Nigel Wheeler, head of property management at Nelson Bakewell, takes us through his week

Monday

The week starts WELL enough, negotiating contract terms for a new property management agreement with the fund manager of a brand new Jersey property unit trust. But sadly we sail rapidly into the choppy waters of ‘withholding tax’ and finally run aground somewhere in the wilds of the Inland Revenue’s non-resident landlord scheme.

The basis of the scheme is to ensure that UK rent-collection agents only send untaxed rents offshore to ‘non-resident’ landlords with the Inland Revenue’s prior agreement. This is normally applied for by the landlord.

Overlooking this procedure can leave the unwary agent exposed to a hefty tax bill later, which should have been deducted and withheld at the time of collection.

Happily, time is on our side, and our respective legal advisers spend a good slice of it agreeing suitable changes to the draft documentation, finally ensuring that any tax risk is firmly boxed off where it belongs in these situations – away from the agent.

Tuesday

Having piously studied the RICS Tenant Satisfaction Index on the train, I felt well briefed to present our case for a comprehensive programme of planned, preventive maintenance for our client’s national portfolio.

The index reports: ‘As new leases have shortened, it has become even more important to occupiers that their landlords properly plan their service charge expenditure, and spread the cost of major works as evenly as possible throughout the year. Occupier loyalty is rarely enhanced by the prospect of having to pay for a new air conditioning system in the last year of the five-year lease.’

During our presentation, a well-meaning contributor – there’s always one, and they invariably used to work for a competitor – points out that even the most well-planned maintenance schedule may not be able to achieve the smoothing-out in service charge bills from year to year that some occupiers are seeking.

Mulling this over during a cup of coffee with our principal, we innovate and come up with the novel idea of reintroducing depreciation fund provisions into the modern UK property lease. This would ensure that all occupiers contribute their fair share to the long-term costs of running the property, irrespective of their length of stay.

Wednesday

The uk property industry is shocked by the sudden demise
of Chesterton

The UK property industry is shocked this morning when it receives an email bearing the news of Chesterton’s sudden demise. I can only imagine the challenges ahead as its staff respond quickly and positively to the opportunity to regroup under other corporate umbrellas or ventures.

With Nelson Bakewell having received coverage of its corporate activity during the previous few months – the company is to be purchased by CB Richard Ellis – we have learnt a few lessons. Change is rightly accepted as healthy and progressive, but successful and rapid implementation in a ‘people business’ needs hard work and meticulous planning to retain the full support of clients and staff. It will be they, after all, who determine its success.

Off to sunny Cannes for MIPIM 2005. I worry inordinately about what to pack, and as usual, in common with thousands of other male delegates, settle on a simple choice of the office suit or the more preppy combination of blazer and chinos, accessorised by mobile phones and wrap-around shades à la Henley Regatta.

It seems we have drawn the short straw on the accommodation front in terms of distance from the Croisette, and I resign myself to the prospect of wandering aimlessly around the back streets of La Californie on my way home in the early hours.

Thursday and Friday

I have several informal client meetings during the course of Thursday, and plenty of potential projects on the horizon to report on my return.

Although hard work (really!), this is all hugely enjoyable and it is a real privilege to spend a day or so meeting with new and old clients and possibly new colleagues.

Over the years I’ve attended I’m not sure I can lay firm claim to directly securing any new business while at MIPIM, but the aim has always been to build strong business relationships over time. Property management is a long game after all.

At the end of a hard day, and in common with a number of others feeling a tad over-entertained, I start to retrace my steps up the hill wondering where I put my hotel key and my passport for tomorrow’s flight home.

Topics