If you’re a domestic or commercial property owner, you’ll be familiar with factor’s bills. It’s also likely that you’ve found these bills to be increasingly expensive, perhaps arriving without proper explanation of what you’re paying for. In our experience, many factors don’t provide good value for money—and owners suffer the consequences. This means there is a desperate need for independent, impartial advice on the costs controlled by factors and property managers.
If you’ve ever felt helpless in the face of escalating factor’s costs, this story might sound familiar to you.
A few years ago, one of our clients—an owners’ committee at a site with over 300 flats—asked if we could help them negotiate with their factor. They explained the situation: the cost of their buildings insurance was rising year on year, to the point where each owner was paying more than £1,500 per annum. Each year they asked their factor why the buildings insurance was not put out to tender, and each year they were told that no other insurers were interested because the building had such a poor claims record.
We set out to investigate the matter, soon discovering that their factor was receiving a commission of 45% from the insurers—a strong conflict of interest.
As it turned out, the poor claims record in the building was due to regular burst pipes within the flats, resulting in repeated claims for tens of thousands of pounds. Whenever the factor called out the favoured contractors, he received another commission—and, to make matters worse, the lack of competition meant the cost of the repair work was high.
The problem only escalated from there; as the cost of the water damage and the buildings insurance rose, the factor earned more commission—while the owners were footing the bill.
We brought in an independent insurance broker—one who charges a transparent fee and doesn’t take commission from any insurers—and we put the buildings insurance out to tender. We managed to reduce the cost of the insurance by over 30%, and persuaded the new insurer to invest £10k over three years to fit devices in each flat which would stop the flow of water whenever a pipe burst.
The end result was a saving of £500k over three years for our clients. We also helped them switch to a new factor who doesn’t take commission—further reducing costs, and putting an end to the problem once and for all.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident; domestic and commercial property owners all across the country are facing spiralling factor’s costs. As far as we’re aware, no other consultancies in the UK are offering independent advice on factor’s services.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, the Boxfish team can help with: