We never cease to be amazed at how many people are really not happy with how their residential blocks are being managed; not only from a repairs and maintenance perspective but in terms of service charge costs too. However, so many just can’t be bothered to change the way things are done, and we’ve even heard people claim: it’s ‘better the devil you know’!
Bad block management not only ends up in unsuitable living environments for leaseholders and tenants, but can have a major impact on the valuation of individual flats.
Changing things is the only way forward, but the issue, in many cases, is inertia due to the complexities of managing a multiple leaseholder owned building, i.e.
- Is there a residents association? If there is, this generally makes things a bit easier, although they generally only meet once a month, so the time taken for decisions to be made is extremely protracted
- Is there a limited company with non-executive directors representing the leaseholders? Again, this is quite positive, but still can be an extremely protracted process, and needs all directors to be in agreement
- Is there a hostile freeholder who holds all the cards and is taking the service charges and paying themselves loads of money in management fees? This can be a difficult one, however, you can take over the management by initiating a Right To Manage process. This is great as you don’t need to prove incompetence, etc., all you need is more than 50% of leaseholders to agree and then to follow the set guidelines of the RTM processes
There are many other permutations of ownership/responsibility, but all of them will involve some form of process and, generally, also dispute management to move things forward.
So yes, it can be complicated, but that isn’t always the case: you may be surprised about how, once you start the conversation, people will come forward to help.
Also, we always find that in the end, inertia can only cause more damage and no ‘devil’ is ever better!