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A Bristol-based company that manages more than 200 apartment blocks in the region, has called on the Office of Fair Trading to look into utility charges and insurance levels when it carries out a market study next year.

BNS Management Services, with its headquarters in Downend, Bristol says the proposed market study into residential property management is overdue following complaints of over-charging and poor quality service by some managing agents.

The OFT has called for guidance on what they should look at in advance of launching the review and people living in apartments in the South West or involved in managing them have been urged by BNS Management Services to come forward with priorities for the Government body.

BNS Managing Director Andrew Simmonds said: “We welcome this move by the Office of Fair Trading and hope that their findings benefit the people who live in the growing number of apartment blocks in the region.

“As members of the Association of Residential Managing Agents we have been campaigning for greater regulation of the industry for many years. There is low public confidence in block management because some people are frankly being ripped off by unscrupulous managers or are struggling to manage a block themselves with a disinterested committee of people.

“We have found that the most common cause of concern are the high levels of utility charges and insurance costs that some blocks face. These sometimes come about because there is nobody taking proper control of the charges or because someone in the process is taking a fee for doing very little.

“The OFT has said that it will investigate whether residents receive good value for money and reasonable quality of service. We believe utility bills and insurance premiums are two areas where they should shine their spotlight, as so many apartments have a raw deal.”

BNS Management Services have recently streamlined its management of utility bills to negotiate economies of scale with Ecotricity and is also working with the insurance industry on ensuring that blocks are treated fairly over risks.

Around five million people live in leasehold properties across the UK. Costs can be significant for individual residents, who don’t have control over their bills as they are collectively managed.

Before formally launching its study the OFT has called on interested parties, including residents themselves, to come forward with areas that they should be focusing on.