At the beginning of August, ARMA (the Association of Residential Managing Agents) and the IRPM (the Institute of Residential Property Management) announced that they are thinking about merging. Two organisations in the rental sector - ARLA Propertymark and the National Residential Landlords Association - appear to have made a go of it since their respective mergers, so why not the two property managers’ bodies too?
On the face of it the two organisations are quite different. ARMA is a trade body representing property management firms, and the IRPM - which was originally an offshoot of ARMA’s education committee - offers individual rather than corporate membership to managing agents and is responsible for delivering professional qualifications in property management with a strong focus on personal development. But both ARMA and the IRPM also represent their members’ interests within the property industry and to government. They each sit on a wide range of committees and working groups – often side by side - and they play an important role in helping develop the legislation and regulations that affect both landlords and tenants/leaseholders.
Recently the two bodies have been working very closely on a range of issues such as building safety, working arrangements during the pandemic, leasehold reform and the regulation of property agents among other things. And it’s this that has pushed them towards talk of a merger. The logic goes along the lines of avoiding future duplication of effort and instead combining resources, data and expertise to support the whole property management sector.
So if they do decide to join forces, what’s in it for the customer?
First, having one organisation to represent managing agents would be a whole lot less confusing. Instead of checking whether your agent is ARMA or IRPM-regulated and wondering what difference that makes anyway, landlords and leaseholders could identify one brand/logo and know that anyone not displaying it is probably best avoided.
And second, a single voice representing property agents and their customers to government and other stakeholders has to carry more weight. Having a direct line to the powers that be is vitally important for beleaguered residents in blocks of flats, especially with the cladding crisis to cope with and new legislation and leasehold reform in the pipeline. If not these well-respected industry bodies, who else will call out bad decision-making in Whitehall? Leaseholder and rental sector campaigners and interest groups are certainly vocal and very active on certain issues but they don’t always carry the clout of well-established organisations which already have the ear of government.
Two votes among ARMA and IRPM members will take place in the next few weeks. If they back the merger, property managers could find themselves belonging to a new organisation by Christmas. We will be watching the way the votes go with interest – and you should too.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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