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COVID-19 Customer Update  19/03/21

Following the Scottish Government announcement on Tuesday, 16th March 2021, regarding continued COVID -19 restrictions, we are providing the following update.

Risk assessed compliance

As an organisation we continue to ensure that we have all the correct measures in place to deliver services to our customers.  Over the past year we have invested to ensure our team can work from home, providing additional communications systems and IT for this to happen.

Our offices remain closed to the public, with only a small number of staff in head office, for essential work to be carried out (e.g., post etc).

As a result of the first lockdown in March 2020, we have established a comprehensive risk assessed approach to ensuring our staff can work in the safest possible way and this will continue to shape how we work during this current lockdown period. The majority of our staff will continue to work remotely but will be fully operational, working to ensure the very best level of customer service at all times.

Site inspections and on site attendance

We plan to resume a phased return to site inspections on 26th April when travel restrictions are removed.

Where our staff are needed on site, they will have had risk assessments completed.  Where possible they will limit movement within common areas to outside core times in the day, to restrict interaction with others.  We would ask that all safe distancing measures for our staff are respected, when working on your site.

On site offices will be closed for access by homeowners and only our staff will be allowed access.

Please contact your Development Manager for information, as arrangements for each location/site may vary.

Suppliers and contractors

Our suppliers and contractors will work in compliance with Government Guidelines to deliver core services, repairs and maintenance.

We know that during this lockdown period, essential work is permitted ‘for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for’. This will be subject to the contractor’s own organisation’s measures and approach.

Planned improvement works remain suspended until further notice, other than for essential/urgent work, such as a roof refurbishment. This suspension will be subject to the requirements of future Scottish Government updates.  Please contact your Development Manager for confirmation as to whether any work already agreed is going ahead.

Communication routes

Communication routes from you to us remain active and diverts remain in place to ensure that communications are received and actioned.  You can therefore continue to contact James Gibb through the normal routes and be assured that the provision of core services, repairs and maintenance will continue.

Email communication

We would remind all homeowners that during this time, our aim is to communicate with you via email wherever possible.  We ask that homeowners, who have not already done so, contact us at enquiries@jamesgibb.co.uk to provide us with their email address. We recognise that some homeowners will not have this form of communication and you may wish to discuss with friends or family members, if they can assist.

James Gibb+ portal

We have also increased our communication flow via our website and request that as many homeowners as possible access their James Gibb+ portal, where you will receive all information regarding your account.

James Gibb+ accounts can be accessed via our website www.jamesgibb.co.uk.  You will need your account number and JG+ number, which can be found on your most recent invoice.

At James Gibb, we were hoping that by this time we would be reporting better news, but rest assured that as soon as Government restrictions allow, normal service will be resumed.  In the meantime, although we must limit contact to protect our staff and our customers, please know that James Gibb will continue to carry out the factoring service for your development.

We hope that our customers, clients and team are safe during these exceptionally difficult times.

Regards
Directors Office

Professionalising Property Factoring

What’s the difference between a profession and a job (no Googling!)?

Simply put, a job is what you do to earn money whereas a profession is a career; a job which is defined by both commitment and training. The workplace has ample room for both but I raise this initial point as professionalism and training have now come more into focus within the property factoring industry.

The blight of unregulated industries is that anyone can be admitted and there are no practising restrictions. You could be a trapeze artist one day, a property manager the next (the skills may be transferable!). The introduction of legislation with the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011, now requires all property factors to be registered, meeting certain basic standards, as well as paying an annual registration fee. Factors must adhere to a Code of Conduct and property owners now have a formal avenue of complaints via the First Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing & Property Chamber), formerly the snappier named HOHP.

So far so good? Well, yes, to a point. All responsible factors should welcome regulation. Regulation of any industry which is public facing and financially based should be properly scrutinised and regulated. That’s a given, but the question is, should we go further? Our sister industry, letting, has carbon copied much of the registration and regulatory requirements found with factoring but with one significant difference. A key component of the regulation of the letting sector in Scotland will be the requirement for formal qualifications. From 31st January 2018, all senior members of staff within a letting company must be qualified through ARLA.

Of course, professional exams for property factors are nothing new and for many years, these have been set and administered through the Institute of Residential Property Managers (IRPM). However, it’s fair to say that the IRPM exam course has not been embraced in Scotland with the enthusiasm you might expect and take up rates lag significantly behind our colleagues south of the border. There is currently an ongoing debate within the factoring industry in Scotland as to how we make syllabuses and exams more relevant to those working in the sector and whatever comes from this can only be positive.

Professional qualifications should, of course, go hand in hand with training. Given the sheer variety of issues a property manager has to deal with on a daily basis, training is an important way to compliment and assist the manager’s knowledge. In the past year, within our own company, we’ve had in house training seminars delivered on such wide raging subjects as Japanese Knotweed, timber preservation, asbestos and health and safety practices to name but a few. CPD (continuous professional development) is usually a standard requirement in order to maintain a professional qualification and this can often be a catalyst in encouraging a suitable in house training regime to be put in place.

Factors have come a long way in a short space of time and perhaps it’s time to go just that little bit further. If the training/exam product is right (and I appreciate this will not happen overnight) then it would certainly reinforce the credibility of the factoring industry to look at some sort of compulsory qualification requirement for at least the senior staff within an organisation, and maybe even beyond this.

Food for thought?

 

Nic Mayall

Managing Director

James Gibb residential factors

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