Residents of Fairfield Park pay a rent charge to cover maintenance and repairs of the communal areas and facilities.
Responsibility for maintenance and upkeep was with the local councils – in our case Central Bedfordshire and Fairfield Parish Councils – but changes in legislation meant that councils no longer have to fulfill this obligation.
Instead responsibility falls to a limited company of which each householder is a member and from whom directors will be elected and take office to run it. In our case this will be the Fairfield Park Residents Company Ltd.
We say “will be” because until the development on the Park is completed responsibility and ownership of all these facilities remains in the ownership of Fairfield Redevelopments Ltd. They have appointed Scanlan’s as Managing Agent responsible for invoicing, collecting the rent charge and organising maintenance of the facilities. They are not responsible for areas that will be adopted eventually by the local authority (i.e., roads, pavement areas and street lighting, and some other areas). These remain the responsibility of the developer until adoption.
Discussions on when and what assets are to be transferred to “us” the residents are currently taking place between the FPRA and Fairfield Redevelopments Ltd (FRL). Residents will be asked to become directors of the company and hopefully FRL will be in a position to ‘hand over’ the assets in 2015. The Directors will have to ensure that the assets they are being asked to take over are all in a good state of repair and are what was described, this is known as “fit for purpose”. There will be an opportunity for residents to put themselves up to be a potential Director of the Residents Company.
The areas that the rent charge covers should have been explained to you by your conveyancing solicitor at the time of purchase, from the number of queries Scanlan’s are receiving regarding rent charge invoices, this appears not to be the case for many residents.
So what are these areas? Essentially they are footpaths (and their street lighting), woodland, open spaces, play areas and parking spaces that do not form part of homes. Plus the most valuable asset of all – the community hall!
Development companies retain responsibility for their sites until they are completed and 12-months has elapsed. All developers have now left, but are in the process of making sure the assets are fit to be handed over.
To try and avoid confusion Fairfield Park falls into three management areas, the Fairfield Hall, Middlemarch and then the remainder, Fairfield Park. In other words Fairfield Park area is divided but includes Shaftesbury Drive on the northern side of Elliot Way and the other side of Fairfield Hall.
When purchasing our properties we “contracted” to pay the rent charge, hence no-one is allowed to sell their home unless payments are up-to-date. Your solicitor will have to check with the resident’s management agent, Scanlan’s, that you have paid and their agreement for the sale will be withheld until payment has been achieved.
The umbrella council for Fairfield Park is Central Bedfordshire – a unitary authority set up in April 2009 from part of Bedfordshire County Council and Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire Councils. Their main office is at Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, Shefford, SG17 5TQ, telephone 0300 300 8301.
As a unitary authority, Central Bedfordshire deals with all aspects of council matters, including highways, planning, child welfare, environmental health and the collection of council tax.
Currently the three elected Councillors for Stotfold, Langford and Fairfield are Cllrs John Saunders, Brian Saunders and Gill Clarke. The next election is in May 2015
To visit the Central Bedfordshire website click here.
Parish matters are dealt with by Fairfield Parish Council since April 2013. This followed a governance review after a group of residents successfully petitioned Central Bedfordshire Council. The Parish Council has limited powers as many of the matters normally handled by a council are dealt with by one of the management companies.