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Hot Topic Highlight – Property Management



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What is this week's blog about?


In this week’s blog, Charles Watson MSc MRICS, consultant to Property Elite, takes an in-depth look at the requirements of the Property Management (PM) competency.


Who is Charles?


Charles is currently based within Avison Young’s North West Real Estate Management Department and has over 10 years' experience in the Yorkshire and North West market, specialising in the Property and Asset Management sector.


He has provided strategic advice to landlord and tenants across an array of commercial asset classes. He also has extensive knowledge of Landlord and Tenant matters having spent 3 years within a lease advisory role.


Charles is a qualified member of the RICS and holds a Master’s Degree in Real Estate Management. Charles is also heavily involved in RICS Matrics and is an RICS APC assessor, APC mentor and was nominated for RICS Young Surveyor of the Year 2020.


What is Property Management?


Anyone sitting the RICS APC will no doubt be fully versed with acronyms and candidates pursuing the Property Management (PM) competency will be no different.


Management has been rebranded within the industry as PM, Property and Asset Management (PAM) and Real Estate Management (REM), but this competency need not cause candidates too much confusion!


Whilst a large percentage of property management candidates tend to be in private practice, acting on behalf of landlord clients, there are still large numbers of prospective chartered surveyors from tenant side private practice, client-side and the public sector.


Regardless of the recipient of the rationale and advice, understanding the relationship between owner and occupier is fundamental to a candidate’s success in the PM competency.


Whether the candidate is a dedicated property manager, undergoing a 6-month rotation or an agent/valuer gaining additional experience in the PM competency, one key take-away is that PM has a very wide breadth and encompasses elements of most other competencies.


Candidates will no doubt find themselves crossing over with other optional competencies such including Landlord and Tenant, Health & Safety and Data Management, as well as other mandatory and core competencies such as Conflict Avoidance, Management & Dispute Resolution Procedures, Accounting Principles & Procedures and Inspection.


What does the PM competency require?


As most candidates should now be aware, achieving Level 1 requires knowledge and understanding, achieving Level 2 requires an application of knowledge and achieving Level 3 requires the provision of reasoned advice.


Given the time constraints already imposed by the sixty-minute assessment, RICS APC assessors are trained to question candidates by looking first at their Level 3 examples and reasoned advice.


What are good examples for Levels 2 and 3?


Level 3 is where the candidate needs to show a depth of understanding, which requires an understanding of both parties’ perspectives. This entails relationship-building skills, as well as commercial awareness and entrepreneurial ability. By including real life examples in Levels 2 and 3, candidates will be able to demonstrate their competence in providing PM services to clients.


Day-to-day PM functions such as rent collection, repairs, insurance, alterations and service charges all make good Level 2 or 3 examples, depending on a candidate’s experience and level of responsibility. Level 3 require candidates to talk about advice to a client and this could be in the form of reports, recommendations and presentations.


Examples at Level 3 may also entail working with other property professionals to provide holistic and diligent advice. Candidates should, therefore, aim to provide assessors with a walkthrough guide of their processes and advice to the client, whilst demonstrating an ability to read leases and apply their knowledge of legislation and caselaw.


What relevant knowledge at Level 1 do I need to know?


At Level 1, candidates will need to be aware of key legislation and guidance such as the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, RICS Professional Statement Code for Leasing Business Premises in England and Wales, RICS Professional Statement Service Charges in Commercial Property, RICS Guidance Note Surveying Safely, RICS Guidance Note Commercial Property Management in England & Wales, as well as overriding legislation such as the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.


What other skills does a Property Manager need?


By demonstrating a common-sense approach, occupier focus and key legislative knowledge, candidates will be able to demonstrate a holistic surveying sense and capability. However, there is still room for strategic advice and the ability for candidates to add value for clients, above and above the traditional remit of a property manager.


Desolate shopping centres and vacant office blocks have led landlords to call on property managers to provide reasoned advice on how to optimise property holdings. This has encouraged logical and lateral thinking.


A landlord’s objective could be to maximise income or maximise tenant retention, but this is often interchangeable with advice on how to create an inclusive, sustainable and safe commercial environment, often with limited resources.


How has PM been affected by Covid-19?


Assessor questioning that was once ‘How did you provide advice regarding this repair?’, could now be ‘How did you provide advice to ensure this building was more sustainable/inclusive/COVID compliant?’.


The Government moratorium relating to the ban on commercial evictions was introduced during the pandemic, creating a management headache for landlords and their representatives. The moratorium has recently been extended until 25 March 2022, which will continue to promote landlords and tenants staging proactive conversations.


Most landlords are being constructive and commercially sensible, with the two bases of generic agreements encouraged by the Code of Practice for commercial property relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic being:

  • An agreement purely regarding the rent arrears, i.e., payment and deferment plans

  • An agreement regarding the variation to the lease terms, i.e., regearing, extensions and rent-free periods.


Property managers have often found themselves at the heart of these agreements, acting as the interface between the parties and a conduit to effective negotiation and communication. This level of advisory service allows a candidate to demonstrate Level 3 competence by offering strategic asset advice to their landlord or tenant client.


Candidates should also be well-prepared for their interview by being able to discuss key caselaw such as Commerz Real Investmentgesellschaft v TFS Stores (April 2021).


Conclusion


In conclusion, the PM competency is one, which if managed carefully, can allow a candidate to demonstrate flexibility, commerciality and a rounded approach. The competency and the discipline in general require candidates to keep abreast of topical issues, everchanging legislation/guidance and caselaw. The PM competency also requires candidates to demonstrate strong technical knowledge and its wider implementation to a range of PM tasks and services.


How can we help?


Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you.


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