As well as the challenges of the pandemic, upcoming changes in the way agents manage buildings and the stresses created by residents’ own concerns about the blocks they live in are taking their toll on property managers. It's tough out there at the moment and the impact this is having is revealed by a recent wellbeing survey carried out by ARMA and the IRPM among their members.
Leaseholders have been at home more in the last 12 months than any of us could possibly have imagined. That means more time to raise property-related issues, at the same time as many flat owners are struggling to cope with the fallout from the cladding issues raised by the Grenfell Tower enquiry. We may all be back at work in the next few months but the Fire Safety Bill, the enforcement of 2020 regulations, and the confusion, frustration and financial issues raised for residents and professionals by the government’s remediation funding proposals are not going away any time soon
Most of us have anything from 25% - 40% of our managed portfolios affected by worried residents; concerned not just for their safety but also their purse. Many of those wanting to sell have been served with zero valuations on what is often their most valuable asset, their home! And it is not as if providing a completed EWS1 form resolves things, as once presented to a mortgage lender, inevitably we are then faced with these three questions:
Those wanting to take advantage of the stamp duty land tax holiday and sell now, can’t. Not only do those three little questions get in the way, but they also put unpaid directors in an impossible position. Do they abandon previous plans for their reserve funds and favour EWS1 works so they don't expose themselves to claims of frustrating sales from angry owners who have simply had enough and want to move on? Or do they settle for being more unpopular than usual and propose raising extra funds in these tricky times which many can ill-afford?
Add to all this the fact that Inequality prevails between high-rise and four, five and six storey blocks and it is little surprise that the ARMA/IRPM poll identified many property managers who have found the last 12 months hard to handle. ”If you feel overwhelmed, it’s with good reason”, says IRPM CEO Andrew Bulmer.
So while we all understand that life is really stressful for flat owners right now, please spare a thought for your beleaguered property manager - we’re human too!
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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