Thursday 9 September 2010

Property firm tries to evade new Bill

The Herald reports that a controversial property management firm has tried to exclude itself from a Bill to impose standards on property factors.  Glasgow Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson’s Property Factors Bill began its first parliamentary stage yesterday, with factors giving evidence to the Scottish Local Government Committee.

Glasgow-based Greenbelt Group Ltd, which charges owners for land management in developments, claimed it would not be covered in the bill because it is a landowner. The Bill would introduce a compulsory register of property managers to root out rogue factors, and also set up a dispute resolution process to give homeowners right to redress.

Yesterday, Greenbelt’s managing director Alex Middleton was told by MSPs his company was effectively doing the same job as a property factor, and Ms Ferguson said the Bill would cover Greenbelt.  Mr Middleton said: “The Bill recognised the need for registration, regulation and resolution. Greenbelt is not a property factor so we don’t feel it applies to us.” Greenbelt owns the land around developments and charges the owners a management fee, billing owners for maintenance.

Conservative MSP David McLetchie said Greenbelt served the same purpose s other factors. He said: “Ultimately, it is no different if land was owned in common and they paid a factor. You bill them for the same services. The issue is not about ownership, but services and costs associated with that.” Ms Ferguson said the Bill was drafted to ensure it also included Greenbelt.

The Property Factors (Scotland) Bill, drafted by Govan Law Centre, expressly includes companies, such as Greenbelt, as the definition of 'property factor' in section 2(1)(c) includes: "a person who owns and manages or maintains land which is available for use by the owners of any adjoining or neighbouring residential properties (but only where the owners of those properties are required by the terms of the title deeds relating to the properties to pay for the cost of the management or maintenance of that land)".

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