Block management refers to the control of the residential property through the provision of services and charging for those services. Block management has several other names which include; estate management and property management, among others.
Management can be done in a residential home or a residential block for flats. For a residential home, the landlord or an agent manages the house and repairs. As for the residential block for flats, the landlord hires a block manager to help with managing the block. It can be one block or a whole estate that needs to be managed. There are also companies that specialise in block management which can manage the whole complex.
The people staying in the block are known as leaseholders. The money paid by leaseholders to get services are called service charges. A residential block could have a gym or a cinema in it. Some blocks have caretakers to oversee the cleanliness of the open corridors in the block as well as other small matters.
What do block managers need to take care of?
Block managers are in charge of maintaining the block or blocks in case of an estate. The role of a block manager includes talking to contractors in case there is a need for repair or maintenance in the building and insuring the building.
Also, a block manager ensures that the blocks are safe for people to live in. They take care of cleaning common areas like the car parks, lifts, hallways, among others. The block manager must always ensure that the building is in good shape to get maximum returns from it.
Managers must strive to effectively provide services in a professional, organized and cost-effective method. These can only be achieved when the block managers are committed to their work and manage their time well.
Running a smooth ship
For the block manager’s work to be smooth, the leaseholders should each pay the required service charges. Notably, this is the responsibility of each leaseholder, and each one of them must be aware of the costs that are expected of them. It must also be crystal clear by which time they need to pay.
This can be done through setting deadlines for payment of the service charge. Block managers can also divide the charge fairly among the leaseholders.
Although block managers will look after the block as whole leaseholders still have some responsibilities. They must take care of the property they live in. There are rules put in place before the lease to ensure that both the leaseholder and the landlord get satisfactory services.
The challenges of block management
Block management, no matter the number of blocks one manages, has challenges. These challenges arise from different angles, both expected and unexpected.
Some of the expected difficulties come from the damages and the costs that come with it. Sooner or later wear and tear will take its toll. Some types of damages will always be expected, others could be more extreme.
Some of the unexpected challenges in block management include changes in climate, floods or harsh winds, among others. In worse case scenarios poorly built blocks could be swept away or collapse in extreme conditions. Although this is very unlikely!
This may endanger the lives of the leaseholders as well as bring loses to the landlords or freeholders. It is therefore advisable to use durable materials when building and also prepare for such calamities through long term insurance and other ways.
In the United Kingdom, for instance, there has been a rise in the demand for residential properties as the human population keep rising. As the lands keep decreasing, most houses are now being constructed up in the sky to provide the homes.
These blocks are built with the future in mind; thus, effort and time are put to see to it that they are not a quick fix to housing problems.
Successful block management
Block management is only successful if the block manager and the leaseholders are always in constant communication. Through communication, the block manager and the leaseholders can agree and find ways to cut costs.
This is majorly dependent on the block manager’s experience as the service charge budget can be tough to prepare. A service charge budget needs to have day-to-day expenses like staff salaries and cleaning expenses, cyclical expenses such as wear and tear and gardening, and the reserve funds such as damages caused by weather changes.
Notably, this kind of budget runs for a certain period, and when this period ends, the block manager must produce a record of how the service charges were used as well as a plan for the next term if the tenants agree.
What should block managers focus on?
For successful block management, the block manager needs to observe a few things. These include being clear when communicating to all the parties involved, that is, the freeholder and the residents. Through clear communication, a block manager ensures that the intended information reaches the residents to avoid blame games.
For example, the penalties that come with careless handling of property should be clearly understood by all so that they act responsibly while handling the property. The block manager should also provide proper and quality services while maintaining the building. This allows the freeholder to get value out of their property for the longest time possible.
A well-maintained building attracts more residents to it, thus bringing in more capital. A block manager needs to be transparent and clear while giving reports.
For example, during the end of a term when tenants need to know how their service charges were used. The block manager should break down the budget to into clear bits and make every tenant understand the report they are given. Transparency brings satisfaction and the spirit of cooperation between the tenants and the block manager.
It is, therefore, clear that block management is not as easy as many people may imagine it to be. It entails a lot of effort and hard work from the block managers side, and clear communication with tenants.
It requires combined efforts to manage and maintain a block, that is, the tenant to raise the service charges and the block manager to use it to provide the required services at a friendly cost.