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New year, new plans, new chairman

ARMA’s new chairman Peter Dening, tells Flat Living about his plans for the year ahead

he worked for James & Lister Lea in Birmingham. When he joined Pennycuick & Brown in 1987 he took sole responsibility for the service charge portfolio and has been doing that ever since, al- though the firm now has a much larger team. “My background has always been in management and I have always found the resi- dential element to be the most interesting,” he says. So when did Peter first become aware of ARMA? “I attended my first


conference in 1999 and quickly recognised the importance of ARMA to the work I was doing,” he says. Pennycuick & Brown joined the association in 2000 and Peter soon became involved, first with the Accounts Committee and then chairing the Technical Committee. As chairman of ARMA, Peter Dening is eager to continue what he

considers the “excellent” work of his predecessor, Brett Williams. “Given that our members manage over 80% of all blocks of flats under professional management we have an important role to play in ensuring the leasehold system works and is workable. I see my role as one of overseeing the process of continually improving standards of service to our members’ clients and their customers, the lessees”, says Peter. The new chairman is also keen to ensure that ARMA continues to enhance the support provided to members through one-on-one technical advice, guidance notes, training courses and other events. Having been involved in the leasehold management sector for 35 years, Peter’s experience has taught him that good communication and delivering what is promised are key to building a successful property management business. These will be his personal messages to ARMA members and their clients. However, he is also keen to emphasise that successful block management is a two way process: “Leasehold managers cannot work in a void, their clients must play their part by giving clear directions and support to their managers”, he says. Peter recogises that there are a number of difficult challenges now facing

eter Dening first be- came involved in residential block man- agement in 1978 when

And what of the regulatory environment for the leasehold sector?

Peter has strong views on this subject. “Grant Shapps, the housing minister, has decided statutory regulation is not necessary. That being said, leasehold has more legislation and regulation to deal with than any other part of the residential sector. The minister has also decided the regulations on accounting for lessees money were not necessary either”, says Peter. ARMA disagrees with the government’s stance on regulation and is taking action to fill the void the organisation believes the government has created. Peter explains: “At our conference in November (see page 29 of this

issue) we announced that we would be revisiting our regulatory regime to see if it needs further enhancement. We also announced the new accounting guidance produced by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, produced with the full input and cooperation of both ourselves and the RICS”. To find out more go to So what issues will ARMA be campaigning on or pursuing with

government in the coming months? Peter explains that despite the government’s disinclination to even



look at current leasehold issues ARMA, together with a number of other stakeholders, will continue to put on record with the housing minister issues that the sector believes really are deserving of his attention. However, he is adamant that there is one area which, on paper at least, the government should find irresistible; independent redress for all tenants and leaseholders. “The coalition seems content to leave in place the mandatory requirement for estate agents to belong to an Ombudsman Scheme, so why not add lettings agents and leasehold managers to this regime. The templates and codes are already in place so it is not exactly rocket science! ” he says. On a more mundane yet equally

important note, ARMA will continue to campaign hard against the govern- ment’s decision to ban the clamping or towing away of illegally parked cars on privately owned leasehold property. “It goes without saying that the implica-

tions of such a ban will be far reaching and largely undesirable for les- sees with private parking areas so ARMA will be doing all it can to try to persuade the Secretary of State for Transport to think again before introducing this legislation,” says Peter. Finally, what will the new chairman be doing to raise the profile of

ARMA within the property industry and the wider public arena? Peter believes that within the property industry, both in the UK and

managing agents. “The current economic climate is not pleasant for any of us and there are still serious uncertainties to be confronted,“ he says. “If inflation continues, pay freezes persist and unemployment rises, some of the two million leaseholders are going to experience difficulty meeting their obligations to pay their service charges.” Peter explains that this creates a vicious circle whereby some lessees do not pay their service charges and so certain services have to be curtailed. “This leads to other lessees refusing to pay their charges and so you spiral downward”, he warns.

Europe, ARMA’s profile is “pretty high” as it works with organisations such as the RICS, Institute of Residential Property Management, the Federation of Private Residents Association and the British Parking Federation among others. However, in the wider public area, he hopes that during the next

year ARMA can substantially add to the information already provided to directors of Residents Management Companies and lessees. “More information means more understanding and more understanding leads to greater harmony in the properties ARMA members manage,” Peter concludes. 33

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