Property management agent calls for tough clampdown on rogue agents

Terry Sutton, chairman and founder of PMS Leasehold Management in Colchester.

Terry Sutton, chairman and founder of PMS Leasehold Management in Colchester. - Credit: Archant

A Colchester-based property management firm is lobbying for a change in the law to make it harder for rogue agents to rip off leaseholders.

Terry Sutton, chairman and founder of PMS Leasehold Management and Dr Nigel Glen, who runs the industry’s Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), met with Colchester MP Will Quince and Harwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin in Westminster to urge them to support a clampdown.

The pair are spearheading a campaign for better regulation of the sector, and hope to raise standards in the residential block management industry.

An All Party Parliamentary Group is looking into residential leasehold and commonhold, and Mr Sutton and Dr Glen hope the MPs will use their influence to push for the change.

Mr Sutton’s business, which is 29 years old and looks after properties containing flats as well as commercial properties, has signed up to a code of conduct set up by ARMA, the leading trade body for residential leasehold property management in England and Wales.

The body promotes high standards of leasehold management and campaigns for improvements in legislation and policy.

But Mr Sutton said the industry is largely unregulated, meaning that anyone can set up in business with little controls over the vast sums of money they look after on behalf of flat owners.

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“As it stands, you need no licence, professional qualification, membership of a trade or professional association to set yourself up as a managing agent to manage people’s flats and their service charge money. This affects millions of people,” he said.

Mr Quince said: “As a former property solicitor, I am well aware of the issues in the sector. There are strong arguments for regulation of the sector to protect those living in leasehold properties and this is an area I will be encouraging the Government to look at.”

MP Bernard Jenkin said: “The idea of introducing some regulation of residential leasehold management companies is not at all unreasonable, and would provide assurance for leaseholders of flats, and some redress if leaseholders are being ripped off with poor management or excessive charges.

“At the moment, anybody can set up as a leasehold management company, and there are some terrible cases as a consequence.”