Our commitment to achieving industry-leading standards of service

04 February 2016

Our commitment to achieving industry-leading standards of service

As the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, we are committed to setting best practice for the retirement housing industry.  In recent years, we have focused on improving a number of our approaches and services in response to the changing demands of our homeowners and to help us provide industry-leading standards of transparency, cost-effectiveness and customer service across our developments.  Below is a summary of some of the ways we have looked to improve our services.   

  • Abolished exit fees:  In 2008, we abolished exit fees on all new leases.  Prior to this, a fee of 1% of the value of the property was charged on resale, which went to the landlord.  We now have no exit or transfer fees within our managed developments, and where we remain the landlord on older developments, we do not enforce these fees.  We’re aware that many developers still charge exit fees of up to 30% when their properties are sold, and we would like to see exit fees abolished in full across the industry.  At the very least, we would like to see stronger regulations and codes of practice to ensure that all fees are communicated in the most transparent way possible to customers. 
  • A sinking fund to remove concerns about long-term maintenance costs: Each of our developments include a Contingency Fund, which is a form of sinking fund held in trust in the development’s own bank account and is restricted to the maintenance of that development.  This fund allows for the costs of major capital expenditure to be smoothed out over the life of the development and is fairer than asking homeowners to meet costs at the time these works are carried out.  It goes towards financing maintenance, external and internal redecoration and when required the replacement of carpets and furniture in communal areas and longer-term repairs and renewals such as roofs, window frames and replacement of lifts.  It is there for the benefit of all homeowners and cannot be accessed by anyone else.  The fund is financed by a 1% fee on the sale price, payable on resale, along with a modest charge in the weekly service charge.  In some cases, there is also a fee when the apartment is sublet.
  • An in-house management services team:  In 2010, we set up our own management services division to ensure that we could manage the quality of services delivered within our developments for our homeowners.  McCarthy & Stone Management Services (MSMS) now delivers services in our Retirement Living and Ortus Homes developments, and YourLife Management Services, our partnership with MSMS and Somerset Care, a leading not for profit organisation, delivers services in our Assisted Living developments.  We were pleased that MSMS received ARMA-Q accreditation for its services at the inception of this new standard in January 2015.  YLMS is also registered with and regulated by the Care Quality Commission in England and its equivalent bodies in Scotland and Wales. 
  • Services charged at cost with no commission:  Our in-house management services teams ensure we can control the quality and cost-effectiveness of the services delivered to our homeowners. A management fee is collected for services provided by MSMS and YLMS.  All of our other services are provided at cost, and we do not take a profit from them.  Neither do we charge commission on any service.  We also believe that our service charges provide good value for money and, on a like-for-like basis, are often more cost-effective than a homeowner’s previous outgoings before moving to one of our apartments.
  • Extension of our new leases to a term of 999 years:  In August 2015, we extended all of our new leases from this date to a term of 999 years from their previous term of 125 years.  Most other housebuilders provide leases for 125 or 99 years.  Effectively, this makes our apartments similar to a form of freehold accommodation for our homeowners.

Everyday we see the benefits that our developments provide to our customers.  We’re pleased to have a high customer satisfaction rating within our managed developments – we are the only housebuilder, of any type of size in the UK, to win the Home Builders Federation’s full Five Star rating for customer satisfaction for the past 10 consecutive years. 

While we are immensely proud of our reputation of providing a form of housing that helps to meet the needs and aspirations of older people and enhance living standards in later life, we recognise that there is always scope for us to do more and to improve further the services we provide to our customers.  This is an important industry to get right, not only because of the growing need for better housing options for older people, or because of our country’s rapidly ageing population, but also because of the proven and positive impact that retirement housing can have on creating happier, healthier and longer lives.

If you have suggestions on how we could further improve our services, please email paul.teverson@mccarthyandstone.co.uk

You can also see our Frequently Asked Questions section on our website for further information about our products, costs and services.  

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