Block in a Box explains the importance of out of hours emergency cover, particularly leading up to winter.
As much as most Property Managers and Residents’ Management Company (RMC) Directors may feel like they work 24/7, no one can be by their phone day and night. For the most part, maintenance issues can wait to be handled in office hours, but what if the worst happens at your block of flats in the middle of the night? Swift action may be needed to minimise the damage and disruption- do you have anyone on hand to start the process?
Contracting out of hours support may sound like a luxury, but believe us, you’ll be grateful for the back up when the time eventually comes…
The Water Leak
A burst pipe in one flat is leaking water into the flat below, damaging two units and causing chaos. It’s bad enough handling this during working hours (what with the speed necessary to stem the flow of water and the customer service training needed to handle panicked, potentially angry residents) let alone at 2am!
Leaseholders will always call their managing agent or RMC director first. Even if you happen to sleep with your phone on and next to your head, will you have access to the necessary files or contractor contact details to do anything useful?
Expecting property managers to handle stressful calls they’re not equipped to deal with at antisocial hours isn’t fair on them or the residents of the building.
If we carry on with our water leak scenario, we can look at the money saved by your out of hours investment.
Water is leaking from a kitchen into the kitchen below. The resident who’s ceiling is leaking has no idea where to find the stopcock and instead immediately picks up the phone to call the out of hours service. An emergency plumber is sent to site and has the situation under control within 2 hours, avoiding the collapse of the ceiling and limiting the cost of the damage to around £750.
If the water had been allowed to continue to escape for another 2 hours, the ceiling could well have collapsed. Replacing it and redecorating the kitchens could have cost something in the region of £2,750.
Left to continue for anything closer to 8 hours, the leak could have resulted in a full kitchen refit, rendering the flat uninhabitable and therefore adding loss of rent and alternative accommodation costs into the equation. The water could also have made its way to the next flat below by this point, bringing the total cost to something around £22,750.
Spiralling costs and displaced, angry tenants could be so easily avoided by the provision of an out of hours service.
A Modern Service
24-hour mobile access to everything from fast food to banking is now the expected norm- why should property management be any different? Leaseholders may well be very surprised to learn that there’s no out of hours provision for emergencies, especially when they are expected to pay service charges which, to them, may seem very expensive.
As property management professionals, we know what goes into the running of a building, but to leaseholders these fees can feel extortionate. An out of hours phone line (as well as you’re a-class service levels of course) can add some serious value.
A Helping Hand
Besides resident satisfaction and minimising the fall out caused by emergencies, having an out of hours team is of huge benefit to property managers too.
Instead of sitting down to an overflowing inbox full of panicked messages and competing priorities on a Monday morning, you could find an ordered update re any situations that arose over the weekend. You won’t have to panic and leap into action. Instead, you’ll have an up-to-date grasp of the situation, safe in the knowledge that the process to rectify any damage is underway.
What Makes for a Great Out of Hours Service?
When choosing a provider, we suggest you look for the following elements:
- A UK-based call centre with modern IT and phone systems
- A professional and experienced team with industry knowledge and amazing customer service skills (check their reviews)
- A triage-based approach with call handlers that use educated discretion to decide if an out of hours visit is really necessary
- A pre-approved network of contractors with set service levels and rates
Block in a Box suggest Flat Living Insurance’s Home Emergency Policy which is only £36 per annum, per flat (all flats in the block must be included in the policy). This includes overnight alternative accommodation if the unit is unsafe or uncomfortable to stay in, a 12-month guarantee for all repairs as well as cover for all of the following domestic emergencies:
- The complete breakdown of your heating system
- Plumbing and drainage problems
- Damage that affects your security, including locks and windows
- If your only toilet is broken
- Loss of your power supply
- Lost keys
- Vermin infestation
- Roof damage
Block in a Box don’t only provide information on how to protect your block of flats against emergencies over winter. We can also help with utilities, repairs, insurance, health and safety, and just about any other issue a flat owner or manager might face. To learn more about leasehold management companies or freehold management companies, contact our friendly and professional team today on 0333 0154 145.