How to get value for money from your block manager
Filed under: House Prices
As the managing director of a block management firm, I am more aware than most of the desperate need for improvement in the industry.
Appointing a new block manager
Having an agent who takes good care of your block can have a huge influence on the value of the flats within your block, while substandard agents can have the opposite effect.
By applying a few relatively simple, common sense steps, you can make sure the right measures are in place to help avoid the trauma of appointing a sub-standard block manager.
- When selecting a managing agent check out what type of blocks the agent already manages to see if they similar to yours. A firm that manages luxury properties with gyms, pools and concierges may not be as suitable for a small block of retirement flats as they won't be as in tune with the tenants' needs. The service provided should be tailored to each type of block and the needs of its tenants.
- Speak to the agent's current clients about how satisfied they are with the performance of block manager. The internet is also a good source of information - check to see if residents have anything negative to say in online discussion forums.
- Who will be in charge of managing your block? If you sign up with the agent, will you get a dedicated manager for your property, will they have other properties to manage as well? It is essential you choose a manager that will have enough time to devote to your building.
- Does the agent use an in-house maintenance team to ensure a high standard of service to all the blocks they service? Or is the work contracted out? If so, who is responsible for repairs?
- Potential candidates should be asked for clear service standards they operate to before being selected to manage your block. It is essential to ensure that the service levels offered will meet requirements and that this is ultimately borne out in a formal service agreement.
- Is the agent a member of professional organizations such as the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA)?
Once you have selected an agent to manage your block there are a number of key points to consider to make sure you're getting every penny of value from your service charges.
Make sure that regular inspections of the building are being carried out. Your block manager should be checking for problems at least once a month.
Communication, or lack of, is often the one thing unhappy tenants complain about the most.
How often does your agent keep residents informed of what's going on? And how do they do this – via a bulletin board, by letter or online? Will you be given an out-of-hours contact number for emergencies? Does the firm provide a dedicated 24/7 answering service which is picked up and responded to when a maintenance issue strikes? Make sure that your agent is communicating effectively with residents to get the most out of the services they should be providing.
Get a structured accounting and reporting system in place so that tenants can see firsthand whether their agent represents decent value for money. An effective system will help you make sure you're getting value for money regarding contracts and suppliers for the building. You need to be sure that all contractors and additional costs for the block will be vetted to ensure you're getting the best service at the best possible price.
Laurence Freilich is managing director of Moreland Estate Management
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