Commercial Property Management – How to Ask the Right Questions in a Handover

City buildings on river

When you are taking on a new retail, office, or industrial property for management, make sure you have a good set of deliberate questions to work through and help you identify the performance issues within the property.  Get to the bottom of the issues relating to income, tenancy mix, maintenance, risk, documentation, and occupancy.  Where will the answers come from?  The client, the previous property manager, and the tenants in the property will be sources of information. (NB – You can get plenty of property management tips in Snapshot right here)

A set of well-directed questions and or a checklist will help you cover off on the property issues of importance, and the potentially ‘tricky’ matters that may arise later.  An early inspection of the property will also help you with a ‘physical understanding’ of how things are positioned, the layout, and what could be ‘on the horizon’ as far as problems, troubles, and events.

 

Common facts

Here are some common facts and findings from the industry:

  • Some clients will overlook important and sometimes critical issues of property performance as they hand over documents about the property, or tell you about property events and facts.
  • There can be factors of ‘volatility’ in the lease and or tenant occupancy matters.
  • Any previous managing agent may not have shared all the critical facts about the asset.
  • Risk events in a managed property can evolve quickly when you least expect it, so you will need a ‘crisis management plan’ for the time where unexpected things happen.
  • Tenants and customers bring added volatility and change to a property. Review the people and property integration issues.

Through all of this ‘challenge’ the critical goal is to know what you have in the property that you are going to manage.  Checklists and handover processes will help you with that task.  You can and should have different checklists for the separate property types of office, industrial, and retail.

 

Set your targets

In most commercial and retail property management take-ups, the following will be some of the important targets to move through:

  1. Comprehensive information should be captured and reviewed. Quickly get to the bottom of any concerning issues with leases, tenants, maintenance, cash flow, and asset performance.
  2. Good communication points should be established with all tenants, maintenance staff, and the landlord. Know how to get to the key people when you need to talk to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You never really know when you must make an urgent telephone call to key people.
  3. Record keeping will be vital as you sift through the information about the property and the occupants. You never really know when you must go back on comments and identified facts to resolve a problem in the asset or with the occupants.
  4. Incident and event control registers should be accessed. In any busy property, there will be issues happening every day with tenants and customers.  That ‘register’ system will need to be integrated into the risk management plan for the property.
  5. A detailed investigation of current property issues should be achieved. Look for circumstances that are unresolved and or ongoing; know the status of things and any immediate threats to contain.  Ask questions about existing strategies and challenges that should be controlled over time.

From this simple list, you can adopt a strategy of investigation as you take on a new property management and client.  Get to the important factors of control faster.

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