Community cohesion - what should you expect from your managing agent?

Peter McCabe, Director of Clear Building Management sets out five ways your managing agent can help to create community cohesion in leasehold developments.

Good block management is about building communities, as well as managing the building. Sounds obvious you may say, but strong communities don’t happen by accident. Building a good and supportive leasehold community takes time and effort from all parties – leaseholders, residents, directors and the managing agent. Peter McCabe, Director of Clear Building Management, sets out five ways your managing agent can help to create community cohesion in leasehold developments.

Tackle antisocial behaviour at an early stage

Communal living – as all leaseholders know – requires a degree of tolerance and acceptance on all sides, but thoughtless or antisocial behaviour can test even the most patient of individuals. Living amongst conflict or with a nuisance neighbour can feel all-consuming, and leaseholders will usually turn first to the managing agent – but often with mixed results!

A good managing agent will recognise that leaseholders need a friendly ear and a supportive approach, yet we hear of many that have simply refused to get involved in neighbour disputes. At Clear Building Management we take neighbour disputes seriously and provide swift and practical support to resolve them; we recognise the mental and emotional toll that they can take.

Involve all residents

Tenants can play as important a role in community cohesion as the leasehold owners – after all it is their home too, but this is a point that is often missed by managing agents that don’t spend much time on site. At Clear, we know that many property management issues arise from the challenge of communal living and how residents rub along together. In addition to maintaining the physical aspects of the development, a good managing agent will focus on the fabric of the community within it and involve all residents – leaseholders and tenants.

Establish open and flexible communications

Structured, regular communications such as email updates, newsletters, and text alerts are all valuable tools in building community engagement. Managing agents can also help to establish an active residents’ association to help build trust and allow issues to be resolved at an early stage.

Visibility is also key – you should expect your managing agent to spend enough time on site and be willing to have the ‘difficult conversations’ when necessary, whether with a nuisance neighbour or to explain why a frustrating prob.

At Clear, our communications go beyond the internal aspects of the sites we manage. We also get to know local councillors who can help where we can’t, and we engage with police and community groups to promote meetings and events so residents know what’s happening. For example, community flyers and notices often don’t reach individual apartments as the volunteers who deliver can’t get in, so we fill that gap by sending updates online where possible.

Fix issues – but set expectations

Unresolved issues cause resentment. By tackling the difficult stuff and fixing issues promptly, managing agents can quickly build trust - a valuable commodity! And if something can’t be fixed quickly, be open and honest and share the reasons for delay.

When we take over a new development at Clear, we regularly hear of long-running or unresolved problems, with no explanation for the hold-up.

Equally, your managing agent should set clear expectations as to what they can and can’t fix. Yes, they can tackle parking problems on the estate, but there may not be much they can do about speeding vehicles on the road outside (something we were asked to tackle only the other day!).

Support your directors

Directors play a fundamental role in maintaining leasehold communities, yet their role can be a thankless one and highly stressful. A good managing agent will act as a support for your directors, recognising that they are volunteers and not experts in either the minutiae of property management or leasehold law! At Clear we work closely with our Director clients to guide and advise them, and ensure they understand the scope of their role, can make informed decisions when required and are protected legally.

These five areas above are just some of the ways that your managing agent can help to foster a cohesive community in your development.

If you would like to experience a more community focused approach from your property management specialists, then we would love to hear from you. Visit www.clearbuildingmanagement.com to find out more.

Reviewed: July 2019