Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
Safety is, of course, a key aspect of block management. But who should be responsible for ensuring the safety of residents? In the wake of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, Dame Judith Hackitt was asked to carry out a review of the building regulations, putting safety firmly in the spotlight.
"Sounds simple? It isn't", pointed out Andrew Bulmer, the CEO of the Institute of Residential Property Management, in an article earlier this week. Dame Judith Hackitt chaired the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety set up following the Grenfell Tower tragedy In her final report, Dame Judith proposes a named individual a dutyholder - should be ultimately responsible for the safety of a building. So far so good. That person should be the owner, she suggests. Holding someone to account seems sensible, so what's the problem?
The difficulty with Dame Judith's plan is the complexity of our leasehold system, with its matrix of different roles and responsibilities. As Andrew explains, when the freehold is owned by the leaseholders or commonholders (see my 20th December blog on commonhold reform) through a vehicle such as a Residents Management Company, or Right to Manage Company, that means one of the resident directors will have to stand forward as the dutyholder for the safety of the block. The day-to-day responsibilities of the safe management of the building may be subcontracted to an agent but that dutyholder is ultimately responsible and could end up in jail if it all goes wrong.
Andrew foresees what he politely describes as lively residents meetings as the directors try to decide between them who is prepared to take on that responsibility, or when the developer tries to hand over the completed site to the residents. Yesterday, I wrote about Lord Best's working group, which the IRPM sits on. The organisation has highlighted this dutyholder conundrum and the leasehold reform team at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government is trying to find a way forward. "Any overhaul of a longstanding system is complex and carries significant risk of unintended consequences" says Andrew. He doesn't envy the MHCLG in their task and nor do I.
I have returned regularly to leasehold reform in this blog.
Today's post illustrates yet again why that reform is so badly needed and why the debate over it could go on for some time.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
Runs HQ & site lease-up teams. Drives rent pricing, mobilisation, marketing, happy residents!
Jon Curtis MRICS Head of Building Engineering
Chartered Building Surveyor. Lectures on EWS1 & building safety. Runs CapEx programmes.
Kate Robinson MIRPM MD Blocks/FM Management (London Region)
Master plan setup, ops and staffing and resident engagement. ISO45001 champion.
Lee Harle Partner Ringley Law
Plot conveyancing. Debt litigation. Group Company Secretary.
Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
Stakeholder engagement. Mixed tenure specialist. Budget management. Plant audit, PPM compliance.
Chris Georgalis MRICS Head of Commercial Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental valuations: retail, leisure. IRR modelling and valuations for secured lending. Compulsory purchase & rent reviews
Nichola Pughe MRICS Head of Residential Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental development & mixed use valuations, IRR modelling. Leasehold enfranchisement specialist
Libby Chen MSc Compliance Manager
Operational Plant & Equipment strategy PPM Compliance lead, Asset tagging Client major projects
Dipesh Parekh Director PlanetRent
Customer centric, vertically integrated PropTech/fin-tech solutions.
Leana Aristodemou MIRPM MARLA AssocRICS Strategic lead: ESG & Asset Business Plan delivery
Financial modelling, valuation analyst to support underwriting & fund reporting.
Natalie Birmingham Helpdesk Support Manager
Trainer & Helpdesk Manager: people, systems,contractors. ISO45001 supply chain accreditation.
Steve Norman Planning Director
Land due diligence (opportunities & constraints) Has contributed to a number of award winning schemes.