The government’s decision to replace the Lords initiative to license managing agents in favour of compulsory membership of ombudsman schemes won’t help resolve real issues behind the acrimony in leasehold.
This is the view of Rob Plumb (left), chief executive of HML Holdings, which is accredited to the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.
“The general consensus in the sector is that an ombudsman is used surprisingly infrequently (in the context of how much unhappiness there is generally in the leasehold market) and the value of the settlements is comparatively low,” he said. “Usually a few hundreds of pounds.”
The companies in the group – HML Andertons, HML Shaw, HML Hathaway, HML Scotts and HML Hawksworth – manage 40,000 leasehold properties and have been signed up to the ombudsman service since 2010.
“I would guess that we have had less than a dozen cases,” says Plumb. “Our limited experience of the service has been mixed, but it’s fair to say that there have definitively been some very satisfactory resolutions. From a managing agent’s perspective, the service has the advantage of reducing the time wasted in having to deal with obsessive complainants.
“But while the ombudsman system may help to deal with day-to-day service issues, it’s a million miles from being able to deal with the type of complex legal issues that, for example, surrounded Charter Quay [in Kingston] or St George’s Wharf [Vauxhall, central London].
“Ombudsman services certainly won’t be addressing the type of structural issues that have created this groundswell of leaseholder antagonism and, indeed, gave rise to the formation of LKP.”
Dont believe all what this mr plumb is saying the property managment market is total flowed even this mans company can’t do the job there paid to do, my impression from all I read it’s another way for builders to make a bit more money for doing nothing and managment company’s do very little to get a packet and low and behold its perfectly legal for this to happen because govement do nothing to stop it happening the ombudsman do very little because the hid behind the managment company’s, I bet me plumb don’t have to pay out massive managment fees, they way I see this is if you pay for a service you should get one it’s a shame HML have not got this idea yet we know builds don’t have this concept, it’s about time the govement started to close these company’s down that don’t perform
The HML companies all have a formal complaints procedure if, as you say, they are not doing their job, which leads up to the MD of each company and in turn to the Ombudsman. As a matter of principle their staff will, I am sure, or if not then one of their managers, will listen to sensible, well reasoned, representations about service charge expenses and arrangements. While they cannot address your suspicions about the industry and developers, they can look at actual issues and expenses facing your block. There are a number of informal and statutory remedies if arrangements remain in your view unsatisfactory eg mediation, arbitration, or in the event of widespread dissatisfaction, the right to manage.