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Managing agents around the country are celebrating achieving ARMA-Q accreditation, as the new self-regulatory regime for members of the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) went live in January. ARMA-Q aims to set the industry standard for the quality of service that flat owners can expect from managing agents who belong to the scheme. It features:

Standards of operation which are specific to managing agents; A consumer charter; and An independent regulatory panel to deal with problems and complaints.

ARMA has taken the decision to regulate its own members due to the fact that the

residential property industry is not regulated by government. This means anyone can set up a property management business and start trading. This has led to inconsistencies in service levels and has resulted in a poor image for managing agents. To tackle this problem, ARMA-Q sets high levels of performance for members to meet. It is designed to protect consumers who can now measure their property manager against a prescribed set of standards.

Property managers who belong to ARMA must have achieved ARMA-Q accreditation by the end of February (for more on this, go to ARMA News on page 70 of this issue). This means that if your agent is not displaying the ARMA- Q logo, their firm is not recognised by ARMA


Landlords are obliged to consult tenants before carrying out major works (called “qualifying works” in s.20 and s.20ZA of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985). In December 2012 the High Court judgment in the Phillips v Francis case sent shockwaves through the residential service charge industry by declaring that s.20 applied to all qualifying works. This made it necessary for a landlord to consult tenants on any service charge items, however small, once the £250 limit for contributions had been reached in any given service charge year. This presented landlords and managing agents with an almighty headache.

It has taken almost two years for the Court of Appeal to hear the case. Thankfully, it has now reversed the High Court's decision. The Court of Appeal held that this “aggregating approach” is wrong. To apply that obligation to every item of maintenance and repair gave rise to serious practical and administrative problems and could not have been intended by Parliament. In future, the consultation requirements in s.20 should be applied by reference to individual sets of works (known as “the sets approach”). The question of what a single set of qualifying works comprises has to be determined in a common sense way, taking into account factors which are likely to include:

where the items of work are to be carried out;

Issue 20

whether they are the subject of the same contract; whether they are to be done at the same time or different times; and whether they are different from, or connected with each other.

In most cases, it should be obvious whether works comprise one or more sets. The Court of Appeal also held that the trial judge was wrong to find that qualifying works must have a permanent effect, modifying what was there before. Qualifying works will often be significant or substantial as opposed to minor and insignificant but they do not have to have a permanent effect. For example, a substantial programme of redecoration or repair would not have a permanent effect modifying what was there before but such a programme would still class as qualifying works.

Commenting on the decision, barrister Jonathan Upton says: “This decision will be an enormous relief to landlords and managing agents who did not know on which works they should consult. It should also come as a relief to tenants. Sensible tenants do not want to be bombarded with notices asking for their views on small items of expenditure and they do not want to pay the landlord's costs of complying with the consultation requirements. In future, as was the case before December 2012, the consultation requirements will only apply to individual sets of works”.

and they do not have to adhere to the quality standards now being set for members. The clear message from ARMA to anyone living in a block of flats is always to look for the ARMA- Q logo when choosing a property manager to ensure the level of service you deserve.

ARMA-Q CMA report FirstPort Flood Insurance

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Jonathan Upton: This decision will be an enormous relief to landlords and leaseholders alike


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