In late 2017, Clear Building Management was appointed to manage a 126-unit site in Luton, after a decade of near-neglect from the previous managing agent.
Security was poor and antisocial behaviour was rife. Issues included vandalism, prostitution, drug dealing and fire arms. On one of our first visits to inspect the lift, we found a gun on top of the lift carriage; it was not a surprise to learn that the previous managing agent would only attend during daylight hours – and in pairs!
As with many larger blocks in the area, the residents included a high number of commuters, who travelled in and out of London and spent little time at home during the week. The development was also heavily tenanted and had a high proportion of social housing. None of which creates a recipe for chaos but, when combined with years of poor management and non-existent communications, had led to a situation that some residents said felt ‘like a war-zone’.
Our first step was to work closely with the Residents Management Company to look at the wider issues.
We built a good relationship with the community policing team and the scores of residents who shared the desire to see the site returned to a place that was welcoming to families and commuters, with its excellent location right by the mainline station.
We took swift action to get to grips with the antisocial behaviour issues that were being reported and increased the physical security to ensure there was a clear understanding of who was in and around the building.
We engaged with the local police force and established good relationships with a representative from the social housing provider. By working together, we were able to tackle many issues that are outside of a managing agent’s usual remit. This joint approach also helped to improve security.
In early 2018, residents told us that we had achieved more at the development in two months than had the previous agent in 10 years.
But it was not just the antisocial behaviour problems. To make the development a place that was welcoming and where people once again felt proud to live, we needed to tackle the maintenance backlog. One of the most pressing items was to sort out the lift; the development had one lift that served 10 floors, yet it was nearly always out of service.
We had the lift independently surveyed to get a true picture of condition and needs and then a service contract put in place that increased the servicing from quarterly to monthly.
We also employed independent specialist lift contractors to act as “lift administrators” so a technical expert reviewed every call out, service visit, and engineer’s report to look for patterns and prevent future breakdowns.
The upshot is a lift that functions well and, should there be a problem, is fixed with urgency.
We also put in place clear lines of communication so residents would know how issues were being dealt with. For example, not long after taking over the development, the power was off, the lifts weren’t working and the intercom and broken. Once we had established the issue was with the local area power supply we were able to text message and email over 250 contacts with regular updates to proactively update and reassure everyone.
18 months after taking over management of the development, we are proud to have restored it to a state of relative peace. Antisocial behaviour has been all but eliminated, the maintenance programme is firmly back on track, and residents feel safe and secure in their homes.
“Our old property manager was reactionary to whatever fad or complaint came in, had no concept of planning, poor contractor management, and spent like the budget was limitless. Clear provide us with professional advice and give options but advise on affordability and long-term impacts. By taking their advice problems such as anti-social behaviour and poor car parking have been eliminated.” Mark Curran – Director of the management company.
Specialist property management for residential buildings
If your development would benefit from a fresh approach to property management, please get in touch with us at Clear Building Management. We would be pleased to see how we can help you.