BY Tom Lean

What is property management?

Property or block management is the process of managing the communal areas of residential leasehold properties through the service charge. Block management involves communication with various parties in respect of maintenance and repairs, insurance of the building, Fire Risk Assessments, the provision of services such as central heating, lifts, porterage, estate staff, lighting and cleaning of common areas. It also requires a good understanding of legislation and leasehold matters, preparation of budgets and annual accounts, as well as routine inspections to check that the property is in good order.

What is leasehold?

Leasehold flats can be in purpose-built blocks, in converted houses or above commercial or retail premises. When buying a property, a leaseholder effectively rents from the freeholder for a number of years, decades or centuries. When the freeholder grants a lease, they become a “landlord”. The structure and common parts of the building and the land it stands on are usually owned by the freeholder. The freeholder is, normally, responsible for the maintenance and repair of the building and the costs for doing so are recoverable through the service charges and billed to the leaseholders.

What are service charges?

Service charges are payments by the leaseholder to the landlord for all the services the landlord provides. Details of what can (and cannot) be charged by the landlord and the proportion of the charge to be paid by the individual leaseholder will all normally be set out in the lease.

Who am I?

I am a property manager with over 15 years of experience working for large national corporate organisations in London and in Brighton. Most recently, I worked with a smaller company in Brighton as a partner in the firm. I decided to start SDL Property Management Tom Lean because I wanted to be part of a revolutionary approach to property management, putting clients at the heart of the business and improving the image of the industry. What makes SDL Property Management Tom Lean revolutionary is that I am able to combine the benefits of the local, more personal, one-to-one approach to property management with the backing of a larger corporate national company; the SDL Group. I deal with all management instructions directly, there is a consistent point of contact for all clients and I am the company owner and director meaning that there is no staff turnover. I have been a member of the Institute of Property Management (IRPM) since 2012, and an Associate of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) since 2013, my company is an Associate of Association of Managing Agents (ARMA) and we are members of The Property Ombudsman service.

What makes me different to other property management companies?

I have found that the corporate approach to property management that larger firms tend to employ, can often lead to clients feeling that they do not receive the local personal service that they desire. Larger firms tend to have a higher turnover of staff with property managers regularly changing. This can result in an inconsistency of service and also makes it difficult for strong relationships to build larger companies can obtain greater economies of scale, offering additional services such as insurance, 24-hour emergency cover, maintenance contracts, among many others, at competitive prices. They also often have more funds available centrally for investment in IT infrastructure and staff training. They can have entire teams dedicated to compliance; dealing with regulations set out by government and professional trade bodies and organisations.

It is harder for smaller companies to compete with the larger national firms in terms of investment in IT and achieving economies of scale for additional services. They can also struggle with the everchanging face of property management with new regulations and guidelines being set down and changing regularly and trying to ensure compliance with trade bodies such as ARMA and RICS. Typically however, they do provide a more personal and local approach, often providing a designated point of contact for the client and giving a personal one to one service.

Working in partnership with SDL Property Management, I can ensure we are compliant with current legislation and regulations. SDL Property Management has contacts with market leading experts and professionals ensuring that we are up to date with changes across the industry. Service charge funds are held centrally by SDL Property Management giving peace of mind to my clients with the knowledge that their funds are held by a group that collectively holds around £66million of service charge funds in trust accounts compliant with the RICS code of practice. We offer state-of-the-art IT services including a resident portal allowing leaseholders to obtain updates and information about their property 24/7. We can provide a 24 hour out of hours emergency service ensuring that a professional is always on hand to deal with any emergencies and are able to offer this service at a very competitive rate due to being in partnership with SDL Property Management.

Why change your current arrangements?

Freeholders and Right to Manage Companies may feel that the service that they receive from their managing agents is not to the level that they expect, however the apparently daunting process of changing their agents can be a limiting factor in the willingness to try a different approach. We are regularly told to go to market for our energy supplies, our insurances, our telephone and broadband suppliers, in order to get better rates and a better service. When dealing with SDL Property Management Tom Lean; I will take care of all of the details to ensure a smooth hassle-free handover all that you would need to do is inform your agent of your intention to move your management contract. If you would like to discuss in more detail the services that we can provide to benefit you, your neighbours, your property and your home, please get in touch with me for an obligation free discussion.

Contact us to discuss our management needs on 01273 023971 or