Hello. How can we help?
If a problem arises within the development, please raise the issue with your on-site FirstPort member of staff as soon as possible. They will then look into this in an organised and efficient manner, giving priority to emergency and urgent situations. If you don't have an on-site FirstPort member of staff at your development, please contact our Customer Services team.
We know how important parking is, and how it can be a real problem. You should be aware that there are different types of ownership and use regarding parking allocations that will be outlined in your Lease, Transfer document or, in Scotland, the Deed of Conditions. Some people own a bay, have a right to use an allocated bay or have a shared use which works on a first come, first served basis, and this will affect the actions to be taken in the event of a parking problem.
If you do encounter a problem we’d recommend that you park your own vehicle safely avoiding further obstructions, leaving a polite note on the offending vehicle as a first approach. Car parking arrangements can vary from development to development:
- For residents in independent retirement living developments please get in touch with your Development Manager
- For residents in general residential developments without on-site staff please get in touch with your Customer Services team
Your relatives and visitors should use the visitor parking area (if provided on your developments) and, when this is full, please ask them to park elsewhere. Parking restrictions may apply on some estates or developments near town centres and other locations.
Garden maintenance is normally carried out by external contractors.
For residents in independent retirement living developments who are keen gardeners, get in touch with your Development Manager as it may be possible to plant flowers or shrubs in the garden. For all enquiries, please speak to your on-site FirstPort member of staff.
Within your development you will have a refuse collection area (often referred to as a bin store). This is a communal area and is managed and maintained by us. We do really appreciate your help at keeping this area as tidy as possible.
-Please continue to put everything in sealed plastic sacks
-Please put the sacks in the bins in the refuse area
-Please make sure the lids of the bins are shut afterwards
-If you’ve got an external bin-store with a door, please shut it behind you so it doesn’t slam and get damaged
-If you’ve got any big rubbish (old electrical items, furniture), please take it to the tip, or ask the council to dispose of it for you. If we have to get it removed, we have to charge everyone in your block or development.
If stated in your lease...external window cleaning is carried out by contract window cleaners. They also clean the internal windows in the communal areas.
-For residents in independent retirement living developments please get in touch with your Development Manager for details.
-For residents in general residential developments without on-site staff please get in touch with your Customer Services team.
We perform very regular checks around the communal areas of your home, if we notice a leaking overflow pipe in your block and it is difficult to see who it belongs to, we’ll contact everyone within that block requesting they check and arrange a repair before there is any damage.
Please note, we aren't responsible for any leaks which may occur within any individual properties.
As managing agents for freeholders (landlords), our role is normally to manage and maintain the building structure and the common areas / facilities within your development, on their behalf. This excludes anything within the four walls of your own individual property, which is instead your own responsibility, or that of the actual owner if you rent it.
The costs of the communal insurance (if applicable), maintenance and repairs that we undertake are recoverable through Service charges (sometimes referred to as ‘variable rent charges’ if you own a freehold property) and these are billed by us to the property owners within the developments we manage. We may also sometimes be asked by the landlord to carry out other chargeable tasks, such as collecting Ground rent for them or perhaps managing approvals and consents on their behalf where those are formally required – such as for alterations to the property or for keeping pets.
Do you receive commissions from contractors?
We don't charge any other fees whatsoever for arranging contractors. We have a procurement function whose role it is to source the best value contracts for customers through bulk tendering, but the cost of this function is included in our management fee. We believe this is unique in the industry.
If we do receive a commission on anything, we are transparent and declare it, in keeping with our codes of practice. For instance, sometimes we place insurance on behalf of the freeholder. When they do, FirstPort Insurance Services Limited takes a commission on arranging the insurance. This is something that is completely normal in the insurance industry. You can find information on any commission payments in the notes on your annual accounts.
We also have an open and transparent process for awarding contracts. When a formal tender process is necessary we invite at least three independent contractors (the only exceptions to this are out of hours monitoring and some fire systems and alarm installation works, where a FirstPort connected business may be invited to tender). Information about whether a FirstPort connected business has provided services at your development and earned a fee, is disclosed in the annual service charge accounts.
Why do FirstPort use in-house Building Surveyors?
Your Property Manager will know your building well, and have lots of general knowledge in matters such as health & safety and finance. Major works, such as large internal redecorations or external refurbishment works can often require more specialist input from a Building Surveyor. With a greater technical understanding of buildings, a surveyor will help plan complex works and repairs and run major works projects that require skilled expertise. They also play an important role in managing the quality control and contractor performance during projects.
FirstPort has a team of in-house Building Surveyors as we believe that working closely with Property Manager colleagues ensures that the project communication and management process is made more efficient, we are able to save customers cost and inconvenience by intervening early with more complex problems, plus they are able to coach the Property Manager along the way in an activity that is not their core skill. We believe this efficiency is reflected in our competitive rates.
We have a team capable of covering around one-third of the work demanded by the properties that we manage. We use external surveyors for the remaining projects, which means that we can cope with peaks and troughs in workload, but also benchmark our skills and rates.
What projects do FirstPort Surveyors work on?
Our in-house team of Building Surveyors work on a project or works that are considered outside the normal repair and maintenance of the property. The majority of projects that will involve the appointment of a surveyor will be large internal or external redecoration projects or internal or external refurbishment works. Sometimes they will be involved in more specialist work such as a roof repair or lift replacement. They can also help to carry out diagnosis on defects or complex building issues such as leaks.
FirstPort Surveyors will also prepare specifications and tender documents to support the tender process for any major works.
When requested, our Building Surveyors will help determine the long term maintenance needs of a building, by creating or updating an Asset Management Plan (this is a tactical plan which sets out how the key elements of the building will be managed over a period of time). They also cook at Life Cycle Costing (determining the cost of major building items over a long term period – often 20 or 30 years) and Conditions Surveys (to help determine the current state of repair of part or whole of a building).
Aren’t surveying costs covered by the management fee?
Not normally no. The Management Agreement sets out the duties that we carry out for the agreed Management Fee. This annual fee covers the work required for the normal maintenance of the property on an annual basis.
Major works, such as large internal redecorations or external refurbishment works are considered extra-ordinary work as they happen infrequently and not in every service charge year. Also running a major works project is very specialist and requires qualified personnel – normally that of a qualified Building Surveyor. Whilst our Property Managers will know your building well, and have lots of general knowledge, the role does not require them to be a qualified surveyor. This is standard practice across the industry.