A partnership of two young property managers, JFM Block and Estate Management (www.jfm-management.co.uk), is the latest leasehold managing agent to join LKP.
Set up by James Farrar and Joe Mallon, JFM management is seeking business from leaseholder controlled blocks of flats.
Both have worked for established property management companies and feel strongly that the established managing agents who work for large freeholders or developers do not and cannot represent the best interests of leaseholders.
“By building our company around democratically-elected home-owner groups we have aligned ourselves with the consumer,” say the partners, who have won the management of sites in Hendon, north London, Reading, Maidenhead and Milton Keynes.
“We have no links to housing developers or freehold investors and are thus not handicapped by a desire to win business from them.
“Accordingly we are much better placed to get a better deal on new-build developments where the resident management company may be locked in a dispute over costs with a developer or freeholder.
“We have also sharpened our skills in the area of company law in respect of service charges, something that is very important to RMCs.”
The partners, who also blog on leasehold issues, set out their credo here:
Why did we start JFM and where are we going?
The Partners of JFM Block & Estate Management explain the ethos of the company and take a look at the prospects for the current year.
Like many experienced professionals striking out on their own to start up a business, our primary concern was obtaining a little extra security for our families. Having been in the property industry for the best part of two decades, and after working together at previous firms, we knew we had the expertise to launch a successful block management company.
But we couldn’t have started this firm without having first established our unique vision.
If you hired a lawyer you would fully expect them to declare a conflict of interests between you and another client, if one existed, without delay. Owing to a lack of accountability in our sector, however, it is standard practice for large developments to be passed over by housing developers to their preferred choice of managing agent. Such practice gives rise to unworkable situations whereby managing agents fail to hold these powerful developers to account on behalf of home-owner groups. The wider business interests of the agent simply do not compel them to ‘bite the hand that feeds’, so to speak.
We saw that there was room in the market-place for a managing agent that simply cut off the hand.
You cannot act for two opposing clients. It’s a basic principle of professional service. Major disputes between large house-builders, freeholders and resident management companies are inevitable. It is naïve to think therefore, that as a managing agent, you can successfully act for two of these parties at once. It may be profitable. It may be easy to obtain the custom. But in the event of a disagreement over costs, your service level just isn’t going to cut the mustard. That’s why we have setup a managing agent that only works for home-owners.
When it comes to our service, it’s solid. It’s reliable. We focus on the fundamentals and pay great attention to detail. But we will be the first to admit, we are not re-inventing the wheel by doing this. What makes us different is our stance on the type of clients we are willing to take on. The recent review of the industry by the Competition & Markets Authority is clear, property management works best when home-owners call the shots.
By building our company around democratically-elected home-owner groups we have aligned ourselves with the consumer. We have no links to housing developers or freehold investors and are thus not handicapped by a desire to win business from them. Accordingly we are much better placed to get a better deal on new-build developments where the resident management company may be locked in a dispute over costs with a developer or freeholder. We have also sharpened our skills in the area of company law in respect of service charges, something that is very important to RMCs.
What we have found on our travels is that this message has resonated with customers in unexpected ways. Resident directors of self-managed blocks, traditionally very wary of managing agents for the reasons we’ve mentioned above, are approaching us regularly with a view to engaging our services. Established RMCs with no current freeholder or developer issues like our model and are prepared to consider us just because of our overall vision. Some home-owners, with no current recourse against their landlords have approached us to help them establish control over their block by forming a Right to Manage Company.
This has led to instructions for share-of-freehold blocks in Hendon and Maidenhead, a large RMC of 133 units in Reading, an RTM Company of 21 flats in Milton Keynes and a large mixed-tenure estate in Hertfordshire. We are hopeful to secure instructions for an RMC of 229 units in Perivale, a self-managed ex-local authority building in East London and another share-of-freehold in Guildford by the end of the summer. We operate across Greater London and the Home-Counties and we are willing to take on buildings within reasonable driving distance from our West London office or our homes in Reading and Hendon.
The leasehold management sector is a difficult environment and sometimes we do question our own sanity in running a block management firm. But the truth is we feel this is somewhat of a calling for us. We have a product which is of real value to a growing group of people who are not getting a fair deal from some of the bigger firms. Our stance puts us on the right side of a national tug-of-war. We hope that through JFM we can do our best to anchor the struggle in favour of the home-owner.
Joe Mallon and James Farrar
Office Number: 0208 537 3263
James Farrar: 07866 085042
Joe Mallon: 07533 486208