ARMA Conference 2013

London Debt Collectors attended the 18th Annual ARMA Conference on 10 October 2013. The theme was ‘Raising the Bar’ which will be music to the ears of some residential leaseholders! With the introduction of ARMA-Q in 2015 managing agents will have self-regulation if they want to be ARMA members. For the first time members will have to comply with a Consumer Charter and bespoke Standards overseen by an independent Regulatory Panel. By choosing an ARMA agent you get higher standards, greater confidence and more openness.

The Legal Updates section covered the key cases that have occurred in the last 12 months and how they affect us. One of the dilemmas facing a managing agent when we have a ‘naughty tenant’ who breaches their lease in some way is whether to seek a County Court Judgment or a determination from the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (as of 2013 now called the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)). Surprisingly the Realreed v Cussens case questioned whether the County Court has jurisdiction over leasehold matters. After appeal to the High Court it was determined that since the Lease is a contract it could be heard in the County Court.

After many, many years of discussion it appears that the Leasehold Enquiries Standard Form is to be launched anytime now so for those selling their properties this may simplify the pre-sale enquiries process.

The afternoon session began with further case law: Phillips v Francis and Daejan this is in respect of major works and the Section 20 consultation process. Further clarification on the legal position should be available next year but the recommendation is for managing agents to consult with their leaseholders as much as possible. The collection of reserve funds was the next discussion which followed on nicely. If the Lease allows for a reserve fund it is highly recommended to spread the cost (Burnage Court Limited) and avoid substantial financial impact on the lessees.

‘Dealing with Difficult Behaviours’ finished the afternoon session and the recommendations were as follows:

  • De-personlise it (learn not to take it personally)
  • Be clear about your outcome (always keep in mind what you want as the end result)
  • Be highly flexible (learn the four typical responses and use them appropriately depending on the situation: out aggressing, placating, avoiding and distracting.

Most difficult behaviour is fear driven!