Are Block Managers Regulated?

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By Alan Draper | Mar 2024

In short, no….It’s a completely unregulated industry.
There are a number of regulatory organisations that block managers can join but this is entirely voluntary.
This includes:

  • The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • The Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM)
  • The Chartered Institute of Chartered Institute of Housing.
  • The Institute of Health and Safety.
  • The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA)
  • Financial Conduct Authority

Do managing agent have to be qualified?

Once again, No….Qualifications are not mandatory.
Qualifications are available through the Institute of Residential Property Management and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

So who can set up as a block managing agent?

Pretty much anyone.
There are currently no barriers either in terms of qualifications or regulation that could prevent someone setting up as a block manager.

Should managing agents be regulated?

Absolutely.
Block management has become increasingly more complex over the years starting with the Landlord and Tenants acts of 1985 and 1987. Other legislation relating directly to block management (Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, The Housing Act 1996, Commonhold and Leasehold reform act 2002) has added to the complexity.
Throw in related legislation (Fire Safety Reform Act 2005 being a prime example) and a plethora of parts of other acts covering everything from lifts to lights, you really need to know your stuff to be an effective block manager (Covered in the article What does a Leasehold Property Manager do?).

I am in a unique position having started my Block Management business with nothing more than 2 years’ experience as an RMC director, a laptop and a car.

Over a period of 3 years, I learnt on the job and achieved my AIRPM status in 2011. Common Ground was growing quickly but I was still learning and in those early years it was fair to say I didn’t know what I didn’t know……and herein lies the problem.

Many managing agents set up thinking they just have to sort out the cleaners, gardeners, insurance send a few invoices out each year and do a bit of basic bookkeeping. Too many are unaware of the legislation they have to comply with. Having never worked in the industry prior to setting up Common Ground, I definitely fell into this trap.

The Government announced back in 2017 its plans to regulate managing agents but this seems some way off given that there is no mention of this in the upcoming Leasehold and Freehold reform bill.
This needs to happen sooner rather than later. Many competent managing agents find themselves undercut by novice agents that don’t fully understand the scope of works they are quoting to manage.

What should happen?

I believe the following should happen:

  1. Every managing agency have at least one person qualified to MIRPM level.
    The AIRPM level is a good basis but the MIRPM really sorts out the wheat from the chaff.
  2. A “fit and proper test” for directors of Block management companies.
    Block managing agents hold millions in other peoples money and this is not regulated in any way.
  3. Compulsory Audits of Managing agents.
    ARMA had a scheme called “ARMA-Q” which did this but they lost 40% of their membership when they did this.
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