GETTING THE BEST FROM YOUR PROPERTY MANAGING AGENT
It is critical to future management arrangements to establish at the outset the role and responsibilities of the property managing agent:
- what responsibilities and authorities the agent will have;
- how much service charge money they can spend without your authority;
- response times and other timescales for action; and
- the authorised lines of reporting and communication.
Both the individual leaseholders and the agent should be clear as to from whom instructions are to be received. An agent cannot work if expected to receive instructions from all lessees. The usual and most effective arrangement is for the agent to attend, and report to, meetings of the Board of the RMC. In between meetings the Board could nominate one of its directors to be the main point of contact. By treating the agent as a form of general manager, he or she will provide useful input to policy and take overall responsibility for day-to-day affairs. Meetings should be properly organised and the Board’s instructions to the agent clearly minuted. The Board should set clear lines of communication, understood and observed by both sides.
Remember that the agent cannot take instructions from the Board that would put him in breach of any landlord and tenant law, code of practice or other statutory guidance eg health and safety legislation.
The Board should also establish how the agent is to respond to questions from individual residents and his/her accountability to those individuals. The residents should be clearly informed by the Board of the identity of the agent, duties and limits of authority. Although the agent will be working for the residents as a whole, the employer is the Board, and the residents must be clear that the agent carries the authority and support of the Board in respect of all his/her actions. The agent should not be placed in any position of ambiguity in dealing with individual flat-owners and, of course, cannot take instructions from them.
IPM are members of the Institute of Residential Property Management, RICS, ARMA, the property ombudsman and other highly regarding business accreditations. If you’d like to find out more information about our property management service for your development or block of flats, please get in touch on 01302 729 500.