Wednesday 19 September 2018

Should Wembley residents be picking up the bill for Quintain’s mistakes?

Guest blog by ' A Wembley Park Resident'.

The first residential block in Quintain’s rapidly expanding Wembley Park empire, Forum House was a flagship development at the time it opened back in 2009.   Along with neighbouring Quadrant Court which opened a year later, these developments were intended to establish Wembley Park’s reputation for “destination living” at an affordable price.   These early developments were mixed tenure - with private leaseholders and renters, shared owners and social renters all moving in to the new blocks. But as Quintain rolling out new developments at a rate of knots, some of which feature no properties at social rent, they appear to have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to ensuring that their original residents remain satisfied.  Most of their efforts are going into marketing newer luxury properties, and promoting their much-vaunted Tipi scheme, based on a build-to-rent model.

Quintain implicitly acknowledged that the managing agents they had originally contracted to oversee the developments were under-performing when they took the contract away from LRM and awarded it to rivals First Port.  But the full scale of LRM’s failure only became clear subsequently, after they left a vast deficit (thought to be just short of £100,000) in the Forum House annual accounts for 2016-17. Despite already high-levels of service charge, LRM had apparently failed to make any provision for a sinking fund - necessary for prudent management of any estate - and had consistently overspent despite failing to address recurring problems in servicing the estate, including the regularly faulty boilers and pumps.

So who is to pay for the shortfall?   LRM has now pocketed its fees and the accounts have been signed off.   Quintain might yet to be entitled to query whether LRM delivered on its contractual obligations, and potentially recover some of their cash.   But in the meantime, it’s been left to residents to cough-up for a significant “balancing charge” running into hundreds of pounds each, whilst at the same time being hit with major service charge increases from First Port (using LRM’s questionable figures as a baseline guide).   

In his usual suave manner, Quintain boss James Saunders promised WPRA’s febrile Wider Residents Meeting in June that the company would undertake a review of what monies could be reclaimed from LRM, which he anticipated might take three months.   But when the residents have asked for a progress update, no further reassurances have been given. Residents fear they’ll still be on the hook for the costs of having been failed by the freeholder and managing agents. Isn’t it time, they are asking, that Quintain paid the price for its own mistakes?

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