It’s not enough for property managers to say that they are professional. Professionalism in our industry needs to be felt across what we do, and how we do it. From health and safety, where it is our duty to uphold the highest standards to keep our residents safe, to areas of accountability such as accounting and transparency of fees.
With customer choice being at the forefront to industry reform, it’s more important now than ever before for those property managers at the higher end of the quality scale to set the standards, show value for money and transparency, and also demonstrate how they can be truly innovative and customer focused. But on the other side of the coin, this will shine a light on any substandard practices that need to be addressed, and rightly so.
Certainly, underpinning the recent ever-evolving building safety agenda and leasehold reform programme is the need for professional, skilled property managers who can
navigate an increasingly complex regulatory landscape and give residents confidence that their homes are in safe hands. Without professionalism and competence, the reform agenda could unravel, and residents could miss out on the intended benefits.
Education is critical
What’s coming down the line in terms of leasehold reform is exciting, but also comes with potentially more responsibilities for residents. We’ve heard first-hand in our latest Resident Director Survey that 88% of the Directors don’t have a good understanding of the proposed building safety or leasehold reform changes. When asked about their feelings around the proposed changes, there is a mix of scepticism (14%), apprehension (12%) and intrigue (10%).
Property managers will need to be able to demonstrate they have the expertise to help building owners and residents navigate the various safety, financial, technical, and communication challenges coming their way so that they can be a helpful partner of choice.
I’m pleased to say FirstPort has been progressive in its approach so far. We have long argued the case for greater professionalism in the sector and we run an active and accredited CPD/learning and development programme for our colleagues with an online training academy, and a calendar of CPD opportunities, including IRPM membership and accreditations. We’re also investing in leadership and management development.
We welcome the way the Government has encouraged reform, and the recommendations of the Working Group on the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) in recent years around professional standards.
We’d now like to see further progress on RoPA being made in parliament in recognition of the importance of the property manager and industry role. It is almost three years since the RoPA Working Group made its recommendations and, as an industry, we want to see this work reignited, so we can work with government on improving best practice.
Consumer-focused accreditation is absolutely key, and its essential that residents can easily access information about how well qualified their property manager is. Something tangible that helps create confidence in the professionals appointed to look after customers’ homes.
We’ve seen accreditation work well in other sectors, for example, the Considerate Constructors Scheme is a not-for-profit scheme in the construction industry to raise standards on site and encourage best practice beyond statutory requirements. And in the private rented sector in England, third parties and not-for-profit organisations provide voluntary accreditation schemes, providing services such as education and training alongside an accreditation scheme for members.
Ultimately customers need assurance that there is consistency across the industry when it comes to the experts they are working with today; and confidence that there are the right professionals available to support them with tomorrow’s agenda.
Nigel Howell, Chief Executive of FirstPort