April 24, 2017

ARHM code of practice is launched

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The Association of Retirement Housing Managers launched its new ARHM code of practice this week, which has at last obtained approval from the secretary of state.

This means breaches of the code can be referenced in litigation, which can be very useful in a property tribunal dispute.

The code has been worked on for some years, but has at last seen the light of day.

It can be read as a download here

Carlex warmly welcomes the code, and acknowledges that the former code was also thorough.

Unfortunately, the ARHM does not offer a redress scheme and sanctions are restricted to criticisms of a member’s conduct, calls to put right wrong practices and, in extremis, exclusion from the association.

It does not have the power to award compensation to complainants.

The fact that Peverel / FirstPort Retirement is the largest single funder of the ARHM is also problematic.

Peverel / FirstPort Retirement has a poor history: an Office of Fair Trading ruling in December 2013 of collusive tendering involving the systematic cheating of pensioners at 65 retirement sites managed by Peverel; an unaccounted for portfolio of hundreds of house managers’ flats; tribunal cases; parliamentary debates; media and the rest.

On the other hand, the funding to publish the ARHM code of practice came from Housing and Care 21, formerly British Legion Homes, whose practices Carlex has applauded when it acknowledged messing up the management of the Ashfield site in Telford, Shropshire, and handing it over to the residents. More here

The ARHM code of practice was presented at a reception at Portcullis House, the MPs offices in Westminster.

ARHM chairman Richard Wheeldon, of Housing and Care 21, said that the revised code had greater relevancy as retirement housing “moved away from the traditional model to the provision of extra care”.

He also said that “managers are under far greater scrutiny than was the case in the past”.

Mr Wheeldon pointed out that in the new code the word “should” had been toughened to “must” in many instances; that commissions had to be declared; and contracts parcelled out to related companies, and that service charge monies had to be kept in clearly defined separate accounts.

Stephen Lewis, the Law Commissioner examining event fees, also spoke at the launch meeting. There is now a separate section on event fees in the code.

A number of the ARHM code of practice features struck Carlex as interesting:

  • Leaseholders should be able to see a copy of the management agreement of their site on request.
    The correct procedure for ground rent demands is given.
  • Lease forfeiture should only be “a last resort”, and landlords should pay back to the leaseholder the value of the forfeited lease, lease the outstanding court established debt and costs.
  • Leaseholders “should be offered” view of supporting receipts, invoices, bank statements etc relating to their service charges.
  • “Funds for each scheme should be separately identifiable”.
  • Managers should not profit from employing contractors, and associated links between the manager and other companies should be declared.
  • “If a manager provides a service through an associated company or associate and that service has not been competitively tendered, then the manager should allow any scheme to choose not to use that service.”
  • Leaseholders should have the option of finding their own buyer on re-sale, or appointing an estate agent
  • Managers should make clear to leaseholders and buyers whether event fees apply on sale and sublet, and be clear that this is “not related to the provision of any services”.
  • Property management firms should not be named and embedded in the lease, or place unreasonable conditions in leases to thwart right to manage.

Comments

  1. Michael Epstein says:

    Leaseholders should be able to see a copy of the management agreement of their site on request.
    Yet, The Firstport website contains the following:
    SOMETIMES THE MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT IS INCLUDED IN A BROADER COMMERCIAL DOCUMENT THAT CONTAINS COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE INFORMATION.
    Go figure?

    • Complaints could start here: enquiries@arhm.org

      • ARHM STATEMENT INTO PEVEREL PRICE FIXING / COLLUSION FOLOWING INVESIGATION BY FORMER OFT.
        Starts 

        The ARHM Audit and Regulation Committee has been working with Peverel to review the outcome of the OFT investigation into collusive tendering in relation to the supply and installation of certain access and alarm systems to retirement properties.

        Chas Says:
        For those who may not be aware:
        •Certain Access Systems are also known as Warden Call Systems
        •Alarm Systems are also known as Fire Alarm Systems

        Back to ARHM Statement:
        This collusive practice breaches the principles of the ARHM in seeking to raise the standards of management in retirement housing and, in particular, it breaches the standards within our Government approved Code of Practice.

        Chas Says:
        The Price Fixing and Collusive Tendering are Fraudulent Practices that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) both concluded the 65 Development Price Fixing Offences, were not serious enough for any prosecutions. Bothe Peverel Retirement and Cirrus Communications were allowed of Scot Free, why.

        Back to ARHM Statement:
        The ARHM and Peverel have agreed not to revisit the detail of the investigation as both parties agree with the findings of the OFT. Those finding were against Cirrus Communication Systems Ltd, which is a Peverel Group company. Therefore, the OFT determination was not made in respect of Peverel Retirement (also part of the Peverel Group) however, despite this fact, we felt it incumbent upon the ARHM to investigate whether a breach of our principles or the Code of Practice have occurred.

        Chas Says:
        I have written to the OFT asking for more information regarding the time frame 2005 to2009. Asking for the names of those involved directly or indirectly in the Price Fixing. The OFT now disbanded, was not fit for purpose, refused to provide the above information saying “it was not considered to be in the Public Interest.

        Back to ARHM Statement: 
        Peverel Retirement relied upon an associated company (Cirrus) to undertake the procurement of access and alarm systems and, in doing so, passed-on the responsibility for ensuring that contracts were competitively tendered and represented good value for money. It is because of the relationship between Cirrus and Peverel Retirement and the way in which they operated hand-in-hand, that the ARHM felt there was a need to investigate.

        Chas Says:
        From the information provided to us residents, it was clear from documentation, that real owners of Peverel Retirement, only a Trade name, the real company name was Peverel Management Services Ltd, (PMSL). The tenders at Ashbrook Court for Warden Call System was produced on PMSL headed paper on behalf of Cirrus Communication, not the other way round.

        Back to ARHM Statement:
        We did not feel it appropriate to take the view that the offending party is not a member of the ARHM.

        Chas says:
        This was seen to lay the blame of the Price Fixing with Cirrus Communication, and not Peverel Retirement, as it was not a direct member of ARHM. The instigators were more likely to have been the Technical Staff at Peverel Management Services Ltd as they sent out and received the tenders. The Price Fixing Scam used Cirrus Communication and 3 Stooge Companies. Cirrus Communications won every tender. The Three Stooge Companies, were then allowed to carry out contracts as sub-contractors, also paying a 2.5% fee to Peverel Retirement as Main Contractor.
        The cost to the Tax Payer for the investigation by the OFT was half a million pounds (£500k) and the fine of circa £1,100 was the only monies received.

        ARHM has refused to allow Firstport Retirement to be a full ARMA-Q Member, not surprising?

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    Property management firms should not be named and embedded in the lease, or place unreasonable conditions in leases to thwart right to manage.
    Yet, the Firstport website contains the following:
    TRI-PARTY LEASES. WE DO RECOGNISE THAT THIS GIVES US A PRIVILEGED POSITION AND SECURITY OF TENURE IN OUR MANAGEMENT.
    Another one for enquiries@arhm.org perhaps?

    • Michael Hollands says:

      According to the next Carlex article it may soon be.possible to put these complaints to ARMA

    • Michael, The Tri-Party Lease allows the Landlord to employ the Managing Agent from the same organisation as Peverel Retirement were taken on board by Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd. This company is a Peverel Group Company, having the same Director as Firstport Retirement and are a Active/ Dormant Company with a value according to Companies House of £100?

      How is this only a Privilege for Position and offering Security in their Management. In this Security we as Residents can not replace them?

  3. Michael Epstein says:

    That is god to know.. All those wishing to complain to ARMA, please join the” Q”

    • Michael Hollands says:

      I did not realise that God was a leaseholder. He must be managed by First Port as their website gives the impression that their managed complexes are Heaven.

  4. Michael Hollands says:

    I notice that ARHM state that the new Code meets their aims and objectives.
    However good it is it will mean nothing if it is never enforced. Was any company ever expelled due to a breach of their previous code. No, not even for Price Fixing.
    And I see that the big Launch Party was hosted by Baroness Sally Greengross, a person who has in the past been very uncomplimentry to us Leaseholds.
    I hope the new Code will be met otherwise it might as well be renamed Handy Hints for Property Managers.

  5. Michael Epstein says:

    We live in hope!
    Perhaps ARHM will think twice before allowing Cirrus to sponsor them as they did immediately after the Cirrus price fixing scandal?