Greetings Mr. Duffy:
I appreciate the opportunity you afforded me to speak on your show yesterday. As disagreeable as the conversations might have appeared to your listeners, there is no benefit in avoiding the discussion. Professional estate management delivery systems are essential to providing safe and attractive communities while protecting the capital asset. Frankly, I far prefer having to defend service charges and our record of accomplishment than I would accepting lower fees, lower standards of service and having to publicly defend a deficient system of management that offers excuses while properties descend into decline with each passing month. You will agree, not one caller questioned the level of our service to our customers.
Having some time to consider the discussion, I believe there is a larger issue that was not discussed and might require further attention. Conceptually, I hope we are all in agreement that it is very important for Dublin to create inclusive and sustainable mixed income communities that include market, affordable and social families. The concerns raised by your guests speak largely to how best to include affordable and social families in these predominantly market rate residences. I regret that I was not the perfect guest to answer these questions. It would appear to me your listeners would need to know more about how government (DCC and/or DDDA) screens affordable owners for their new units. I would imagine they go to great lengths to screen out unqualified affordable applicants by adhering to income guidelines that measure an owner’s ability to assume all the responsibilities of homeownership and not just the monthly mortgage. I also suspect they apply a simple screening tool that measures the applicant’s ability to pay for a mortgage plus the minimum monthly expectations for ESB, management company service charges, unit insurance, upkeep and general repairs.
As the conversation progressed yesterday, I was heartened to hear one affordable caller (Ruth I believe) admit that she could afford the charges. If that is correct, your listeners were not well served by the tone of the discussion as it reflected Ruth’s personal decision not to pay her fair share of the management expenses more than it did the larger issue of whether affordable homeowners are having to shoulder a larger financial burden when they agree to accept an affordable home in high end communities such as Longboat Quay.
Please also note there are many affordable units in and around the Docklands that offer varying rates for annual service charges. Some properties do not have lifts, common areas, roof gardens, landscaped interior gardens, underground carpark amenities, or on-onsite property management personnel that can attend to the day to day needs of the property such as is provided at Longboat Quay. I imagine properties with less amenities charge annual service fees that are approximately 400-500 euro less per year - which amounts to a savings of approximately 33-42 per month. Longboat Quay is a high end property located in the middle of one of the most desirable addresses in Dublin. I assure you, our 249 market owners expect a higher level of service from their Management Company.
Additionally, I would like to provide you the following items of interest that were not represented on your show yesterday:
Longboat Quay’s annual service charges are less expensive than the other properties in the area averaging 1,900 per unit (not the 1,800 I mentioned on the air). The charges would be 174 Euro lower if the owner’s lease provided for carpark expenses to be charged separately. This however is how the owners lease agreement was written and has been agreed upon when the affordable and market owners who moved into Longboat Quay.
There are pedestrian (as well as automotive) gates that give owners access to the landscaped courtyards in both the North and South blocks. These gates also give owners access to the binstores located in the below ground carpark. For safety purposes, our ESB charges represent a large expense as there are over 70 wall pack lights that burn electricity 24/7. Additionally, the mechanical gates that block entrance to the carpark require constant repair from normal wear-and-tear as well as periodic incidents of vandalism.
Affordable owners were able to purchase their units from the DDDA for a considerably smaller amount than their market neighbors who enjoy the very same sized units. One bedroom affordable units sold for 200,000 Euro when the least expensive first floor market one-bed that sold for 275,000 approximately four years ago. An affordable 2-bed sold for 210,000 Euro when the least expensive market 2-bed sold for 440,000. And a 3-bed affordable sold for 245,000 Euro when the least expensive three bed townhouse sold four years ago for 670,000.
Given the affordable sales prices in Dublin today, it would appear to me affordable applicants have many options in the market place to find a suitable home in a residential development where annual service charges and reduced amenities are more to their liking. It is my understanding the maximum salary for couples to purchase a 3 bedroom home at 245,000 is 75,000 Euro per year. It is our expectation that affordable families that approach this income limit will find Longboat Quay both affordable and highly satisfied with the management services and special amenities that come with paying their service charges.
Every owner can avail of the benefit of deducting 220 from their taxes due to refuse charges thereby reducing further the affordability of paying their annual service charges.
Townhouse owners are not charged for lift expenses when their annual service rates are calculated although they do have access to the roof top garden amenity.
I regret that I was not prepared adequately for yesterday’s show as I did not have access to my files when I was called on my mobile or prior knowledge as to the concerns of your guests. If you decide to revisit this concern and believe it is of interest to your listeners, I would appreciate the opportunity to participate once again.