Block management in Kent

Jennings and Barrett - Block management in Kent

The main challenges that Directors of many Kent apartment blocks face will be managing repairs and maintenance. Choosing a managing agent who has a range of trusted local contractors to deliver good quality work at a reasonable cost is important. Often, the RMC will have contractors they wish to employ and a good managing agent should accommodate this, ensuring that preferred contractors have the required insurances and accreditations to carry out the work required.

Comprehensive support for your property

We can assist the Directors as they require… Some of the more prestigious developments in Kent will include facilities like an on-site gym or a concierge service. Directors will have to manage issues like staffing, setting pay levels and ensuring they are up to date with employment law. Budget setting can be difficult due to complex lease schedules on these estates.

Newer Kent developments can extend above 3 or 4 storeys. In some situations, Directors of these developments have been facing difficult issues as a result of external cladding. This can involve making applications to the Building Safety Fund or compelling freeholders and developers to remove and replace external cladding that does not meet with building regulations. Newly introduced legislation requires freeholders to carry out the works required. Alongside this, Directors are charged with complying with new regulations for higher risk buildings.

Some Kent developments where owners are required to pay for the maintenance of communal areas are not blocks of flats at all. The most expensive property in Kent, located in the exclusive Keston Park, comes with a covenant to pay towards the upkeep of the communal gardens and private roads through the Estate. The charges cover lighting the roads, maintaining the road surface, and the electric gates that ensure the privacy and safety of residents.

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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 Kent and the surrounding areas.

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Kent is known as the Garden of England, but leasehold developments are more likely to be located in the suburbs of South East London or in the towns across the county than in the leafy villages. Many Kent developments will be converted and will be historic buildings. These will require specialist management to maintain the exterior fabric in keeping with the existing structure. Whilst most Kent apartment blocks are low rise, converted properties will have greater fire risk and this is a particular challenge for the Directors of these developments. A good managing agent will discuss the risks raised in the Fire, Health, and Safety Risk assessment with the Directors and will make a plan to carry out the works required.

What makes us the right choice for block management?

Directors will have the day-to-day responsibilities of placing building insurances, ensuring they have the funds to meet the costs of running and maintaining their buildings and grounds, managing leaseholder queries and complaints, and dealing with ‘flat to flat’ issues and antisocial behaviour. Jennings and Barrett understand the challenges involved and have the experience, skills, and resources to manage Kent developments effectively. We can provide the professional support and advice your property requires.

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Our approach in action

This new build development of 43 apartments is located in Gillingham, Kent and has river views across the Medway. Leaseholders had been keen to take control of managing their own building and had been successful in obtaining the Right To Manage. Directors decided to appoint a new managing agent who would be transparent with regards costs and provide the support the new board required.

The most urgent issue was to work with Kent Fire and Rescue, who had raised concerns regarding the building fabric following the Grenfell tragedy but had no response from the outgoing agent. Issues were identified with fire safety equipment, emergency access to the building, and the provision of information for the emergency services in the event of a fire. Jennings and Barrett met with The Fire Service and agreed an immediate plan to resolve these issues.

Directors were kept updated throughout the works and the team met with Kent Fire and Rescue on a regular basis to demonstrate progress in all matters. Qualified contractors were engaged to deliver work, including fire stopping to improve compartmentalisation and ongoing maintenance of fire safety equipment. This had previously been carried out on an ad hoc and irregular basis.

Jennings and Barrett have worked with the developer to identify building defects that require remediation to meet current fire standards. The developer has now agreed to carry out the required works at their own cost. Jennings and Barrett has also resolved historic issues where the outgoing agent paid for damage to a car park that was not within the management of the RTM Company. The insurer agreed to revisit the claim and returned more than £2000 into the service charge account.

What the client said

With regards to Jennings & Barrett I can confirm that they are a very professional managing agent. We have seen a vast improvement in the everyday running of our building; our security has improved as well as general maintenance. They are very responsive and approachable, and their yearly budgets are easy to understand and transparent. I highly recommend them.
After having serious problems with our previous managing agent, working with Jennings & Barrett has been a breath of fresh air. The easy to understand budgets, hardworking property manager, and office staff who are always willing to help have made my job as a director very easy. They are the standard that all managing agents should try to attain and I highly recommend them.

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

Call us on 0203 598 9665 or drop us an email at enquiries@jenningsandbarrett.co.uk. We’re here to lend our expertise and provide the support you need with your property.