Clear Building Management sets out some top tips for finding a managing agent that ticks all the boxes for larger developments.
Managing a larger block is no mean feat. From following complex legislation and handling major works projects to managing budgets and maintaining community harmony, it’s no wonder RMC directors often come to the conclusion that professional support is required when it comes to tackling the complexities of managing a larger development.
It’s essential that the managing agent you choose is the right fit for your development, both in terms of personality and practicality. Having a positive working relationship with the people looking after your block should of course be a high priority, but you must also be confident that they will bring a variety of skills to deliver an excellent property management service.
Here, we share our top tips for finding a managing agent that best fits your block.
1. Create a detailed brief
Discuss and set down exactly what services you require from the new managing agent in a detailed brief. These services will likely to fall into the following categories:
- Financial budgeting and management
- Service charge administration and collection
- Repair and maintenance management
- Leaseholder and tenant relations / communications
- Lease compliance
- Legal strategy and dispute resolution
- Staff management
- Landlord and tenant advice
- Support for the RMC Board
ARMA (the Association of Residential Managing Agents) has set out more detailed examples of the services you might want your managing agent to provide in this useful guide.
2. Consider costs
Cost is of course an important factor, so ask each agent to set out their fee structure and approach to commissions from services such as insurance.
You will want financial transparency from your managing agent, but you must also be honest with them. Set out clearly any problems that they might be inheriting and ask them how they would resolve them. This will also give you a chance to understand both their knowledge and their customer service. We would also recommend you ask for written references from their existing customers.
3. Create a list of potential managing agents and send them the brief
One of the best ways of finding a ‘good’ managing agent is to seek personal recommendations from people you trust. Ask other residents in the block, particularly newer ones who may have had good experiences elsewhere, or take a quick tour of similar developments in your locality; talk to residents of well-managed developments and find out who they use.
We recommend sending your brief to five or six managing agents, with a view to shortlisting no more than three, and give them a reasonable timeline to respond with their proposals.
4. Assess the proposals and meet your shortlisted agents
After you have received and assessed submissions from the agents interested in managing your development, and whittled down a shortlist, it’s then time for the fun part; sitting down face to face with each of the prospective managing agents.
We would recommend allowing at least a couple of hours for each meeting, including a tour of the development, and working through a list of pre-prepared questions. As managing agents ourselves, we would expect to be asked the following questions by any RMC directors or leaseholders seeking to understand our property management capabilities and services:
- How do you charge for your property management services?
- Do you take commissions for insurance and other services?
- Where will service charge monies be held?
- How do you deal with unpaid service charges?
- What is your approach to reserve funds?
- How many blocks do you manage?
- How often will you visit the development?
- What communications channels do you offer (eg: emails, portals, newsletters)?
- How do you stay up to date with the legal and regulatory requirements?
- How do you select and monitor contractors?
- Do you have a contractors’ charter?
- How will you deal with the outgoing managing agent?
- What is your complaints procedure?
- How do you deal with leaseholders in breach of their lease?
- How do you deal with out of hours emergencies?
- Which professional / trade bodies do you belong to?
Additionally, a face to face meeting it a good opportunity to ask about their approach to customer service and their values – for example, at Clear, we operate on the values of Quality, Value and Transparency.
Making a decision
Selecting a managing agent that’s the right fit for your development will take time and effort (check out our comprehensive RMC Director’s guide to choosing a managing agent here!) but if your agent is committed to delivering an excellent service, both in the personal and practical sense, you should quickly see a return on your investment.
We hope our top tips for finding a managing agent were useful! A fresh approach to your property management really can bring a new lease of life to both your development and the community within it.