A new scheme set to be introduced by the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) will see independent regulation of the profession for the first time.
ARMA has introduced the scheme, referred to as ARMA-Q, in an attempt to ensure that leaseholders are receiving good advice and a high quality of service. The changes will include the introduction of a customer charter and fresh requirements for managing agents. A panel of independent regulators has been instated to ensure that agents meet these requirements and respect the charter. This panel will be led by Keith Hill, once the government minister for housing.
The scheme was formally introduced in mid-May at a House of Lords event run by Baroness Hayter of the Labour party. ARMA-Q had already been trialled over a 12 week period and was deemed to have been a success and it is now likely that added regulation will come into effect in early 2015, with members of ARMA likely to need to opt into a consumer charter which effectively serves as a pledge to provide high quality advice.
In 2010, the Conservative led coalition government decided not to pursue the introduction of statutory regulation leading ARMA to take matters into its own hands. Whilst the regulator will have been chosen by those at ARMA, they will remain entirely independent of the body.
All residential managing agents carrying ARMA accreditation will be able to prove to clients that they are properly regulated and therefore have the professional attitude and expertise required to manage property blocks. If standards are not met, the independent panel will be able to punish the offender in various ways. Whereas a minor breach may necessitate a written apology or a fine, a serious offence could result in permanent expulsion of the individual from ARMA. Furthermore, whenever such action is taken to discipline an ARMA member, the panel of regulators will publish details of the case, including the name of the offender and the breach involved.
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