March 24, 2017

Cooee! Peverel becomes FirstPort and is heading for ARMA-Q … But will it be welcome?

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FirstPortLike the unwanted guest at a party, Peverel has put on some outlandish new clothes and now seeks to crash ARMA-Q.

It is rolling out its new FirstPort brand, which means when you click on the Peverel website you are passed on to a new site.

The change in name is taking place a year after the Office of Fair Trading found that Peverel / Cirrus had been systematically cheating pensioners with a bogus tendering process.

As many as 65 retirement sites were swindled, the OFT discovered in a £500,000 investigation. One of three stooge companies making fake bids against Cirrus paid a fine of £1,777, while the two others went into liquidation and avoided any sanction.

Peverel and Cirrus themselves got off scot-free as they qualified for leniency in December 2009 by turning themselves in.

At that point, the group was headed by Nigel Bannister, whose new company Freemont Property Management is an affiliate member of ARMA.

We are sure that in the spirit of transparency for which he is now such an enthusiast, he will welcome us – again – recalling his words to the Times on November 9 2009, just a few weeks before Peverel confessed to price-fixing:

“People are reading a conspiracy into a problem that isn’t there. We use Cirrus because it is an excellent service.”

Not to be outdone, Peverel, or rather FirstPort, has its own grotesque way with words, announcing in its first press release: “FirstPort raising the standards with ARMA-Q”.

What standards would those be, exactly?

And what does ARMA get out of this (beyond holding its nose and trousering the cheques)?

Can the membership possibly be happy with Peverel in ARMA-Q?

That is, those property companies that haven’t been the subject of a half million pound OFT investigation, or that have not inexplicably ended up with a portfolio of retirement house managers’ flats, or had their insurance fiddles reduced to zero by the property tribunal.

Do they really want to end up in a club with this lot?

Hold on! There’s more.

Peverel / FirstPort is also delighted with the Competition and Markets Authority report into leasehold management, and on “a voluntary basis” move these matters forward.

Carlex readers may recall that Peverel warmly welcomed the inquiry when it was announced last December by the OFT.

Yes, that’s the same OFT that three days later concluded its investigation into … er Peverel / Cirrus doing its price-fixing.

Anyway, for those with strong stomachs here is the statement on the CMA report.

Or below:

 

FirstPort welcomes the CMA Market Study Report

FirstPort has reviewed in full the report and recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Market Study  into the supply of residential property management services published on 2 December, and we both welcome and broadly support its conclusions.

Having been supportive and actively engaged in the market study throughout the process, the FirstPort team will continue to engage with the work of the CMA, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the trade bodies in the industry to focus on the goal of raising standards in property management across the board.

In particular, we agree with the CMA’s recommendations to: improve awareness, amongst purchasers, of the obligations of owning a leasehold property; provide greater transparency between property managers and leaseholders; and introduce new forms of redress by either LEASE or the First Tier Tribunal. Combined, FirstPort believes these will have a positive impact on improving outcomes for leaseholders.

Commenting on the content of the report, Janet Entwistle, CEO, FirstPort said:

“The CMA’s report provides recommendations on a number of key items which we believe will have a positive impact on the industry.  The work of the CMA and the outcome of the study are very much consistent with the focus that we have made in our business, during recent years, through the development of our Customer Charter as well as the work of ARMA and the ARMA-Q accreditation in raising industry standards. 

Whilst we would have welcomed additional recommendations that looked to align industry Codes of Practice as well as statutory regulation for the industry, we will continue to look for opportunities, on a voluntary basis, to work with interested parties to move these matters forward.”

FirstPort is part of the Knight Square group of companies.

Comments

  1. Michael Hollands says:

    Today Janet has posted a message on the Knight Square/Peverel website.
    She states that her company is in full agreement with the results of the CMA Inquiry and wishes they had gone even further.
    And adds that Knight Square/Peverel will exceed the recommendations at their own cost.
    If this could ever be achieved it would be good start.
    She states that they are looking forward to full ARMA Q membership and will work with them to improve the leasehold industry.
    If they can do this and even improve on the Q Charter this would be even better.
    Before any of that can happen they will have to resolve the past issues of Peverel which according to Michelle Banks would prevent ARMA Q membership.
    If ARMA stick to their principles, forcing Peverel to satisfactorily resolve past major offences, and then they become full members complying with the Q code, I think that is all we can ask or expect.
    But if the Price fixing, selling off managers flats,etc, is not satisfactorily settled and membership is still granted, then Peverels current reputation will remain, and unfortunately attach itself to ARMA and their members.

    • Micheal we know a number of people warned the CMA this sort of support was on the way when the review was first launched. The CMA are also well used to this sort of thing -and of course know which companies caused most complaints.

      Which ever industry the CMA look at always supports the report but that does not mean they follow its recommendations. The difference is this time the spotlight is not going away. We have a commitment the sector will be watched by the CMA to see what happens next.

      Also remember the CMA knows same sort of PR has been used many times before. This is what Peverel said when the Factors Act was being introduced in Scotland in 2011. Factors being the Scottish equivalent of managing agents.

      “Ministers need to stamp out the ‘bad apples’ in our industry,” “This is a golden opportunity not to be missed.”

      The CMA were of course looking at some of the bad apples inside Peverel in 2011?

      • Michael Hollands says:

        Martin, I can see exactly what you are saying but I hope this time Janet means what she say’s.
        For the time being I will give her the benefit of the doubt and every encouragement.
        But like the CMA I will be keeping a close eye on events, and I hope ARMA will do the same.
        Some time in the near future I hope all this comes to an end and the elderly retired finally get the lifestyle they bargained for.

    • Michael Epstein says:

      Tough call for ARMA concerning the admission of Peverel Retirement.
      I suppose it all depends on the decision of ARMA’s Governance council in general and Sue Petri in particular. That is of course the same Sue Petri who is Head Of Business Development, Peverel.