How do I find a good property manager?
The starting point to finding yourself a property management company is ARMA (Association of Residential Managing Agents). You can search for a member here: https://arma.org.uk/leaseholders/search-for-a-member
ARMA audit their members (of which we are one) and have a new system called ARMA-Q (which again, we have passed). ARMA-Q sets down a number of regulations on us as a company. It’s really interesting to know that there is very little regulation of this sector of the property management industry. Anyone could set up as a property manager, but they can’t register with ARMA. To pass ARMA’s requirements you have to be an associate member with them for two years before progressing.
There are other ways to find a good property manager, such as word of mouth with other buildings. Meet them at council meetings, local events or ask your friends if they know people. Remember though, that your requirements for a property management company may be different to theirs.
Again, this leads on to know what you want. If you don’t know, how can any property management company succeed for you? We have a free Tender Toolbox available on our website to guide you through the whole process of understanding what you want and then translating this into a tender pack, so all the managers you approach respond to your enquiries and understand your requirements.
Finding the best match needs homework from you. Nothing comes easy, but the more you put in at the beginning the better your choice will be at the end.
How much does it cost to hire a property manager?
All property managers need to have a certain amount of income to survive. If you are offered what seems a very low quote the service will match the amount being charged.
Also, bear in mind that the management charge is normally around 10% of your total service charge bill. The key here is to get a property manager who adds value to the process and can reduce other areas in the remaining 90%.
Where a lot of properties lose focus is when they become fixated on the charge from the property manager and then only compare the property managers on what they are going to charge the building. Whilst important, the charge from the managing agent shouldn’t be the defining factor of what you choose. You are much better choosing a property manager who can show proven examples of how they can reduce the 90%. Saving a couple of hundred pounds off the management fee when you could be saving thousands of pounds of the remaining 90% doesn’t always make sense.
Can a landlord be a property manager?
Let’s just clarify this question first of all. You can have a landlord or a freeholder of an apartment building. They technically own the building, and as an apartment owner, you have a lease which gives you a right to live in the building.
There are two main ways of your building being managed by a property manager. One is where the apartment owners have the right to choose a management company, and the second is where the apartment owners have no right to choose the management company but the landlord or freeholder does. In this scenario, we are going to look at the landlord or freeholder making the choice.
So, in answer to the question can a landlord be a property manager, the response is, yes. To be fair, most landlords or freeholders don’t manage the buildings themselves. They will appoint a property management company to do this on their behalf. The property management company is then answerable to the landlord or freeholder and not the apartment owners, even though it is providing the service to the apartment owners. This is all starting to look like not the most favourable option for the apartment owner.
At Revolution, we also don’t particularly like this process as we generally like to manage buildings where the apartment owners are in control. We do manage somewhere the landlord or freeholders have this control, but on the basis that the apartment owners still have their input and say into what we do. They may do this through resident associations or even simply through informal groupings. It’s vital that the apartment owners feel part of the management process, and not simply people who have to contribute financially to the process.
So, in summary, landlords or freeholders can be property managers, but our advice would be buyer beware.
What are the responsibilities of a property manager?
This is a great question as it gives us the ability to explain a few things. Imagine you live in an apartment managed by Revolution and you receive a service charge invoice from us, for example, for £1,000. Because this demand comes from us, lots of people think that’s what we receive and earn. Out of that £1,000, the following has to be paid:
- Building insurance
- Building communal electricity
- Any repairs.
- Future maintenance costs
- Car park gates
- The list goes on
The lease will set out the requirements of the property manager. These are often based around maintenance, collection of service charge, enforcement of covenants in relation to generally the communal areas and exterior of the building. There are a few requirements of the property manager in relation to the interior of the apartment as often the interior is demised to the apartment owner.
So, if your lift breaks it’s the property manager’s problem. If the car park gate won’t open it’s the property manager’s problem. If a door comes loose inside your apartment it’s technically the apartment owner’s problem. As property managers, we generally say our responsibility stops at the front door of the apartment.
The property manager also has a responsibility for planning the future maintenance of the building. This includes planning painting schedules through to replacements of lifts, roofs, etc. this is a really vital part the property manager should be doing for you because if it’s not done correctly you will have large bills arriving further down the road for things that you haven’t collected funds for. Your property manager must ensure you save for a rainy day.
Lastly, your property manager is a politician, psychologist, mediator and general person to talk to. Our roles are so varied and we deal with so many people within one building that we have to have so many skills outside of what the lease says we have to do. It’s our role to try to bring as much harmony to the building as possible.
What is required to be a property manager?
This is a great question as a good property manager has to be so many things. They need to know their job inside out, but this probably isn’t the most important thing. They need to know how to communicate well and they need to be able to persuade, explain, and convince people to do some things that people may not feel need to be done.
They have to work in the best interests of all apartment owners. For example, the best interest of all apartment owners is to save for future repairs, but a lot of apartment owners currently wouldn’t want that done as that means their service charge would technically be slightly higher.
A good property manager is someone who is easy to talk to and understands what you’re trying to achieve. They also need to be able to see everyone’s agenda as again, managing a building with multiple sets of people does mean there are going to be different viewpoints.
A good property manager is a mediator. They have to do the dirty work some days. They have to tell people they can’t do things they want to or that they need to stop doing things they are doing. This needs to be done in a way that achieves the goal and also retains a relationship with the person who is being dealt with. It’s like walking a tightrope
A good building manager doesn’t necessarily have to come from a property management background. They need to have good transferable skills and they need to be able to make things happen for you.