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New consultation aims to “root out rogue agents” says RICS

New rules out for consultation concerning block management aim to improve professionalism across the sector, root out rogue agents, and increase transparency for all parties according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  

RICS and The Property Ombudsmen are amongst a collection of professional groups to launch the Block Management Sector Code and want agents, homeowners and tenant input. 

The code – which is part of the work from the Regulation of Property Agents Code of Practice Steering Group –  is designed to improve the sector for consumers and those working within it by setting out standards and principles for all agents involved in the management of leasehold and commonhold property, and estates of freehold houses. 

The code’s primary focus is England, but RICS says 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;
  • support for how to deal with occupier disputes;
  • recognising consumers’ use of social media and guidance on how best to work with residents’ associations in new and diverse ways;   
  • updated complaints processes that are in line with regulated firm requirements;
  • instructions on 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, ultimately by improving consumer understanding of block management and enhancing agent and client communications. 

Mairéad Carroll, RICS Senior Specialist for Land and Property Standards, says: “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 open until 14 September 2021 and RICS and the Ombudsmen are requesting for agents to also engage their clients in the process. 

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