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News ALEP to focus on flat owners

The Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement practitioners (ALEP) has announced that in future it will be focusing more strongly on helping hard- pressed flat owners. The group was established

almost five years ago. It represents those involved in the residential leasehold sector in areas such as lease extensions, freehold acquisition of blocks and right to manage. ALEP’s original aim was to maintain and improve standards among solicitors, surveyors, intermediaries and managing agents. Now, in response to increasing demand for support from leaseholders in these complex aspects of flat ownership, ALEP is to expand its website ( to help homeowners gain free advice

from ALEP members. There will also be a stronger focus on communication with the public so that flat owners are made aware of their rights and know who to turn to if they need halp. With the future of the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) still uncertain and the government stating it will not change primary legislation during this parliament in response to recent concerns over flat owners rights, Honorary Secretary Alex Greenslade (right) believes it is important that ALEP uses the experience of its members to help beleaguered flat owners and freeholders. “ALEP hopes its expansion of consumer- focused services will give them the reassurance they deserve,” he says.

Legal resource now online

Solicitors Brethertons have announced the launch of their new web-based information hub, aimed at the residential property management sector and designed to provide up-to-date legal news and comment. Visitors to the site can subscribe free of charge to a range of articles, factsheets and newsletters.

The law firm hopes the hub will provide a useful and informative resource for anyone working in or connected with the sector including managing

agents, freeholders, developers, suppliers, members of residents associations, directors of RMC’s and RTM companies together with members of ARMA, IRPM, ARHM, FPRA and the RICS.

Subscribers to the Hub will also be able to book onto forthcoming webinars, subscribe to Brethertons newsletters and will be able to join the PM Alliance Linkedin group. For more information go to pm-alliance

Change “in name alone” for LVT

It was announced in May that the Residential Property Tribunals Service (RPTS) of which the LVT is part, will transfer to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service from 1 July. Committees and Tribunals that come under the RPTS umbrella, including the LVT, are quasi-judicial bodies with the power to settle disputes which would otherwise go through the court system. The new arrangement will not mean the end of the LVT and there is no indication that there will be any change to the way in which the

tribunal operates. The network of panels and

panel offices is expected to be retained for the foreseeable future and the jurisdictions of LVTs, Rent Assessment Committees and Residential Property Tribunals will remain unchanged. David Hewett, chief executive

of ARMA was quick to reassure members and leaseholders that the LVT will still exist to deal with property disputes in the same way. ARMA believes the transfer is a change in name alone, he says.

New fire guide for purpose-built blocks

Proposed national guidance on fire safety for purpose built blocks of flats has now been published, with the aim of providing practical support and advice to anyone responsible for the safety of residents. The guidance will be of

interest to RMC directors, managing agents, landlords and anyone else carrying out fire risk assessments and is

sponsored by the Communities Department. In order to ensure that the guidance is as effective as possible and ticks all the right boxes, the draft version has been put out to consultation, with interested parties invited to comment by 31 May. Once comments have been received and a final version produced, the final guidance is expected to be available at the end of July 2011,

as a free, downloadable web-based document. The FPRA has welcomed

the draft guidance. Chairman and member of the Fire Safety reference group Bob Smytherman said: “The existing advice covers most types of property, but it was never sufficient for common parts of blocks of flats and some landlords and residential management companies which

are often run by volunteer directors are unsure of their legal responsibilities in such buildings… These extra guidelines should resolve these issues and help make sure everyone involved in the housing sector knows exactly what they have to do…”

For more information, go to the Local Government Association website at 07

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