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NEWSLETTER


ISSUE No. 92 Spring 2010


OUR THREE DEMANDS by the Editor The General Election is coming soon and the FPRA has announced three manifesto “musts” for the main political parties. These are:


An independent regulator for property managers and commercial landlords;


Full disclosure of insurance and other commissions by freeholders;


Guaranteed safety of service charge funds should the banks fail again.


The Federation has written to the three main political parties urging them to “take the pledge” and sign up to these three policies. We also suggest our members may like to send a similar letter to their MPs asking for their promise of support as well. (Please see the letter illustrated later in this article.)


Our campaign for independent regulation of managing agents has been stepped up recently with FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman joining forces with the pressure group CARLEX (Campaign Against Retirement Leasehold Exploitation).


Calling for an end to the “two-tier” system of property management, Bob has written to John Denham, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, which has responsibility for the private leasehold sector, calling for an independent regulator for the industry, similar to the one that regulates council housing and housing associations.


Bob told the Secretary of State: “The current system of self-regulation is not working, and there is now a two-tier system of property management in this country, with the social sector fully regulated, and no such system in place for the private sector. This is resulting in some leaseholders being subjected to unreasonable service charges, inflated insurance premiums by freeholders and a poor level of service by some managing agents, leaving leaseholders feeling they are unable to exercise any influence with regards to the decisions that are made in the buildings which they live.”


After the CARLEX meeting, Bob said: “I was appalled to hear so many accounts of elderly


leaseholders being ignored by managing agents and property managers when all they were asking was how their money was being spent and then being told that if they set up a residents’ association they would not be seen as a representative group by their managing agent, despite this being included in the code of practice by the Association of the Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM), who are responsible for enforcing high standards in the management of private retirement and sheltered housing by their members.


“It is quite clear that the industry is either unable or unwilling to regulate itself and it is now time that the private sector should be brought in line with that of the social housing sector and be accountable to a truly independent regulator and not one that is effectively a trade body defending their members rather than standing up for the rights of leaseholders.


“Last year representatives from a variety of professional and leaseholder groups, including the FPRA, met twice with civil servants from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to work on a scheme of independent regulation for managing agents and today we are now calling on all political parties to commit to regulating the industry before the next General Election.”


Bob is trying to get from the Government some commitment to independent regulation for managing agents and property managers as he Continued on next page


INSIDE THIS ISSUE


Complaining about management agents – new independent procedure 2 A website for your own block


Ask the FPRA


– your questions answered Legal jottings


– compiled by Philippa Turner Achieving transparency


– insurance commission fees and service charges


3 4


8 9


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