Block management is a service that a licensed agent provides to the owner occupiers of a building or estate to help them manage financially and operationally among other things the gardens, hallways and the outside of the building or buildings.
When you purchase an apartment you and you are part of a building or development then you are into a leasehold arrangement.
What is leasehold?
Leasehold can be in purpose-built developments or blocks. 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” in law. The Operating Management Company [OMC] often hold the freehold and in law therefore is effectively your landlord but you own the OMC so as a group you are your own landlord. I appreciate this seems a little complicated but you have rights and obligations as being both the tenant and landlord.
The leasehold ownership of a flat usually relates to everything within the four walls of the flat, including floorboards and plaster to walls and ceiling. A garden can be included unless it is a communal garden for the building.
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. If so, the costs for doing so are recoverable through the service charges and billed to the leaseholders.
The freeholder or OMC usually appoint a managing agent [MA] to manage their block. In Ireland the agent is required to have the D license granted by the Property Service Regulator. So the MA is a contractor appointed by you directors who are appointed by you the apartment or property owner. The OMC is owned and controlled by its members who are the property owners in the development. You appoint your directors at the annual general meeting and you can also give your directors and the MA instructions at these meetings on how your want your development and company to be operated.
What are service charges?
Service charges are payments by the leaseholder[each apartment owner] to the landlord[OMC] for all the services the landlord provides. Details of what can (and cannot) be charged by the OMC and the proportion of the charge to be paid by the individual leaseholder will all be set out in the lease.
What is block management?
Block management is the process of managing the communal areas of residential properties through the service charge. Managing a block of apartments or houses requires a professional approach, time and dedication.
Block management involves constant communication and management of various contractors in respect of maintenance and repairs, insurance of the building and, in some cases, provision of central heating, lifts, concierge or porter service, estate staff, lighting, heating 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.
A major part of a role in block management is ensuring that the OMC gets value for money for their service charge payments, and the building is maintained in accordance with the terms of the lease.
The managing agent is a service provider just the same as an accountant, gardener and or solicitor.
If you are not happy with the level or quality of service being performed and delivered then you can take some simple steps to address these issues. The first thing to do is to write to the managing agent outlining your concerns that were communicated and were not addressed and copy the directors on this email or letter so they are made aware.