Rising service charges with no explanations, poor communication and poor levels of service are some of the most common complaints by leaseholders. It may be a general dissatisfaction with the current managing agent, or even that the agent is not performing as expected from a managing agent looking after the building.
The landlord or resident management company (also referred to as an RMCo) directors may be reluctant to consider moving to a different managing agent in the belief that the process is complicated and would involve them in a great deal of work. They may rationalize their reluctance to move away from a poorly performing agent by their perception that possibly there would be a substantial amount of work and involve them in hours of time they probably don’t have, despite being dissatisfied with their performance. They may not be keen to engage with the outgoing agent in the switching over process.
However, whilst changing managing agent may feel like a daunting process, it really can bring a new lease of life (no pun intended) to both your block and the community within it.
We have a reputation at Carlton Property Management for taking over badly-managed developments and turning them around. But we know that changing managing agents is not an overnight decision!
In fact it can be months, sometimes years, from the first phone call from an exasperated and upset director or freeholder, to us actually getting on site and starting our work as property managers.
We understand that the decision to switch takes time. We also understand that you don’t want to go through the process of changing only to find yourselves in a similar situation.
But, once the decision has been made, we also understand the need to make the handover process as smooth and as pain-free as possible. Carlton Property Management handles the whole handover process with the outgoing agent, and the commissioning of our management systems with all the data and records relating to the building and its management needs without the need for the directors to get involved in all that work.
The role of a property manager is often compared to that of an agony aunt, and never more so than when we first take over a development. Our job is to listen, to understand the historic and current issues and then to put in place an action plan that will restore the development and gain the faith of all residents.
To ensure a smooth transition it’s essential to get leaseholders on board from the start. We will do what is needed to help to generate dialogue and support. We’re happy to hold a meeting with all the residents so they can voice their concerns and needs, what issues they have been unhappy with, what they would like to see happen. This is often a good opportunity for the directors to hear or understand points of view that they may not have been fully aware of. We help RMCo directors to ensure leaseholders are engaged throughout the handover process.
Part of the process means understanding what the primary concerns are and in proactively planning and managing works, and identifying issues of works required by the building likely to need attention in the short, medium and long term. This is often facilitated with a Preventative Maintenance Plan over a five to ten year period. This will assist in forward planning and ensures the proper cash flow required for these works, ensuring that the building’s value is not compromised by lack of attention.
Landlords and RMCo Directors often tell us that they are daunted by the process of switching, including having to liaise with the outgoing agent. At Carlton Property Management we are able to reassure directors with our straightforward handover service, which includes handling all dealings with the old agent. This enables directors to avoid the unpleasant conversation with the outgoing agent and to pass over the hassle of the switch to us.
We’re sometimes asked this by directors who’ve been disappointed by agents who over-promise and under-deliver, leaving them facing disgruntled leaseholders. As part of the switching process directors should ask any potential managing agents how they measure performance and what redress is available if the service is poor. We are proud that Carlton Property Management was among the first block management companies to attain accreditation under the voluntary regulatory regime by the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA).
Until statutory regulation becomes a reality (which, we’re happy to report, has now been announced by the government), this is the only means of RMCo directors assuring themselves of a high standard of professionalism and expertise, to protect them from poor management practices and ensure that their building is professionally managed by managers who have achieved a level of expertise not met by other managing agents. This expertise is continually enhanced through our property managers’ membership of the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) and their membership requirement to undertake continuing professional development (CPD), ensuring our expertise is constantly evolving, improving and informed by current legislation, case law and industry best practice.
So, if you are battling poor service then now is the time for making the change – it will be less painful than you think, giving you the reassurance that your building is now being managed professionally and properly.