Property Estate Challenges

An article from Bill Rushton, Associate Director, Property & Real Estate, Russam

Bill Rushton is heading up our new and innovative capability specialising in property estate advisory services and is now available for our Russam clients.

We have had a great response from clients who have both specific and whole of estate issues that could benefit from our Russam team of highly experienced property professionals’ advice.

While our calls for advice have been coming from across the Russam client base, there has been a noticeable number of inquiries coming from charities, including from trustees. It’s clear from our discussions that many charities are being faced with issues concerning their property estate that need a level of property expertise that is beyond their in-house property team’s capability.

One example is a major charity that is feeling the impact of introducing a hybrid workplace policy post-COVID. From a property perspective, the organisation now finds most staff working from home two to four days a week leaving the organisation itself having to service high London rentals for their office space even though they are lucky if half of the space is being used. Landlords, who have suffered during COVID are not interested in letting them out unless they are prepared to pay a large fee and make good the whole premises. They have a whole floor and there would be major expense trying to split the floor as well. Our Russam Tenant Advisory Team is now working on the best way out of this situation which has been a regular Agenda Item for the Trustee’s Board Meetings since the beginning of the year.

Another one of our charity clients has been challenged with being advised (almost a month ago) by their long-time Head of Property, that he is leaving as he has a new job, after recognising that the industry is offering higher salary packages due to the post-COVID demand for property professionals. This individual holds possibly all the property estate’s knowledge of current property matters, including legal and compliance. Effectively, he plans to leave in a week and the plan was to give his current workload to his administrator who has been in the job since January this year. Also, as the owner of a building asset, this charity’s largest tenant who brings in 60% of the building’s income, is up for a rent review.  Our Russam Estates Team plans to do a helicopter review of the Charity’s property estate, identifying issues that need urgent attention, including the rent review, and provide a quick solution for the charity Trustees. At the same time, we will prepare a strategic business plan offering a way forward and undertake a search for a replacement Head of Property.   

We have found in this short time that there are many organisations that have or are developing skill gaps regarding their property estate. While the tactical day-to-day issues may be well under control by the existing property estates team or individual, there are a range of property matters that present to Finance and CEOs that are potentially of high impact to the organisation’s reputation or bottom-line funds position.  Specialist areas that we have recently reviewed, include:

  • Workplace Change Management
  • Estate Management
  • FM Management
  • Procurement
  • Building Optimisation
  • New project construction
  • Building re-purposing for future use

The Russam team of property advisory professionals is made of past Heads of Property, FM Directors, Estate Directors, CEOs of Property Funds, General Managers of Commercial Real Estate organisations. We have a range of Project and Development managers who have been responsible for the delivery of new and refurbished buildings across the globe. I look forward to demonstrating this incredible level of subject matter expertise in future articles.

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