If you are a leaseholder in a block of flats and wish to raise a complaint or dispute as to how the leasehold or freehold is managed then here are a few simple guidelines to follow. Hopefully this advice might help you to take your property managing agents to task to help solve the problems you are experiencing.
If a professional property management company is employed to look after the smooth running of the freehold or leasehold property then reasonable standards are to be expected. If they are a competent estate management company your leasehold property managers should have a clear procedure for handling complaints and grievances from leaseholders, freeholders or other parties.
This procedure should be clearly spelled out and circulated to all concerned. It should include a series of steps that can be taken to resolve problems or misunderstandings.
If you do not have a copy of such a complaints handling procedure then ask your managing agent for a copy. You are entitled to receive this information.
Any such procedure should provide for complaints about the property management agents staff to be made to a responsible principal wherever possible.
It should also set a timescale for dealing with any matter raised, requiring that the property management company should investigate and report back both quickly and fairly.
The complaints procedure should be made readily available and its existence made known to the landlord, freeholders, leaseholders and tenants. It should not only set an overall time frame but should also include response times for its various stages.
Where the leasehold property management company is not the landlord, the procedure should usually allow for the leaseholder or tenant to complain directly to the landlord, developer or freeholder.
You should be aware that the lease or tenancy may also contain a procedure for dealing and resolving disputes such as arbitration.
Such formal arbitration arrangements may involve extra costs which can be significant. It is important to note that any such agreement contained in a long lease is not normally valid. Unless that it is, it is included as a result of an agreement after the dispute has arisen.
On the basis of the possible costs involved, time and good practice, it is clearly preferable and desirable to attempt to resolve any dispute or complaint by informal means before turning to the lease or tenancy.
Other issues which are important to note include that qualifying tenants or leaseholders have a right to have a management audit carried out and Landlords and estate management agents must comply with valid notices in this respect.
Having read the above, you may simply have had enough of your existing management agents and wish to replace them forthwith.
If you are considering appointing a new company of estate property management agents you may wish to contact the RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) or ARMA (Association of Residential Management Agents) who are able to recommend firms which may be suitable in your area.
Alternatively you may wish to search the internet for residential property block management services to help find a specialist firm who can advise.
In the event that your freehold or leasehold property manageent company is looking to appoint professional consultants to procure and manage major works on your property the RICS is an excellent point of reference. They should be able to advise or recommend suitable project managers or chartered quantity surveyors (QS's) who are qualified and regulated to carry out your property services.
For further reading on this topic, those interested are referred to the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code and supporting information which can be found from most reputable estate management companies who are RICS Regulated residential estate property management agents. A visit to http://www.RICS.org should help you to find out more.
Russell Dyer is Director of London based VFM Property Management, Chartered Surveyors
VFM's specialist residential estate property management. services are regulated by RICS, giving its freehold and leasehold property management clients many advantages. Services are fully compliant with the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code and Leaseholders and freeholders alike can benefit from the no risk guarantee secured by proper and professional regulation.