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Consumer Views of Factoring in Dennistoun
In December 2006 we were asked by the Scottish Consumer Council to undertake a short study to look at consumer experiences of factoring services in the Dennistoun ward of Glasgow. We carried out a survey of home owners, two public events and interviews with factoring companies in the area.
In recent years there has been a lot of interest in issues relating to the management of flats. One of the measures that the Scottish Executive has been considering for some time is the introduction of an accreditation scheme that would establish national standards for property management services.
The findings of this study, although based on a fairly small sample of home owners, suggest that the maintenance of property with common and shared parts can be an upsetting experience for many people.
There are around 434 buildings with flatted properties in Dennistoun. We were able to identify factoring arrangements in 70 per cent of them. Nearly 200 are factored by two housing associations. Of the remainder, 13 factors provide services in 108 buildings.
Number of Buildings Factored
% of Buildings Factored
Housing Association Factor 1
Housing Association Factor 2
Private Factor A
Private Factor B
Private Factor C
Private Factor D
Private Factor E
Private Factor F
Private Factor G
Private Factor H
Private Factor I
Private Factor J
Private Factor K
Private Factor L
Private Factor M
No. of Buildings with Factors Identified
Estimated Total No. of Building
% of Factors Identified
Table 1: Profile of factoring arrangements in Dennistoun
There has been a significant change in the tenure of flats in Dennistoun since 2001. Whilst the proportion of owner occupied properties has remained almost the same, the private rented sector has grown by nearly one third. This highlights the growing attraction of the area to the buy to let market.
Table 2: Change in number & tenure of flatted accommodation in Dennistoun 2001-2006
We found that there is a lack of understanding, among consumers, about what factors do and what service standards it is reasonable to expect from them. In particular, the quality of communication is a source of major dissatisfaction amongst those receiving services from all but one of the housing associations. The need for improved communication was a recurring theme in our consultations that is at the heart of many of the criticisms levelled at factors.
Housing Association 1
Housing Association 2
Table 3: Satisfaction with the quality of communication from factor
In reality many owners are "tied in" to the property management arrangements in their building as a majority of flats are owned by a housing association or private landlord. This makes it difficult for them to influence maintenance decisions. It highlights the need for a framework to offers some protection to individual consumers.
Both owners and many factors we spoke to support the case for the introduction of an accreditation scheme. It would offer a standard against which owners could assess the standard of service they were receiving.
However, we also found that many owners are not properly aware of their own responsibilities or the legal framework for managing flats. There is a need for good quality independent information and advice to be available.
We would like to thank everyone who participated in the work, either by completing a survey or coming to one of our meetings. The Scottish Consumer Council is using the finding of this and other work to make the case for a national accreditation scheme.
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Consumer Experiences of Property Management Services: A Case Study
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