Why no consumer group involved – given that the present system has failed repeatedly?
A steering group has been formed to push through a code of conduct for property managers to protect consumers – without a single consumer-based organisation being invited to take part.
It is also the case that the trade bodies taking part have been largely silent for many years after repeated examples of egregious conduct in the leasehold system.
Headed by Labour peer Baroness Dianne Hayter, the steering group is co-ordinated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – whose disciplinary procedures have proved farcical – and The Property Ombdusman, essentially a commercial redress intermediary, which has a role in sub £1,000 disputes.
A statement from RICS says: “The Steering Group, made up of consumer and sector representatives, will work collaboratively and in the public interest, and those participating in the group do so voluntarily, in good faith.”
How it has been working so far …
In fact, there is no consumer group involvement whatsoever, nor were LKP alerted to this initiative when representing the All-Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform with officials.
The lack of any consumer representation has already caused outrage on social media among leaseholders.
It is also surprising that LKP, whose accredited managing agents manage more than 100,000 flats, was not invited to take part.
It is very unlikely that leaseholders who complained about the RICS managing agent Benjamin Mire, whose disciplinary case was dropped after two failed attempts by RICS, will have much confidence in this code.
Baroness Hayter said: “The forthcoming combined code will ensure that Consumers are clear what standards they should expect from property professionals, and it will enable them to be confident that all Residential Property Agents will be held to account in meeting them.”
The new code will cover all aspects of residential property.
It says: “In addition to a high level set of principles, there will also be a number of other more detailed sections developed that are specific to various aspects of the residential property agent sector, such as sales, lettings and management. The Code is being prepared so that it can be “handed over” to the new Regulator once established.”
Andrew Bulmer, of the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM), stated:
“With almost 5,000 members in the property management sector, the IRPM has a key role to play in this important step forward for our industry and we are determined to ensure that the high level principles will help to set clear expectations on the work agents undertake, while placing the customer at the heart of what we do.”
What Mr Bulmer omits to point out is that in the vast majority of apartment blocks the property manager’s “customer” is the commercial freeholder who appoints him, and leaseholders – who do all the paying – have no say in his appointment whatsoever.
Those taking part are:
- Andrew Bulmer IRPM Property Managing Agents Training body RICS member and ex managing agent
- Alison Farrar Trading Standards government body
- Anthony Essien LEASE controversial government quango
- Cecilia Brodigan AHRM Retirement managers’ trade body
- Chris Norris NRLA Residental landlords trade body
- Dallas Banfield First Tier Tribunal
- David Cox ARLA Propertymark Lettings trade body
- Dianne Hayter Lords (Chair) Member of APPG on leasehold and commonhold reform
- Officials MHCLG
- Isobel Thomson Safeagents Training body for letting agents
- Katrine Sporle TPO The Property Ombudsman
- Liz Owen ? Possibly director of policy and strategy at Care Quality Commission a government body
- Mairead Carroll RICS Chartered surveyors’ trade body and code of practice provider
- Mark Hayward NAEA Propertymark Estates agents trade body
- Nigel Glen ARMA Property managers’ trade body
- Peter Habert TPO The Property Ombudsman
- Tim Frome PRS Property Redress Scheme ombudsman
- Steve Harriot TDS Firm involved in holding PRS tenancy deposits
- Vivienne Sugar Chair of the Welsh Consumer Council government body
One of LKP’s headline stories was “Wellcome Trust spends £114,000 on lawyers to defeat Onslow Square leaseholder in £6,000 dispute.
Was it not the case that Baroness Hayter was at one time a corporate director of the Wellcome Trust?
The whole leasehold property management/costs procedures are a back scratching gravy bowl bold for the “in crowd”.
There needs to be far reaching reform. This should include all service charge bills having to produced in a standard format and compulsorily loaded on a central government website. The Property Tribunal should be obliged to adopt an “inquiring role” that obliges it to ask for relevant information and question the Landlord (it already is obligird but does not).
Unfair ground rent increases/contracts should be readily overturned and the costs of applying and contesting a leasehold extensions capped.
LKP should be there. And who else?
It’s still the usual stitch up, when are things going to change and the payers( leaseholders) get a much bigger say. I’ve been waiting 5 years to see change, lots of false dawns sadly