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Changing managing agent – is it worth the pain?

Changing managing agent – is it worth the pain?
31st January 2018 Hilary

Excessive costs, a lack of service and poor communication – just some of the most common gripes levelled at managing agents by their RMC director customers.

Despite the day-to-day impact of poor service on residents’ lives, management company directors can be reluctant to get rid of a poorly performing managing agent, as Peter McCabe of Clear Building Management explains.

Management company directors are often fully aware that they need to change managing agent but switching can be a nerve-wracking process and, all too often, directors can be tempted to adopt a ‘better the devil you know’ mentality.

However, whilst changing managing agent may feel like a daunting process, it really can bring a new lease of life to both your block and the community within it.

We have a growing reputation at Clear Building Management for taking over badly-managed developments and turning them around to the benefit of all leaseholders and residents. But we know that changing managing agent is not an overnight decision!

In fact, it can be months (sometimes years) from the first phone call from an exasperated and upset leaseholder or director, to us actually getting on site and starting our work as property and building managers.

We understand that the decision to change managing agent takes time.

We also understand how, once the decision has been made, to make changing managing agent as swift and as pain-free as possible.

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 at Clear Building Management 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.

Secure leaseholder and tenant support from the outset

To ensure a smooth transition it’s essential to get leaseholders on board from the start. Satisfaction surveys, leafleting and meetings can all help to generate dialogue and support. Clear helps RMC directors to ensure leaseholders and tenants are engaged throughout the handover process.

Tenants are also key – and this is a point that is often missed by more ‘remote’ managing agents. Many property management issues arise from the challenge of communal living and how residents rub along together. In our experience, badly managed blocks can regularly go hand in hand with anti-social behaviour – especially where there is a high proportion of rented accommodation.

Peter McCabe, Clear Building Management

Peter McCabe

So, in addition to repairing the physical fabric of the building, Clear Building Management focuses on repairing the fabric of the community and we involve all residents in this – leaseholders and tenants.

Directors also tell us that they are daunted by the process of switching, including having to liaise with the outgoing agent. At Clear we are able to reassure directors with our very simple ‘one signature switch’ 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.

“And what if it all goes wrong and you’re no better than the last bunch?”

We’re asked this many times 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 not as promised. For example, Clear Building Management offers clients a guarantee where directors can leave, penalty free, if they are not happy.

So, if you are battling poor service then we recommend grasping the nettle and making the change – it will be less painful than you think and the benefits could be substantial.

This article first appeared in the February 2018 issue of Flat Living