As a director of a leading property management company, I am acutely aware of the need to improve freehold property management services. While the real estate services trade in this specialty area needs to repair its tarnished image, may I suggest that clients can play a key role in this process by raising their awareness. Landlords, lessees, freeholders and resident management companies are, after all, determining in their choice of block management agent.
When appointing a freehold manager or management agent to look after your service fee money, as a client or owner, wouldn’t you be better off looking more carefully The fundamentals ? Why not think about how you can better define your real estate service needs? By applying a few relatively simple common sense measures, you may well avoid the trauma of employing an inferior block manager. Freehold companies, owners, residents and lessees would certainly be well advised to make a concerted effort to seek out properly qualified and regulated management agent companies. Easier said than done you say?
The apparent decline in the professional standards of managing agents could most certainly be influenced, if not reversed, by clients refusing to settle for cheaper, poor quality property service providers. When hiring a new freehold agent, clients should ask applicants to clarify the standards of real estate services at which they operate. It is essential to ensure that the service levels offered will meet the requirements and that this will ultimately be confirmed in a formal service agreement. There are various codes of practice that could be considered, but RICS has arguably led the way.
The latest RICS Service charge The Residential Management Code was approved by Parliament in 2009 with the aim of setting standards for the profession taking into account new legislation. If your block management agent is not adhering to this code, questions should be raised and any concerns investigated and clarified. If a company claiming to be a competent residential freehold specialist is not complying with this RICS code, I would strongly suggest that something is wrong.
When it comes to the ever-increasing legislation that applies to residential property services, quite significant changes have been introduced in recent years. Specific new regulations on block management and service charges exist under the Common Property and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. Revised health and safety regulations have also been brought into force, impacting how freehold properties in apartment blocks are treated. Landlords and managing agents must now provide work and fire hazard assessments for freehold or owned common areas. The effect of these changes should contribute to improving the quality of service by making block management agents accountable for their actions,
As the new legislation comes into effect, the most qualified and experienced professionals should be well placed to advise and guide clients through the new requirements. The latest RICS code should also help weed out freehold block managers that are unable to meet the necessary standards.
Due to the changes being implemented in the industry, building owners and freeholders should increasingly be able to add value to their real estate assets through effective and efficient management.