1.Introduction

Block Management refers to the process of managing residential blocks on behalf of Residents’ Flat Management Companies (RMCs) or freeholders. Services are provided by the RMC or freeholder in accordance with the lease in exchange for service charges due from the leaseholders.. RMCs and freeholders will usually appoint a professional managing agent to act on its behalf to provide the services and collect the service charge. Block management is referred to by other names such as leasehold management, estate management as well as property management in other cases.

The managing agent tasked with carrying out block management tasks will ensure that all communal areas are kept in good order. This includes things like garden areas and concierge, as well as ensuring repairs and maintenance of gates, lifts and communal lighting. Block Management is in-depth, managing the communication between freeholders and contractors, to ensure maintenance standards are kept. A managing agent is tasked with ensuring that not only do the contractors work effectively, but that they are value for money.

2. Overview Of Current UK Landscape

Whilst the industry is currently unregulated, industry bodies such as ARMA set the standard for those in property management. Though membership is not mandatory, Scanlans Property Management are proud to be members of ARMA. ARMA has 300 member firms and the total number of residential managing agent firms in England and Wales is estimated to be 870.

3. What Is Residential Block Management?

Residential block management refers to the management of a residential block of flats or estate. A block management company will take charge of all financial, legal and maintenance aspects with regards to the communal operation of that residential estate.

4. Key Services In Block Management

Service Management

A block management company is responsible for maintaining all areas of shared space, whether that’s fixing broken lifts or maintaining garden areas.

It’s important that you choose a block management company with fast response. Ensure that trusted contractors are used to carry out any work required.

Whilst most work will be non-urgent, in some cases there will be emergencies. So ensure that a block management company has adequate 24 hour emergency provisions should you need them.

Insurance and Claims

There is a range of insurance policies you should consider when part of a block management agreement. Whether its contents or liability, a key service for a block management company is ensuring its clients are fully protected and your cover is renewed.

Site Visits

Site visits are crucial; to ensure the block is compliant with regulation and there are no health and safety issues. A block management company will regularly send representatives to ensure that all common areas, such as the grounds or leisure facilities, are in good working order.

Health & Safety Compliance

As you’d expect, there are several areas of legislation that need to be adhered to. A residential block management company will ensure protection in a number of key areas by arranging visits to cover lifts, gates, asbestos and much more.

Accounts and Support Services

As well as servicing the grounds and common areas, a block management company can also provide a number of support services. This includes Accounting, where they ensure all contractors are paid and monies collected. Furthermore, they can provide admin support, facilitating meetings between property managers.

5. Right To Manage

Right to Manage provides flat occupiers to opportunity to manage their own property.

Leaseholders can set up a right to manage (RTM) company and take over the management of the property away from their Landlord. This can be done without the Landlord’s permission, though places all the responsibility with the Leaseholder. This means it is up to them to ensure they adhere to legislation in the management of the property.

To qualify for RTM, 66% of the flats must be occupied by tenants who has an original lease of more than 21 years, with at least 75% of the block for residential use.

If the leaseholder decides to go down the RTM route, they’ll be responsible for the maintenance of communal areas and structural parts, plus collecting the service charge.

6. Block Management Software

To help manage the development effectively, good block management companies will use the latest software to administer accounts, payments, repairs and more. Ensure that these are compliant with relevant accreditors, such as RICS and ARMA.

Software to consider

Grosvenor Systems

Blocksonline (ARMA Partner)

Resident (RICS Member)

Blockman (ARMA Parnter)

7. Block Management Courses & Training

If you’re looking to get into block management there are a number of options to help you improve your knowledge and understanding. In order to provide block management services, it is advised that the IRPM courses are completed – https://www.irpm.org.uk/public/home.

This is the professional standard for block management and assesses the capabilities of those who take the course.

Other courses to consider:

ARMAs Introduction to block management –  This one day course will enable attendees to learn about the role of a block manager and develop their understanding of the day-to-day tasks involved.

Guide Of Letting Management (GLM) –  The course provides guidance on block management and the administration of blocks; it deals with section 20 consultation, managing all matters relating to service charges and other essential processes.

8. Regulations In Residential Block Management

ARMA is the key regulator in the Residential Block Management industry. Though be warned, regulation is not mandatory. It is therefore important to look out for those companies that are part of ARMA as this highlights there stance on adhering to best practice.

ARMA (https://arma.org.uk/) is the association of Residential Managing Agents, and sets standards for those carrying out block management services. All members must meet these standards to remain a member, so you can be sure that if a block management company is regulated by ARMA, they are a leading block management company that takes great care in managing its developments.

You’ll also want to look out for FSA regulation, especially if the block management company is providing insurance services.