I wrote a very personal blog in June about the importance of community in property management but realised that perhaps I missed out one of the most salient points. Indeed prior to writing this I have re-read that blog as I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t recycling the same old points and I came to the conclusion that I had not been able to get across one of the main benefits of community - how owners can help themselves to maintain the property and money and ultimately assist with keeping the running cost low.
Looking for a new managing agent
The tone of this blog is somewhat more sombre than my previous one, however and I apologise in advance for this but I am keen to show that good property management relies on both one’s own good governance while working hand in hand with the property manager.
I have said before one of the most common causes of a client looking for a new managing agent is that the relationship with their current agent has irretrievably broken down. This is most likely to be due to a lack of communication, a stale approach and rising costs. While the incumbent agent may be able to remedy many of the issues, the one that is perhaps most difficult to fix are the costs. It is sometimes quite difficult for a property manager to feel eager about a block where the residents don’t feel the same.
Understanding the behaviour of the building
At MIH, we are lucky that we are all very excited about management and aside from the initial review we undertake of all service contracts to ensure that they are efficient, economical and are at market rate, we also look to understand the behaviour of the building. This sounds an odd statement, it is often an unexplained reason for rising costs and aside from any costs savings we can make on the contract, it is also our job to try and revitalise owner’s interest in their building.
As our starter for ten, one of the largest costs facing any building is buildings insurance. In my previous community blog, I wrote about how flat owners should regularly check their plumbing in their own property to ensure that all installations are water-tight. After all no one wants to be landed with paying for works to another flat caused by a leak or even the excess on the policy come to that.
Acting like you are uninsured
However, what I didn’t perhaps explain was the impact of poor plumbing not just personally but on the service charge too. Recently we renewed the insurance at one of our properties and despite our best efforts to find the best cover for our client, due to the extensive claims history prior to our management, the underlying premium increased by 60% with an increased excess. Both ourselves and our client are horrified but understand that can partly be attributed to owners not understanding the need to be responsible for their actions.
We appreciate that this sounds harsh but is perhaps belied by an owner at the said property trying to submit a new claim on the policy due to their dissatisfaction with the offer made by the owner who caused the damage. They owner who in fact was being community minded by trying to sort this out between the flats. The claimant’s request was made in the full knowledge that submitting a claim would affect ALL owners. As a wise man once said to me, Andre Backner of Bridge insurance in fact, any claimant should act as if they were uninsured.
For the benefit of the building we would always suggest that owners take responsibility for their own flats and avoid making a claim. By doing so this really helps to keep the insurance premium down and ultimately the costs of living in your flat.
With this in mind we have had to write to all owners explaining the increase and the need to take preventative action in their homes and to avoid making unnecessary claims. Despite this hike being a consequence of the claims history, we feel it is a real shame that owners may not have known of this before and are now suffering the consequences. We at MIH, feel that we are tasked with reminding all owners of how they can help themselves.
We want to make sure that residents are able to keep their costs low and the best way to maintain your building is really helping yourself. This in conjunction with working with your managing agent, hopefully MIH, means that you are unlikely to disappointed with your home if you do.
If you would like to know more about how MIH can help with practical, cost effective and collaborative management for your building please do get in touch.