Welcome to Block Management Matters, the informative new blog from legal property management specialists, Brady Solicitors.

We thought we’d use this first post to share with you the highlights of our recent independent and in-depth survey of the UK property management sector that we conducted in conjunction with leading industry publication, News on the Block. In subsequent blog posts we will dig into the survey findings in more depth.

Our researchers spoke to 101 property managers throughout England and Wales and the results were fascinating, with headline findings showing tougher leaseholders, a desire for better regulation and a clarion call to professionalise the industry.

Key finding #1: We want to be seen as a profession, not an industry.

Regulation is a regular topic in the property management press, with many calling for a clearer regulatory framework. Researchers asked participants if they agreed with the statement that stronger regulation would benefit the property management industry. 80 percent of respondents were in strong agreement that better regulation would be of benefit, with only 10 percentexpressing doubts that it would be helpful. This echoes views from the ARMA conference in early November and indicates a clear sense from within the industry that we need to tighten up and get better at ensuring a level playing field.

Key finding #2: Leaseholders can be their own worst enemy..

The research team discussed service charges with the participants, who were asked if they agreed with the statement that leaseholders are becoming more willing to defend non payment of their service charge arrears. Two thirds of property managers reported leaseholders to be more willing to defend non-payment, with just over half in strong agreement with the statement. Brady Solicitors suggests this makes it increasingly important to ensure your demands documentation is accurate and correctly presented. Equally, ensure your legal team offers you a sensible cost model so that you can afford to tackle cases if they escalate, and check that your lease clauses enable costs recovery.

On a positive note, 28 percent of respondents reported leaseholders to be no more litigious, which suggests there are many property managers managing to strike the right balance with their lessees.

Key finding #3: Property managers need to be both poacher and gamekeeper

Right to Manage was introduced with The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act of 2002 to allow tenants to take over managing their block without having to buy the freehold. The researchers were keen to find out if property managers were seeing an increase in RTM requests, and, whether they saw it as a threat or an opportunity. Only just over half of participants reported an increase in RTM requests, which may indicate that leaseholders have realised that RTMs are not the panacea to all their perceived ills. Comments from those surveyed suggested meanwhile that they expect the number of RTM requests will increase.

With a bullish 72 percent seeing RTMs as an opportunity and only 11 percent as a direct threat, the results indicates that the majority of surveyed property managers believe their service levels ensure they will benefit from a move towards Right to Manage. Property managers clearly need to be ready to act as both poacher and gamekeeper if the volume of Right to Manage requests does increase.

Our views?

Through conversations with our property management clients, we have a clear sense of their passion for their businesses, their commitment to delivering an excellent service for their leaseholders and their desire to professionalise the industry. The results of this independent survey echo these findings across the board.

To download the full results of the survey please visit Brady Solicitors online.