“This is the difference between a well-managed building and one that is not”

The Grid: Tenant management is increasingly important as it can have an impact on real estate yields for investors. What are best practices today?

Fadi Nwilati: Although that is the common term used in the industry, we like to separate it into:

  1. Lease Management (managing documentation, administration, legal and commercial activities)
  2. Resident Management

Lease management is purely administrational and relatively straightforward. We follow ISO 9001:2015 practices for quality management and administration and use technology to automate those processes as much as possible, reducing human error and improving customer satisfaction. It is a documentation-heavy process so tenants typically complain about signing so many papers even after a lease is signed.

Resident management is where a good asset manager can make a difference. It is qualitative. A lot of people think Dubai is very safe so they don’t overly think about safety. For us, safety is MORE than security. The government does a great job at security so our involvement in security is minimal, monitoring rather than dictating or creating.

Major areas that matter to us are: 1. Elevators, 2. Fires, and 3. Water.

We worry about residential building elevators being well maintained, for instance. If they are not, that’s a serious safety issue. There have been incidents in Dubai with injuries, both physical and mental.

Dubai residents are not conditioned to feel unsafe in elevators. Back in my country most people won’t get into an old elevator!

The Grid: You mentioned fire and water as well. How do asset managers get involved here?

Fadi Nwilati: Firefighting systems are of extreme importance. Residents need to have confidence that in case something happens, emergency response systems are properly in place and that the fire fighting systems actually work. Property managers need to do the right testing and the right fire drills.

It’s my top concern as well as the health and safety of my team. We have the right systems. They are tested. We look at them again and again at least six times a year. We have the comfort that we can deal with any sort of incident.

Dubai government monitors this properly. In general that is why in recent years the few fires that have happened have not had virtually any deaths and minimal injuries. This is because of planning and training security personnel and property managers and fire fighters and police properly. That coherence is there. As a building resident, one doesn’t think of this.

The other factor that is an ongoing concern (compared to fire, incident driven, or elevators, maintenance driven) is water. Residents shower, clean dishes, boil food and even prepare infant milk with this water with out thinking about how safe it is. But there is someone out there making sure the water that reaches your kitchens, bathrooms etc is safe and not lethal to a baby that accidentally drinks it. Especially in a city where the water is desalinated and goes through many chemical processes before it reaches your door, this is important.

The Grid: Sounds like a lot of entities get involved at some stage or another! How does that impact the process of managing health and safety?

Fadi Nwilati: With elevators, the government has made third party certification mandatory for maintenance. Often the manufacturer maintains, the property manager monitors, the third party inspects and occasionally the insurance company audits (large assets).

This is the difference between a well-managed building and one that is not. Some people are extremely strict when it comes to health and safety and others are not. Third party certifications in some buildings are delayed. We always ensure that it is done on time. I don’t even want to say ahead of time because that is wrong practice. ON time! [pointing finger at desk]

With fire maintenance, again the government requires third party inspections. There is an added layer. The Dubai Civil Defense requires a fire drill to be carried out twice a year.

When they come, it’s a full drill. The consortium of fire fighters, policemen etc are unaware that it’s a false alarm. We prepare a scene, which simulates smoke in some cases and a person in distress in a room somewhere in the building. It is only when the fire fighters etc enter the room, do they find out it’s a drill!

It’s a great way to train everyone and helps us understand different access issues that buildings have. It is extremely important to have excellent measures in a) detection and b) response.

We measure our response time as well as third parties’ during a fire drill. Four years ago when we took over the management of a specific building, the response time for Dubai Civil Defense was 16 minutes. This was because the building was not easy to find. We worked with the RTA and the area authorities to get better signage put up. In the last fire drill, Dubai Civil Defense and the ambulances were there in 3.5 minutes.

So we looking at important details that residents don’t think about.

This is an extract from an interview with Fadi Nwilati, Chief Executive Officer, KAIZEN Asset Management

KAIZEN Asset Management Services is an integrated asset and property services company, offering a range of specialist services for all property & investment needs. Kaizen’ team is dedicated to providing comprehensive technology driven property and asset management services throughout the asset life cycle. Kaizen is a corporate member of both MEFMA and the US Green Building council. Kaizen has also been certified to be fully compliant with ISO 9001:2008 standards since 2014. Kaizen’s major divisions include asset management, property management, development management, and owners association management. Under Fadi’s leadership, Kaizen has earned several awards, most recently Superbrands 2017, Gulf Real Estate Award for Best Employer and Best Company to Manage Exclusive Projects in 2016. Kaizen is renowned for its application of technological advances, its commitment to service excellence, implementation of sustainable strategies and human expertise within the property sector.

This interview is provided as general information to readers of The Grid. It does not constitute, and should not be construed as, advice on any specific matter or advice on which you should rely, nor does it create any contractual, tortuous or fiduciary relationship. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information.

Interview by Tasneem Mayet, Research Director, The Grid Media Ltd

This article is provided as general information to readers of The Grid Media Ltd. It does not constitute, and should not be construed as, advice on any specific matter or advice on which you should rely, nor does it create any contractual, tortuous or fiduciary relationship. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information.

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