What to do in an Emergency
Given the nature of property management emergencies can arise at any time, be it during the week or weekends at all hours. Therefore, from a Managing Agents perspective we have considered emergency situations and the best course of action for achieving the promptest resolution. Frequently, this is by dealing with issues directly. Given our many years of property management experience we count the number of genuine emergencies that have occurred outside of office hours on one hand.
Break-ins In the event of a break in you should contact the police. If entry has been forced via an entrance door or window, then you should arrange for a locksmith or glazier to secure the property. It is likely that the cost of securing your home will be covered by the buildings insurance policy.
Electrical Power Cut In the event of a power cut we would suggest in the first instance speaking to your neighbours to see if they are also experiencing an issue. It may also be prudent to check any lighting in the common parts is illuminating. If the power outage is isolated only to your property, then you should check your fuse board/call an electrician.
If your neighbours are also experiencing no power, then we would suggest telephoning 105 which is a nationwide number that will put you through to your local electricity network. The operator will be able to advise of any issues in your area. More information can be found on the National Grid website.
You should familiarise yourself with the emergency procedure that is in place for your building, this will either be a stay-put or evacuation policy depending on the construction of the building. The emergency procedure should be regularly communicated to you by your Managing Agent and displayed within the communal areas of your block, usually by the exit points.
The emergency procedure will involve a telephone call by the person discovering the fire to the Fire Brigade by calling 999 along with other steps. The Fire Brigade will require someone from the building to call to avoid prank calls.
Once the Fire Brigade have attended, we would recommend contacting your Managing Agent who will then make the appropriate arrangements with insurances such as alternative accommodation etc if applicable.
Gas Leak or Smell Gas
If you think you have a gas leak or can smell gas, leave the property and phone the National Grid Emergency number on 0800 111 999. More information can be found on the National Grid website.
Should you become trapped in a lift, then in the first instance you should press the emergency call button. These will be programmed to automatically transfer to the firm that services the lift. It is important that you do not attempt to pry open the lift doors or climb out of the lift as it is extremely dangerous. Most lift companies have a policy of rescue within one hour following a report.
In the remote chance that there is no response from the lift company, and you have a mobile phone you should call the emergency services on 999 and give them the details of your emergency.
No Water or Loss of Pressure
In the event of a loss of water or drop in water pressure we would suggest in the first instance speaking to your neighbours to see if they are also experiencing an issue. If the issue is only isolated to your property, then you should call a plumber.
If the issue is affecting neighbouring properties, then you should call your local water board who have a list of options relating to any issues that may occur. If the water board advise that there are no issues locally and there is a communal pumping system you should report the matter to your Managing Agent.
In the event there is no hot water to your and neighbouring properties and there is a communal boiler, then you should contact your Managing Agent.
In most residential leases the resident’s management company or freeholder is responsible for maintaining pipework shared by leaseholders only. The repairing obligation of pipework exclusively serving a flat is that of the leaseholder.
The first question to ask yourself is, where is the water coming from? if the ceiling, is there a flat above or is it the roof? if the roof, is it raining outside? if not, what is on the roof? Are there water tanks above?
If you have a neighbour upstairs, the first thing to do is to see if you can contact them by knocking on the door. Early intervention will minimise the damage. If your neighbour is not home, or there is no property above you, report the water ingress to your Managing Agent as soon as possible. If the leak comes from a common part of the building such as the roof or a water tank, they will arrange a contractor to carry out a repair.
If the leak is due to a roof, then the only real short-term solution available is to put a container under the area to collect any water. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to carry out roof repairs immediately as often access is required in the form of scaffolding as for buildings with multiple floors it is not safe for a contractor to carry out a repair off a ladder.
Any damage to the flat will be dealt with once the cause of the leak has been identified and the ingress dried out. It is also worth noting that if you are going to claim for alternative accommodation, this will only be offered if the flat is considered completely uninhabitable.
We would also suggest familiarising yourself with the location of any stop valves in your property or in communal areas and how these can be accessed should the water to a property need to be turned off in the event of a water leak.
Electric Gates not Opening
The breakdown of electric gates or roller shutters hinders residents from entering and leaving the development in their vehicles. Depending on the service levels chosen the firm servicing the gates will usually respond within a 24- or 48-hour period following a report.
In the event of electric gates or a roller shutter not opening we would suggest first checking that your remote or fob is working, this can be done by borrowing your neighbours and testing that these are functioning. If your neighbours fob or remote is working, then it is likely your batteries need replacing.
If you and your neighbours still cannot open the gates or roller shutter, then it may be prudent to visually check that any sensors if present are not obstructed or that there are no obstructions in the gate track if it is a sliding gate.
If the gate or shutter is still not responding then you should contact your Managing Agent who at a minimum will arrange for someone to attend, it may be that the circuit breaker has tripped and power can be restored resulting in a functioning gate or roller shutter. Failing this the gates or roller shutter should be manually opened until an engineer can attend. It is important not to force gates or shutters open as this can result in damage and costly repairs which are borne by the service charge. Your Managing Agent also may issue guidance to you and any on site staff on how to manually release the gates or shutter in the event of failure without causing damage.
Our suggestion is that when asking about an emergency service from a Managing Agent you consider what assistance this really provides given the vast majority of issues can be resolved by dealing with these directly. At Aspire we do facilitate an out of hours emergency number at the request of clients. As standard we issue Resident Guides on all managed developments covering a whole range of topics including the best course of action in an emergency, we proactively implement emergency procedures and regularly communicate with leaseholders.
Aspire Block and Estate Management – 01923 372169