In truth, a competent person could easily manage a property independent of a managing agent. However, the reality of life is, most people have busy lives and have other things to do and do not have the time to dedicate to the often quite boring tasks of looking after a property. Additionally, there is the issue of full knowledge of the requirements and legislation associated with looking after the property.
Here is just a small story which sets this situation into context.
Recently we took on a high-end Georgian villa that had been self-managed. The property is in good condition, the residents are engaged and all looked well.
Part of the property comprised a car park with electronic gates and during our initial take on process, we found no records of a service schedule. This was marked down as a query to follow up. But before we could do so we received a telephone call; the gates had closed onto the side of a car that was exiting the car park.
Slightly alarmed we re-doubled our efforts to find details of the service contract, without success however we did find details of the original installer and rang them. Helpfully they could confirm that a servicing agreement had been in place, but had lapsed two or three years previously, furthermore they had reported the faults during earlier correspondence. Following a flurry of emails, it transpired that the individual previously assigned to deal with this task had simply forgotten to follow matters up. Easy enough to do. The gates were still working, No one was actually complaining, life went on.
PM Property Management is now dealing with the situation and hopefully, things will return to normal. But here is the thought to take away. Because someone was busy a contract was missed. No malice, no fraud, just a busy person. Thankfully it was a car that took the damage, think of the implications had it been a pram passing through the gates?
There is a requirement to have electrical equipment such as gates and lifts serviced on a six monthly basis, so the management company was exposed to a breach of health and safety regulations. Ignorance would be no excuse, they had even been advised by letter. Furthermore, there will be an insurance claim for the damage to the car. Almost certainly the insurer will not pay. They will want to see the service records which of course will not be present. Another cost to the management company.
Much of what a managing agent does is behind the scenes. In a case such as this, it is firstly understanding the rules and regulations, knowing reliable companies that we can work with to ensure servicing and the like gets done. Keeping good records is also vital, as is the ability to sort out problems when they occur on a 24/7 basis.
As you can see a managing agent may be a distress purchase, but against the possible cost of a prosecution and a failed insurance claim, it can actually be a bit of a bargain!