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In September property services group Peverel announced it would be changing its name to FirstPort – moving from 10 property services brands to one single identity. The group provides property services to over 180,000 homes across the UK and will be phasing the rollout of the new brand with the majority of the changes completed during the early part of this year.

According to former chief executive Janet Entwistle (see column 3 below) in the past both customers and staff have complained that dealing with a number of different property services brands has sometimes caused confusion. “We want to ensure that customers find us easy to deal with and unifying under one brand will help support this commitment. The rollout will be phased to ensure that the change is smooth for our customers,” she said.

“The Peverel name has been around since the 1980s, we were a landlord then. We are a different business today - a services business,” said Janet. “Over the past two and a half years we have been investing in our business and improving our service levels to customers so

we need a brand to represent who we are today. By bringing all of our property management business under the single brand, FirstPort, we continue to meet the promises we made in our Customer Charter to be easy to deal with, open and transparent. The most important thing is to provide excellent customer service to our clients and customers and to support our staff to deliver this service.” According to Janet, during the coming year FirstPort will continue to invest in improving service levels to customers while at the same time supporting the changes to improve industry standards. “This is an important time for the property management industry, with the major Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) Market Study into the


Since new consumer laws were brought in last summer, the Property Redress Scheme (PRS), has only received one complaint made against a property manager. However, the organisation reports a rising number of complaints being made against other property professionals as landlords and flat owners become more aware of their rights.

So does this mean that property managers are providing a near-perfect service? Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the case as PRS communications office Hannah Moody explains: “only 12% of our 2,500 members describe themselves as solely property management companies – the majority also do lettings so it’s difficult to break down the figures…”

The top three grievances received by PRS are unfair or excessive fees (21%) non return of holding deposits (18%) and perceived poor service or lack of communication (18%). Of the complaints raised so far, 44% were from landlords and 41% were from tenants, with the remaining 15% being raised by buyers and sellers of property.

The good news for consumers is that agents are now resolving more complaints directly with customers when they are notified that a problem has arisen and the PRS believes this proves that redress schemes are already having a positive effect on service standards.

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress for the PRS, says: “It is great to see that consumers are becoming aware of their right to redress. The existence of the schemes means that agents can no longer shirk their responsibility to address client dissatisfaction without being held to account. Some consumers have found that by simply informing their agent that they have been in contact with the PRS, it has prompted their agent to actively address the issues they have raised.”

By law, all agents (including lettings and estate agents as well as managing agents) must now be a member of one of three government-authorised schemes.

The other redress schemes are Ombudsman Services Property (www.ombudsman- and The Property Ombudsman ( PRS can be contacted at


supply of residential property management services report just released and a new set of industry standards under ARMA-Q taking effect from January 2015,” she said. “We wholeheartedly welcome both of these developments, and we continue to work with industry bodies and other interested parties to play a leading role in driving up standards in the industry”.

The company has pledged to continue to communicate and discuss the changes on a regular basis making the new brand increasingly visible. More information is also available the new website at


Janet Entwistle is to stand down as CEO of Knight Square (formerly Peverel Group) following the rebranding of the group’s property services businesses as FirstPort and the decentralisation of the business.

Janet joined Peverel in 2012 from BT Fleet where she was managing director for 12 years and successfully transformed the business from a cost centre providing services solely to BT, to one of the UK’s leading fleet management companies.

During her time at Peverel, Janet has aimed to refocus the business, concentrating on improved customer service, greater efficiency and increased financial stability. “I am proud to have been CEO through an exciting three years,” she said. “Now we are reorganising the business to move to a decentralised structure with management closer to their customers, it is the right time for me to move on.”

Last year’s re-branding aims to reflect a new direction for the group which provides property services to more than 180,000 homes across the UK.

The consolidation of the group’s 10 property services companies under a single identity as FirstPort aims to prevent confusion and make services more transparent for leaseholders and the rollout is being phased during 2015 to ensure a smooth transition (see above). Janet will now stand down from day to day operations but will assist the Knight Square management board until the decentralisation of the business is complete.

Issue 20

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