Kirstie Goulder

+44 (0)1733 887682 kgoulder@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Effective communication for a guardianship provider from a legal perspective.

Property Guardianship Insight / 21 November 2017

In this blog, I share my thoughts on the value of effective communication for a guardianship provider from a legal perspective.

Be it your contractual discussions with the building owner, your public relations, educating your workforce, or engaging with your guardians. Saying the wrong thing can be a legal minefield.  Here are some things to consider:

Contracts with clients

Whether you are bidding for council work or meeting with a private building owner, you are naturally keen to beat your competitors and secure the contract. It is a fine line between impressing clients and potentially misrepresenting what you can offer.  Therefore, clarity is fundamental when entering into any contract. Remember, a binding contract can either be in writing or verbal.

A contract is formed when the following key elements coincide: offer; acceptance; legal consideration; intention to create legal relations; and certainty of terms. To put this into context, if you enter into an agreement with the building owner you should ensure you have:

  • an offer letter ✔
  • a master service agreement/authorisation agreement ✔
  • your accompanying standard terms and conditions ✔

A building owner may put you under pressure to amend some of your standard terms, which should be expressly referred to in the offer letter. If the amendment conflicts with your standard terms, always ensure you have a clause in your standard terms stating which document prevails if there is conflict.

Educating your workforce

It is essential that your entire organisation understands the property guardianship business model. My top tips are:

When a property manager relocates a guardian, avoid using terms such as “you won’t have to move again for a while.” Ensure they understand the potential repercussions of an arguable fixed term assured shorthold tenancy.

Make sure property inspectors understand the importance of inspections which go beyond a doorstep inspection to your business model. Every visit should be documented with details of the inspection and photo evidence.

Assume the worst but plan for the best. if things go wrong, does your communications team know how to correctly handle potentially defamatory comments about your company on social media or any other public platform? Your legal team can help shut these down and halt any negative impact on your reputation.

If you want further advice on any of these topics, I offer a range of in-house legal update training sessions. Do get in touch to discuss your training needs.

Engaging with your property guardians

In the lead up to Christmas, why not help to fulfil some of your legal obligations whilst also furthering a positive relationship with your guardians:

  • A ‘without notice’ visit to deliver a few mince pies;
  • Suggest a “New Year, New Room” campaign to encourage movement within your properties;
  • “New Year Resolutions boxes” asking guardians to share any concerns about the property they are occupying (a paramount concern highlighted by the London Assembly) to highlight any major problems.

London Assembly Report
My next blog will give substantive thoughts on the London Assembly report. In 2018 I will continue to provide clear, practical and commercial advice to property guardian providers – considering both the law and a critical understanding of how your business works.  In the meantime, if you have any further questions I’m always happy to have an informal chat with anyone who needs my assistance.

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