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Flats Information

Index

Index

Information

Lease & Obligations

Restrictions

Information

Information

For reference, here are the general notice (PDF, 102kb), rubbish & recycling notice (PDF, 152kb) and riser door notice (PDF, 75kb) in blocks of flats.

Items With the Flat

In a number of cases, vendors of flats have not left all of the items that belong with the flat. We suggest, therefore, that you ensure that your vendor has left you:

  • fitted cupboards and a re-circulating cooker hood in the kitchen;
  • (for two-bedroom flats) fitted wardrobes in the main bedroom and the second bedroom;
  • a wall-mounted storage heater in the living room, a wall-mounted convector heater in each bedroom and the hall and a radiant infra-red heater in the kitchen and bathroom;
  • three security keys for the entrance door to your block, two keys for the handle of the door to your flat, two keys for your post box, two keys for your windows, one key for the door of the service shaft outside your flat and a key for the security gates on the Estate;
  • a parking permit for your flat (two were supplied until 2021 but only one is now provided).
Tap

Services and Maintenance

Responsibility for services is as follows:

  • adopted public roads and adopted street lights are the responsibility of Wandsworth Council (see the telephone directory or their web site for the correct telephone number for each service);
  • the situation on drains and sewers changed on 1 October 2011 and is explained in this Thames Water leaflet (PDF, 391kb);
  • water mains to the main stop cocks, water meters (which must be fitted outside buildings, they are not permitted inside as they are prone to leaking), electricity cables to the meters and telephone wires to the first sockets are the responsibility of the relevant utility, although the Management Company is responsible for the Ryefield electrical distribution panel;
  • water mains, electricity cables and telephone wires, from those points into individual properties, are the responsibility of the property owners;
  • lights in common hallways and stairwells of blocks of flats, entry-phone systems and communal television aerials are the responsibility of the Management Company - please report any issues to the Managing Agent.

Your electricity meters and, in most cases, a main water stopcock are in the service shaft or conduit outside the door to your flat. Service cupboard keys were distributed to every flat but these must be kept locked closed for fire safety. There is another main water stopcock in the flat, which is on the pipe to the cold water tank in the airing cupboard (where the stopcock is usually located) or loft and to the kitchen. The water supplier stopcock and water meter, which became compulsory in 2021, are under a cover just outside the block.

Residents in flats with bathrooms having humidity control fans rather than windows should clean them regularly, otherwise the fans will lose effectiveness, become noisy and may fail.

Replacement cooker hood filters, Acorn type 258F033, could be obtained from Galley Matrix, 1 Bricknall Park, Ashley Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire (telephone 01727 44466) in 1992. We have not checked if this is still the case.

Electric Plug

Economy 7 Electricity, Storage Heater and Immersion Heater

When built, flats were provided with a storage heater in the living rooms and an immersion heater in the airing cupboard in the bathroom, both connected to the overnight Economy 7 electricity supply. You need to use the controls correctly to take maximum advantage of the cheaper priced electricity supplied for seven hours overnight (the exact time varies and is controlled by an electricity company clock but is generally around 00:00 to 07:00 GMT).

The storage heater has two parts: a storage heater and a convector heater. You should turn on the storage heater the day before heating is required and leave it on during the winter months, so that it will heat up overnight (controlled by the Economy 7 clock and using the cheaper electricity) and release stored heat during the following day. The Storad storage heater fitted originally has three heat settings controlled by two switches (the right hand controls). It is best to adjust this so that the room is warm enough but, if you require additional heat, turn on the convector at the time (using the left hand controls) to top up the stored heat and adjust the rotary thermostat (this uses higher priced electricity except during the night).

There is a document of technical information (PDF scan, 292kb) for the Storad SRC 333 storage heater originally fitted in flats.

The immersion heater has two elements: one on Economy 7 and the other on the normal supply. The Economy 7 element should be the lower one so that it heats up the whole tank of water and the normal element the top one for topping up the hot water. Unfortunately, some were wired the wrong way round when built so, if you suspect that yours is not correct, you should consult a qualified electrician to check. You would normally leave the Economy 7 element turned on, so that the tank of water heats up overnight (controlled by the Economy 7 clock and using the cheaper electricity). If you need more hot water, turn on the normal element at the wall switch for a short time to top up the hot water (this uses higher priced electricity except during the night). If you regularly do not have enough hot water or the water temperature is too low or too high, you should consult a qualified electrician or plumber to adjust the thermostats, which are part of the heating elements.

Digit Al

Digital Television

The switchover to digital television in London took place in April 2012 and analogue television was discontinued. The aerial systems in blocks of flats receive digital signals, for which you need suitable equipment like a digital TV or set top box. See the Digital UK website for more information. In 2018 and 2019, changes were made to Freeview television transmitters that meant some flats blocks could not receive a few channels. It was not possible to find a contractor to investigate and resove this at economical cost. In June 2022, broadcast of these signals ceased in further transmitter changes, so all flat blocks can now receive all channels again.

Flat owners and residents may not erect satellite dishes under the lease. If you wish to receive satellite television, you can do so from the communal service. See Satellite Television.

Wall light

LED Lights

The Directors started a trial of LED lamps in bulkhead fittings on the walls and ceilings of flat communal areas in June 2012, which proved successful, so all existing fluorescent lights were replaced by 2016 when supplies could be obtained at good prices. This reduced electricity use by about a half. At the time, no suitable LED replacements could be found for the strip lights outside flat doors at a cost that would yield savings.

It had been planned to upgrade flat communal area landlord electrical installations to modern standards in around 2023-24. Following huge increases in electricity costs in late 2021 and 2022, this was brought forward to 2022 as soon as sufficient reserve funds were available. By fitting emergency bulkhead lights with detectors that only light for a few seconds when someone passes instead of being on all night and LED strip lights by flat doors, landlord electricity use is being further reduced by nearly two thirds, to around one fifth of the original level. This is essential to keep costs down.

Estate street and security lights are also powered from flat block landlord supplies. In 2019, suitable LED street and security lights became available that provided sufficient light to replace sodium lights that were already relatively efficient. After Wandsworth Council replaced its street lights with LED ones, the Estate street lights were also replaced with similar LED ones to provide better lighting and Estate security lights were replaced with fewer LED ones in three phases to reduce electricity use and maintenance costs while improving lighting in areas where loitering occurs. Both originally and after all the replacements, Estate lighting accounts for around half of flat block electricity use, so this cost is paid from Estate funds.

Warning

Safety, Security, Fire and Warnings

To maintain security for the benefit of all residents in your block, please leave windows and skylights in the common hallways locked closed and do not let strangers into blocks of flats. There have been a number of burglaries on the Estate, particularly in ground floor flats. For this reason, some owners have chosen to install security grilles inside windows in such properties.

Warning

The Flat Fire Emergency Plan is also available as a download (PDF, 51kb). This was originally produced by Health & Safety consultants in October 2008 following a risk assessment. It was updated in July 2017 following the Grenfell fire tragedy and was further updated in October 2018 after a Fire Brigade inspection. The plan advises what to do in the event of a fire and advises residents to fit a working smoke alarm and test it regularly. For more advice, see the fire brigade website.

Government guidance published in January 2020 suggests that those responsible for buildings should carry out certain actions for fire safety which, for St Benedicts, are to understand the building construction and fire properties. The Directors followed the applicable Government guidance and concluded that no further action is required. The construction of flat blocks is brick and block with tiled roofs and concrete floor separators. These materials are non-combustible. There is no cladding nor cavity wall insulation, so the question of possible combustibility or fire spread of cladding or insulation does not arise. The guidelines and evidence to achieve the understanding required is set out in detail in a formal document (PDF, 396kb). This covers leasehold flat blocks on the St Benedicts Estate, not the flat block owned freehold by Wandle Housing Association (although its construction is the same as other flat blocks on the Estate), nor freehold houses, which are the responsibility of their freehold owners.

In January 2010, a warning (PDF scan, 24kb) was issued that a resident had reported a problem with their electrical fuse box. Owners are recommended to have their fuse boxes and electrical installations inspected and tested regularly by a qualified electrician. When the Estate was originally built, Laing Homes' electrical subcontractors carried out the electrical installations poorly. Laing Homes subsequently offered all properties an electrical inspection and test, then remedial work where necessary around 1991. Most owners accepted but 19 did not have this work carried out. Owners who purchased their properties subsequently are strongly advised either to check with the Managing Agent, which holds the list, that their property was inspected, tested and rectified or to have a full electrical inspection and test carried out.

A number of water leaks have occurred from plastic waste pipes in bathrooms, mostly those from wash basins. When the Estate was built, Laing Homes did not cement some joints and these can pull apart, particularly if disturbed to clear the pipe or u-bend, or can leak gradually. You are advised to ensure that the pipe joints are fully pushed together and cemented securely with suitable plastic solvent weld cement to make a waterproof joint. See the DIY Doctor guide.

Insurance

Insurance

The Management Company's insurance covers damage by common perils to the buildings of blocks of leasehold flats (and also damage to Estate facilities and public liability). It does not cover contents, which are the responsibility of residents to insure. Nor does it cover damage resulting from failure to maintain the flat. If you become aware of any event that might give rise to a claim under the policy or if you wish to make a claim, you must contact the Managing Agent as soon as possible. The Managing Agent will provide a claim form for you to complete and return. No work may be carried out until the insurer or its loss assessor has given permission. The flat owner will need to pay the costs of any unapproved work, and for repairs to their own flat, the fabric of the building and other flats arising from failure to maintain the property or, in some circumstances, from deliberate damage. Flat owners, particularly those sub-letting to tenants, are strongly advised to take out their own insurance to cover other liabilities for which they are responsible.

The Estate flat blocks and facilities are valued every five years, last in 2019. Here is the reinstatement cost valuation (PDF, 422kb).

Here are the current buildings insurance certificate (PDF, 80kb), buildings insurance policy (PDF, 1925kb - please only download this large document if you need it), terrorism insurance certificate (PDF, 79kb) and terorism insurance policy (PDF, 843kb - please only download this large document if you need it).

The Estate insurance claim history for flats water leaks has continued to get worse, resulting in reduced cover with higher premiums and excesses. Owners confirmed at the 2018 AGM that water leaks would require a plumbing inspection and report. This failed to improve the situation and we now have evidence that some unscrupulous plumbers are prepared to certify inadequate work for those paying them. Faced with premiums more than doubling in 2020 causing flats service charges to rise by an average of 26%, the policy on water leaks was tightened further to protect the interests of the large majority of owners paying increased charges through no fault of their own and those owners and residents suffering inconvenience, damage and distress due to leaks from other flats.

All flat water leaks from from 1 July 2020 will be treated as breaches of lease to secure compliance by the owner of the leaking flat with the lease terms on maintenance, avoiding impacting insurance, nuisance and access by the Company or its agents. To remedy these breaches of their lease, the owner will be required to allow inspection by the Management Company's contractor and carry out any work necessary to bring the plumbing installation up to the required standards to reduce the chance of further leaks at their cost. More information can be found under water leaks and flat alterations, where work also has to comply with the required standards.

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© St Benedicts (Tooting) Management Company Limited - 28 July 2022