Find our more about ARMA-Q
Mission: to protect consumers and deliver a recognised advantage to ARMA members through professional self-regulation that guarantees probity, high ethical standards and best practice in all areas of leasehold management.
ARMA-Q will not only affect ARMA members. It will have an impact on their clients and customers along with other property professionals and industry stakeholders. Here we have put together a series of questions and answers about the essentials of ARMA-Q. Simply click on a question below to reveal the answer.
Q: What is ARMA-Q?
ARMA-Q is the new self-regulatory regime for managing agents who are members of ARMA. It seeks to improve the lives of leaseholders by setting high standards of service amongst ARMA members. This includes commitment to a new Consumer Charter and Standards which are specific to the managing agent sector. Members will be required to comply with the Standards and will be scrutinised by an independent regulatory panel made up of industry experts and representatives of people living in managed blocks.
The overall aim is to drive up standards and quality of service – hence the ‘Q’ for quality.
Q: Why are we introducing ARMA-Q?
The leasehold management sector is currently unregulated so anyone can set up as a managing agent and start trading. This has led to inconsistencies in service levels and has dented consumer confidence in managing agents. The truth is that there are a lot of good managing agents out there and we want to make them stand out.
ARMA lobbied for government regulation for over 10 years to raise professional standards in the industry as a whole and was heavily involved in proposed plans under the Labour Government. That was all scrapped in 2010 when the Coalition came to power and announced that it did not intend to regulate the residential leasehold sector. ARMA was not prepared to give up and responded by commissioning an independent review group, led by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, to look into how best it could establish its own regulatory regime to drive up standards and boost consumer confidence.
The review group recommended that ARMA should become more of a professional body than a trade association by separating the role of representing managing agents from that of regulating them. Significantly this would mean establishing a completely independent regulatory arm made up of consumer interests and external industry experts. ARMA-Q was born.
Q: Don't ARMA members already have to meet certain standards? What’s going to change?
At the moment ARMA members must all follow the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code. But this is not specific to the managing agent sector and has been criticised for being open to misinterpretation. ARMA-Q will introduce a new set of Standards that have been specifically tailored to the role of a managing agent.
Q: How will the new standards be enforced?
Currently, ARMA regulates its members through its Practice Committee which is made up of other ARMA members. Under the ARMA-Q proposals the regulation of members will no longer be done by ARMA itself. An independent Regulatory Panel will be responsible. This separation of regulation from representation will give consumers greater confidence that the standards will be enforced impartially.
Q: How will the Regulator and Panel be appointed and how will they operate?
We have appointed the Right Honorable Keith Hill as the independent Chair of the Regulatory Panel. He has no direct involvement with the industry and has a strong public profile with a solid track record in public service, including housing. We will be looking for the same level of independence when appointing the panel members, who will be drawn from relevant backgrounds and professions, but will not be currently practising as managing agents. This injection of independent and consumer interests into the Regulatory Panel should provide assurance to consumers that their managing agent, if a member of ARMA, will be subject to broad based and independent scrutiny.
The Regulatory Panel will be operationally completely independent of ARMA. Any decisions taken by it will be final and not subject to ratification by ARMA. And the Panel's decisions will be made public.
Q: What about complaints?
At the moment all ARMA members must have a published internal complaints procedure and must be members of an independent ombudsman. This means that leaseholders have recourse to an independent body if they’re not happy with the outcome of their initial complaint. These measures will still be in place under ARMA-Q - the real difference will be the independence of the Regulatory Panel which will provide external scrutiny and, if necessary, take disciplinary action.
Q: What action will be taken against members who step out of line?
The regulatory panel will have a range of sanctions to impose on members who are found to breach the standards. We expect these to be used in proportion to the severity of the offence. They will be able to:
- require the member to undertake training
- require an apology or acknowledgement of a specific action to be taken to remedy a complaint
- issue a formal warning by letter
- impose administration costs and fines
- publish disciplinary outcomes
- suspend a member from membership for a specified period and on conditions
- permanently expel a member from ARMA
Q: Why are we consulting?
ARMA-Q will not only affect ARMA members but will also affect their clients and the customers of their clients – leaseholders. And it will have an impact on other managing agents and property industry stakeholders such as estate agents, surveyors, lawyers and accountants. We want to hear from all these groups so that we can make ARMA-Q work effectively for everyone involved in the residential leasehold sector.
Q: Who is the consultation aimed at?
The consultation is aimed at:
- ARMA member firms
- leaseholders (including RMC and RTM Directors)
- consumers and consumer organisations
- industry stakeholders (e.g. other professional organisations, surveyors, estate agents, lawyers, accountants)
- managing agents not currently members of ARMA
Q: Why should you respond?
This is your chance to help shape the future of the residential leasehold sector. If you don’t respond, we won’t know what you think of our proposals. If there is something you feel is unworkable or unachievable, we want to know about it. If you think we have missed something, you need to say. Even if you completely agree with the proposals it is important you let us know.
Q: What difference will ARMA-Q actually make?
The overall aim of ARMA-Q is to drive up standards so that ARMA membership will be a guarantee of quality. Whether you’re an RMC Director, a freeholder or developer appointing a managing agent who is a member of ARMA, you will be confident that they comply with high standards and are independently policed. And if you are a leaseholder whose block is managed by an ARMA member, you have that same assurance.
Q: How can you respond?
You can respond online or in writing - just follow the link at the bottom to find out more.
Q: What’s the deadline?
The public consultation closes on 31st January 2013. After this we will be publishing a summary of all our responses.
Q: Any more questions?
If you have any further questions on ARMA-Q, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7978 2607.