Block management is the management and maintenance of residential buildings with multiple units in them, such as blocks of flats or apartments, multifamily housing, and other types of shared property. Typically, a block manager is hired to manage and maintain communal areas, handling a range of tasks like maintenance, repairs, budgeting and insurance.
Block management is important for both property owners and residents because it helps ensure that a building is well-maintained. Not only that, but best practice block management ensures that residents have a safe and pleasant living environment.
Without effective block management, property owners and residents could encounter a number of issues, including neglected repairs, poor communication and financial mismanagement. Any of these could be disastrous for property owners, property managers and investors.
Overlooking these crucial areas of block management could also lead to disputes between occupants and owners, resulting in a high turnover of residents, or worse still, legal problems. This is especially true if critical safety standards are not upheld, leaving residents exposed to risk and therefore feeling unsafe in their homes.
For property owners, having a professional and proactive block manager in place can help prevent these issues. Providing a single point of contact for residents who can oversee regular building safety, maintenance and repairs will likely lead to an increase in tenant satisfaction.
The best block managers out there are great at creating a genuine sense of community for the residents of the building, markedly improving the quality of life for the building’s occupants while making the property a more attractive place to live.
What does a block manager do?
The specific responsibilities of a block manager can vary depending on the size of the building, as well as the needs and expectations of the residents. Block managers deal with everything from maintenance and repairs to financial management and compliance. There’s a lot that goes into the role, so block managers must hold many competencies and skills.
Ultimately, block managers must ensure that the building is managed and maintained properly so residents can enjoy a clean, safe and secure living environment. While the role of a block manager can be different depending on a number of factors, some of the more common tasks that may be undertaken by a block manager are as follows:
Maintenance and repairs
The block manager is responsible for ensuring that the building is properly maintained and that any repairs are carried out quickly and efficiently. Block managers will also need to coordinate with contractors, arrange property inspections and conduct frequent maintenance checks, and they’ll also have to respond to emergency repair requests when needed.
The block manager is responsible for managing the finances of the building, which may include collecting service charges and ground rent, creating and managing budgets for maintenance and repairs, and handling other financial transactions for things like contractors and other external personnel.
Health and Safety
The block manager is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the building complies with all relevant health and safety regulations and guidelines, and that appropriate measures are in place to minimise the risk of accidents or injuries. A block manager might have to coordinate a team of maintenance professionals tasked with ensuring that the facilities are safe and therefore compliant.
Communication and dispute resolution
The block manager is responsible for communicating building maintenance and repair issues with residents. This can be a challenging part of the job so it’s crucial to be a great communicator. Responding to complaints and concerns in a timely and effective manner is key as residents need to feel that their concerns are heard and acted upon swiftly.
Compliance and legal matters
Through their other tasks and duties, a block manager is responsible for ensuring that the building complies with the relevant laws and regulations. For example, fire safety regulations are in the spotlight due to high-profile fire safety failings and the resultant legislation changes. Block managers must be mindful of this as, if anything does go wrong, they are likely to be involved in legal matters.
How is block management different from property management?
Block management and property management are related, but slightly different fields.
Block managers focus on the management and maintenance of buildings with multiple units, like flats or apartments. On the other hand, property managers work across all different types of buildings. These could include both residential and commercial properties, as well as individual units or properties.
While there is some overlap between block management and property management, block management is typically more complex than property management because it involves managing the interests and needs of multiple owners or tenants.
Although block management and residential property management are both important for the effective management of buildings, block management is a specialised field that requires specific skills and expertise to manage the challenges involved with shared buildings.
To look at it another way, not all property managers are block managers, but some block managers can be considered property managers to a certain extent.
Whatever way you look at it, block managers and property managers are both crucial for the effective running of a building, providing numerous benefits for both residents and property owners.
The benefits of block management for residents
For residents, one of the most significant benefits of having a block manager is, naturally, a well-maintained building. Nobody wants to live in unsafe, unclean and uncertain accommodation, so a dedicated professional overseeing regular maintenance and repairs gives residents confidence and security.
Block managers serve as a central point of contact for residents. They provide regular updates about maintenance and repair work, respond to concerns and complaints, and facilitate communication between residents. It has been shown that a sense of community improves the overall living quality of residents.
Faster response times
Block managers are typically available 24/7 to respond to emergencies. For instance, if there is a burst pipe or a power cut in a building, block management companies can provide a round-the-clock service to respond to emergencies. Addressing urgent issues quickly and effectively minimises disruption to residents.
The benefits of block management for property owners
Protection of property values
A building with a dedicated block manager is likely to be better managed and maintained, which generally means its property value is better maintained over time. This helps to protect property owners’ investments, ensuring that the building remains an attractive proposition for both new and existing residents.
When maintenance and repairs and regularly overseen, a block manager is crucial in helping to identify and address issues before they become expensive or more difficult to repair. This helps property owners save money over time, reducing the need for extensive, costly repairs or, even worse, outright replacements of things like lifts, doors and other assets.
Reduced legal risk
A block manager plays a huge part in ensuring that a building is safe and compliant. The relevant laws and regulations aren’t optional, so by reducing the risk of legal disputes and their astronomical associated costs, property owners won’t land themselves in hot water.
Peace of mind
Above all, a block manager gives property owners peace of mind. Sure, it might seem like an intangible benefit, but it can be worth a great deal personally. Knowing that their investment is secure can reduce the kinds of stresses and anxieties associated with property ownership, investment and management, especially when this is done at scale.
How does block management work?
The typical process of block management involves several steps. First, there’s the initial assessment. A block manager will take a look at the building and judge the scope of their work accordingly, reviewing maintenance history and condition reports. This way, they’re able to identify areas of concern moving forward.
After this, a block manager will plan and budget for the needs of the building. They’ll take into account assets like lifts, shared facilities and so on, in order to create a maintenance plan that incorporates all present and future needs. Working with the property owner and other stakeholders, they’ll allocate funds and consider the likelihood of emergency repairs and ongoing maintenance.
From here on out, the block manager’s role commences as usual, but every now and then these things will be reviewed to ensure they’re always up to date. They’ll proceed to maintain and manage the building in the most effective and efficient manner, working with all stakeholders and residents to ensure health and safety guidelines are followed, as well as any compliance and legal matters.
Nowadays, with the increasing use of technology in property management, some block managers are using technology to speed up their work and improve collaboration and communication. For example, block management software can help with all kinds of things, from maintenance requests to resource allocation and finance tracking to property inspections.
Block management software can help reduce the time and effort required by some of the more manual administrative tasks. This way, block managers are able to focus on the task at hand, providing a great service to both the residents of the building and the property owner.
The use of technology in block management has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years, with some excellent solutions on the market to help them improve efficiency, reduce costs and aid compliance. Perhaps one of the biggest upsides for black managers is the ability to balance their hands-on work with the need to personally attend to and communicate with residents. This is a really important part of a block manager’s role.
What is a block management inspection app?
One area of block management that is becoming increasingly important is inspections and reporting. Block managers are incorporating block management inspection apps into their arsenal, using them to conduct thorough inspections on the condition of a property, fire safety equipment, health and safety risks, and much more.
Block management inspection software can often include a handful of features for a range of tasks, which will enable block managers to identify issues and potential problems before they become more expensive to fix or completely beyond repair.
Being proactive with regular inspections and digitising the maintenance process means that there is a lower chance of breakdown or deterioration, whether that’s for fire doors, lifts, shared facilities or the general fabric of the building. To help them manage these elements, the best block management inspection apps include some or all of the following features:
- Mobile Inspections: Block managers can use mobile inspection applications on a smartphone or tablet to take photos, videos, and notes of maintenance issues as they inspect the building. Using templates,
- Customised checklists: Inspection software allows block managers to create customised checklists for all sorts of inspections. Whether that’s cleanliness, health and safety, or fire risk assessments.
- Real-time reporting: Inspection applications can generate real-time reports with photos, videos and notes of maintenance issues. These can then be sent to other stakeholders, like contractors, investors, building owners or residents.
- Historical data and compliance: Not all inspection applications offer the storage of historical data, but block management inspection software like Property Inspect does. Storing a comprehensive timeline of all previous inspections and maintenance reports will make it easy for block managers to track issues over time. Additionally, this can play a huge part in compliance.
- Integrations with other software: The ability to integrate inspection software with other solutions used by block managers is crucial, whether that’s maintenance tracking or accountancy software. This streamlines the workflow of a block manager, so they can spend more time actually doing their job rather than labour-intensive administration.
Harnessing the power of block management inspection software will help block managers make significant improvements in the efficiency and accuracy of their work, reducing the need for manual work and freeing them up to provide a better service.
As a result, the property owners that employ block managers can rest assured that their investment is well looked after. For the residents and occupants of the buildings, well, they’ll feel safer and more secure in their own homes.