Association of Residential Managing Agents

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ARMA Annual Conference 2021 - Event Review

After a year dominated by a pandemic, ARMA’s 2021 Annual Conference took delegates back to the future of residential property management by refocusing on the key issues set to shape the sector over the coming years. Delivered to delegates as an online webinar across four days, ARMA members and the wider industry came out in full support of the flagship event, with hundreds of delegates logging-in from offices and homes across the country.

 

Day One: ARMA Updates and Wellbeing

Day one began with a welcome from ARMA Chairman, Michael Jacobs of MLM Property Management. Touching on the trials and tribulations of 2021, Michael commended the way the industry had adapted to new ways of working and pondered which elements of flexible working are likely to remain in the future. Turning to the work of managing agents, he highlighted the need for stretched workforces with limited resources to provide a realistic service to residents.

The first full session of the day was delivered by ARMA CEO Dr Nigel Glen who took stock of ARMA’s activities and performance as a membership body over the past 12 months. Today ARMA enjoys a record membership total of 509 firms, with 1.45 million homes currently under ARMA member wings across England and Wales.

Nigel explored the findings of the recent ICG Commissioned ‘Members’ Needs’ survey. Overall, the survey showed ARMA meets today’s needs well, but some gaps suggested ARMA was not fully informing members and the sector about its extensive lobbying activity. Nigel went on to summarise the tremendous amount of Government interaction ARMA continues to have. Alongside government groups, ARMA engages with various industry bodies on a regular basis, namely RoPA (Regulation of Property Agents), the Cladding Strategy Group, the Industry Response Group and the Building Safety Alliance council.

Nigel also covered the progress of several ARMA-led initiatives, including its Building Safety Group (which regularly has over 90 attendees including government officials), ARMA Insure, ARMA Network, ARMA Energy and the ARMA leaseholder forum.

With the pressures of a building safety crisis further compounded by a pandemic, property managers have faced mounting pressure in their day-to-day roles. Our second session of the day was therefore a timely one. Delivered by MLM’s Shelley Jacobs, a business psychologist, the presentation on ‘Wellbeing and Resilience’ focused on preparing the industry for more testing times ahead. To demonstrate the immense strain that many are facing, Shelley referred to findings from ARMA and IRPM’s Wellbeing Survey published earlier in the year.

With less than 10% of employees feeling comfortable talking to their managers about mental health problems, there is plenty still to be done. Shelley cited several strategies to help employers create sustainable cultures of wellbeing at work and shared some self-care tips for managing stress.

 

Day Two: Building Safety

Day two opened with Dr Shaun Lundy of Tetra Consulting offering a breakdown of the Building Safety Bill in its current state, and its road to becoming law. As part of this he drew out the key roles which will be required by the new safety regime, namely the Accountable Person and the Building Safety Manager. While many of these positions will be fulfilled by safety specialists, Shaun noted the need for all parties, including property managers and residents themselves, to play their part in upholding residential building safety.

Shaun emphasised the need for a proportionate, risk-based approach to avoid excessive costs with no benefit and the allocation of limited funding to the wrong risks. He also covered the PAS 9980 which will give recommendations and guidance on fire risk appraisals and assessments of the external walls of residential blocks.

The second session of day two was delivered by PRP Architect’s Andrew Mellor who outlined the building regulations landscape, paying close attention to the Fire Safety Act and the Building Safety Bill. With regards to scope, Andrew commented that the current, arbitrary definition of a higher-risk building could change from what it currently is.

He also pointed out the importance of a complete digital record of a building for the creation of its safety case, a requirement of the new building safety regime. A safety case will be a live document which will include all golden thread information, an emergency plan, maintenance and checks plans/records and a mandatory reporting schedule, among other items. Paying particular attention to a building’s golden thread, Andrew highlighted its role as a holistic record of all aspects of a building, including façade, structural and safety related features.

 

Day Three: Legal Updates & Ethical Leadership

Day three began with a joint legal update presentation from Cassandra Zanelli of PM Legal Services and Justin Bates of Landmark Chambers, discussing recent legal cases which have passed through the Upper Tribunal or Court of Appeal. Several of the cases highlighted the need for getting contractually valid demands in place to avoid Section 20b issues. Touching on the legal implications of the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Act, they estimated the latter would likely become law in early 2022.

The day ended with a presentation from Linn Byberg, a Senior Engagement Officer at the Institute of Business Ethics. Linn looked at what constitutes ethical leadership, what doesn’t, and how businesses can develop leadership at all levels by empowering people to make good decisions.

 

Day Four: Tech Talks

The final day of the conference allowed delegates to engage with ARMA Partners during 15-minute webinars divided up across two separate ‘Tech Talk’ streams, covering Business Support and Technical Support topics. These sessions gave delegates the chance to work through their current challenges with a hand-picked selection of industry experts, including EV charging, Heat Network Regulations, Service Charge Accounting, the Fire Safety Act and Asbestos Surveys.

 

ARMA’s online Annual Conference once again provided an important platform for those working within the residential leasehold sector to gather and discuss the issues on the horizon. It’s evident that a national building safety crisis will be at the fore for years to come, as will the need to keep hold of a talented and experienced workforce.

Our thanks go to all speakers and sponsors of the event, as well as all those who attended.

Did you attend the conference? Make sure you leave us feedback via our SurveyMonkey feedback email.

 

ARMA Partner Annual Conference 2021 sponsors:

 

      

 

    

    

 

     

 

   

 

    

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