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ARMA gathers strength

publication date: Aug 16, 2010
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MITIE which provides facilities, property and asset management for some of the largest public and private sector businesses has become the 250th corporate member of the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) which represents the majority of those managing residential leasehold properties.

In welcoming MITIE as a member ARMA’s chairman, Brett Williams (pictured below), commented that, “This is a double achievement. Not only have we grown our membership of residential leasehold management firms by 25 per cent over these last two difficult years but we are celebrating it through a highly respected business.

When asked why MITIE were joining ARMA at this time Neil Oakey, operations manager of MITIE, explained that, “We are looking to grow our leasehold management portfolio, so it was a logical step to become part of this self-regulatory body in an otherwise unregulated sector. We also see that ARMA’s technical support fits in with our philosophy of ‘not just what we do, but how we do it.’”

While encouraged by the continuing growth in membership Williams is concerned about the dangers of ‘pop-up’ leasehold property managers.

“With the housing market expected to stay becalmed in 2010, those involved in other areas of the residential property sector will continue to look for alternative sources of revenue,” he says.

Brett Williams“ARLA warned last year of an influx of unregulated estate agents entering the lettings market. Now we are voicing similar sentiments over estate agents and even letting agents seeking to bolster their income streams by entering the leasehold sector. As a result over the past 18 months ARMA has seen the percentage of firms engaged in sales and or lettings enquiring about membership reach an all time high”

“However residential leasehold management is highly complex and fraught with myriad technical and legislative requirements so a couple of days training is far from enough to equip new entrants into the sector. Indeed we have a strict requirement that any applicant firm must have two years proven experience before we will consider an application for Corporate membership.”

“Our fear is,” Williams continues, “other professions will ‘have a go’ and when the market picks up find it less profitable and walk away. Putting managing agent’s fees next to what estate agents get on the average sale for example, and they don’t look so exciting. A managing agent might get a couple of hundred pounds a year management fee for each flat in a block – whereas an estate agent might get over £5,000 for selling the average property. With our members, they have an ongoing contractual relationship with the landlord and therefore the leaseholders as well.”