New RICS 'Block Management Sector Code' Consultation Launches With Aim of Boosting Professionalism Across the Sector
New rules out for consultation on Wednesday 4th August 2021 are set to build on the best practice seen by regulated managing agents, to further improve professionalism across the sector, rooting out rogue agents, and improving transparency for all parties.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and The Property Ombudsmen (TPO) have joined forces with other members of the working group (of which ARMA Chairman, Michael Jacobs, is a member) to launch the Block Management Sector Code. RICS is now looking for managing agents, homeowners and tenant input.
The code, which is part of the work from the ROPA Code of Practice Steering Group (of which ARMA is a member, represented by its CEO, Nigel Glen) is set to improve the sector for consumers and those working within it by setting out clear standards and principles for all agents involved in the management of leasehold and commonhold property, and estates of freehold houses. Despite a primary focus for England, the rules could be adopted by all UK nations.
The proposed code includes, but is not limited to:
- increased transparency over service charges and management fees so homeowners understand where and how their money is being spent
- support for how to deal with occupier disputes
- recognising consumers’ use of social media and guidance on how best to work with residents’ associations in new and diverse ways
- updated complaints processes that are in line with regulated firm requirements
- clear instructions on best practice for securing new business – ultimately rooting out rogue agents to make sure leaseholders are getting a fair and comprehensive service.
The aim of the code is to improve relations between block managing agents and their clients, ultimately by improving consumer understanding of block management and enhancing agent and client communications.
Mairéad Carroll, RICS Senior Specialist for Land and Property Standards, commented: “This proposed code looks to build on the best practice seen by regulated professionals, root out rogue agents and enhance relations between professional managing agents and the homeowners or tenants they work with, by setting out clear guidelines for agents to follow which consumers can understand.”
“Peter Habert, TPO Director of Policy, commented: “The objective of the code is to provide managing agents with a universal set of clear professional standards and, in doing so, give an authoritative point of reference for the level of service leaseholders can expect. This consultation is important as it provides the opportunity, not just for managing agents to have their say, but for leaseholders and freeholders to share their views to on what they consider a fair and reasonable service should look like”.
Dallas Banfield, First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Residential Property: "So many of the cases that come before the First-tier Tribunal have a lack of transparency at their heart. Anything that brings greater understanding of the respective rights and duties that exist between landlords and lessees must be welcomed. I thank the members of the working group all of whom shared this aim and gave their time so generously."
The consultation is open until 14 September 2021 and forms part of the two organisations’ work to improve trust across the whole residential sector by improving ethical and competent practice. RICS and the TPO are requesting for agents to also engage their clients in the process.