Q. The Managing Agent that looks after the block I live in is failing miserably to provide the service that myself and the other Leaseholders would expect for the service charges we pay, is it possible to sack them and assign a new company?
A. Firstly be sure that you really do want to fire your agent. Are they really guilty of serious misdemeanors or are you simply taking for granted their strong points and focusing on possibly lesser important areas of weakness?
This is not to say that the areas of weakness should not be drawn to the agent’s attention and rectification sought. If you are unhappy with aspects of your agent’s performance then tell them! Tell them what standards they must achieve to overcome the weaknesses and set a deadline for the improvements. Confirm all this in writing. If the standards are not met then seriously consider firing them.
Following changes in Legislation, residents have the right to choose their own Managing Agent. It may be that the terms of the contract require you give them a period of notice – six months is not unusual. In this case it might be advisable to give notice of dismissal with the request for improvement to be achieved by the end of three months when the notice can then be withdrawn. If the improvement is not forthcoming then you are already half way through the notice period. If an agent is not performing, has had the poor aspects of their performance drawn to their attention, been fairly warned and not adequately improved – then fire them – just make sure you do it within the terms of your contract. The Leasehold Valuations Tribunal (LVT), an Executive Non Departmental Public Body funded by the Government has the power to appoint a new manager under section 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 where it is satisfied that grounds to do so have been proved. Usually it is necessary to prove that there is fault with the management of the property, for example – a failure to carry out obligations under a lease; the charging of unreasonable service charges or a failure to comply with a Management Code of Practice issued by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). When considering which new Agent to appoint be sure to do your homework, speak to other Leaseholders who can recommend an Agent that is providing a satisfactory service.