Residential property management for blocks of flats is a largely hands on and time consuming process. In addition to specialist knowledge of the extensive legislation and regulation, it demands significant effort, time, organisational skills and care. The block management agent’s property services are understandably increasingly in demand, assisting freeholders, landlords and property management companies in carrying out their duties in looking after and protecting their freeholds and associated interests.The professional block management agent should arrange for the building fabric to be regularly inspected, maintained and redecorated to the required standards as set out in the lease. Cyclical maintenance must be implemented at the required times to meet current regulations requiring specialist property management input. Assessment of any necessary work or repairs may require inspection and professional expertise. Monitoring and approving the finished job may however demand a qualified surveyor in certain circumstances.Work will not always be properly executed and some members or lessees may well refuse to meet the costs at the expense of the property management company service charge account. Understandably such payment problems and disputes over finances can cause friction amongst freeholders and leaseholders as well as placing pressure on available reserves and cash flow.Robust systems must be put into place by the block management agent to deal with the process and to plan and smooth the way forward. These management company procedures are essential to successful block management and should include all matters including estimating and collecting monies required for works and services.The freehold block manager will need a full understanding of how the property lease permits the maintenance charges to be raised, whether in advance or arrears. Payment, leaseholder notices and consultation arrangements must also satisfy current property services legislation covering lease management and service charges. It is a requirement that there must be sufficient and appropriate accounting procedures in place to provide final accounts along with the annual statutory summaries to the leaseholders. It is important to note that there is a need to distinguish between the financial affairs of the service charge account and that of the freehold property management company or landlord.The block managing agent is responsible for ensuring that accounts are clearly defined, protecting leaseholder funds in a suitable client account for the sole purpose of maintenance and management of the freehold property in accordance with the lease and statute.Other block management duties which may be required cover lease management and compliance issues. Restrictions and obligations must be enforced where a resident is in default of his or her lease. This could be anything from non-payment or arrears of rent or service charges or breach of a clause of the lease for noise disturbance or nuisance. Management Agents can provide important advice in resolving such matters. After all, it can be difficult to challenge neighbours effectively if residents opt for self management arrangements. It is only to be expected that freehold residential management companies may well feel uncomfortable taking legal action against a fellow leaseholder. Indeed many consider that such actions would be better carried out by an independent block management professional.It is important to note that property law and associated legislation is currently undergoing quite radical change. These changes are affecting lease management, accounting, tenants rights, service charges, ground rent collection and health and safety procedures to name but a few. Frankly can be difficult for leaseholders and residents to try to keep up with this and better communications from government and regulatory bodies would be a useful improvement.So in view of the above, if you still consider that you can effectively manage your block of flats without a specialist block management agent then it is clear that commitment will be key. Many freehold management companies of course take the easier option and choose to employ professional help.When it comes to maintaining and ensuring the smooth running of freeholds for blocks of flats or apartments, few things would appear more essential than securing the services of professionally qualified and regulated block management agents.