22 September 2020
The Waterways is a development in Oxford that’s as unique as it is extensive; with over 400 homes (a mix of houses and apartments), green spaces, a wildlife corridor and a canal running right through the middle of it.
We’ve been the managing agent for The Waterways for more than a decade and, as the site has developed, the relationship we have forged with the Residents’ Management Company (RMC) has flourished.
Our relationship with the Waterways Management Company has gone from strength-to-strength over the years. Today, it’s this partnership, and the relationship the RMC has with the Residents’ Association (RA), that is the backbone of the successful day-to-day running of the development.
According to Property Manager, Rachel Dolacinski, who’s been responsible for The Waterways since 2016, having a shared sense of community has been key to this continued success.
“Everybody’s really proud of living (and working) here because it’s such a nice site and we are all committed to keeping it that way. There are 13 Directors who sit on the main RMC and there are several sub-committees, including the finance, apartment block, gardening, and scrutiny committees,” says Rachel.
“The RMC and RA are brilliant because they get involved in everything. There’s always something going on – whether it’s hosting seasonal events and celebrations, or ‘The Big Rake’, The Waterways community gardening programme, there’s so much spirit here.”
Communication is key
The secret to maintaining high site standards and having a great community at The Waterways is excellent communication. Whether that’s Rachel engaging with the RMC, their sub-committees, or any of the hundreds of residents living at the development.
“I’m in contact with the RMC Directors about one thing or another most days. We don’t wait for formal catch-ups and instead keep the lines of communication open as and when we need it. This works for us as it makes us really responsive to our residents,” explains Rachel.
“For instance, if we’re planning to do any works at the development, we’ll notify the RMC at the start of the process and update them regularly so that they are completely involved. They can then pre-empt any questions from residents so we’re ready to answer them.”
All hands on deck
When some of the flat roofs at The Waterways needed replacing a few years ago it was an opportunity to see the partnership in action.
Before starting the work, a survey was carried out to assess the condition of each flat roof. The findings were shared with the RMC who agreed that replacements were necessary since some were nearing the end of their lifespan.
Estimates were gathered before Rachel and the RMC Directors reviewed reserve fund levels to make sure that money would be available to cover the cost of the work. Rachel then worked on the tender process with FirstPort’s in-house surveyors.
“Working with this in-house team meant I could access updates quickly and easily”, Rachel explains. “In turn, I could keep the RMC updated so they weren’t in the dark about anything, which is how projects like this should be managed.”
A proactive partnership
In addition to proactive communication, proactive problem-spotting also enables standards at The Waterways to be kept consistently high.
“The residents, committees and Directors are all so engaged here. They quickly let us know if they spot something that needs to be sorted out, such as a light that needs to be fixed, a damaged door closer, or items that need to be removed from the bin stores,” says Rachel.
“Also, because there are so many members of the RMC living across the site, they are really engaged with the other residents. So if there’s an issue, it’s quickly picked up and resolved.
“The way we work so closely together, as a team, is what makes working with The Waterways Management Company so great. We’re here supporting them, just as much as they’re supporting us – it’s a real partnership. We have a mutual fondness for this beautiful site and we want to do the best for everybody who lives here.”
“Rachel has always maintained an excellent and harmonious relationship with The Waterways Management Company. She strikes the right balance between taking swift action where it is within her remit to do so, and providing relevant information and advice where the committee needs to make a decision. Her detailed knowledge of the estate and its history has been invaluable. She often goes the extra mile to resolve problems or make improvements and the committee genuinely feels that we are all working together towards a common end.”
Adrian Olsen – Chair, Waterways Management Company
Rachel is just one of 4,000 colleagues caring for 290,000 homes across the UK. To find out more about the role of a Property Manager, read A day in the life of a property manager supporting RMC Directors, for a behind-the-scenes look at what a ‘typical’ day involves.
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