Created 18th May 2021

Bradley Hall’s Operations Director and Head of Property Management talks about her career growth, misconceptions about Property Management and the impact that the pandemic has had on landlords and tenants alike.

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How has your career developed with Bradley Hall?

I joined Bradley Hall on a temporary admin contract 16 years ago while waiting for a Uni course to start, I didn’t even know what a Chartered Surveyor was at that point. I was assigned to one of the Associate Directors and after a couple of months he convinced me to go and talk to the course leader at Northumbria University. I enrolled on the five year part time degree where I did one day at Uni and 5 days a week working at Bradley Hall.

In the last 16 years, save for a brief stint elsewhere, my career has been nurtured as I’ve progressed through the various qualification levels from an admin assistant to assistant surveyor, surveyor, chartered surveyor then associate director and now I’m the Operations Director and Head of the Property Management department. Bradley Hall has always fostered a culture of promoting from within and developing talent within the team. The majority of our surveying staff have started out with us as trainees either on placements or through a structured training programme such as the one I followed. It’s common knowledge that our MD started as a placement student before returning as a graduate and working his way through the ranks to the top.

To make this culture an official part of our company structure, we have recently launched the Bradley Hall Talent Development Programme to formalise the progression process and through that, in the last month, we’ve appointed three new members of staff and promoted two of our Senior Surveyors to Associate Director level.

What is a common myth about Property Management?

I think there is a misconception about property management as a specialism that it’s just dealing with tenants’ repair and maintenance requests, granted, that is a part of it.

My colleagues in the property management team are some of the most talented and knowledgeable surveyors I’ve come across as their role is so broad a specialism. They need to be true general practice surveyors because the services we offer our clients are so much wider than just organising cleaning or dealing with reactive repairs and maintenance.

There really aren’t two days the same, the only thing that’s absolutely consistent is that our department is always busy. Depending on the level of assistance our clients need and the nature of the property we offer everything from a rent collection service where we remove the hassle from our clients’ income generation through to a full asset management solution. This can include strategic property advice, lease advice, agency of vacant units, arrange building and dilapidations surveys, valuations, arranging property insurance, health and safety compliance and protecting our landlords by ensuring their properties are maintained in line with legislative requirements. Having to have an in depth knowledge of property law, be able to interpret lease obligations, manage service charge budgets and keep up to date with case law precedents and changes to legislation requires a broad skill set.

What personality traits make a good Property Manager?

Firstly, you need to be organised. We look after approximately 1,300 units for our clients so there’s always a lot going on and a lot to remember. Having a strategic approach to management, as well as robust systems and processes, is essential to ensure that the properties remain compliant and our client’s liability is mitigated as far as possible. We deal with a range of properties types for lots of different types of landlords, some are large corporate organisations but many are individuals or families who own the properties as investments to provide a secondary source of income.

Being able to tailor the service provided to the individual client requirements is something we pride ourselves upon at Bradley Hall. The team have to demonstrate a high level of understanding and emotional intelligence in being able to balance client and landlord expectations alongside the requests and requirements of tenants. Being the conduit in the landlord and tenant relationship requires us to be level headed and be able to work well under pressure.

The pandemic has demonstrated that the personal, empathetic approach we’ve always applied is invaluable as we’ve been able to work with tenants to assist them in obtaining grants and assistance from the government to keep their businesses afloat while in turn allowing them to continue to pay rents to their landlords who haven’t been able to access any such assistance so those cases were win-win for everyone concerned.

How has the past year changed Property Management?

I think there have been positives and negatives in property management brought about by the pandemic. Property management isn’t seen as being as fun or glamourous a specialism as agency and as I mentioned you do need to be resilient in order to deal with the pace and caseload.

The last year has demonstrated to our landlord clients that there is significant value in the services we offer. We’re very proud that through working with the tenants we’ve been able to maintain rent collection levels at 85-95% for our landlords across the portfolio despite the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

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