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Block management vs Property management
For buildings which have multiple owners – for example blocks of flats, single, block management agents are usually hired to run the communal areas and services that affect all the owners
Standard property managers will usually only manage single dwellings: houses or flats and their responsibility will end at the front door
Block management is a more specialised trade which involves the day-to-day problem solving and building administration. Some example tasks are:
Managing finances and service charge collection
Carrying our maintenance works and refurbishment
Solving day-to-day problems with communal services
What to look for in a new block manager?
Experience with dealing with buildings similar to yours – similar properties, in similar locations with similar problems
Customer service – not only that they are personable, but that you feel they will address your needs quickly
Clear contractual terms which bind the agent into delivering the needed service levels and fixing your key problems
How to pick your top block management agents to talk to
How to compare block management agents
Make a search thorugh our site to find the available agents in your area
Find which of our agents are best matched to your building – location and experience
Start talking and see example contracts and proposals
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By using this service, you will be able to find a number of agents that have already been reviewed by us. These are based on previous customer ratings and our review of their business:
If you would like any more information or have any questions, please contact us at:
0203 6375 814
More on Block Management
What should a block management agency do?
Block management work will cover a varied set of set tasks, across financial management, handiwork, large-scale construction, legal and regulatory compliance, staff management and much more. Each activity will of course be paid for, based on the needs of your individual building. Much of the work should be regular and planned but the nature of block management work means there is much one-off problem solving.
In-house management vs hiring a block manager
Each building will have different needs. However, the universal benefit that a block management firm will bring is providing a third party to complete all of the administrative work. This means that decisions do not have to be made by individual flat owners and reduces the potential for conflict.
Managing these tasks in-house will probably be cheaper than hiring an agent. However unless you live in a very small block with very few problems, you may lack the expertise to complete all the required tasks correctly.
A block manager will bring specific expertise for different types of work:
Refurbishment and decorating
Provide objective assessments of what work is needed – based on the flay owners’ obligations and current state of the building
Manage the process of finding quotes based on a complete and clear specifications
Account and admin
Collect the required funds for a project and distribute these costs to the different flat owners based on the obligations of each
Complete all of the billing, invoicing, documentation and bookkeeping – which can get complicated with large buildings or buildings with many types of expenditures
Ensure any legal proceedings– particularly when it comes to collecting service charges – is done correctly and is effective at solving the building’s problems
Ensure that all flat owners’ views are taken into account during decision making processes
Provide an objective third-party to mediate disputes in a timely fashion
Block Management agents can interpret each party’s rights with buildings with complex ownership models, for example where there may be leaseholders, freeholders, head lessees involved
Determine the exact requirements under the Companies Act and how these affect the duties of the board
Ensure that the building is insured to the correct levels, for the right risks and with manageable excess charges
Ensure the directors of the building have adequate insurance to cover their risks
Ensure that the agent has adequate insurance to cover any risks that arise during the day-to-day management of the building
However, even with a full service Block Management Agent, the building’s directors will still be responsible for setting the building’s policies and rules and ensuring the agent completes all work correctly.
A process to follow when hiring a new block management agent
Work out your problems
Usually when people are looking for a new block manager, they already have at least one problem they need to solve. Although it’s also important to make sure your list of problems is as complete as possible – check with the other people who own flats in your building to see what their issues are.
Make a search on JuxtaBlock for agents that service your area. Each agent will have a list of types of work that they specialise in and you should find those that are best placed to solve your specific problems.
Check if they manage any properties near you, their most recent company accounts and any outstanding issues with your agent that have been taken to a property tribunal.
Send them a message describing your problems. You won’t be committed to anything and it’s a good idea to check that your issues sound like the kind of things that each agent is able to deal with.
Talk to each agent on the phone – they should be willing to run through your lease and last available accounts, and should quickly be able to give an opinion about how to improve your property. Describe your problems and ask them to provide a full written response and proposal.
Each agent will probably be interested in knowing some current information around things like ongoing debtors, disputes, recurring issues with the building and any issues with the current agent.
See how well each agent can address your problems – some may have ready-made solutions even for quite complex issues and could hit the road running if they took over your building
A guide for your first meeting
It’s a good idea to meet your key agent contact as early as this will be the person who interacts with you and will be in charge of solving your problems. Some things to understand form them are:
Who replaces them when they are away or if they were to leave their post – most agents run some sort of buddy system to ensure one person is the company is always familiar with your building
Who handles the phone calls and emails from the flat owners and what is their process of dealing with communications
Who picks contactors for the building and how are these selected in order to ensure transparency. Commissions may be paid to the agent for various works so it’s important to be clear about these upfront
What is the approval process for work and costs based on the value of the work and its urgency
Other things to understand are:
How often reports – importantly on the financial state of the building – are produced and who ensures the accuracy of these. In addition, into what detail are these provided and how are these accessed (it is increasingly common to publish all invoices online for flat owner to check on a daily basis)
Available references from other buildings that work with the agent in order to make sure that they generally have positive reviews
Creating a contract
Once you are happy with an agent, you should ask the block management agent to provide a formal tender and contract. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides a standard template for a contact which shows some of the main points that should be included.
Importantly, make sure that any of your main problems and the solution to these are discussed in the contract as well as the process of leaving the new agent in the event that this occurs. Important documents and assets may need to be passed onto a new agent and should also be listed.
Interactions between the agent and the board
Agents will always require some collaboration with the building directors – even if this is just to pay the bills. It is however, important to understand:
The roles and responsibilities of the agent vs the board or any other parties
How much authority the agent has to make decisions without anyone else’s involvement
How much service charge can be spent without explicit authority from the board
How quickly and effectively the block management agent is expected to respond to new problems as they arise.
The lines of communication between the agent, the board and the other flat owners in the building - these are both to send reports and communications to the flat owners and for flat owners to pass on instructions to the agent
It’s often the case that one of two of the flat owners become the main point of contact in which case, it’s not a bad idea to formalise this arrangement.
When the major board meetings and annual general meetings should occur and what types of issues should be discussed
Flats owners should be able to rely on the experience of their block management agents when making decisions. Therefore meetings should be both an opportunity to report and received instructions, but also a chance to consult with an expert.
Agendas should ideally be made for each meeting and the agent should be in charge of taking minutes and documenting the resolutions. This is particularly true where instructions could possibly come into conflict with law, codes of practice and other statutory guidance – e.g., around evictions or health and safety.
How more day-to-day communications should be made from each flat owner, how they should be responded to and accountability should be also set out from the start.
Once an agent is agreed and signed
It is important that all the flat owners are notified of the agent’s name, their remit and how they can be contacted.
It is important that all the flat owners know their roles and responsibility and that the agents are working with the support of the board.