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After adapting to new ways of working during a pandemic, ARMA succeeded in expanding its offering to members in 2021 while continuing to meet with Government and industry groups to tackle the sector’s main challenges. As a result, ARMA has further grown its membership and training programme, and was behind a number of key industry successes in the leasehold management sector. Download our 2021 Year in Review infographic, here.
ARMA Membership Growth
ARMA begins 2022 with a member count that is higher than ever, totalling 340 Managing Agent Member and Associate firms and bolstered by the 14 managing agents it welcomed onboard in 2021. ARMA members now represent almost 40% of the managing agent market, equating to a whopping 1.5m residences (around 50% of private sector leasehold properties). To give you an idea of how quickly ARMA has grown, its members managed just 700,000 homes in 2014.
An integral part of ARMA’s membership, Partner, Network & RMC/RTM member firms now total 175. ARMA Partners are companies that provide essential services to members, whilst those in the Network category are developers, freeholders, freehold agents, Housing Associations and other corporate landlords/local authorities.
ARMA Training Courses
ARMA’s training courses continued to run online throughout 2021. In total ARMA delivered 59 Training sessions online. This equated to 270 hours of training provided, upskilling 1,707 delegates with a combined total of 8,028 CPD hours. In 2021, ARMA launched 6 New Training Courses and Webinars.
ARMA COVID-19 Crisis Support
From the very start of the pandemic, ARMA was proactive in ensuring its membership was kept up-to-date on the latest advice and guidance, as well as engaging with Government to ensure the property sector was considered when new guidelines and advice were being issued. ARMA also continued to run its events and training courses online, including its Annual Conference and Regional Briefings, making it safe and convenient for members to continue learning from others in the industry.
Throughout 2021, ARMA delivered 12 monthly COVID-19 email updates featuring advice, guidance and news, along with 4 quarterly member/partner video briefings for members. ARMA also issued 2 Best Practice Guideline documents for property managers, sector suppliers and business owners which included guidance on working safely during the pandemic and advice for returning to the workplace.
Whilst the pandemic grabbed a lot of the headlines, there were plenty of developments and achievements across the sector, with ARMA proving to be a driving force behind many of them. Highlights include:
Entering 2022 with its biggest membership total to date, ARMA will continue to work tirelessly to support its managing agent members and Partners whilst championing the rights of leaseholders across England and Wales.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of joining ARMA as a member, CLICK HERE.
The trade and representative bodies representing the legal, surveying, estate agency and property management sectors have today (22 November 2021) launched updated versions of the LPE1 (Leasehold Property Enquiries), LPE2 (Consumer summary) and FME1 (Freehold Management Enquiries) forms. The forms will “go live” on 11th January 2022.
Bodies such as the Law Society, Conveyancing Association, CILEX, Society of Licenced Conveyancers as well as ARMA, ARHM, BPF, IRPM, RTMF and ARLA are encouraging their member firms to use the new versions from 11th January 2022.
The updated forms now include the UPRN of the property with the updated form fields included within the pdfs. These versions of the forms ask administrators whether they can accept service of notice by email and receive the payments via the banking system to enable more efficiency in the process.
This is the third version of the LPE1 form with a number of new additional questions and amendments made.
It establishes whether there are any restrictions on keeping pets or parking.
The form also asks whether a fire safety or an external fire wall assessment has been undertaken, and whether there are urgent works required as a result. It is hoped this will allow those marketing the property to identify material facts around cladding more easily. A portal to access external wall system reviews has been created by the Fire Institute Association; the Building Safety Portal.
The Freehold Management Enquiries (FME1) form is on its second version and contains a number of additional questions including who deals with the deed of covenant, on contributions to the service charge, and access to insurance.
The forms can be downloaded using the links above. They are also available via the law firm stationers from today so that any systems using the forms or pre-populating the forms can be updated by 11th January 2022.
Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented:
“The industry has committed to ensuring the forms are up to date and continually assessed to make sure they ask for all the necessary information. These new iterations of the forms do just that, and particularly in light of the ongoing issues many leaseholders are having with their building’s fire safety, it is clearly very important that all stakeholders have full upfront and transparent information on this aspect of the property. We’ll continue to review these forms to make sure they are fit for purpose going forward and in particular as their becomes greater clarity over the need for external wall assessments and access to them. ”
Nigel Glen, CEO of ARMA, commented:
“We are pleased with the comprehensive additions to the forms, in particular the addition of the (usually belated and highly emotive) matter of pets and the LPE1’s request for information on building safety. We hope the latter will help towards freeing up leaseholders to sell on properties where the fire risk is minimal.
“We also welcome the addition of the UPRN field as a means of encouraging its adoption across the residential building stock, the benefits of which have long been known.”
After a year dominated by a pandemic, ARMA’s 2021 Annual Conference took delegates back to the future of residential property management by refocusing on the key issues set to shape the sector over the coming years. Delivered to delegates as an online webinar across four days, ARMA members and the wider industry came out in full support of the flagship event, with hundreds of delegates logging-in from offices and homes across the country.
Day One: ARMA Updates and Wellbeing
Day one began with a welcome from ARMA Chairman, Michael Jacobs of MLM Property Management. Touching on the trials and tribulations of 2021, Michael commended the way the industry had adapted to new ways of working and pondered which elements of flexible working are likely to remain in the future. Turning to the work of managing agents, he highlighted the need for stretched workforces with limited resources to provide a realistic service to residents.
The first full session of the day was delivered by ARMA CEO Dr Nigel Glen who took stock of ARMA’s activities and performance as a membership body over the past 12 months. Today ARMA enjoys a record membership total of 509 firms, with 1.45 million homes currently under ARMA member wings across England and Wales.
Nigel explored the findings of the recent ICG Commissioned ‘Members’ Needs’ survey. Overall, the survey showed ARMA meets today’s needs well, but some gaps suggested ARMA was not fully informing members and the sector about its extensive lobbying activity. Nigel went on to summarise the tremendous amount of Government interaction ARMA continues to have. Alongside government groups, ARMA engages with various industry bodies on a regular basis, namely RoPA (Regulation of Property Agents), the Cladding Strategy Group, the Industry Response Group and the Building Safety Alliance council.
Nigel also covered the progress of several ARMA-led initiatives, including its Building Safety Group (which regularly has over 90 attendees including government officials), ARMA Insure, ARMA Network, ARMA Energy and the ARMA leaseholder forum.
With the pressures of a building safety crisis further compounded by a pandemic, property managers have faced mounting pressure in their day-to-day roles. Our second session of the day was therefore a timely one. Delivered by MLM’s Shelley Jacobs, a business psychologist, the presentation on ‘Wellbeing and Resilience’ focused on preparing the industry for more testing times ahead. To demonstrate the immense strain that many are facing, Shelley referred to findings from ARMA and IRPM’s Wellbeing Survey published earlier in the year.
With less than 10% of employees feeling comfortable talking to their managers about mental health problems, there is plenty still to be done. Shelley cited several strategies to help employers create sustainable cultures of wellbeing at work and shared some self-care tips for managing stress.
Day Two: Building Safety
Day two opened with Dr Shaun Lundy of Tetra Consulting offering a breakdown of the Building Safety Bill in its current state, and its road to becoming law. As part of this he drew out the key roles which will be required by the new safety regime, namely the Accountable Person and the Building Safety Manager. While many of these positions will be fulfilled by safety specialists, Shaun noted the need for all parties, including property managers and residents themselves, to play their part in upholding residential building safety.
Shaun emphasised the need for a proportionate, risk-based approach to avoid excessive costs with no benefit and the allocation of limited funding to the wrong risks. He also covered the PAS 9980 which will give recommendations and guidance on fire risk appraisals and assessments of the external walls of residential blocks.
The second session of day two was delivered by PRP Architect’s Andrew Mellor who outlined the building regulations landscape, paying close attention to the Fire Safety Act and the Building Safety Bill. With regards to scope, Andrew commented that the current, arbitrary definition of a higher-risk building could change from what it currently is.
He also pointed out the importance of a complete digital record of a building for the creation of its safety case, a requirement of the new building safety regime. A safety case will be a live document which will include all golden thread information, an emergency plan, maintenance and checks plans/records and a mandatory reporting schedule, among other items. Paying particular attention to a building’s golden thread, Andrew highlighted its role as a holistic record of all aspects of a building, including façade, structural and safety related features.
Day Three: Legal Updates & Ethical Leadership
Day three began with a joint legal update presentation from Cassandra Zanelli of PM Legal Services and Justin Bates of Landmark Chambers, discussing recent legal cases which have passed through the Upper Tribunal or Court of Appeal. Several of the cases highlighted the need for getting contractually valid demands in place to avoid Section 20b issues. Touching on the legal implications of the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Act, they estimated the latter would likely become law in early 2022.
The day ended with a presentation from Linn Byberg, a Senior Engagement Officer at the Institute of Business Ethics. Linn looked at what constitutes ethical leadership, what doesn’t, and how businesses can develop leadership at all levels by empowering people to make good decisions.
Day Four: Tech Talks
The final day of the conference allowed delegates to engage with ARMA Partners during 15-minute webinars divided up across two separate ‘Tech Talk’ streams, covering Business Support and Technical Support topics. These sessions gave delegates the chance to work through their current challenges with a hand-picked selection of industry experts, including EV charging, Heat Network Regulations, Service Charge Accounting, the Fire Safety Act and Asbestos Surveys.
ARMA’s online Annual Conference once again provided an important platform for those working within the residential leasehold sector to gather and discuss the issues on the horizon. It’s evident that a national building safety crisis will be at the fore for years to come, as will the need to keep hold of a talented and experienced workforce.
Our thanks go to all speakers and sponsors of the event, as well as all those who attended.
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ARMA Partner Annual Conference 2021 sponsors: