… Left to themselves, the leasehold managing agent sector seems incapable of reform
A personal view by Michael Hollands
(Michael Hollands lives in a retirement development in Nottingham and has long been campaigning to improve conditions in retirement housing and the wider leasehold sector)
It all started in mid 2014, with the announcement that ARMA-Q would operate from January 2015.
There were great expectations, that ARMA-Q would be the answer to the problems that befall many unfortunate leaseholders. It was announced with great fanfare, even the Government were on board. We could all now forget the ARHM – the Association of Retirement Housing Managers – and the ineffective control they have had over their members. ARMA was going to be the Phoenix that rose from the ashes of despair.
The regulations that ARMA-Q members had to adhere to seemed comprehensive, so I for one could not wait until January 1 2015.
The first sign of concern and disappointment came with the way that ARMA announced the management companies who had qualified. In fact, they refused to tell us.
I made repeated requests, and was told to be patient. Announcements were only made on Twitter and the full list was not published until after Easter. The Twitter announcements appeared rather frivolous and jolly, and not as professionally written as I would have expected.
I asked if Peverel Retirement, McCarthy and Stone Management Services or Countrywide had qualified, but with no success. This seemed strange as one would have thought their residents would have liked to know who had signed up to the good conduct scheme.
Wait until after Easter was the reply.
When the list of members was announced we were told it would not include Peverel/FirstPort as they were under investigation by the ARMA Regulatory Board. They had applied for membership in September 2014, so even by Easter 2015 consideration had been continuing for over 6 months. Now a further 8 months on it is still not at an end.
I would have thought that at present ARMA would have the upper hand and could force/persuade Peverel/First Port to mend their ways and adequately compensate those of their leaseholders who have suffered in the past. From the Peverel / Cirrus price-fixing scandal to sales of managers flats etc, etc. I have continually pressed ARMA on this point, but get little or no reponse. On average it takes about 10 e.mails to ARMA to get one negative response.
I also note that ARMA will never support leaseholders with complaints against ARMA-Q members, they will only advise their members and this can take many weeks. The most one can expect is a temporary expelling of a naughty member, which is no help to the afflicted leaseholder at all.
In fact, when I queried this with ARMA, I was told that it was the ARHM which disciplined companies in the retirement sector. Some advice that was!
The ARMA Conference was held with great fanfare, with many important speakers including the Housing Minister. I hoped that there would be some announcement in one of the speeches that would encourage leaseholders, but I doubt there was.
In fact, I shall never know because ARMA refuse to publish the speeches, apparently it is for members only, leaseholders cannot be told. Strange, because it is leaseholders who are at the receiving end.
So, all in all ARMA-Q has been a disappointment to me. It appears to be something invented more for the benefit of its members. A bit of an “Old Boys Club”.
So, come on ARMA you have got one more chance, do not be a clone of the useless ARHM.
And get the Peverel/First Port situation sorted.
If you can get them on the straight and narrow with full compensation for the past, you could be the toast of the leasehold industry.