If you’re involved in managing a property, you’ll know only too well that the to-do list is very often half a mile long. So, the idea of handing some, or all, of the responsibility over to a property management company is very attractive.
Finding a team of people that you can work with continually, and who you can trust to take care of the issues you present them with, however, can be a challenge. There also must be communication and honesty between both parties if the relationship is to succeed.
Therefore, it is best to go in knowing that you are talking to a good property management company from the initial enquiry. So, when researching and vetting potential suppliers, look out for evidence of the qualities detailed below.
Are they proactive?
You know the adverts where a chip in a car’s windscreen is left to become a crack, and it’s only then that the owner does anything about it. This is an example of how a lack of proactivity can become costly. It’s the same with issues around a property.
The best kind of managing agents will be told about a problem, such as a small leak in a communal area, and will get one of their maintenance staff to fix it before it becomes much worse, such as a pipe bursting. A good management company makes it their mission to save leaseholders any unnecessary expense and prevent any detriment to the residents of the property. But a great management company will spot any potential issues even before you have, through regular inspections.
Are they responsive and approachable?
Of course, to assess whether a managing agent will do something about an issue in a timely manner, the client also needs to decide if the company is approachable and adept at communication. Are they able to listen to the problem and respond in a way that the client understands, rather than spouting a load of jargon at them? Or otherwise, giving a list of unhelpful excuses as to why the issue cannot be resolved. Or even still, will they take two weeks to respond to the query in the first place?
Approachable companies who make it their business to be available 24/7 will never make a customer feel like a nuisance, nor that their problems are less important than those of another building, maybe a larger and higher paying one. They will demonstrate that there is never really a bad time to come to them for advice on an issue.
Are they knowledgeable?
Another important quality that good property management companies will demonstrate is knowledge. And not just about the industry, but about each and every property they manage. This means that each and every client feels valued and they can deliver an exceptional service.
Part of keeping up to date will mean that they make a genuine effort to attend as many resident meetings as necessary and ask for minutes and updates from those meetings if they cannot make it. Top-shelf managing agents will also know a property’s lease inside-out, so as to ensure no breaches occur (or have occurred historically). Furthermore, they will be up to date with the latest compliance and legal issues and know those that affect leaseholders and residents.
The best way to know for certain is to check out their track record and testimonials from satisfied clients. Do they go on about how an issue was fixed on the same day it was raised? Or how the friendly and professional staff are always on-hand to give advice? And that, when the managing agents come to the property, they know the layout like the back of their hand. These are the property management companies you will want to get involved with.
Peter Bigge is managing director at Town & City Management Ltd