7 Things to ask when hiring a new Managing Agent
Looking for a new property manager can be a daunting task, so here are the top 7 things we recommend you ask when looking for a new Managing Agent.
Maintenance and Money
In our experience with clients, there are two very specific points of importance for a majority of our clients when it comes to owning a property and employing the services of a Property Manager. Maintenance and Money. Therefore the 7 questions we recommend below relate to both of these points and can really affect your bottom line when owning a property.
What types of properties do you manage?
During our four decades of operation, we have built considerable first-hand experience managing one of the most diverse portfolios in the country. Today, Realty manage hundreds of developments across the region, containing a variety of apartments, houses and commercial premises, demised and occupied under a mixture of tenures. We cater for existing buildings, new-builds, listed buildings, and housing developments with significant areas of open space, play features, water features and ecological specifications.
How often do you visit the properties that you maintain?
Our experienced property manager will carry out regular, pro-active site inspections to identify necessary repairs, check on works progress and optimise the performance of contractors. During site visits, our Property Managers are always pleased to meet with residents, residents associations, site staff and the client as required. A thorough health and safety assessment is conducted during each scheduled visit in order to ensure that the statutory requirements in respect of health, safety and the environment are consistently met and all risks mitigated thereafter. Following scheduled visits, a bespoke client report is produced and circulated when requested. Residents are notified of relevant matters through the tenant portal or directly.
The amount of properties under each Property Manager’s care is far fewer than most of our competitors so they have the time to visit every site in their portfolio with great regularity and to proactively handle maintenance matters and manage contractors.
What is your out of ours service for emergencies?
Realty offers every development under our care an ‘out-of-hours’ emergency service that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During office-hours the Realty team handle all enquiries, however outside office hours Realty use a professional company called Adiuvo, who specialise in handling emergency situations within the property sector.
Adiuvo have access to our IT systems, including a schedule of all preferred contractors at each development, so that emergency repairs can be conducted quickly and cost effectively. Adiuvo have the personal contact details of our Property Managers and Realty’s Directors, so that instructions can be sought when necessary, at any time of the day.
If a critical incident occurs, Realty staff will be contacted to attend site immediately.
What is your process for holding & administering service charge monies? Who receives the interest earned from service charge monies held?
All service charge funds and other receipts are held in an individual trustee status client account containing the name of the development. All Client monies are therefore safely ring-fenced in complete compliance with S42 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987, ARMA and RICS guidelines. This means that these funds could never be claimed by the bank to offset the liabilities of Realty as a company and that all monies are held entirely separately from that of other clients.
Dedicated trustee status ‘interest earning’ accounts are setup where larger reserve funds exist and the potential income from interest is beneficial. All interest earned by any client account is credited in full to the respective service charge fund.
All client accounts are protected by RICS client money protection scheme which ensures that client monies are protected up to a value of £5.3 million, above and beyond the limitations of trustee status accounts and statutory protection via the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Realty are financially regulated and audited.
How do you select contactors to undertake work at a development?
Every contractor that Realty utilise is approved though our own accreditation scheme which runs alongside commonly known national schemes such as the Contractors Health and Safety Scheme (“CHAS”) or Safe Contractor. Risks will be fully mitigated and a quality service will be delivered in compliance with industry best practice and statutory obligations. Realty are very happy to retain, accredit and utilise existing contractors where a development has good quality contracts in place that the client wishes to retain.
All of Realty’s contractors are local and completely independent and unconnected to Realty. This means that high quality services can be procured objectively, transparently, and with demonstrable value for money. No conflict of interest exists and what we pay is what you pay, we do not take any commissions on the placing of contractors.
Our panel of contractors cover all aspects of property maintenance across our diverse portfolio. With four decades of experience, there is very little that we have not encountered before and in turn, we have the right contractors readily approved and able to tackle any task swiftly and professionally.
We do not charge any fees for contractor selection, whether chosen by you or us. We believe it is of paramount importance that we avoid conflicts-of-interest occurring and as such, absolutely no incentives or commissions are taken from any contractor that we use. We would also highlight that we do not operate any associated companies or in-house labour that provide maintenance services to our developments. The role of the managing agent is to obtain best value for money and best quality service on behalf of their client; we can only objectively do this by remaining completely independent.
In order to obtain approved status to work for Realty, each contractor must supply a copy of their health and safety policy, public liability insurance certificate, VAT registration if applicable, details of any professional memberships, trade/customer references, and a statement on staff training and development.
Contractors are continuously evaluated on site visits against detailed and agreed specifications in respect of quality of work and value for money to ensure that our high standards are maintained at all times. Realty’s approved contractor list predominantly consists of thoroughly tried and tested companies and individuals, which we are confident will deliver a top quality service every time. We are always pleased to add recommended contractors to our panel and will assist a contractor that delivers an excellent service to achieve approved status.
What is your process for dealing with lessees in breach of their lease?
In accordance with the instructions received from the Management Company Directors.
Our usual policy is to investigate any complaints regarding a breach of the lease to identify whether or not a breach is indeed occurring. If it is then we would send a series of communications requesting that the breach be remedied. If appropriate we will arrange to meet with the leaseholder concerned to discuss the issues and try and agree a resolution. If correspondence and meetings fail to remedy the issue then as a last resort we would seek the directors’ instructions as to whether or not it was appropriate to pass the details to a solicitor to instigate action for breach of covenant. However it would be necessary to weigh up the benefits verses the cost of any such legal action.
Realty manage a large and varied portfolio and therefore managing breaches of covenant are common, and can very easily be rectified with appropriate action. Breaches are dependent on the specific lease but commonly these include:
- Pets within apartments
- Satellite dishes erected on the building
- Washing/Barbeques on balconies
- Sub-letting & short term letting
- Parking outside specified terms
- Items in communal areas
- Noise & anti-social behaviour
- Apartment/building alterations
- Refuse disposal
- Illegal activities/practices
Our robust approach to breaches of covenant ensure that all breaches are dealt with swiftly and effectively. Stringent checks are performed by the Property Manager on a regular basis and action is always taken in accordance with the wishes of the Management Company.
How much do you charge?
In accordance with industry best practice and the 3rd edition of the Service Charge Residential Management Code, our management fee is structured on a ‘per unit – per annum’ fixed fee basis, inclusive of all day to day management of the development. The fee includes services such as Company Secretarial duties, telephone and postage, preparation of draft accounts and other administrative duties which many of our competitors charge extra for. Our fees are provided following a free, no obligation visit to assess the property and its requirements. We will then provide this to you, alongside a bespoke management proposal.
A property manager is usually expected to wear a number of different hats, so knowing where a company stands on these aspects of managing your property means you can have peace of mind knowing that they are handling things just as you expected. If you would like to know more about our services then please contact us on 01614747677 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a free quote for your development/property. We currently cover the following geographic locations: