For managing agents who have won a new block, the first 100 days are critical to setting up relationships and expectations of both the freeholder and the leaseholders.
The property management experts at Brady Solicitors understand the challenges managing agents face right after the handover process and have outlined useful advice to help you start off on the right foot with your new block.
Check for any outstanding documents from last managing agent
The previous managing agent should have supplied everything needed to ensure you have a full history of the management of the block. The following list is a recommended overview of some of the documentation you should have received from at least the last 6 years:
- Service charge demands and service charge debtor lists
- All service charge accounts documentation
- Contractor and subcontractor invoices
- Any Section 20 Notices that have been served
- Details of any planned major works expenditure
If the previous managing agent has failed to supply what you requested, or you have missed something from the list above, this informative blog details the legal routes you can take to acquire the information you need.
Get your Terms of Appointment in place
If you do not already have the Terms of Appointment in place then now is the time to get it drafted. It is advised to use solicitors experienced in this area rather than a general consultant or use a standard form; Terms of Appointment drafted by solicitors offers extra protection in the event the FTT or LVT may need to view these terms if a property dispute arises.
The Terms of Appointment lay out the terms and conditions to be agreed between you and the freeholder. This will help set out what is expected of both parties in this agreement. Getting an agreement in place at an early stage will also protect your interests, such as recovering your management fees should anything go wrong like unpaid contractor bills.
We therefore recommend you use this opportunity to set out the expectations of fees and expected expenditure and lay out what any ‘extra’ services may cost.
Engage with leaseholders
It’s important to establish a good relationship with the leaseholders, especially if the previous managing agent has left on bad terms.
You therefore need to be proactive and engage leaseholders after the handover period. Establishing good channels of communication has many advantages on block management and provides a value for money service.
You may have to deal with outstanding service charge arrears from leaseholders who were unhappy with the previous managing agent. In this instance you should ensure you have a robust and transparent credit control procedure incorporating specialist solicitors should they be required. Securing payment on outstanding service charge is also vital for ensuring cash flow for managing the block, especially where the key areas may have been neglected.
We advise managing agents as part of good block management practice to provide leaseholders with a complaints procedure as early as possible. Leaseholders must also be provided with an address in England or Wales where they can serve notices and complaints.
There are many other ways you can engage with leaseholders, from having a dedicated client portal on your website to holding regular meetings where leaseholders can share their views.
Expert block management help
Taking on a new block can bring challenges but laying the foundations of good communication and sensible procedure makes the early days of running the block a smoother process.
Brady Solicitors’ extensive experience in block management and leasehold law can help you focus on what’s important in this sometimes tricky handover period. We will be happy to help, get in touch on 0115 985 3450 or email us.