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Opinion Flat Living whaT The experTs ThInk

Bob smytherman

Things arelooking up for leaseholders but thereis still plenty to campaign about

As IwrIte thIs,there’s alot in thepress aboutthe greenshoots of recovery in theeconomyand itmademethinkabout thestate of theleaseholdmarket. FPRA is nowseeingsomepositivesteps towardsimproving life forthemany leaseholderswho we work with and speak to on a regular basis. Wehave been campaigning

foryears to tryand achievea number of different things to help theindividual leaseholder, so Ithought I’duse this column to list someof them(by no means all our campaign issues). Here are someof the areas in which we aremaking progress, although there’s still a great deal to do.

RetiRement flats–unfaiR

tRansfeR fees TheOfficeofFairTrading (OFT) has nowissued its final report on thesubject of unfair transferfees. Most retirement flats will nownot pay more than 1% and this is being removedfrom newdevelopments. Wewouldstill liketosee these transferfeesabolished completely or restricted to beingusedtothe benefit of the block. So substantial progress hasbeenmade butweare notquitewherewewould liketobe with this one.


managingagents Despitethe refusalofthe Government to regulate property managers, in part this is being progressed by the substantive and welcomeactions of threetrade bodies in improving their Codes of Practice.FPRAhas welcomed


ARMA’s ARMAQinitiative; the decision by the ARHMto look at its Code of Practice andthe decision by the RICS to review its statutory code.Weare nowfeedingbackto theseorganisations on behalf of leaseholders,how thesecan be improved. In addition, theGovernmentis

introducingarecourseschemeand, togetherwithvarious trade bodies, the FPRA is involved in a round table to ensure that this can benefit allleaseholders. This is allgood newsbutstill does

nottacklethe rogue agentswho don’tjointrade bodiesorindeed, thoserogue freeholders, thatmany of us in theleaseholdsectorhave unfortunately had to deal with.

legislation Wewouldliketosee allleasehold legislationconsolidated, redrafted and simplified and theemphasis, where it was designed to deal with “independent freeholders” changed, particularlywhere leaseholders have successfully formed flat management companies, resident management companies or right to manage companies. However, it is clear that there is no political will to pursuethis.


commissions We’ve seen progress in recent monthsoninsurance commissions, with trade bodies recognising that commissions have to be transparent anddeclared. European intervention is on the horizon, but we arestill facing afundamental problemwhereby leaseholders arepayingexcessive insurance premiums duetoexcessive commissions.

the fPRa has been working to get green Deal benefits for flat owners

Wewould like to see allleasehold legislation consolidated, redraftedand simplified

the gReen Deal TheFPRAhas beenveryactivein trying tomake certain that people living in flats canget thesameGreen Deal benefitsasthose living in houses. However, once again,the Government does notseemtocomprehend or have the ability to recognisewhat is needed. So despite campaigns by the FPRA run jointlywithmanyother organisations, little progress is beingmade to help with theenergyefficiencyofleasehold flats.


tRiBunal seRvice The newFirst Tier Tribunal (propertychamber)replacedthe LVT in July. However, amajor backward step seems to have been taken where leaseholders are once again findingrecoursetothe tribunals off-putting because of the removal or changeofcosts/fee restrictions in certain cases. To endonapositivenote, eight new

people have comeforward to volunteer to help FPRAanditsmemberssince the last issue of Flat Living.Weare always looking for people, irrespective of background andexpertise,withan interest in leasehold, to help you.●

Bobsmytherman Chairman,TheFederationofPrivateResidents AssociationsLtd find out more about theFPRAand itslegal advice service whichis free tomembers. tel 0871 2003324 email

Issue 16 Flat Living

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