Appointing a Managing Agent. Frequntly Asked Questions

If you have read the LEASE guide to appointing a managing agent then most of the questions in the guide are answered on this page. If you got to this page via another route then download the guide and have a read. Otherwise, if you have any questions about how we operate as a Managing Agent, you should find the answers here. If not, contact us.

 

Appointing a managing agent

 

Q. Please provide all relevant company details including the names and qualifications of all directors and a list of proprietors if not a quoted company.

A. Our company is a Private Limited Company. The Shareholders and Directors and their relevant qualifications and experience are listed on our about us page.

 

Q. How close are your offices to our property?

A. Our offices are based in Henley on Thames and on the Isle of Wight. Our property managers travel anywhere though and visit residents, committees, landlords and properties any time and anywhere in the country. The offices are merely an administration area which could be based anywhere. Meetings of any kind can be hosted in the boardroom at our Henley on Thames office or in any convenient room close to your property.

 

Q. How many years have you been in the property management business?

A. Orchard have over 4000 property transactions to our name having been in business since 1997. The company started in the financial and mortgage advice sector, shortly after this it expanded into residential sales and lettings including management thereof. Orchard Block Management Limited is the newest part of our business.

 

Q. How many staff in your company are involved with management?

A. At present, there are five of us. Two senior managers, the Operations Manager an Office Manager and the in-house Accountant. We intend to utilize many forms of new technology so that we run a lean operation and keep costs to our clients down.

 

Q. How many blocks do you manage, and how many units therein?

A. We are the ‘new kids on the Block’ so to speak. We currently manage two blocks totaling fourteen flats but we all have to start somewhere, right? We believe we have the right formula to save you money and improve service standards so watch this space. our portfolio will grow very quickly! When appointing a managing agent, its not necessarily the size that matters. In general, the largest firms in the business are the ones that provide the poorest service!

Appointing a managing agent

Q. Please supply three references for blocks you manage. Ideally these should be similar to our own property and in our area.

A. We are happy to supply references on request. Please contact us for more information. We will not always be able to provide references in your area but once you experience our service and administration locations will not matter.

 

Q. Please supply name and telephone number of chairman/secretary of the res
idents’ association or board of directors of those blocks.

A. Again, these are all available on request.

 

Q. What is your fee structure?

A. Our fee structure is available here.

 

Q. Will your fees carry VAT?

A. Our fees include VAT at the prevailing rate. Fees are charged to the new or established RMC. We will manage the accounts of the RMC in the most appropriate and tax efficient manner. If an RMC has a large enough turnover it may qualify for VAT registration.

 

Q. How can you convince us that you can offer a quality service at a fair cost?

A. Take a look at our fees for starters. You will find we are very competitive. When you come to appointing a managing agent, we have lots of referees that we are happy to share who will be the best advocates of our business and we will shortly be publishing some before and after testimonials on this site to illustrate the differences.. What do they say? The proof of the pudding….

 

QAppointing a managing agent. How comprehensive a panel of contractors do you have?

A. We have a fully vetted panel of contractors available in every area we have contracts. We make it our policy to have at least three of each trade or profession on our panel in order that we can complete effective tendering exercises and drive down costs for our clients. If we take on a new location we immediately start the recruitment and vetting process to create a new team if we don’t have a team within a reasonable distance. For more details see our Contractor Vetting Policy.

 

 

Q. Do you charge a fee for contractor selection and/or a percentage of their charges for:

1. Contractors chosen by you?

2. Contractors chosen by us?

A. We fully vet all contractors before admittance to our approved list. This evaluation continues throughout our dealings with contractors to ensure ongoing quality and we will not hesitate to dispense with any contractor that falls lower than our expected standard. The vetting process is a time consuming process which we do not expect our clients to pay for. As our approved contractor list benefits from a regular stream of work passed to them from us we do charge them an application fee to be on our list and a commission of in the region of 5% per job. We always put our jobs out to tender with three different businesses and (except in cases of emergency) we select the most economically advantageous tender to recommend to members of an RMC which ensures that contractors don’t just bid 5% extra to cover the commission. Commission is discretionary depending on the job and its value and in our system, helps to keep your  service charge fees down.

The RMC always has the right to recommend their own choice of contractor but we will apply the same rigorous checks to any newly recommended contractor to ensure they comply with all current legislation and meet quality standards. Any contractor put forward by an RMC will be required to quote to the same written specification for any job that we put out to tender to our approved contractors. Although we don’t charge commission on contractors put forward by the RMC, we will charge an application fee. Once this is paid the RMC’s contractor can join our list of approved contractors and may possibly benefit from additional work through our tender process for other properties in the area.

This is a key area to consider when appointing a managing agent. There are many unscrupulous block management companies out there and transparency in contractor appointment is an area of our trade in which abuse is rife.

 

Q. What selection criteria do you use for contractors on your panels?

A. For more details see our contractor vetting policy.

 

Q. How often does a representative from your company visit blocks you manage and check on how your contractors fulfil their obligations?

A. Our property managers generally visit a property once a month. We prepare an annual schedule of works and monitor the execution of those works against instructed specification regularly. We insist that our contractors send their completed worksheets to our head office with their invoice and these are checked against property manager’s condition reports and the annual schedules before payment is authorised. When appointing a managing agent we believe it is important for you to know that all technical aspects of preventative maintenance are scrutinised. You really can’t be too careful with larger plant and equipment.

 

Q. What IT facilities do you have and what information can you record and keep updated? Are you registered under the Data Protection Act?

A. We operate office based local machines and servers supported and maintained by a local IT specialist and a disaster recovery plan (managed by Jazz IT) which includes on and off site data backups. We also operate a cloud based IT system which residents can access showing all charges, maintenance, invoices and other aspects of the business making us truly transparent in all our actions. We are registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO: 0000000) to process and update personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Acts. For more information please see our privacy policy.

 

Q. Where and how do you keep service charge monies, how are they administered and who receives any interest?

A. This is probably one of the most important items to consider when appointing a managing agent. Service Charge monies are kept in a separate bank account for each property. Each  bank account is reconciled monthly and annual accounts are produced. Any surplus or deficit is dealt with as an AGM or EGM business item. Interest on the accounts is treated as an income to the account and the RMC for the benefit of the client.

 

Q. Can you supply an example of the format of financial information you will use for our block?

A. We will plan and execute a budget, cash flow projection and prepare an historic income and expenditure report on a quarterly or annual basis depending on the size of the property managed. All of these documents are available for residents to view ensuring complete transparency. Please see our Management Information page for more detail and examples. Finding and appointing a managing agent that delivers this level of detail is extremely difficult.

 

Q. How do you deal with unpaid service charges – what procedures are in place to deal with non-paying lessees?

A. Please see our section on Service Charge Collection

 

Q. How do you deal with lessees in breach of their leases?

A. Please see our section on Leasehold Enforcement.

 

Q. How do you deal with complaints?

A. Please see our Complaints Procedure

 

Q. Do you offer an out-of-office-hours service for emergencies? If so, please provide details.

A. When you appoint us, you receive a welcome pack. Included in this is the out of hours helpline list.

 

Q. What length of notice period do you require?

A. When taking on new business we look to move things forward as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Our speed will depend on the response time of the outgoing managing agent to our queries. We look to form long term mutually beneficial relationships with our clients so we hope that once we have your business we retain it. If for whatever reason you decide to leave us, you must give us three months notice before the anniversary of the contract.

 

Q. List all those of your staff we are likely to liaise with and their qualifications.

A. Details of our staff and their qualifications can be found on our About Us page.

 

Q. List any professional or trade bodies to which your firm belongs.

A. Our firm is an associate member of ARMA and a member of The Property Ombudsman. Our individual staff members and associates are members of other associated professional bodies such as IRPM, MICE, ARLA, BIFM and RICS.

 

Q. Provide full details of your professional indemnity insurance.

A. When appointing a managing agent it is important to ensure that the right insurance is in place. That’s why our Insurance page contains links to our Professional Indemnity, Public and Employee Liability policies.

 

Q. Provide proof of your financial probity

A. Being a Private Limited company our accounts are submitted to Companies House on an annual basis and are available to download for free at any time.

 

Q. Provide a copy of any standard contract you use.

A. The draft contract we use from the outset in all dealings is the standard contract recommended by ARMA. It is available on their website here.