For leaseholders wanting control over the day-to-day management of their block, obtaining ‘the Right to Manage’ is an option that can do exactly what it says on the tin.
Anyone buying a leasehold property should go into it with his or her eyes open, yet even the most well informed leaseholder can feel frustrated at the lack of control over day-to-day decisions over how their property is managed, and the service charge budget allocated.
By applying for the Right to Manage (RTM), leaseholder owners can take back this control and ensure that the block is managed in the best way for both the leaseholders and tenants that live within it.
Securing the Right to Manage is, however, not without its challenges, and it starts with securing support from at least 50% of your fellow leaseholders – something that can get trickier with bigger developments and more ‘cats to herd’.
Having said this, there should be no barrier to RTM in a larger block, as long as the building itself meets the criteria, particularly if you have a proactive managing agent that can help to secure leaseholder support, and offer sensible ideas about how to communicate with busy or absent leaseholders.
Seven steps to securing leaseholder support
In our experience, momentum is generally key to a successful RTM application. Here are our top tips for quickly and effectively securing the necessary leaseholder support to make your Right to Manage claim:
1. Know your fellow leaseholders: Make sure you understand who are resident, who sub-let, who are absent – and get contact details where possible.
2. Really understand your objectives for change. Consider the ‘What’s in it for me?’ factor and create some materials with compelling reasons for change. Ensure you explain the process and invite any willing individuals to put their hat into the ring to be a director of the RTM company.
3. Start with the resident leaseholders. Invite them all to an informal meeting to discuss the benefits (see point 2 above) of applying for the Right to Manage. We also recommend as many one to one conversations as you have time for; they let you to quickly gauge levels of interest or resistance, build support, and challenge objections.
4. Marshall your supporters. Get all those in favour of the RTM to help you, perhaps door knocking a floor each, or promising to speak to everyone they bump into in the bin room or in the lift (there’s nothing better than a captive audience!)
5. Do your detective work. If you are short of your 50%+ majority, you need to investigate the absent owners – and this is where you need to adopt the mind-set of a detective. There are several good places to look for contact details: letting agents or, where the leaseholder is subletting without an agent, the tenants themselves. Social Media is also your friend: if you have a name, research it and send a message on Facebook or Linkedin. The Land Registry will also sell you details but beware – very few people keep their contact address updated here.
6. Make it easy for your fellow leaseholders. One of the biggest barriers to RTM is inertia: people are just too busy to think about it, so make it as hassle free as possible. For example, provide support forms so each leaseholder only has to complete a few pieces of information and provide their signature to evidence support.
7. Keep communications going. Securing support is a great start but you then need to maintain communications and keep everyone informed and engaged throughout the process. A simple email group list can ensure everyone knows what’s happening.
Once the Right to Manage is secured, the directors can then work in partnership with the managing agent, with the RTM directors retaining oversight over decision-making whilst delegating the day-to-day property management tasks and hassles.
Ian Hollins, Founder and Director at Clear Building Management