Sir Peter Bottomley told the Commons debate on leasehold on December 20:
What I will do is talk about some of the abuses. Benjamin Mire, a well-known surveyor and leasehold property manager, was going to be removed by the Ministry of Justice as a person not fit for judicial office, but by the time the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office had concluded its investigations, he had retired or resigned days before he would have been dismissed. Had he not done this, the full report would have come out into the open, but as he jumped before he was pushed it did not.
He is not fit for judicial office and he is not fit to go on being a registered member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The problem is that his clever lawyers, and perhaps a display of not enormous competence by RICS, have left the details of the charges against him by RICS not fully out in the open. There were 35 cases where he or his company, Trust Property Management, were appearing at the property tribunal. There were failings by almost everyone involved.
The problem with the tribunal is that it does not have the power to fine for repeat offences. If it did, Mr Benjamin Mire would have been fined significantly. Everyone is entitled to a fair hearing, but let me give an example of a finding in one case where the trust acted as a property manager. It was stated:
“The landlords have had scant regard to the law and the RICS Management Code in respect of the costs of the proposed interior decorations.”
How can a self-regulation system that does not consider such court findings as warranting even an admonition retain the confidence of the general public? The Government have argued for years that there is no need for statutory regulation, but can anyone name a group that supports that position? Even the main managing agents trade body, the Association of Residential Managing Agents—ARMA—has been asking the Government to regulate the sector.
The full debate can be seen here at 13.19: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/fc53bd87-8abf-4986-b7ce-6a7a488b8cfc