The industry is unregulated although some moves have been made to try to make managing agents more accountable.
From 1 October 2014 anyone who is engaged in property management work became legally required to belong to one of the following government approved redress schemes. This requirement means leaseholders and freeholders dealing with property managers will be able to complain to an independent body about the service they have received.
The advantage of this scheme for leaseholders is that there are no legal costs. If the managing agent is not responding or addressing your complaints then these services will listen to your complaints and will penalise poorly performing managing agents.
On April 1st 2018 the UK government announced a range of new proposals in regard to letting and property management regulation, which will provide a greater degree of protection to the private rented and leasehold sector.
Some of the key problems facing leaseholders include a lack of transparency when it comes to costs, unexpected expenses that may not have been clearly outlined and slow or inadequate repairs. Overly inflated fees and high-handed management practices are also a common issue.
In order to address these problems managing agents will be subject to a mandatory code of practice, falling under the jurisdiction of an independent regulator. Any agents subsequently found to be in non-compliance of the standards laid out by the code will no longer be allowed to operate – and in the case of severe breaches, may also face criminal prosecution.
With no current obligation to hold a relevant qualification to trade in the sector, this is also set to change with the new regulations, as all letting and managing agents will be required to hold a nationally recognised qualification once they come into force. Additionally, a higher qualification will also need to be held by at least one individual in the organisation, and agents will be expected to undertake continual professional development and training.
For leaseholders, new and more efficient ways of challenging unfair services charges and fees will also be introduced, along with greater support being made available should they wish to change to a different managing agent in order to access a better service.
We are ahead of the curve on this. On the day of the announcement;
- All of Common Ground’s property managers receive regular training
- At least one property manager holds the MIRPM (high level) qualification
- Common Ground operates a fully transparent online accounts system accessible by stakeholders
- Common Ground operates a web portal system to allow leaseholders to track events at their sites