Managing a mixed-tenure block

Managing mixed-tenure blocks can be tricky but according to Dean Cooper keeping the peace is all down to good communication

With the advent of the Eurozone crisis over the last few years billions of pounds have been flooding into the London Property Market, creating an unprecedented rise in demand which out-strips supply.

This brings new challenges for property managers working in the residential leasehold market. The majority of new development are now occupied by a lively mix of both traditional long term leaseholders and tenants - both long term renters and, more recently, those who simply cannot afford to buy.

These tenants are often unfairly stereotyped as not wanting to adhere to the everyday rules and regulations of a development. It is all too easy to assume that most tenants do not have the same attitude towards the block they live in as perhaps a resident owner may have.  This may not be true in all cases, Property managers recognise this stereotyping all too well and there are many simple steps to be taken to help inform these short term tenants, enabling them to fit in and feel that they too are part of a community.

We manage a modern development in Central Wimbledon, housing 120 flats. More than 100 of these homes are sub-let giving an overall proportion of 83% let against 16% owner occupied.  Over the years the trend has been towards more flats being let out and this has caused some concerns for resident owners who assume that the development will start to deteriorate due to the difference in behaviour of tenants as opposed to owner-occupiers.

To tackle this perceived problem, we are in regular communication with both residents and tenants, updating, reminding and notifying them about specific rules and regulations and providing information about the site.  Our policy is now to update our internal records with any changes of tenancy, so that incoming renters are fully briefed about the way in which the block is managed.

In our experience, the reason why rules are not followed is usually down to lack of awareness.  Educating both tenants and landlords by way of written communication is a good tool for the successful management of any development.

Of course, not all residents will play ball and there are still problems to be faced. These include anti-social behaviour, and noise nuisance or the perennial problem of ‘storing of personal items within communal areas’.  Providing that these are reported to the managing agent, we are quickly able to deal with the situation and communicate effectively between those involved.

To help our residents communicate quickly and easily and deal with issues effectively, we have adopted a policy whereby every development we manage is set up with their own interactive website. This details everything from account information and insurance documents right through to moderated chat forums.

When taking on a new development, at JJ Homes we have also introduced a Property Update Form for residents to complete and return and this is proving to be a simple but successful way of keeping information up-to-date. Another approach would be to enforce the leasehold covenants with regard to ”permissions” or “licenses to sublet” whereby it is required that all contact details for tenants/agents or occupants are provided, if not held on record historically. Following up on this normally prompts quick communication from leaseholders, most of whom are keen to play by the rules.

The best way to manage blocks with a mix of tenures – and both short and long-term renters - is to build strong relationships with our clients. Ensuring the right information is communicated quickly and efficiently between all parties is undoubtedly one of the biggest contributors to the successful management of any block of flats – no matter what the mix of residents may be.

Dean Cooper BSc Hons MIRPM CIHM

Senior Property Manager

JJ Homes (Properties) Ltd