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JoeDavola

Brackenwood Property Management Services / Park Avenue Apartments

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Now obviously this is a public forum, so keep this respectful and factual; nothing that could be seen as 'slander'....

...but a friend of mine is considering viewing an apartment for sale in Belfast city centre; the Park Avenue block off the Dublin Road. I talked to him about service charges and sink funds and all the costs associated; i.e. that you can get hit for costs above and beyond the service charges....he did some research and found out that the block is managed by a place called Brackenwood.

I googled them; what I saw didn't fill me with confidence. Firstly, a series of damning reviews on Yell:

https://www.yell.com/biz/brackenwood-property-management-services-ballyclare-2938266/

and further mention on this page - looks like some discussion from the assembly where the company is mentioned, and not in a favourable light:

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/ni/?id=2009-11-09.10.10

But this was from 2009 so maybe things have improved since then.

Does anyone here have any more good or bad stories? At the very least, I'm guessing my mate has the right to ask to see what charges above and beyond the maintenance fees have been charged over the last few years, and perhaps even the 'accounts' for that building, if such things exist?

Edited by JoeDavola

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JoeDavola - you are to be commended for highlighting the issues of Service Charges, the Managing Agent (who manage the day-to-day running of development) and the Management Company (Company in which all owners are shareholders) to your friend. In my opinion these issues should be high on the checklist of any prospective purchaser of an apartment.

As you outline, this is a public forum, hence my considered response. I have owned 2 apartments in two different blocks managed by Brackenwood, and in both cases when we had strong 'owner' Boards of Directors we took steps to remove them due to owners being highly unhappy with their level of service and Management Practices. I would concur with the views in the two websites.

Your mate should enquire the following below:-

1: Does the Mngt Co. pertaining to the development have both separate 'current a/c' & 'deposit a/c' bank accounts into which all owners Mngt Charges are deposited into, to ensure finances for ongoing funding of services, plus a separate 'sinking fund' are fully ring-fenced for sole purpose of that development and are not instead being deposited into the Managing Agents 'client account', used to fund many developments - highly undesirable.

2: Are the Directors of the Management Company owners of Apts in the development, so have firm interest in good management of block, or are the Directors employees of the Managing Agent, effectively creating a 'conflict of interest' situation, employing themselves with little oversight - highly undesireable.

3: Who countersigns cheques/payments? - does the Managing Agent have sole signing authority or do owner shareholders/Directors have to countersign cheques after having sight/verification of valid invoice? Highly undesirable if Managing Agent has sole payment authority.

4: Are annual accounts lodged at Companies House audited/checked by external accountants/auditors or lodged as 'dormant accounts' by Managing Agent. Undesirable.

5: Is the Insurance Policy in the name of the development itself or a block policy taken out by Managing Agent, which could potentially result in higher premium if there developments have high claims history.

Points I would have to make though is that purchasers of Apartments need to take a greater interest in the whole Management Company & Managing Agent aspect when signing for an apartment so they understand the full ramifications and responsibilities of lease etc they are signing. Unfortunately apathy also causes difficulties. Often only a handful of owners turn up at an AGM, plus any that do are often reluctant to assume Directorship positions, which then allows the Managing Agent to step in and effectively take control of the running of the block. This is exacerbated where during the boom, the vast majority of purchasers have been investors, so there is little 'owner occupier' ownership and day-to-day interest in running of the development.

Good luck to your mate..

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Thunderstruck; thanks so much for this, it's great advice for anyone looking to buy an apartment.

If there's anything else you'd like to say off the forum, feel free to send me a private message.

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folks my south belfast development of 5 apartments and 2 houses that have a small garden and car parking needs a new property management company fter the previous management died. any recommendations much appreciated!!!

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Yes, Getdoon_Weebobby, for a development of that small size, esp if mostly owner occupied proactive owners self-management should be easy enough. Companies Registry, now Companies House used to have a downloadable info booklet giving advice on how to do filings/accounts etc for Flat Management Companies..

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