Don’t fall for a rogue
You’re looking for a new managing agent. You’ve been with one of the big agents and felt like a number with little importance. So where do you go? The next stage is to swing the other way and look for a smaller local agent to manage the site. They’re going to give you much better service, right?
Well, maybe so but there are lots of small agents popping up offering the world or appearing to do so. We’ve tripped over a few recently and seen some of the tricks being used to con people into thinking they’re bigger or more reputable.
Here are 10 tricks we’ve either seen or suggest you check:
Are they a member of ARMA-Q (rogues won’t be)?
ARMA is our governing body. You have to pay to be a member and then be audited to make sure you meet their standards. This is called ARMA-Q accreditation. Just don’t use anyone who’s not registered ARMA website
They say they are ARMA members (Revolution are!)).
Rogues lie! We’ve come across this a few times including one site we were appointed to where the previous agent was using the ARMA logo but was not a member. Always check this out by going to ARMA search for an agent
Are they pretending to have offices all over the country (Serviced office scam)?
Rogues lie again! This is another trick, using a rented office in a serviced office block and then putting all the other serviced office blocks on their sites as locations they operate from. Ask how many employees the company has in each office or which blocks each office manage.
Do they actually manage the buildings they have referenced on their site?
Rogues lie, get the picture.. Again, if they mention blocks in their literature ask to speak to the directors at these blocks. We came across a company this week pretending to manage one of our own blocks!
Do they actually have staff (staff scam)?
Rogues and more lies. We know of a one man band who, if you read the website, seems to have staff everywhere. Ask how many staff are employed and ask to meet / see them. Ask what they do and who would be working on your site.
Always visit the office.
This is a great way of getting a feel for a company. If their website leads you to believe they have a number of employees, you’d expect to see them in their office and the office to be the appropriate size.
When were they incorporated?
Any business you deal with in relation to Block Management should be incorporated at Companies House. Check this at Companies House
You can then see who the directors are, when the company was formed, etc.
Are they publishing accounts?
At the same site Companies House you will be able to download for free their company accounts. Have a look and see how the finances stack up. There’s nothing wrong with startups, Revolution was one once, but there are so many good agents with a strong history and reputation. Do you want to place the most expensive thing you’ll ever own with a company with no trading history?
Do they have Professional Indemnity Insurance (Revolution does)?
This is so important and expensive. Ours costs around £6,000 per annum. You need to see an insurance policy with a minimum of £5m of cover. This policy covers you for anything the agent does wrong. Imagine the agent sends a plumber to replace light fittings. This causes a fire and damages the building. This policy covers you for this bad decision by the agent. What do you do if the agent has no cover?
If you’re concerned.
If you’ve read this article you might have concerns about an agent you’re talking to. The best advice I can give is simply walk away if anything feels wrong, uncomfortable or shady. Remember this choice is so important.