The Property Ombudsman and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are seeking views of agents, landlords and tenants on a new code for the block management sector.
The code is part of the work emanating from the Regulation of Property Agents’ Code of Practice Steering Group led by Baroness Dianne Hayter.
The object of this steering group is to improve the sector for consumers and those working within it by setting out clear standards and principles for all agents involved in the management of leasehold and commonhold property, and estates of freehold houses.
The focus is on England but the rules could be adopted by all UK nations.
The proposed code includes increased transparency over service charges and management fees so homeowners understand where and how their money is being spent, and enhanced support for how to deal with occupier disputes.
It also covers consumers’ use of social media and guidance on how best to work with residents’ associations in new and diverse ways, plus updated complaints processes that are in line with regulated firm requirements.
There is also reference to best practice for securing new business – ultimately rooting out rogue agents to make sure leaseholders are getting a fair and comprehensive service.
The aim of the code is to improve relations between block managing agents and their clients, thereby improving consumer understanding of block management and enhancing agent and client communications.
Mairéad Carroll, RICS senior specialist for land and property standards, comments: “This proposed code looks to build on the best practice seen by regulated professionals, root out rogue agents and enhance relations between professional managing agents and the homeowners or tenants they work with, by setting out clear guidelines for agents to follow which consumers can understand.”
And Peter Habert, TPO director of policy, adds: “The objective of the code is to provide managing agents with a universal set of clear professional standards and, in doing so, give an authoritative point of reference for the level of service leaseholders can expect. This consultation is important as it provides the opportunity, not just for managing agents to have their say, but for leaseholders and freeholders to share their views to on what they consider a fair and reasonable service should look like”.
The consultation is here and is open until September 14.