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balances in place tomeasure the performance of individualmanaging agents. AtMainstay, we have experienced at first

hand taking overmanagement of complex city centre schemeswhere thestandardof management wasextremely poor. Problems have includedfailure even to carryout basichealthand safety checks,suchasfire risk assessmentsand testingofemergency lighting. Similarly, we have had schemes handed over into ourmanagementwhere thereappeartohavebeenfew or non-existent financial recordskeptandwherethe former managing agenthas beenunabletoprovide a trial balance; let alone audited accounts. Somepropertymanagers areexpectedby

theiremployers tomanage thirty or forty schemes. No guidance exists as towhat is an appropriate number; but clearly leaseholders must askthemselveswhether they will receiveanacceptable standard of servicefrom amanagerwhohas such abroad rangeof responsibilities. It is notyet fully clearwhathurdles will

need to be clearedinorder foragentsto achieveARMAQapproval –but they need to be set in suchaway that genuinecontrolsare created. There has been talk of ‘grandfather rights’for existingmembers, butthatshould stillrequire somesort of entrystandards

...thereareno checks andbalancesin

performanceofindividual managingagents

placetomeasurethe above those that are currently in place.

Ibelieve ARMAQshouldrepresentasecond possible stageafter trade bodymembership at basiclevel.Itshouldset thehurdles for accreditation sufficiently high to ensure that thereare finally professional standardsof conductset andmaintained.Itshouldalso incorporatearigorous regimeforauditing againstkeymeasures,sothatour clientscan finally feel secure in theknowledge that their homes are safe in our hands.

Flatowners simplywish to live in a pleasant, wellmaintainedhome.Where theyemploy a managingagent, they should be able to trust that the communal areas of their homes are beingwellmaintained by someonewho is knowledgeableand experienced -and that their servicecharges arebeingspentwisely.The majority arenot expertsinproperty managementand nor should they have to be.Itremains to be seenwhether improved self-regulationofthe kind planned byARMAwill driveupstandards across the industry.One thing is certain - do notexpecttoseemajorchanges foratleast 18 months.The devil is, as ever, in the detail.● PaulCrookisManaging Director of theMainstay

Group SuePetri is Director ofMainstay Residential 36 Spring2012 Flat Living SUppORTINGThE ‘GOOd GUyS’

Ourhomes areanassetintowhich most ofusputanenormousamountof financialandemotionalinvestment. Soit is vitalthatthosepeopleoffering services tohomeownersandoccupiers dosoprofessionallyandefficiently, writesRICSResidentialProfessional GroupDirectorDaviDDalby

Nowhere is thismore true than in the leasehold sector. The complex and potentially contentious nature of the relationship betweenfreeholder, lessee, tenant andmanaging agent requiresextensive technical knowledge aswell as a high level of customer service, to ensure everyone has faith in the services provided and thosewho offer them. Inasectorwhere there is such a wide variation in levels of service, the proposal byARMAto

introduce an arm’s length regulatoryregime, similar to thatwhich the RICShas beenrunningforanumber of years, is to bewelcomed. Suchaprocess –ifitisto prove successful - needs to operatewithin the five accepted principles of better regulation. It needs to be proportional, accountable, consistent, targeted andtransparent. It is equally important that not onlymanaging agents but also their customers understandwhat the

standards are againstwhich their performance is being judged and regulated. Thebenefits of

effectiveregulation to leaseholders are the assurance that agents operatingwithin the regimemeet clearly defined professional andethical

standards,have appropriate qualifications and expertise, andthatthe oversight of themembers’ activities is carried out by a body that canact independently of the membership.Theremustbe no perception thatmembers are protecting their colleagues if complaints arise. Managing agents also

need the assurance that that they areworking within

“Thosewho fail tomeetthe appropriate standardsmust beseentobe dealtwith”

aframeworkwhererules of conduct are enforced fairly andconsistently. Those memberswho fail tomeet theappropriatestandards must be seen to be dealt with, either by ensuring that their performance is raised to the necessary standard, or by administering appropriatepunishment. RICSwelcomesthe

important steps towards raising standards that ARMAis taking.Welook forward toworking with ARMAto ensure that

consumersareawareofthe standards underwhichthe ‘good guys’ in the industry operate, so that they are able to judge thequality of service being offered and make informed choices when choosing amanaging agent.

Thegreater the

understanding of how a regulated agent adds value to themanagement process, thesooner consumers will seek out thoseagents, forcing unregulated firmsto either raisetheir standards or go out of business.

Theremustbe no perception thatmembers areprotecting their

colleaguesif complaints arise

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