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Property Block Management Is Easy Isn't It?

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Fri 29 Nov 2019

Property Block Management Is Easy Isn't It?

It is both exciting, as well as stressful, when moving into a new home whether it is big or small, a tiny flat or a huge house.  Well timed relocation planning for your furniture and personal effects is important in order to keep the headaches to a minimum but if your new home is part of a block of flats then the list is even longer.

 

Building Maintenance Planning Avoids Unexpected Financial Shocks

All properties develop regular maintenance issues which need to be dealt with as they arise.  Some of these maintenance issues can incur significant expenditure and require long term planning to avoid unexpected financial shocks.  Since flats can be within a purpose-built block of flats, a converted house, above commercial or retail premises or perhaps a maisonette, maintaining the building in good repair can present some issues which impact on both you and your neighbours.  If the property is made up of a small number of flats then sorting these problems can be fairly straightforward.  However, very often such living arrangements involve a good many separate households and this means that there will probably be a Residents’ Association and some type of management structure involved.

Managing a Block of Flats is Like Running a Business

Essentially the management of a block of flats is just like running a normal business and will require considerable commitment and knowledge of legislation.  Responsibility for overall management of a building lies with the landlord – it does not matter whether they are an individual, a company or a local authority.  However, the building could also be managed by the leaseholders (or property owners who share a freehold) via a Residents’ Management (RM) company (set up by the landlord) or a Right to Manage (RTM) company (residents take control of the management). 

Since 2002, leaseholders have had the right to manage the block of flats where they are resident.  In order for the property to be well maintained there must be a form of established management involving regular accountability and financial management to manage issues such as neighbour disputes, maintenance and repair costs and anything else which may affect the residents.

Volunteering to manage your own block of flats in this way can seem like a very good idea if you have time. It saves money, right?  Anyone can do it, right?  In fact it does not necessarily save money.  Whilst anyone could do it, it is not always in the best interests of the residents for this to happen.  It may also not be in the best interests of the person who takes on the task as they will bear the brunt of any issues and disputes should they arise and their involvement is all voluntarily too.
 

Right to Manage Puts Leaseholders in Control  

All too often disputes can and will arise and an inexperienced Committee of volunteers can quickly find themselves very stressed and out of their depth.  This is where a good Block Management Agent is literally worth its’ weight in gold. 

Some points to be aware of when going down the Right to Manage (RTM) company route:

  • the right people (volunteers) must be found to be officers on an on-going basis.  These officers will each assume the full responsibilities of company directors and those of residential property landlords if they choose to manage it themselves.
  • the leaseholders will need to learn about company procedures or to employ someone to advise them on such matters.
  • resident RTM companies are vulnerable to criticism from other residents and leaseholders just as if they were the property landlord. Some leaseholders are irrational in their expectations and high stress disputes often need to be dealt with by the RTM company.
  • regular formal meetings are required including an AGM.
  • budgets, accounts, specifications and legal requirements need to be discussed regularly.
  • RTM companies must be solvent, so leaseholders who routinely default or delay payments will prove a headache.
  • there may be difficult and sensitive issues in dealing with neighbours and fellow leaseholders.
  • the RTM company and its’ directors will be legally required to comply with a wide range of company, housing and health and safety laws.

 

A good Block Management Agent will always be mindful of the needs of the flat owners, even though they may take instructions from the landlord and not individual leaseholders.  The costs for appointing a managing agent are shared among the leaseholders (no matter who appoints them) so it is important to ensure that a professional and experienced agent is appointed.  The cost of block management support starts from as little as £2.50 per unit per month so it is well worth considering this option and let the professionals take the stress instead.

 

What Should You Expect From a Block Management Agent?

 

A good Managing Agent should:

  • act as an effective mediator/facilitator between lessees and landlord to avoid and resolve disputes.
  • comply with appropriate standards and codes of practice.
  • be up to date on relevant legislation, particularly a) landlord and tenant law; b) building regulations; and c) health and safety law.
  • have a comprehensive understanding of leases and be able to help all parties understand their rights and obligations.
  • be committed to industry best practice and a quality customer service.
  • establish an independent complaints procedure.
  • be open and transparent in all aspects: a) financial: accounting, budgeting, service charges; b) declare any interests in other service providers and related commissions; and c) ensure service charge monies are spent appropriately taking into account the views of the Residents’ Association.
 

If you would like to learn how we can help with the management of your block of flats please do give us a call on 01366 858228 or email us on sales@sheridanestateagents.co.uk