Block management in Essex

Jennings and Barrett - Block management in Essex

Selecting the right managing agent can make a significant difference to the lives of Directors of properties in Essex. They can offer professional support with a wide range of specialist requirements. For example, residential developments along the Essex coast will usually feature large balconies to take advantage of the fantastic views. There are specific challenges with managing sea front apartments, as the location can tempt residents into partying or hosting BBQs. It can be difficult for Directors who are responsible for building fire safety or who get caught in complaints from neighbouring flats to manage these issues. A good managing agent should have systems in place to ensure that all residents understand the rules around fire safety and noise.

Some properties, like the Marconi development in Chelmsford, include an on-site gym and a concierge service. Directors of estates like this should engage an agent who has experience looking after on-site staff and can manage the payroll duties. They will also need to be able to manage the complex service charge schedules that are typical at developments like this.

It is common within Essex developments that around 50% of the flats are let out by the leaseholders on Assured Shorthold Tenancies. This brings challenges such as responding to complaints of antisocial behaviour. There can also be an increase in ‘flat to flat’ water leaks. Sometimes leaseholders will look to use their property for Airbnb style short-term lets. These are seldom permitted under the terms of the lease and a good managing agent will be able to successfully take action to stop them.

Choosing a managing agent like Jennings and Barrett that has the experience to deliver major works and the required Section 20 Consultation will mean that Directors can be assured their buildings are properly maintained and all the relevant legislation is complied with. The maintenance challenges for older, post-war buildings differ from those associated with newer buildings. Often they require window replacements, new roofs, or extensive roof repairs. Concrete repairs are also sometimes required in buildings of this age. No matter the support that your property requires, our team will be able to provide the professional advice and assistance that’s needed.

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Speak to block management professionals

Call 0203 598 9665, email enquiries@jenningsandbarrett.co.uk, or complete our contact form to discuss your needs with a member of our team. We have the expertise to manage blocks throughout Essex and the surrounding areas.

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Essex was the location for much of the post-war rebuilding of our housing stock, including the creation of two new towns – one in Harlow and the other in Basildon. Harlow is home to Britain’s first ever residential tower block, The Lawn. This history means that Directors of Essex blocks and estates often have to manage older buildings and the increased maintenance that they require. Unlike The Lawn, most post-war apartment blocks in Essex tend to be low rise. They may have once been owned by the local authority but are mostly now in private ownership. This means that they may now be managed by leaseholders via an RMC, RTM company or leaseholder owned freehold.

Essex is also the location of much newer apartment blocks and these will usually extend above 3 storeys. They will often include commercial space. Higher buildings mean a greater health, safety, and fire risk. There will be a range of plant and equipment that will need a maintenance regime. This includes lifts, water pumps, gates, and access equipment.

What makes us the right choice for property management?

Jennings and Barrett stand ready to assist Directors with their crucial day-to-day duties. From navigating building insurances to ensuring suitable financial provisions for the smooth operation and upkeep of properties, we can work alongside you to handle it all. We can also help to address the concerns and queries of leaseholders. Our team have the experience, skills, and resources to assist with the ongoing management of your property in Essex.

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Our approach in action

We worked with a development of 46 apartments located in Barking. Directors of this Residents’ Management Company had wanted a proactive managing agent to ensure that the RMC was able to meet its fiscal responsibilities and maintenance obligations.

The day-to-day maintenance of the building instructed by the outgoing agent had not been carried out to a good standard. Many of the flats were let on an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) basis but communication around the need for their landlord to enforce the terms of the long lease was poor.

As the Directors had busy lives, they wanted an agent who they could trust to act swiftly and on their behalf. Jennings and Barrett brought the Companies House listings up to date, ensuring that leaseholders could complete on sales of their properties. They pursued arrears and put together a budget that allowed for the buildings to be brought back up to standard.

The property manager also met with the local fire authority and swiftly addressed the most urgent issues, as signage, emergency lighting, and communal fire doors all needed to be brought up to standard.

How do you ensure that the needs and concerns of leaseholders are addressed in a timely and satisfactory manner, particularly in relation to maintenance and repairs?

Leaseholders have multiple avenues to report maintenance issues promptly and conveniently. They can use the user-friendly online portal or opt for the swift communication offered by email. During office hours, a simple phone call to our office will also suffice. With a network of over 600 reputable contractors, we have the ability to handpick the most suitable professionals to address the repair needs efficiently, even in the absence of a client-nominated contractor.

How do you ensure that leaseholders can access information and raise concerns?

With our user-friendly online portal, leaseholders enjoy seamless access to their service charge account, allowing them to swiftly raise queries, submit repair requests, and access essential documents like insurance information.

How often do you conduct inspections of the block, and how are issues identified and addressed?

As seasoned professionals in the field of property management, we understand the unique nature of every property under our care. We acknowledge that the necessity for on-site attendance varies depending on specific circumstances. Our primary objective is to meet and exceed client expectations by diligently ensuring that the appropriate level of service is delivered.

How do you ensure that leaseholders are compliant with relevant laws and regulations, particularly those relating to health and safety?

Our expertise, honed through industry-leading training, enables us to offer targeted support based on your unique requirements. With a vigilant eye on all developments in your portfolio, we swiftly detect and take action on any issues that arise. Rigorous inspections are a routine part of our process, accompanied by the thorough sharing of health, safety, and fire risk assessments with Directors. This empowers informed decision-making and proactive measures to address any remedial work needs promptly.

How do you manage service charge budgets, and what measures do you take to keep costs under control while maintaining the quality of service provision?

The involvement of the Directors will guide the Property Manager in formulating the budget. We remain fully aware that the budget belongs to you, and our role revolves around advising you on the most effective ways to fulfil the financial responsibilities of the company. To effectively manage costs, we implement the following strategies:

  • Establishing the budget by considering the previous year’s expenses.
  • Offering accurate estimates for upcoming projects.
  • Consulting industry experts to account for potential increases in key expenditure areas.
  • Conducting regular market evaluations based on clear specifications.

How do you stay up-to-date with industry developments and best practices in residential property management? What training or professional development opportunities do you provide for your staff?

We recognise the importance of staying ahead in a rapidly evolving industry. To achieve this, we invest in regular industry training, in-house training, and mentoring opportunities as well as supporting studies for professional qualifications. By proactively staying informed about the latest advancements, our team remains well-prepared to adapt and implement necessary changes. Collaboration is key to our success, as we foster an environment where team members share best practices and learn from one another. We mandate a minimum of 20 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for each team member annually.

What is your approach to diversity and inclusion in your workforce and management practices, and how do you ensure that all residents are treated fairly and respectfully?

Our commitment to Equality, Inclusion, and Diversity is ingrained through a comprehensive policy that governs our operations. Our team undergoes specialised training to effectively recognise and cater to the requirements of vulnerable customers. Moreover, we foster a culture of constructive feedback among all staff members who engage directly with clients, leaseholders, and residents. This encourages an environment of continuous improvement as we strive to deliver superior services and exceed expectations.

What insurance coverage and liability policies do you have in place, and how do you ensure that all contractors and service providers you work with are properly insured and vetted?

We have implemented a robust insurance framework encompassing Professional Indemnity, Public Liability, Fidelity Insurance, and Client Money Protection policies. Our management software enables us to efficiently verify current insurance coverage is in place. These contractors have been thoroughly evaluated to prove their competence. Additionally, our team’s seamless internal communication channels facilitate the swift detection and resolution of any challenges that may arise.

What can be done if noise from a neighbour is causing a persistent disturbance?

We fully understand the frustration associated with living in such circumstances. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the necessary support to help resolve the issue. The rules regarding noise and their enforcement can be found in your lease agreement. We recommend initiating a respectful discussion with your neighbour as an initial step, as they may be unaware of the impact their actions are having. If this approach proves unsuccessful, we can reach out to the leaseholder and remind them of their obligations as stated in the lease. Please keep in mind that while Jennings and Barrett cannot directly address ‘flat to flat’ matters or monitor your neighbour’s behaviour within their own home, we are committed to assisting you. If the noise is deemed a statutory nuisance, your local authority may be able to provide further assistance.

What are the regulations regarding higher risk buildings?

In line with the implementation of the Building Safety Act 2023, the Higher Risk Buildings Regulations took effect in March 2023. These regulations require the registration of residential high-rise buildings on a designated register. High-rise buildings, defined as those with a height of at least 18 meters or at least 7 storeys, must comply with this registration requirement. Failure to register a high-rise building properly will constitute an offense, with accountability resting on the Principal Accountable Person (PAP). To ensure adherence, the newly formed Building Safety Regulator (BSR) has been entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the register and conducting compliance checks. The PAP must promptly inform the BSR of any relevant changes within a 28-day period.

Tell us your block management needs

Our team is just a phone call away. Call 0203 598 9665 to connect with us or send an email to enquiries@jenningsandbarrett.co.uk. We’re committed to delivering timely and knowledgeable support that Directors require.