What make a good Block Management agent?
What makes a good Block Management Agent?
With over 30 years in this industry I’ve asked this question many times. I’ve bought, sold and managed a large amount of property over the years and time and time again I have asked the question ‘What makes a good block management agent?’
The communal aspect of any development is usually the collective responsibility amongst a group of homeowners and can often be overlooked or passed to another individual to control. So frequently I’ve heard homeowners complaining about the state of the gardens, the mess of the bin store, the flaky paint in the corridors and I ask them, who manages your development? Are there funds in your account to decorate? Who does the cleaning? Time and time again the responses are ‘No idea’ ‘It’s not my problem’ ‘so and so looks after that, not my responsibility’. As a homeowner all aspects of the development should be our responsibility, looking after our properties is not just about the new kitchen or bathroom or re-designing the interior, but it’s also about looking after our communal areas, the gardens, the décor, the foyer, the gates, even down to the bin store, these areas are an integral part of our homes. This is where you need to make sure that there is an effective arrangement in place to deal with matters that many leaseholders see as less important or ‘someone else’s problem’.
How often is the exterior or communal areas of the building cleaned or decorated? Is there an appropriate contract in place to manage the gardening and landscaping on site? Is the cleaning contract appropriate to the block in terms of frequency and occupancy? Is the building insured correctly and is there an adequate and planned maintenance program in place to keep the block in good structural and cosmetic condition? Consideration needs to be given to Health and Safety, Fire Risk Assessments, Risks of Legionella, Asbestos, Trip Hazards, Communal Electrical Safety, Emergency Light Testing, Smoke Vent Testing, Annual Dry Riser Maintenance. There are also strict accounting responsibilities for service charges and major works which, if not followed correctly can deem a service charge demand uncollectable.
There are lots of responsibilities in looking after a block and traditionally these fall on one person or a panel of people deemed as having control. You may have heard of a Residential Management Company at your development and receive correspondence from a managing agent. A group of Directors may have been appointed as ‘the voice’ of your development, they interact directly with the managing agent and make decisions on where your service charge money will be spent. They will approve a budget and decide on what areas of the development needs improvement and where money needs to be spent prior to the upcoming service charge year. It is imperative that the decisions they make reflect the development as a whole; everyone has had their input and homeowners have got involved and raised their concerns and helped make decisions.
A poorly managed block can not only look bad and have financial impacts but also devalue the property itself. Just as an example we recently carried out a review for a new client who’s block was managed elsewhere and we discovered many inconsistencies in quality, cost and fairness of management. This resulted in an offer to reimburse fees in excess of £50,000.
I, myself have an avid investment and interest in block management after owning several leasehold properties; I understand the importance of having a good block managing agent. I understand that the industry is changing and evolving and, as homeowners we are starting to become more involved and more interactive with the management of our homes. We understand the impact our homes have on our wellbeing and quality of life and looking after them is imperative. In the last 3 years we have been perfectingour block management service and the feedback has been amazing as has my faith that the industry is changing for the better. Well at least it is at Scott & Stapleton.
Our ethos is simple; to manage your home the way we would manage our own…
Over thirty years now in the industry, our research and knowledge has developed into a management service that works; focusing on transparency, communication, affordability and a package that benefits you, the leaseholders and includes all areas of management to make the management of your block an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Remember, you have a voice and you are an essential part of your development. Speak out, find out and make a difference.
We are here if you need us.