"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." — John F. Kennedy
The property management sector has seen a sea change following the tightening of fire safety legislation in 2021. The legislation highlighted the need for increased oversight and rigorous standards. This, along with our long-held respect for the organisation, has prompted us at JFM Block & Estate Management to seek further alignment with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Setting the Context: ARMA or RICS, or Both?
At JFM, we have always been committed to maintaining high standards in block and estate management. This dedication is reflected by our membership of Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), a significant credential that has shaped our place within leasehold sector.
And let’s be clear, ARMA, part of the The Property Institute (TPI), do great work. The standard of their guidance notes and training only gets better. Following their “marriage” to the IRPM (Institute of Residential Property Management), the resources available to personnel working in the sector are greater than ever before. I applaud the recent work of TPI.
However, in response to the rapidly evolving landscape of property management, particularly after the 2021 fire safety legislation, there is a pressing need to elevate commitments further by becoming RICS regulated.
The Imperative of RICS Regulation in a Post-2021 Landscape
In an environment where the legislation has made compliance and governance more complex, the value of RICS regulation cannot be overstated. Known for its stringent standards covering valuation, surveying, and ethical business practices, RICS serves as a beacon of credibility and integrity in the wider real estate market. The need for robust governance frameworks has never been greater, and alignment with RICS provides us with the tools and guidance necessary to navigate these challenges effectively.
Add to this the considerable training resources, and gold-standard market data the institution possesses, it just makes sense for agents looking after complex buildings to come under the RICS umbrella.
Client Assurance and Financial Protection
RICS regulation also brings with it the benefit of the RICS Client Money Protection Scheme. In a time when economic stability is a concern for many, this offers our clients an added layer of financial security. This move is not just about ticking boxes; it’s about fortifying trust and assurance with our clients.
Career Opportunities – A Rallying Call to Ambitious Property Managers
For those considering a career in block management, the alignment with RICS provides a promising pathway.
We’ve got to attract more people to this sector. The IRPM recently reported that roughly 20% of block management vacancies remain unfilled. Perhaps we, in the sector, need to create a more aspirational vision for our recruits.
At JFM, we’re actively working to promote a direct MRICS pathway for residential block management. This is not just a company initiative; it’s a pioneering step that we believe will set new benchmarks for the industry at large. It is in lock-step with some of the great work being done by others in the sector. MRICS is difficult to achieve as a Property Manager and we think a dedicated block management pathway is long overdue. Why? Because the challenges of the modern residential leasehold market demand the resources of the most respected real estate institution in the world.
With all this being said - it is possible to achieve MRICS as a Property Manager. I should know, I pulled it off!
It was a moment of great personal fulfilment for me to become a chartered surveyor. I see so many others out there with the potential to do the same. We at JFM want to hear from Property Managers who aspire to this level of qualification. With them, we hope to take block management into a new era.
The Way Forward
So, JFM are now regulated by RICS and recognised as a Chartered Surveying Practice. It is not just a milestone for JFM; it serves as a model for what the future of block and estate management should look like: well regulated, ethically managed, and continually adapting to meet the demands of evolving legislation and client expectations.
In this complex, ever-shifting landscape, merely adhering to current standards is insufficient. By aligning more closely with RICS, we’re not only enhancing the services we offer to our clients but also contributing to lifting the industry’s standards as a whole.
For those in the block management sector still contemplating the value of RICS regulation, I can say from experience: it's not just an added credential; it's an indispensable tool for risk mitigation, client assurance, and industry advancement.
Does RICS comprehensively represent the block sector? No. The Property Institute (TPI) will need to carry on with its essential mission. But the wider regulatory force of RICS will be essential as we move through the post 2021 fire safety legislative changes, not to mention Net Zero, looming on the horizon.
It’s time for residential block managers to step up within RICS to more actively shape the future of our profession.
Joe Mallon MRICS FIRPM, Joint Managing Partner, JFM Block & Estate Management