What is Property Management?

What is Property Management?

A property manager, whether an individual or a company, is responsible for looking after individual properties or a group of properties such as a block of flats on behalf of a third party, usually a landlord or another company. These on-going activities associated with the management of property are generally referred to as “block management”.

Orchard Block Management Services

Here at Orchard Block Management Services Ltd we manage apartment blocks for private freeholders and residents’ associations in and around Northants, and have a well-established track record in property management. We endeavour to maintain all properties under our charge to a very high standard, ensuring that cleaning, gardening, window cleaning and all other aspects of maintenance are completed regularly, and we do this by carrying out regular detailed site inspections. Our maintenance department contracts only trustworthy, reliable and competent tradesmen for the maintenance of your property.

Property Management Service

OBMS are committed to providing a professional property management service for our customers in Northampton and the surrounding areas of; Bedford, Kettering, Wellingborough, Daventry and across Northamptonshire. By maintaining all sites in a good state of repair, responding to emergencies promptly and efficiently we ensure that the integrity of the site is always preserved. Our experienced team is happy to assist and advise you for any of your property management service enquiries, simply contact us today on 01604 620422.

 

Merry Christmas from Everybody at OBMS!

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The team at Orchard Block Management Services Limited would like to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

To make sure we are contactable over the festive period, we will be in the office between Christmas and the New Year. Here are our full opening hours:

• We close on Friday 23rd December 2016.
• We are open for business on Wednesday 28th December and Thursday 29th December 2016.
• We close at 5.00 pm on Friday 30th December 2016 for New Year.
• We will be back in the office on Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year! From everybody at OBMS.

Managing Director John Socha Presents SME Northamptonshire Business Awards

Orchard Block Management Systems’ Managing Director John Socha presented awards to the Networking Group of the Year and the Overall Winner at the prestigious Business Awards.

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The Networking Group of the Year award went to The Business Club Northants, a company that started in 2007 to help Northamptonshire businesses connect. They bring a new and refreshing approach to business networking, holding evening meetings across the county.

This year’s overall winners were Seckingtons Northampton, an accredited Aveda hair salon located on the Wellingborough Road. Seckingtons have built up an excellent reputation in the hairdressing world and they have a loyal clientele, really setting the standard for businesses everywhere. The salon also picked up an award for Training and Development.

All of the 2016 winners can be seen here.

The awards were established to help promote hardworking, ambitious and successful local businesses and support all the good work they do. They are an excellent way to celebrate the achievements of SMEs in Northamptonshire and OBMS Ltd are very proud to have been able to contribute.

We would like to congratulate everyone who took part and made the SME Northamptonshire Business Awards a success. Well done to all category nominees and winners and many congratulation to Seckingtons Northampton, the overall winners.

Advertising on all the Major Letting Portals

Upad is the UK’s largest online letting agent, allowing landlords to advertise their properties on all the major lettings portals.

It gives landlords the freedom to choose the right tenants for their property without having to advertise for them.

Once a tenant has been chosen by the landlord, Upad can sort all of the administration and set up.

 

Here, Upad is reviewed by the Managing Director of Orchard Block Management Services Ltd. (OBMS), John Socha. John has extensive experience in property management and OBMS currently manages 105 apartment blocks and sites. He also has his own property portfolio comprising 23 properties.

“I first started using Upad in 2009 when they became a Recognised Supplier through the National Landlords Association.

Upad does all the work for you by generating high quality tenant applications through their professional adverts on Rightmove and Zoopla.

As a landlord, you meet your tenants face to face. You can then make your own mind up as to who you feel will be the best person to live in your property.

I was impressed with the speed of let – I found great tenants in less than two weeks. Not only did Upad find me great tenants fast, but they saved me money compared to using a traditional letting agent.

I started using Upad after selling my own letting business and I haven’t looked back since. Give Upad a try. You won’t be disappointed.”

Continual Professional Development – ARMA Conferences

We take continual professional development (CPD) very seriously at Orchard Block Management Services Ltd., which is why we encourage our Property Managers to attend, amongst others, ARMA conferences.

CPD is defined as ‘the means by which people maintain their knowledge and skills related to their knowledge and skills related to their professional lives’.

Our property manager, Andrew, attended the most recent ARMA conference in London on Monday 22nd June 2015. Not only was this a chance for him to continue his CPD on a personal/professional level, but Orchard Block Management Services Ltd like to have a representative there to feed back about any recent changes in ARMA legislation. The day included the following agenda:

LONDON (2): 22nd June 2015
• Chair’s Welcome
Noella Morton, Warwick Estates Property Mgmt Ltd
• ARMA Update – ‘Moving forward together’
Michelle Banks, CEO of ARMA
• Technical Update
Helen Christie, ARMA Technical O_cer
• Breakout session, follow up to ARMA-Q
Facilitator: Tony Hymers, Burlington Estates Ltd and
Michelle Banks, CEO of ARMA
• Banking with ARMA-Q
Steve Arundale and Steve Russell, NatWest PLC
• Combined heating & power: how does it a_ect you?
Michael Donnellan, Towers & Hamlin LLP

Particularly in light of recent changes within ARMA-Q, the ARMA conferences are a way for us to keep up-to-date with legislation, changes in block management, and of course our competitors!

We believe that the commitment to ARMA includes a commitment to CDM for all our property managers. Belonging to ARMA is a symbol (and working promise) of our commitment to raising standards of block management.

Rubbish and Recycling – It’s Everyone’s Problem

Not a month goes by when the office doesn’t hear about issues with rubbish or recycling at one of the blocks of flats which we manage:

  1. Sometimes the issue is to do with the council. This is an issue which is easily rectified, but it must be done as soon as possible. If the council have missed a bin collection, then they must be notified within 24 hours in order for them to reallocate a collection to your property. Most councils now prefer for these issues to be addressed via online forms, so it is actually much easier and more effective for the issue to be directly addressed by you, the leaseholder or tenant, rather than us dealing with the issue. The form you are asked to fill out doesn’t account for third party interests such as block management companies, so it is much easier for a resident to contact the council directly.
  2. Another refuse issue occurs due to residents not disposing of their refuse correctly. Lots of the sites we manage have bin areas, which can be accessed by residents (normally via a coded lock) and by the people who collect the refuse. Simply leaving your rubbish in the bin area, i.e. not putting it in the relevant bin means the council will not collect it. It could be either refuse or recycling, and as such the council will not collect it.
  3. This initial issue means that others will start to follow by example, leaving their rubbish bags in the bin store instead of in the bins themselves. Before long, piles of rubbish are in the way. The council will not collect from sites with this issue, which means a private contractor would need to be instructed, at a cost to leaseholders’ service charges. If we can prove that a particular tenant left rubbish, we will charge it back to that tenant.
  4. Recycling also causes an issue. As soon as there is any cross-contamination from refuse to recycling, the council will not be able to collect. This will also incur a cost to the site, by having to instruct a contractor to reorganise the recycling.

Rubbish and recycling will always be a contentious issue as it involves both communal and personal responsibility. Particularly in the case of recycling, though also refuse, there is an element of environmental obligation. We all have a responsibility to recycling where we can. Not only that, but communal living necessitates respect for your neighbours. Everyone wants to live in a clean and safe environment, and we can all do our best to make sure that happens.

OBMS Ltd Achieves ARMA-Q Status

Orchard Block Management Services Ltd has become one of the first residential managing agents in England and Wales to achieve a highly prestigious accreditation by the industry’s trade body – the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA).

Orchard Block Management Services Ltd has achieved ARMA-Q accreditation – the new regulators regime for residential leasehold managing agents. ARMA-Q has been introduced by ARMA – the industry’s trade body, in the absence of any statutory regulation, with the aim of pushing up standards of property management across the board.

ARMA’s chief executive, Michelle Banks, said: “Choosing the right managing agent can be a bit of a minefield. The industry’s not regulated so they don’t have to belong to a professional body or comply with specific standards. We have introduced ARMA-Q so leaseholders can be confident they are choosing a quality agent.”

She continued: ‘Anyone appointing an ARMA-Q agent to manage their property can have peace of mind that they conform to high standards, are bound by a consumer charter and are regulated independently. Like all ARMA’s members, Orchard Block Management Services Ltd has a clear commitment to providing the best service.

Flat owners who use ARMA-Q accredited agents to mange their property will be guaranteed a number of safeguards including:

  • Higher professional standards and levels of customer care
  • A transparent and open service
  • Access to an independent regulatory panel

We at Orchard Block Management Services are extremely proud of achieving ARMA-Q status. We had to demonstrate that we comply with over 160 rigorous industry standards. We truly believe in ensuring that leaseholders receive a high standard of service, from their accounting to their maintenance.

Storing Items in Communal Areas

Items in Communal Areas

Having completed some of our regular Fire Risk Assessments on the properties which we manage, it has come to our attention that there is an issue with items left in communal areas.

Communal living can be problematic. While it might seem like a non-issue to leave personal items in communal areas for convenience sake, such as hallways, landings, under-stairs cupboards, it is important to remember some issues:

  • Even though you may own your property, i.e. the demise listed in your lease, you do not own the communal areas of the building. Therefore if you are leaving items in these communal areas, you are leaving them on someone else’s property.
  • This therefore has repercussions in terms of insurance. Some of the items people leave would not be covered by buildings insurance. They are classed as contents and therefore need to be covered by an additional policy.
  • And most importantly: leaving these items in communal areas such as hallways, landings and cupboards contravenes health and safety legislation. Not only do they form trip hazards, but they also block fire exit passageways.

To this end, our site visit inspector will warn anybody who is leaving an item in the communal area by leaving a note on their item. If they are not removed, then we instruct someone to remove them, thereby incurring a cost on your service charge.

We appreciate that some leaseholders choose to lease their property out. However, if you choose to do this, it is your responsibility to ensure your tenants or letting agents are aware of the issues surrounding communal areas.

Greyfriars Bus Station Demolition

On Sunday 15th of March, Greyfriars bus station was reduced to rubble in a long-awaited and planned for demolition.

An exclusion zone was put in place around the site, which affected lots of  homes in the town centre. According to the BBC website, 414 homes from around the area were evacuated for safety reasons. This included two blocks of flats which we at Orchard Block Management Service Ltd manage. An exclusion zone was set up around the Greyfriars bus station, which was incidentally once described by TV presenter Kevin McCloud as the “mouth of hell”, included residential homes and some major road closures.

In the run up to the planned event, Orchard was in contact with the various authorities over residential concerns relating to the evacuation. The demolition ran smoothly, with the building collapsing in around 6 seconds after a series of sharp bangs signalled that the explosives had been detonated.

The area is now up for discussion in terms of planned development. The original Greyfriars building has been voted one of the ugliest buildings in Britain, and was once described by the Lonely Planet Guide as “infamously ugly”. It’s an example of the classic Brutalist architecture of the 1970s, and since the building of the new bus station over the site of the Fish Market, had become completely redundant. According to the Northampton borough Council, refurbishment of the building would have cost around £30million. The demolition itself cost around £4million, but the council are hopeful that removing the station will provide room to breathe new life into Northampton.

The council has welcomed suggestions about how to develop the site as part of the Northampton Alive program.

Please see the below link for a video of the demolition and the full BBC article of the event.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-31889521

Winter Property Maintenance

During the winter periods, Orchard Block Management Services regularly carry out maintenance work on the properties we manage, and there are some simple tips that can help landlords, tenants and homeowners have a stress free winter.

Protecting your Pipes

Sometimes it is good to accept that you’re going to have to spend some money on heating during the winter months, however, some tenants will often go without to save significant sums. It must be said that having no heating whatsoever during the cold months can be extremely damaging to the property, and pipes can easily freeze and burst without a regular supply of heat. Even if you have the heating on at a low temperature, you can maintain the condition of the pipes and prevent costly repairs.

Checking Drains and Gutters

Soiled dirt, leaves and ice can be three of the main causes for blocked gutters and drains, and these can soon crack and break if they’re not unblocked. This is why it is handy to checkup on blockages during the cold months, making sure you solve the problem before it becomes a bigger, more expensive issue.

Reduce Condensation and Mould

Placing your clothes on the radiator can mean they dry very quickly, however it can be wiser to dry them on a clotheshorse or airer. This essentially helps to reduce condensation, but ventilation is very important too. Opening your windows for just 30 minutes a day can be very beneficial, and while you may not like feel of the British breeze that enters, it can minimise the moisture in the air, preventing the build-up of mould.

Most of the time it’s the small tasks that can help maintain the condition of a property in the winter, and whether you’re a homeowner, a tenant or a landlord, it’s in your interest to make sure the property is well-maintained throughout.

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