The joy and torment of property management

The joy and torment. For us, this quote epitomises Property Management which is most definitely the obsession of MIH and at the same time is full of joy and torment.

Nothing is more joyful than being able to take over the management of a property and really Make It Happen and luckily for us this is usually what happens. However, this is often tinged with torment as we are often constrained by issues outside of our control such as the Lease, Legislation and perhaps, financial limitations.

Why do people want to change property managers?

When speaking to potential clients about the reason why they want to change their property managers we can almost reel off the reasons, a lack of responsiveness, staff turnover, overspending the budget and ultimately not getting works done. As a result of this, the client is usually being contacted directly and is wondering why they employ a managing agent at all.

While we accept that this may be a true reflection of some companies within the industry – thankfully not MIH – we are also conscious of some of the issues that we, like other managing agents, face with clients and their expectations.

In September we took over the management of a beautiful period property comprising of 5 buildings in Pimlico. When first speaking to the Board they had indicated that their reasons for moving, were because of these reasons mentioned above.

What have MIH done so far?

Since taking it over we have prepared a 10-year plan and have already started to implement this with the first phase of the exterior works almost complete and the second already in motion for next year. At the same time the electrics are compliant within all five buildings for the first time in around 10 years. However, we haven’t stopped there and we have the first phase of internal works starting in the Autumn.

Working on this property has been a joy and an obsession

We admit that this has been possible because the Company has had a healthy reserve fund, however our proactive, no-nonsense and pragmatic approach has meant that the Board have been able to make easy choices regarding the work and apart from decision making (based on having full information at their disposal) are now free to live peacefully in their homes without the risk of being attacked by their neighbours when they walk out of their front door. For us working on this property has definitely been a joy and an obsession as we can’t wait to see the results of our all efforts.

Clients being badly burned in the past

Perhaps not quite so joyful is an experience we have had at another property which we manage on behalf of a freeholder. When we were first appointed by the Freeholder in June of last year we were conscious that both the Freeholder and the Leaseholders had been badly burned by the previous agents. In addition to the list of usual lists of complaints, there was also the issue that the previous agents hadn’t seemed to ever visit the property and knew nothing of what they were doing. To add to the mix there had been some issues with the distribution of the previous year’s accounts and therefore no one was aware of a deficit.

As you can imagine and unsurprisingly, we were initially met with hostility and our overtures to help were rejected. Despite this we soldiered on with the management and having consulted with the Freeholder had recommended that we look to work with the Lessees on future planning and budgeting. By November of last year we really felt we had made progress and had undertaken all the minor repairs required and had got the building back on track and at this point we were really feeling the joy. Unfortunately nearly a year down the line we are facing torment as despite our best efforts we have not been able to make the Leaseholders understand their obligations or the need to future plan for the building as although only a relative newbie – it is slightly older than MIH itself- it is still aging and needs to be looked after.

We’re not quitters!

Not being ones to quit easily, and keen to turn torment into joy, we had to turn to our remaining option, never let it be said that MIH aren’t tryers, and have asked the Freeholder to intervene. Luckily for us we have been able to demonstrate to the Freeholders all the attempts we have made to get the Lessees to work with us and although I think they are disappointed that our suggestions have failed – more torment- our relationship with them has not been compromised as they know that we are really obsessed with giving a good property management service.

We are not sure where we go from here but hope that we can turn the torment back into joy once these issues have been resolved and in the meantime we, like Manet will continue to have a daylong obsession but with Property Management rather than colour as we do find a lot of joy in what we do.

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