Tim Darwall-Smith, Director, SBA Property Management  

After months of volatility, it’s no surprise the news continues to be dominated by the hike in energy prices and the cost of living in the UK. After households saw the energy price cap rise 54% in April, experts are now predicting that the October energy price cap could rise to 40% – up from the previous estimated figure of 32%. 

According to Ofgem chief executive Jonathon Brearley, the estimated price cap will increase to around £2,800, over £800 higher than the current price cap of £1,971. A steep rise, this comes as wholesale gas prices have jumped to around 300% higher than at the beginning of 2021 – the highest ever levels in the UK. 

It is important to note that due to ongoing market volatility, these estimations could change. However, such uncertainty is creating difficult decisions for households amid rising taxes, high inflation and a rise in food and fuel prices. 

As a specialist residential block management and facilities management services provider, we service a wide range of clients including private landlords, developers, and Resident Management Companies (RMCs). Managing affordability has always been central to our offering, and now more than ever, we continue to pay attention to the way we manage our costs and keep service charges at a reasonable level. 

Firstly, we uphold our values at each stage in the management process and consider the affordability for residents as a core part of our offering. This starts right at the beginning, looking at the way we approach and tender to ensure any charges or services are affordable in the market conditions. This means always being transparent about service charges and demonstrating good service levels without a large price tag attached. 

Careful and considered fund management and knowledgeable budgeting are key to the smooth running of any property and this is something we are proud to maintain. To manage additional funds, we encourage leaseholders to contribute towards a Reserve Fund for when major works come around. That way, large and unexpected bills can be avoided. 

When it comes to things like major works, we take an unbiased view to the tendering of contractors, remaining objective and impartial, advising which contractor has offered the most suitable tender to ensure our clients are always getting the best value. Cheapest is not always best, but cost is the single most important consideration. 

Beyond our individual services, as a management company, we bring an organised and professional approach to the planning and collection of the service charges and reserve funds. Our transparency means that there are never any unexpected surprises for our clients and residents.  

Our assessment of what must be done, and when, is honest and independent of private interests and preferences – based solely upon our duty to keep our managed properties in good order. Whilst we carefully consider leaseholder’s wishes, we view it as imperative to provide an unbiased view of the priority of works and then get it done in the most cost-effective and efficient way. 

There is absolute clarity in all our management activities at each building we look after and how funds are managed and utilised. In a nutshell, what we always aim to bring to the table is peace of mind. 

Our philosophy is to maintain this reputation and we achieve it using a combination of proper and full communication with leaseholders, coupled with our own expertise. Our relationships with tenants are paramount, and we know these can only be maintained through honesty, integrity, and transparency. 

Whilst the future costs of living are almost certainly going to remain volatile, we will remain stable and considered – always operating with our client commitments front of mind.