Property management is made up of, in one situation, those owners or occupiers themselves directly managing property interests, whilst in other scenarios instructing someone external.
Often this other-person is a managing agent whose role is to literally manage properties, and may do exclusively or as part of other property services such as sales and lettings. In some scenarios, it might be other related parties and interests.
Whoever this external help is, they of course need to be correctly vetted and experienced in order to do a proper job. To deal with all matters from repairs to rents all safely and competently, and all for the right price and service.
Therefore, assuming this is the case, and the property owner or occupier is happy to instruct this new managing person, then the next stage is for all the relevant information and set-up procedures to be accomplished in order to then deal with things going forward.
This will of course depend upon the property and service being covered, and any unique aspects to the people and organisations involved. However, here are some general pointers to look out for to get things up and running effectively:
1. Management Agreement
This sounds obvious, but often forgotten or not made applicable. It's a form of contract to determine what role a person takes in managing a property, signed by both parties and ideally original copies circulated to both parties.
They can be pretty meaty documents which although may sound over the top, should quite rightly deal with how any hiccups are resolved as well as the basic issues like what property is being managed, for what cost, for what periods, and on what basis.
As part of various obligations like money laundering and anti-bribery legislation, the true identity of parties will need clarifying. Even where a legal entity like a company is the client, individual Directors of this will still need vetting.
It often boils down to a copy of photo ID like a driving licence or passport, and a utility or finance bill in the last three months with their home address on. Original copies may need to be seen, and notes on copies certifying that these are true and original ones.
3. Money Movements
Property management often involves the correct movement of money, whether collecting a rent or paying a contractor, and so how this is done needs clarifying.
Ideally the agent holding and processing all this money will need checks and accreditation in place to hold these separate client monies with clear procedure to pay across or spend only certain amounts.
Correct bank details will be needed, in addition to parameters of what can and can't be spent and paid. Also, any back-up accounts and financial information that you need to dovetail with when beginning to manage the property, for example tenant arrears, sinking fund monies and service charge accounts.
4. Occupier Details
You will need to know who is at the property being managed, both literally and through whatever legal interests.
So copies of leases and any additional documentation will be required along with contact details of all relevant people, which may be multiple ones for example an actual occupier within a property in addition to the lease owner.
5. Practical Property Information
So any form of documentation regarding the building fabric and services is essential, whether risk assessments and surveys, or reports and planned maintenance schedules.
Also any contractor information, for example current contacts and services, outstanding quotes and works, and any outstanding issues and invoices due for payment.
6. Insurance Cover
On one level be clear on who arranges and pays for the actual building insurance, and on what basis. If the managing person is involved then be certain of how this is done and any financial benefit they received from arranging this.
On another level, check that everyone has the correct insurance, including the actual managing person, any contractors, and even directors and officers for roles within a management company.
It's best to agree a clear and achievable timeline of events as early as possible, as otherwise things can drift and drag as one thing gets held up by another taking time to happen.
There may be up to three months anyway before an existing managing party ends and another begins, but even then you need to agree when things are achieved and information is provided. It's often worth agreeing the basic instruction early on but then clear to-do lists for everyone to then make actual management commence later on.
Once the basis of the new management agreement is agreed, then let everyone know about this, for example any tenants and occupiers and contractors. Often a formal letter is needed by the current owner to confirm that such-and-such is taking over things from a certain date.
If you're going to come across issues, for example the new basis of management causing an increased service charge or changing contractors, then it can help for one party to play the ‘good cop’ whilst the other the ‘bad cop’.
So on one hand the hard facts are communicated, but on the other a dialogue is entered into to help practically come to a workable solution.
9. Site Visits
These are often needed right at the beginning to determine the extent if the actual property and issues being managed, but also towards the end of the transition period in order to actually meet other interests like occupiers and begin actual management.
This later stage is often better done after the above formal notification, and maybe in tandem with meeting contractors and, say, new risk assessors to hit the ground running and immediately begin determining what the property management issues will be going forward.
This kind of get-all-the-problems-out approach can help keep a reality-check on things and then a smoother process of working them through with people afterwards.
Preparing for Property Management
So, when looking to take on the management of a property, often for a client owner or occupier, then these above pointers will help shape the sort of issues and information you need to be bottoming out. These help provide a bigger picture of what’s needed to get you up and running.
The reality of your own situation of course then needs accounting for, right from what your protocols and accreditations demand, to noting the individual factors of the people and property being involved.
Once you’ve got all these washed-out, then simply agree a clear procedure and time frame to then begin effectively managing the property interest at hand.
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