of our name refers to putting people
first. We are in a unique position
in the market as the only property
manager which gets all its work from
homeowners switching to us.
The recession meant lean times, so we
kept our overheads low and reinforced
our focus on communication, quality
of service andtransparency.
Quality of service and value
for money
We ensure the quality of workmanship
through having a good relationship
with our workforce. We work with
local contractors and where possible
invite social enterprises to tender. We
find good value comes from the smaller
local firms and through tendering those
works with a significant cost.
Our ethos is that the owners have
control over how their property is
managed. Two meetings are held
each year to review the work that
has been done and to plan the work
ahead. We recommend best practice
and bring in professionals to advise on
complex works. The final decision is
always taken by the owners. Additional
meetings are held for major works,
and if works are expensive, payment
plans are arranged.
Once works are agreed, the
tasks are recorded in our unique
database behind our website portal.
Contractors report on jobs done,
and the homeowners can review
what’s planned and what has been
completed, and comment on each of
the tasks. This style of communication
keeps everyone informed and helps
maintain the quality of the work.
Homeowners in control
By supporting owners’ meetings, we
empower them to come together to
make decisions. At meetings we advise
but always bring it back to an owners’
decision. Consumer Focus Scotland
reported on a “conspiracy of silence”
towards new homeowners in that the
sellers, housebuilders or owners, and
conveyancing solicitors rarely explained
the responsibilities in the deeds.
As every set of title deeds is different,
we provide a unique service, explaining
the document and how owners
collectively come to decisions, and
providing a plain English extract
of the process. One of the most
powerful ways we stay accountable to
homeowners is to ask if they want to
reappoint us each year.
Improving the market
The challenge with the Scottish property
factoring market is that property
managers hold most of the information,
and homeowners understand very little.
Although a great deal has been done
to make information available through
the websites of the government, local
Property managed by
Ethical Maintenance
We wanted to
show we
cared, to be
responsive and
to make the
market a better
place. These
values shaped
Ethical
Maintenance
to be different
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
42 | ETHICAL MAINTENANCE
authorities and consumer bodies, the
message is not getting through to
homeowners. Complaints about factors
reported to the Tribunal for Scotland
Housing and Property Chamber are
littered with homeowners saying they
didn’t know how to change property
manager and that their factor would
not help them.
Four changes in the industry would help
address this imbalance ofinformation:
»There has to be increased transparency
of the service provided by factors.
»The factor has to seek reappointment
by the owners each year.
»Housebuilders should not tie
homeowners into restrictive title
deeds that do not allow them to
switch property manager, and if the
property manager has paid a nominal
sum for the common areas, then the
owners should pay that same sum to
get out of the agreement.
»The Property Tribunal should be
given more power to ensure factors
comply with the Code of Conduct.
An example of an imbalance of
information is with buildings
insurance. Most title deeds enable the
homeowners to arrange their own
insurance, but many factors override
this, insisting that their packages
are used. Many factors receive a 25
per cent commission for arranging
insurances, setting up a real conflict of
interest. As we take no commission on
insurances, we consistently find better
deals for our owners.
The Land Management Company
model of property management is
restrictive in that to switch factor,
owners must buy their common areas
at a current market valuation from the
current manager, even though the
LMC may have been gifted or paid a
nominal sum for these areas.
The Property Tribunal publishes its
findings on complaints against property
managers, but property factors know
that even if a complaint gets through
to the Tribunal, they can pay a small
fine and continue very much as before.
There could well be a wider impact –
the public’s lack of confidence in the
factoring industry. The Royal Institution
of Chartered Surveyors reports that in
Scotland, tenement properties make
up a quarter of all domestic dwellings,
and as much as a third of these need
extensive, urgent and critical repairs.
There is now debate on appointing
compulsory property managers to
address this. Even RICS have said the
Property Factor Code of Conduct
needs to be significantly strengthened.
Maintaining Ethical
Maintenance
Ethical Maintenance is thriving, staffing
up to meet the growing demand for
our services. The number of enquiries
we receive from homeowners reviewing
the management of their property is
noticeably increasing, and we see more
owners prepared to work together
with their neighbours. And finally,
Kevin’s thanks are with the Ethical
Maintenance team and contractors,
who have wholeheartedly adopted our
ethos of service first.
We ensure the
quality of
workmanship
through having
a good
relationship
with our
workforce. We
work with local
contractors and
where possible
invite social
enterprises to
tender
Property managed by
Ethical Maintenance

www.ethicalmaintenance.org

This article was sponsored by Ethical Maintenance. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development