The boss of a maintenance company responsible for a new-build housing estate told a resident to “get a life” when she complained about the firm’s poor service.
Resident freeholders living on Redrow’s Cwm Calon estate in Ystrad Mynach have to pay around £10 a month for the estate’s upkeep, such as maintenance to the roads and grass cutting communal areas.
Resident Janine Jones challenged Residential Management Company (RMC) Meadfleet and Redrow about the poor quality of maintenance on the estate.
Between March last year and January, in a series of 30 emails, she complained about shoddy grass cutting and minimal upkeep of communal areas.
At one stage, Mrs Jones received an email from Paul Millar, the Managing Director of Meadfleet, which simply stated, “might I respectfully suggest that you get a life”.
Redrow later apologised on Mr Miller’s behalf but also acknowledged that they were having difficulty arranging a resolution to the complaints against Meadfleet.
Mrs Jones also found that, in spite of having director representation on the RMC, Redrow failed to respond to her on several occasions, even after she involved her solicitor.
The monthly charge is written into freeholders’ deed of covenant.
If the prospective freeholder does not accept this covenant, they would be unable to purchase the property. If, after purchase, they refuse to pay the rent charge due to, for example, substandard or lack of service by the property management company, they would be open to civil action and it would be very difficult to sell the property.
It is an area, according to Caerphilly Assembly Member Hefin David, that is largely unregulated and he is pressing the Welsh Government for action in the sector.
He said: “I am convinced that this is not an isolated case. A range of AMs from my party and others have told me of similar incidents in their constituencies and regions.
“The fundamental issue is the lack of regulation of property and estate management companies and the powerlessness of freeholders to find redress when things aren’t right.
“This will become a bigger and bigger issue as new estates are built to meet the housing shortage.
“In addition to all of this, rent charges can be raised by property management companies with no consultation and minimal explanation. The government needs to act.”
Mrs Jones said that dealing with both Meadfleet and Redrow had been “a long, tortuous and circular process”.
She added: “The unacceptable email from Mr Millar demonstrates how much power these property management companies have.
“They just don’t care about residents and there are no consequences for poor service. We just can’t challenge them.”