Nigel Glen last week ceased being the executive chairman of the Property Institute – the new rebranding of ARMA and IRPM – to become a non-executive director of FirstPort’s parent company Emeria.
The move raises questions about the direction of the Property Institute, which many managing agents – and LKP – deprecate as a mixing of different functions.
ARMA, the Association of Residential Managing Agents, is a trade body of managing agents and is a paid lobbyist for leasehold landlords’ interests. As such, it has no impartial voice in reforming leasehold and is opposed to the introduction of an invigorated commonhold as an alternative tenure to leasehold.
The Institute of Residential Property Management IRPM, on the other hand, provides training for managing agents, qualifications and a career progression structure, which is welcomed by all in the sector, particularly as apartment blocks become ever more complicated and beset with regulatory regimes such as the Building Safety Act and the challenge of Net Zero.
Merging the two organisations has been going on for 18 months, with LKP wary of the official sounding new name for two organisations with entirely different objectives.
No leaseholder should feel reassured by a managing agent being a member of ARMA – some of the most assiduous leasehold monetisers enjoy membership. But qualifications from IRPM or RICS are some indication by a managing agent of a commitment to the profession, which is open to anyone with a plausible enough manner to be entrusted with the handling of leaseholder funds.
The departure of Mr Glen from the leading role in ARMA was apparent when he stood down as CEO in the summer of 2021. He remained executive chairman, but Mr Bulmer was progressively replacing him as the de facto chief executive.
It is, however, a surprise that Mr Glen has now left the Property Institute altogether.
Mr Glen sat – for ARMA – on the “technical support group” of the Commonhold Council, while Andrew Bulmer, representing the IRPM, sits on the council itself.
French company Emeria, which is a vast European property management group with management contracts in France, Germany and Benelux, large took over FirstPort, which manages around 250,000 flats, last summer.
Along with Rendall and Rittner, which manages around 200,000 flats, it shares a continental ownership with groups that are well versed in dealing with empowered commonhold flat owners.
It remains to be seen whether any cultural shift is perceptible in the way these companies deal with leaseholders in England and Wales: who, of course, have these management companies imposed on them in the main by punters who have invested in the freeholds.
We are aware of Rendall and Rittner employed by residents management companies in some London sites, but we are unaware of any RMC or right to manage company that employs FirstPort.