The latest Mail On Line article – ‘Homeowners Scammed by Agents Charging Sky-High Fees’ by Lauren Thompson reports on property manager Peverel’s performance from the perspective of disgruntled tenants.
Complaints against the company include in particular:
Fees that inexplicably increase every year.
No explanation of what charges are made for. Block Management London who use their own companies to provide hugely expensive insurance and maintenance services.
No regulation to protect people from shabby practices.
While this report highlights many of the problems with some of the current management agent service standards, it demonstrates the importance of proper regulation in this sector.
As a director of a specialist property and facilities management company based in London , I fully recognize the need to greatly improve both the image of the profession and the quality of the services provided. Clients of landlords, which can exist in many different forms, including tenants, ownership or resident management companies, should be better informed about the current regulations.
Contrary to the issues identified in the article in the mail, customers should be advised that there is certainly adequate regulation. The main problem seems to be that many homeowners are simply unaware of their rights and the solutions available to them. Perhaps unsurprising in a somewhat complex field that requires clients to be able to work with teams of professional managers covering many different areas of expertise. When exercising his professional activity, the administrator appointed on behalf of the landowner must never forget that there is a duty of care towards leaseholders and residents. The block manager must find a balance and act impartially.
costs entrusted to them In addition to the accounting standards, the range of activities is large. But isn’t that exactly the reason why landlords and housing administrations ask for this professional property management?
So, having identified the need for a qualified, impartial and high standard of service, what rules are there? And which professional organizations offer codes of conduct and procedures to support best practice?
To be credible, professional standards must be effectively monitored and enforced. Otherwise, any assurance to the customer of compliance would be diluted. An effective regulation and control system will therefore serve to ensure that the building owner can make an informed choice in the selection of his manager. A selection based on known professional performance criteria.
There are various codes of conduct that might be deemed appropriate, but RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) arguably paved the way for the future. The RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code sets out what is considered best practice for management in the private residential rental sector and highlights any legal requirements that managers must comply with. A licensed surveying practice or firm operating under the terms Regulated by RICS must meet these strict standards. In addition, in accordance with strict RICS regulations, rental monies from service charges are protected in a secure customer account, which in turn is subject to careful, regular auditing and auditing by RICS.
Alternatively, an agent who is a member of ARMA (Association of Residential Management Agents) should also attempt to comply with the RICS Residential Code. However, these firms are not always subject to the same screening process as RICS members and are not regulated by RICS. While the services of a practicing management agent should meet the standards set out in the RICS Code, Mail On Line’s report shows that many companies fall far short.
The latest RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code was approved by the Secretary of State in 2009 with the aim of setting the standards for the profession taking into account new legislation. When a block management agent’s services do not meet this Code, questions should be asked, businesses challenged, and any concerns addressed. New regulations have recently been progressively introduced as part of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 . Revised, improved health and safety regulations also came into force largely during the same period.
By giving agents more responsibility for their actions, these changes should help improve service quality, and it’s heartening to see tenants standing up for their rights. When the new legislation comes into effect, the more qualified and experienced professionals should be well placed to advise clients and guide them through the new requirements.
The latest RICS Service Charges Code should also help weed out those who are unable or simply unwilling to meet the requirements. Due to some changes being implemented across the industry, building owners and landowners should increasingly be able to add value to their real estate assets through effective and efficient lease management. However, this will only be achieved if landlord clients go ahead and insist on hiring suitably qualified and regulated property management professionals.
Russell Dyer is a Director of VFM Property Management Chartered Surveyors, Property and Development Consultants based in London
VFM takes over the entire ancillary cost management for time-critical landlords, apartment owners and tenants of apartment buildings and apartments. Due to general quality problems in the industry, the services of VFM’s specialized apartment block management are currently in great demand. Unlike many of its competitors , VFM is an accredited surveying agency regulated by RICS and offers many benefits to its clients. Its quality-assured, professional services are assessed and tested to the rigorous standards of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Tenants and owners alike can benefit from this risk-free guarantee as VFM is fully compliant with the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code.
Management law: The hump stays with you!
RTM directors must operate within a legal framework that includes the following key elements:
The lease agreement
The lease is specific to the individual managed residential property. It is the contract between landowners (which they are obligated to) and tenants (which they are contractually obligated to). RTM Directors must understand the terms of the Rental Agreement (including any limitations) as any action they authorize that is contrary to the terms could result in action being taken against them.
The Management Contract
This is the contract between the managing parties and their customer. Therefore, Directors must ensure that such an arrangement covers the specific needs of the development.
Codes of Conduct
comply with recognized codes of conduct and they must ensure that the managing director does the same.
RTM Directors are required to be familiar with legislation relating to the management of apartment blocks under 6 Major Acts of Parliament (usually referred to as the Landlord and Tenant Acts). They must also be familiar with broader legislation that is not necessarily specific to the sector, such as data protection, disability discrimination, labor and company law, most notably the Companies Act 2006. They must also be familiar with health and safety legislation be. This is because the common areas of apartment blocks are classified by the Health and Safety Board as a workplace as they are company operated and seen as profitable!
These are decisions made by the courts on a wide range of issues affecting the tenancy sector and which can determine how a particular piece of legislation or words used in lease agreements should be interpreted.
Once the right to manage has been granted, on Acquisition Date (s90 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002) the RTM Company assumes formal control of the landowner’s administrative functions under the Leasehold Agreements. Owner contracts include repair and maintenance of the ‘common areas’. They may also include improvements to the building when the lease allows (which is rare), periodic or seasonal maintenance, utility billing and collection, setting up building insurance, accounting, and providing legal and other information.
The administrative functions under s96 are described as “functions relating to services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance and administration”, where s97 states that the RTM company is responsible to the tenants and the landlord and solely for administrative functions that are not are to be performed by others without the Company’s permission.
issuance of permits
Pursuant to s98 and s99 of the 2002 Act, the directors of the company are responsible for issuing permits under the terms of the lease. As leases normally require the lessee to obtain the consent of the landowner for transfer of lease (sale), sub-lease (sub-letting ) , alterations, improvements and changes of use, this function devolves to the RTM directors on the acquisition date. They still need to be aware that they cannot grant the permit without notifying the property owner(s) 30 days in advance. In all other cases it is 14 days.
Objections or conditions imposed by the landowner must be communicated to the company. The matter can then be referred to the LVT, with the application being made by the landowner, the RTM company, the lessee seeking consent or, in the case of consent to an action by a subtenant, by that subtenant.
Enforcement of tenant agreements
Under s100 of the 2002 Act, RTM Directors are responsible for ensuring that all other tenants comply with the agreements and obligations contained in their Block Management London lease and under s101 they have a legal duty to monitor and verify compliance with the agreements. You must take action that requires the remediation of violations and report any non-compliance to the property owner. This notification must be made before the expiry of the 3-month period starting on the day on which the RTM company becomes aware of the non-compliance. However, violations do not have to be reported if the violation has been rectified, compensation has been paid or the landlord has informed the company that violations are not subject to reporting.
While the company may sue for debt or obtain injunctive relief for breaches of contract, such as repairs or harassment, the landlord remains responsible for complying with its own obligations, such as providing rest and maintenance rights to the apartments.
Insofar as the rental agreement provides for the landlord’s right of access to the apartments to comply with or enforce conditions, RTM is also entitled to this right.
Filing with Companies House
The directors are personally responsible for ensuring that the company accounts and annual reports are delivered to Companies House in a timely manner, even where responsibility is delegated to a company secretary. Otherwise, prosecution may result. In addition, the Company’s registered business address must be current and maintained in order to receive delivered notices.
Personal liability and risk assessment
Since the common areas of a block of flats count as a workplace, RTM directors have the same personal responsibilities as directors of commercial firms and can be sued in exactly the same way. Claims can come from a number of areas, e.g. B. when someone believes that their home is depreciated due to an unrecognized external deterioration. They could come from someone who thinks the contractors used for the building did a poor job of workmanship. Claims could also be made if someone was injured because regular risk assessments were not carried out. According to the 2009 article ‘Questions Raised Over Tenant’s Right to Manage’ published on 24dash.com, Geoffrey Wolfarth , senior solicitor in the real estate team at Adams & Remers , said that “the right to manage, where tenants take over the management of a building themselves, was considered Seen as a panacea for financial disputes with landlords, what has happened in practice is tenants using the right to avoid statutory security checks and repairs.
It is therefore mandatory to take out Directors and Officers Liability Insurance.
MY PERSONAL VIEW
We had no landowner, no manager, and no interest from anyone else in turning the tide of the block. We were actually forced to take RTM because it was the only option that was eventually made available to us by a BTL investor who owned enough homes to allow us to meet the criteria.
Aside from being compelled to take it, I also have some serious concerns. Managing agents hail from an unlicensed and unregulated sector and there is anecdotal evidence that some directors actively encourage “sit back and let them get on with it”, which must be denied. Managing agents are hired in exactly the same way any other company hires its people, so they need to be managed accordingly. The success or failure of RTM depends not only on getting a better agent than the previous one, but also on how effectively the directors will direct them, which raises another question. How can RTM directors teach effectively if they don’t know how? Interestingly, there are also no criteria that directors of RTM companies must meet. Even if our directors had some idea of what they were getting into , there was no way they could have effectively directed as not only did they have no knowledge of block management, but they both had demanding full-time jobs Do it!