Industry News

Title: ARMA Annual Conference 2020: Roundup


For 2020, ARMA’s Annual Conference was delivered to delegates as an online webinar across four days. Despite the challenging circumstances, ARMA members and the wider industry came out in full support of the flagship event, with over 340 delegates logging-in from offices and homes across the country.


Day One: ARMA and the Economy – Where We Are Now

The first day kicked off with a heartfelt welcome from ARMA’s new Chairman, Michael Jacobs of MLM Property Management. Touching on the trials and tribulations of 2020, Michael commended the way the industry has adapted, continuing to deliver an excellent service to leaseholders. Michael also highlighted ARMA’s important role within the sector, acting as its ‘fifth emergency service’.

The first session of the day was delivered by ARMA CEO Dr Nigel Glen who took stock of ARMA’s recent performance. Headline figures included a record membership total of 457 and 1.4 million homes currently under ARMA’s wing throughout England and Wales.

Nigel also provided positive updates on the status of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) and ARMA’s lobbying for increased government funding for cladding remediation through its High-Rise Fire Risk Group, the MHCLG and other avenues.

The second session of the day was delivered by CBI Principal Economist, Ben Jones, who raised some eyebrows with his focus on the economic impact of Covid-19 and lockdown. Among the standout figures was 30 – 40% of households experiencing a drop in income due to the pandemic. Ben went on to provide some predictions on how the economy might bounce back, with encouraging early signs of an economic recovery.


Day Two: Incoming Bills and Insuring Higher Risk Buildings

Day two opened with Dorian Lawrence from Façade Remedial Consultants reviewing the Fire and Building Safety Bills and their implications for managing agents. Both Bills seek to eradicate constructors opting for ‘value engineering’, whilst also ensuring clear accountability for resident safety.

Dorian also covered the EWS1 form, clarifying that it is required for buildings of all heights, not just those over 18 metres. He highlighted the importance of the form - without it many lenders are refusing to value properties at all. Finally, Dorian touched on the new ‘Building Safety Charge’ which will cover fire safety and structural works required by the incoming Building Safety Bill.

The second session of day two was delivered by Insurety’s Rob Mayo who outlined the current insurance landscape and the difficulties of securing insurance for higher-risk buildings. Citing 300 hours as a timescale, it’s crucial that managing agents begin the process as quickly as possible. Rob also announced the launch of Insurety’s industry-specific Client Money Protection (CMP) product.

For the final session of day two ARMA’s Health, Safety & Fire Advisor, Mark Snelling, covered the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Bill, drawing particular attention to their likely crossover. A common theme throughout the conference, Mark shed light on the ‘Accountable Person’ role and outlined differences between Building Safety Managers and property managers.


Day Three: Law in Lockdown and Business Recovery

Day three kicked off with a joint legal update presentation from Cassandra Zanelli of PM Legal Services and Ayesha Omar of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, discussing recent legal cases which have passed through the Upper Tribunal or Court of Appeal.

One case of note was the Houldsworth Village Management Company Limited v Barton (2020) which showed the importance of acting on requests for information quickly. In some cases, failure to do so within five days can cause legal problems for agents.

The day ended with a lively panel discussion chaired by ARMA’s Nigel Glen who was joined by Andrew Bulmer, CEO of IRPM, Graham Donaldson, Chairman of Mainstay Group, David Goldberg, Founder and CEO of POD Management and Shelley Jacobs, Director of MLM Property Management. The panel focused on ‘Business Recovery’ after a turbulent six months.

One point of discussion explored how managing agents can communicate their roles more effectively to residents. Too often they are perceived as making money off the service charge, with residents having little understanding of their financial and maintenance responsibilities. ARMA has produced a leaflet explaining the role of a managing agent (‘So, what does a managing agent do?), but the panel agreed ongoing education is still needed.

The topic of new revenue opportunities for managing agents was also discussed, with one suggestion based on agents offering additional services which can enhance residents’ lives, including dog-walking, food and beverage and cleaning services. Despite the opportunity, the panel warned that any new operations must be carried out with complete transparency in order to maintain residents’ trust.

There was more focus on the BSM’s role, with the possibility of it being an external, corporate role prompting questions over how the position will be accredited or tested for competency.

Following the panel, the winners of the conference prize draw were announced, with prizes ranging from an iPad to a three-night stay in Ibiza.


Day Four: Expert Hubs with ARMA Partners

The final day of the conference allowed delegates to chat one-to-one with ARMA Partners for 15-minute sessions. It was a great way for attendees to learn more about the topics most relevant to them, such as façade & cladding, building surveying and legal services.


ARMA’s 2020 Annual Conference might not have been the networking experience delegates were used to, but it still delivered exceptional speakers and important industry updates to all those who tuned in.


Did you attend the conference? Make sure you leave us feedback via our SurveyMonkey feedback email.


Save the Date! The next ARMA Annual Conference will be on Thursday 14th October 2021 at 133 Houndsditch, London.

Description: Fri, 11 Sep 2020 16:44:00 +0100

Title: ARMA in the News – Dr Nigel Glen Discusses the ‘Draft Building Safety Bill’ on BBC Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’


On Monday 31 August ARMA CEO Dr Nigel Glen was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours’, discussing the implications of the new Draft Building Safety Bill.

To listen to the interview, click here. Nigel can be heard speaking from 17:58 onwards.


Implications of the Draft Building Safety Bill on Leaseholders

Nigel addresses one area of concern for both ARMA and leaseholders - the cost of implementing key parts of the Bill falling outside of the service charge.

Within the service charge leaseholders have a degree of protection from any additional costs exceeding £250, however they won’t be protected from any charges which fall outside of this. With the cost of appointing a Building Safety Manager alone likely to be in the region of six to ten thousand pounds per building, many leaseholders are fearful that they will soon face a significant bill to ensure their building complies with the incoming regulations.

To achieve compliance with the Bill, residential blocks will also need to ensure the remediation of any unsafe cladding. This poses another question over funding, as the government’s £1.6 billion cladding remediation grants for the public and private sectors will not cover all the unsafe cladding present in thousands of properties inhabited by half a million residents. The result? Large numbers of leaseholders living in hazardous and unsellable properties, fearing a crippling bill landing on their doorstep.

Description: Tue, 08 Sep 2020 17:08:00 +0100

Title: Lessons from Lockdown - How has ARMA helped its members during COVID?


Dr Nigel Glen, CEO of ARMA joined Chris March, Managing Director of Crabtree for a three-part video podcast to discuss how ARMA adapted its communications and ways of working during the pandemic whilst also advising government and members on reactive action.


Part 1 – Learning, Communication Tools and ARMA’s COVID-19 Guidelines

Nigel explains how lessons learnt from property sectors in the USA and Spain during the early stages of the pandemic helped ARMA advise No. 10 and the HCLG on important issues such as service charge holidays and instructing managing agents. In addition, ARMA delivered regular virtual regional briefings to keep members, and those involved with ARMA, well-informed.

ARMA regularly collated the most current government advice in a single document entitled ‘Isolation, Prevention & Communication Guidelines’ for the benefit of members and the wider public. Revised regularly to include the latest government updates, the most current version of the document (version 14) can be accessed on the ARMA website here.

During the height of lockdown, monthly ARMA circulars became weekly circulars to keep members and those involved in ARMA abreast of rapidly changing instructions.


Part 2 – ARMA Training and ‘Are We Zooming Back into the Office?’

Nigel emphasises the usefulness of video calls, a prime example being ARMA’s upcoming conference which is entirely virtual for this year.

With ARMA’s physical training sessions currently suspended, Nigel discusses the popularity of ARMA’s online training among members and those involved with ARMA.


Part 3 – Key Take Outs from COVID: Trust and Teamwork

Chris and Nigel discuss the effectiveness of video conferencing, what it will mean for businesses in the future and why it can never completely replace face to face interactions.

Nigel also highlights the benefits of working from home and the ability of staff to adapt to no office whilst continuing to deliver an excellent service to members.

Description: Mon, 07 Sep 2020 13:37:00 +0100