Michelle Banks, chief executive of the Association of Residential Managing Agents, gave an outline of the ARMA-Q initiative to leaseholders at the annual meeting of the Federation of Private Residents’ Association on November 12.
ARMA-Q comes into effect in 2015 and has former Labour housing minister Keith Hill as its regulator.
The idea is that ARMA-Q will put ethical backbone into an organisation which was – and remains – silent over the scandals that abound in residential leasehold.
ARMA enthusiasts like to spread the fiction that rogue managing agents are outside its organisation.
“Any oik can set up as a managing agent,” Peter Bolton King, Global Residential Director at RICS, told delegates to the ARMA annual conference in October.
But LKP has long claimed that there are no shortage of managing agents playing the leasehold system within ARMA, or RICS for that matter, and a string of property tribunal rulings confirms this.
Will ARMA-Q make much of a difference to leaseholders?
Probably not. It is a complex initiative which comes into force in stages, and the regulator will only take up cases that have passed through the ombudsman and tribunals, and where a breach of ARMA’s code and rules has occurred.
LKP thinks the scheme is more than PR window dressing – which was probably the original intention – but waits to see whether it has any teeth. Will ARMA seriously address large-scale corporate cheating by members who pay the largest subscriptions to the association?
And why is ARMA so resolutely silent in the face of the seemingly endless succession of scandals in property management?
Wouldn’t leaseholders be better off if ARMA split between those managing agents whose business comes from developers and freehold-owing companies, and those who seek business from leaseholder controlled resident management companies?
Two principal conditions of accreditation with LKP – that you don’t manage your own freeholds and you do not have a predominant freeholder as a client – do not apply to ARMA.
Thanks to Michelle Banks being a former civil servant in the Department of Communities and Local Government, and her close dealings with the two civil servants responsible for leasehold issues, ARMA-Q is seen as the model for statutory regulation of the sector.
But there are a number of excellent managing agents out there who will not join ARMA because so many of the repeat offenders who they come across are established stalwarts of the association.