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Issue No. 90 Autumn 2009

enforcement powers including the power to impose sanctions on wayward agents. The fact that none of these currently exists highlights the potential for abuse in the industry.

Bob Smytherman will be arguing the FPRA’s case for the introduction of regulation for professional agents, but that leaseholder-owned and managed blocks should not be subject to the full regulations. It is essential that leaseholder-run blocks are not overwhelmed by paperwork and regulatory demands making it too onerous and time-consuming for volunteers to cope. Quite how sympathetic the DCLG will be to this argument, remains to be seen.

The consultation process involving interested organisations will last several months, and the FPRA welcomes members’ contributions to the debate. In an ideal world the fi nal report that emerges from the consultation will attract cross-party support, and be implemented before the next general election. Let’s hope this happens, and that a successful regulatory system is ticking over before another seven years is up.

Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter TRANSPARENCY

Commission paid on insurance premiums for blocks of fl ats has been a “grey area” for leaseholders, giving some cause for complaint. FPRA has campaigned for transparency in this area – and now the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is taking action.

Transparency in fees in both the residential and commercial property sector has been in and out of the news for some time. Anecdotal information suggests there may be unwelcome practice in this area, says RICS, and it is consulting widely in the property fi eld.

“RICS wants to look at what the actual position is and to this end we want to gather robust evidence. It may well be that there is unwelcome practice but similarly there will be examples of good practice. We want to know about both.”

Over the last couple of years, a number of issues in relation to transparency of fee/ commission payments in the residential and commercial property sector have been highlighted (by members, the public, through other consultation exercises and

other organisations) and brought to the attention of RICS. The issues include:

• Declaration of insurance remuneration and commissions.

• Service charges in leasehold property. • Commission on letting renewals.

• Commission on Home Information Packs (HIPs) and Energy Performance Certifi cates (EPCs).

• Valuation fees.

• Arrangement of fees for security loan valuations.

While there is anecdotal information that there may be unwelcome practice in these areas, what RICS wants to do is look at what is actually happening by inviting individuals and organisations to provide evidence around these issues. Equally, we know that there is a lot of good practice in these areas and RICS wants to identify and promote that good practice.

The fi rst stage of the consultation is completed, but the process is on-going, FPRA has been involved and we will keep you informed of the outcome.


for Digital Switchover

the private rental sector. Some of the properties were in areas that are due to go digital this year, and surprisingly many of these were still not fully ready.

It is becoming increasingly important that landlords put solutions in place. The Selkirk transmitter in the Scottish borders had its analogue signal turned off for good in November 2008. In 2009, 14 other areas are due to switchover, and digital switchover will affect 4.6 million households in the year.

Jane Ostler, Director of Housing at Digital UK comments: “Housing providers have an important role to play in ensuring the success of the UK’s digital TV switchover. Those in areas that have already made the switch were well prepared and we would encourage landlords and tenants everywhere to ensure they are ready well ahead of analogue TV signals being switched off in their region. Digital UK offers independent advice on switchover and provides a dedicated website for housing providers.”

The results of the survey and other information are available on the Managing Agent page of Sky’s dedicated website for communal TV


A new teletext service is available to check digital signals in advance of the TV switchover.

There is an aerial signal test to identify really poor reception and act as a guide as to whether the aerial needs replacing on analogue teletext page 284 for channels 1-4. You are advised to run the test on all channels and in varying weather conditions.

Concern has been raised that replacing analogue aerials with new digital equipment is an improvement, and therefore not allowed in the terms of most leases. A recent LVT case made a helpful comment on this issue, although it is not a binding precedent. The LVT also stated that the lease did allow for improvements. “In any event the replacement of a defunct system, the analogue receiver, is not in our fi nding an improvement.”

Case ref. CAM/26UC/LSC/2008/0083 124 Livingstone Walk, Hemel Hempstead

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