Fairer property management in the UK

Over the last few years, the Government has considered various ways in which to regulate the property industry. In 2014, legislation was passed requiring that all letting and property management agents belong to a redress scheme.

In 2016, further measures were considered in respect of the letting industry and fees and after an overwhelming 72% indicated that they would like wider regulation of the letting industry Sajid Javid announced that further action would be taken to protect tenants including the banning of letting fees.

Earlier this year, MIH responded to the consultation on Unfair Practices in Leasehold and in this blog will consider the latest proposal from Sajid Javid as set out in the media and announced to the ARMA conference last week.

Although the response to the consultation on “Tackling unfair practices in the Leasehold Market” has not been issued as yet, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has announced that there are plans to potentially regulate the property management sector.

Mr Javid advised that he wishes to help create a fairer property management system that works for everyone both owners and tenants. As part of this process, there will be a six-week “call for evidence” to consider how best to deal with the problems facing the property management industry including the need to reduce costs and ensure that those receiving the services are protected against agents involved in nefarious practices.

Some of the examples of rogue agents cited by Mr Javid included:

  1. a group of leaseholders charged ten times the market rate to have a new fire escape fitted – with the £30,000 contract handed to the freeholder’s brother;
  2. one landlord charged £500 by his agent for repairing a shower door; and
  3. a London-based property agent who tried to charge a leaseholder almost £5,000 to transfer ownership of a parking space to other leaseholders.

This consultation will consider whether a new independent regulatory body is required and/or if separate bodies should be established for the various forms of property management. It will also consider:

  1. how consumers can be empowered in the market, including whether leaseholder tenants should have a greater say over the appointment of managing agents;
  2. how transparency can be increased in the system so that tenants and leaseholders know what they are being charged for and why;
  3. ensuring fairness and openness around relations between freeholders and agents; and
  4. looking at what qualifications are needed by agents to practice and how regulation can be improved.

Mr. Javid, when setting out the terms of this consultation, did recognise that ARMA and its members who adhere to the ARMA-Q standard are companies who have acted to self-regulate themselves in the absence of a Government regulatory body.

At MIH, as an agent who is currently working towards ARMA Q accreditation within the requisite 2 years, we believe that the standards set already will more than equal any government regulation proposed. However, we cannot but welcome further regulation and feel that lessees and tenants alike should have the reassurance that they are being dealt with by an agent with the appropriate experience and ability much like any industry.

At MIH, we are happy to say that where we have been appointed either by a lessee management company or by a freeholder we always endeavor to ensure that all lessees are kept updated on their property and that our dealings are transparent, particularly where charging is concerned.

We, at MIH, can confirm that all our contractors are properly vetted, with independent references being taken up. We do not have any affiliated companies and do not take a commission from our contractors and our contractor selection is purely based on the right contractor for the right job at the right (and fair) price.

We are committed to giving good quality service at the right price for all our clients and believe that our independence means that we can best serve our client’s property management needs. We also believe in the importance of qualification with all staff undertaking a structured program of training and examinations including IRPM and CIMA.

We will be responding to the call for evidence advising of the same and should you wish to do so, consultation lasts for 6 weeks from Wednesday October 2017 and you can take the survey at the link above.