September / October 2011 Billing

Update: There have been some errors which we’ve identified as slipping through after the invoices were audited. They include £25 cost for a fountain repair, apportioned 346 ways instead of 306 ways and a missing charge for a roofing repair; both of which will be refunded and recharged in the next invoice.

The bill, produced and sent out on the 2nd of December, is the first where the newly formed committee has had a chance to work with the factors to audit the invoices before they were sent out. As a result, we’ve had a chance to spot any mistakes early, and also work with Aspect to correct mistakes we’d identified in recent billing cycles. As a result, there are far more charges on the invoice marked ‘refund’ and ‘recharge’ than there would be normally. This is the mechanism by which the charges are corrected so that they are apportioned correctly.

It should be noted that this invoice is for two months only instead of the usual three. This was a decision on Aspect’s part, in an attempt by them to make the process go more smoothly.

Since there were more errors than could be readily explained in the header of the invoice, we wanted to explain them here, so that the factors could simply point concerned proprietors in the direction of this post for a more detailed explanation. For additional reference, consult the list of types of charges we expect, which details how they should be apportioned. Here are the corrections:

Electricity correction

After the AGM in January, it was agreed that the electricity should be split evenly amongst the entire development (i.e. we each pay an equal share of the entire electricity costs, rather than each stairwell paying for their own meter). This was needed to even out the disparity caused by some stairwells having external lighting and fountains attached to them where the others do not. However in the two previous billing quarters (March/April/May and June/July/August), the electricity had been summed, and the charged distributed amongst only the 292 properties in Sinclair Close / Gardens / Place. The properties in Gorgie Road and Stewart Terrace paid no electricity for those two quarters, even for their own stairwell lighting.

This has been rectified by refunding all six months worth of electricity to the SC / SG / SP properties, and recharging the entire development (332 properties) for those 6 months. If you live in SC / SG / SP, you’ll see six refunds for electricity, and six recharges for a smaller amount (e.g. £2.75 instead of £3.12). If you live in Gorgie Road or Stewart Terrace, you’ll see 6 recharges, but no refunds.

Electricity apportionment

For the September / October period, the electricity costs are split into two parts: internal and external. Internal is all of the stair lighting, external is all of the fountains, bollard lighting, etc. The reason for this is that the town-houses are responsible for a share of the external electricity costs (which fall under the ‘maintenance of the common parts of the development’), but not for the internal electricity costs (which fall under the ‘maintenance of the common parts of the building). So, there are two charges for each month; the internal cost (split 332 ways, amongst all the flats), and the external cost (split 346 ways amongst all the flats and the town-houses).

The exact split of electricity costs (9% external, 91% internal) was based on analysis of the previous 6 years of electricity charges, and agree by a committee vote to be fair. The split amount will be monitored so as to make sure that it is still considered to be correct, based on current and future meter readings.

Communal Garden Maintenance

In July, this was incorrectly split 306 ways (Sinclair flats + town-houses), not 292 ways (Sinclair flats only). The agreement was to charge the town-houses from August onwards. So properties in SC / SG / SP should see a refund, and then a recharge for a slightly higher amount (£2.48 instead of £2.36)

Communal Fountain Maintenance

Like the Garden Maintenance, this was incorrectly split 306 ways instead of 292 ways, in both June and July. Properties in SC / SG / SP should see a refund, then a recharge for a slightly higher amount (£0.30 instead of £0.28)

Refurbishment Fund

The town-houses do not contribute to the refurbishment fund (because they are not refurbished by the factor), however the refurbishment fund payment in the June/July/August invoice was split 346 ways (all flats + town-houses) instead of 332 ways (all flats). This resulted in a shortfall in the refurbishment fund, and so an additional charge of £134.40 was made, split 332 ways, to bring it back up to the correct amount. To be clear, the properties paying into the refurbishment fund should have still only paid £10 each for that quarter, £9.59 last quarter, and an additional £0.41 this quarter.

The refurbishment fund amount for this quarter was £6.67, on account of the fact that it only covers a period of 2 months instead of 3.

Insurance excesses

In previous quarters, insurance excesses have been charged equally to the entire development (332 ways). Aspect have decided, and the committee agrees, that the insurance excess costs should be borne by the buildings incurring them. We felt that this would encourage proprietors in the poorly performing buildings to take note and maintain their properties better to avoid water damage claims, and would reward proprietors in buildings with a good claims history.

Since our excesses are very high for water damage claims (£5000 for some buildings), it was felt that limiting the share to a single building would result in problems, as a single £5000 claim could result in a per-property cost in the hundreds of pounds. To limit the impact of this, and the potential for property owners to be unable or unwilling to pay, excess costs will be shared amongst several buildings, grouped by the size of their insurance excess. For example, an excess incurred by 1 Sinclair Gardens would be shared not amongst the building (1-5 SG), but amongst the 3 buildings (235, 241, 247 GR, 4 ST, 1-5 SG and 1-6 SC, comprising 132 flats) that have a £5000 excess. This limits the maximum excess for any one claim to around £38. More importantly, the buildings with a good claims history and low excess do not have to pay for the excess.

For information, the four insurance groups are:

  • A: 235, 241, 247 Gorgie Road, 4 Stewart Terrace, 1-5 Sinclair Gardens and 1-6 Sinclair Close. 132 flats in total, and a £5000 excess per claim, meaning a maximum of ~£38 per claim.
  • B: 3-6 Sinclair Place. 44 flats in total, and a £2500 excess per claim, meaning a maximum of ~£57 per claim.
  • C: 1-2, 24-26, 30-31 Sinclair Place. 80 flats in total, and a £1500 excess per claim, meaning a maximum of ~£19 per claim.
  • D: 18-20, 27-29, 32 Sinclair Place. 76 flats in total, and a £1000 excess per claim, meaning a maximum of ~£13 per claim.