Property managing agents can experience fast turnaround when it comes to employees, it’s just the nature of the beast.
As property law experts, part of our ride here at LMP Law, is to advise on all areas of property law before any disputes arise. And one of the best ways we can do this is to help educate and update recruiters, as well as managing agents, in explaining the dos and don’ts of the whole legal arena.
Property law back up begins at the recruitment process of any person working in the property sector. Whether it is real estate through block management, PRS/build to rent, co-working and serviced offices, many fundamentals are found within the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.
Employment Law, under recruitment, brings its own duties and updates but property recruitment companies should ensure their talent (on their books brought in for their clients) understands that the Landlord & Tenant Act details the rights, obligations and duties of landlord and tenants, as well as encompassing elements of conveyancing and contract law.
As managing agents are often the person/s looking after blocks of flats, they must know and understand the basis of a lease, for example.
A new law came into force in 2003 (Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002), whereby provision for the management function of flats of the landlord, can be exercised by a Right to Manage (RTM) company instead of a landlord.
So, recruiters have an essential job in acquiring talent in the property sector that truly understands the basis of a lease because disputes can often be prevented if the managing agent knows the relevant law as a starting block.
Being a property manager is not an easy job! Property lawyers can also come across disputes caused by employment law issues when an employee hasn’t been supported enough and makes a mistake, leading to a dispute.
Training and education for all in the property sector is something we recommend, and as an example, ARMA (Association of Residential Managing Agents) had a training day on 5 March entitled Developing Resilience. Anyone working in the property industry is aware that speed, information, communication, regulations, PR, risk assessment, technology, threats (cyber and physical) can take a toll on employees.
It can cause a large impact such as:
- Burn out
- Mental health issues
- High staff turnover
- Reputational risk
When it comes to employment law, the basic principles are:
- Hours, leave and pay
- Employee rights
- Disciplinary and grievance issues
- Working parents
Regarding recruitment, their main object is prejudice. Discrimination is ILLEGAL! All employers should be up to date on the laws of workers as from April 2020, a contract of employment must provide a Written Statement of terms and conditions within the first two months of employment – whether employee or worker.
Many organisations within property management are serious about employees in this demanding, but rewarding industry.
The course detailed below was for anyone new to block management with some knowledge of the legal framework governing residential long leasehold management. It was especially useful for those who need to become familiar with the essential information needed to safely and efficiently assist or manage a portfolio.
It goes to show that training is essential and taking steps through educational resources and institutions can save time later – from a dispute resolution perspective.
Being a property manager is a demanding job. On any given day you can be required to demonstrate a variety of skills and knowledge. In this interactive legal workshop, we’ll explore some of the common legal challenges that you might face and how to deal with them. This workshop will be based around a fictional block and a copy of its specimen lease and Articles of Association will be provided to all delegates for ‘pre-reading’.
- Understanding the decision making powers of management companies (including RTM and RMCs) on the appointment of agents.
- New development action points: What you need to be looking out for in the lease and articles of association so you can add to your building ‘manual’.
- Airbnb subletting: Is it a breach and what can you do?
- Alterations: How to handle the request and deal with the paperwork.
- Arrears recovery: Looking at the lifecycle of a typical arrears case so you can manage your client’s expectations.
- Assignment of a lease: What needs to happen and how do you do it.
- Preparing for your evening AGM: Understanding management companies, including decision making, appointment (and retirement) of directors, record keeping, etc.
Those within property management may also be aware of the great work ALRA carries out when it comes to publications, qualifications and certifications!
Block Management is specialist and anyone coming over from lettings, for example, will need training and guidance from their employers.
ALRA offers one-day courses enabling its attendees to learn and develop their skills and understanding of day to day tasks involved in block management.
The team here at LMP Law is always on hand for ARLA, ARMA, managing agents, property recruiters and leaseholders themselves for help, advice and further questions. Teaching the basic skills to a new employee could save money and time in the long run as litigious disputes caused by inappropriate knowledge can be extremely costly.
GROUND RENT & SERVICE CHARGES
Of course there are stepping stones to higher diplomas in property, however without basic knowledge for newbies there can be catastrophic consequences if leases are overlooked and the managing agents haven’t addressed the fundamental budgeting of service charge and ground rent collections.
Service charges are one of the main areas for disputes between leaseholders and landlords. Leaseholders should be helped by ensuring they are aware of organisations such as The Leasehold Advisory Service.
ACAS has the very best website with rolling updates on employment law training, research and commentary, together with templates, conferences, helpline and much more.
Property lawyers’ work includes helping with arrears recovery and disputes. The disputes that we handle are mainly breach of contract or complaints that we try and resolve and/or mediate.
Some breaches or problems that cause the initial dispute can sometimes stem from lack of efficient employment law basic knowledge with the managing agent employees or contractors.
How we all protect our colleagues, tenants or agents is something we could all do better… probably! The property industry, as a whole, is relatively a place of great communication, excellent back up and support, education and legislation.
Lawyers work together, albeit different areas, in ensuring there is balance, education, advice and adherence to best practice, protocol and legislation.
Work together and support each other!
Laura Severn is a director at LMP Law