December 6, 2019

Michelle Banks quits property managers’ trade body ARMA

MichelleBanksMichelle Banks, the ARMA chief executive, is to step down in July.

The announcement to ARMA members comes from ARMA chairman Martin Perry.

“ … sadly I have to announce that Michelle Banks will not be joining us in this next phase [of ARMA-Q] having taken the decision to join her husband in retirement.

“Michelle will be standing down from her position as CEO of ARMA in July this year.”

Roger Southam, chairman of LEASE, issued a statement: “It was a surprise to see Michelle retiring and she will be missed.

“In her short tenure she has seen ARMA move forward and her successor has a well laid course to build on and grow. We wish her well in whatever she goes on to do.”

In fact, Banks had been looking increasingly uncomfortable in her role for some months.

The roll-out of ARMA-Q has weighed heavily, and LKP has reported the dissatisfaction of ARMA members.

For the first three months of this year, ARMA would not even confirm who its members were.

Dismayed at the uncertainties over ARMA-Q – which LKP has consistently praised – we criticised ARMA for an absence of coherent leadership.

Nonetheless, we regret the departure of Banks, a former DCLG civil servant, who we believe brought authority and integrity to this organisation.

Her appointment, and that of former Labour housing minister Keith Hill as the ARMA regulator, were indications that the property management industry was serious about sorting itself out.

That would not have been possible with the appointment of a property management insider, or one of the sector’s over abundant lawyers with no record of serving the greater good whatsoever.

Even the unfortunate delays with ARMA-Q – the admin of which has obviously taken far longer than Banks anticipated –had a positive narrative: it is being done slowly but thoroughly.

The loss of 20-30 per cent of the ARMA membership who either won’t or cannot satisfy the criteria of ARMA-Q is also no great loss.

Indeed, it should be seen simply an endorsement of ARMA being serious and robust.

The fact that some of the largest property management companies in the country – not one large through leaseholder choice, of course – have decided that they cannot join ARMA-Q sends the strongest conceivable message to government.

The leasehold management sector is incapable of effective self-regulation.

Property managers and the freeholders who appoint them have too much power and control over other people’s money and are simply not going to let this go.

Frankly, those companies serious about seeing a cleaner leasehold sector should be delighted to see the back of bad apples even if revenues for their trade body plummet as a result.

On the other hand, sorting out a squabbling trade body made up of commercial rivals is perhaps a thankless task and life is short.

We have considerable sympathy with Banks for taking the decision to pack it in.

Dear Member

We are very pleased with the positive response to accreditation from the vast majority of members. Although there are still some cases to be completed, we can say now that we have a strong and healthy basis on which to take ARMA forward as an organisation.

We are considering the best strategy for staffing the Secretariat in this new era for ARMA but sadly I have to announce that Michelle Banks will not be joining us in this next phase having taken the decision to join her husband in retirement. Michelle will be standing down from her position as CEO of ARMA in July this year.

We have been very fortunate to have the benefit of Michelle’s skills, experience and intellect over the last three years. ARMA-Q has been successfully delivered and Michelle has led ARMA’s transition from a trade body to into a professional organisation taking an active lead on raising standards, and has done important work in raising our profile within the sector.

I am sure you will join me in extending our sincere thanks to Michelle for her commitment to ARMA, and our very best wishes to her and her husband for a long and happy retirement.

With kind regards

Martin Perry MA FIRPM
Chair

Comments

  1. Michael Epstein says

    Enjoy your Retirement with your husband, Michelle, but be very careful not to buy a retiremen development flat, whilst there are so many sharks (including ARMA-Q members) involved in the retirement development sector

    • Further to the ARMA-Q inviting Peverel/Firstport in to membership. It could be seen as condoning the many issues regarding this Managing Agent who has since 2005 been seen as the company that saw the opportunity to increase its profits by cheating the elderly leasehold tenant who purchased in good faith a flat to spend their final days in peace and quite.

      Then Peverel in its many guises high jacked the developments where is was possible to use other companies under the umbrella of The Peverel Group, now Firstport Property Services Ltd and Appello who was Cirrus Communication Services Ltd.

      Why would this ARMA-Q invite Firstport into their membership when Peverel Services Ltd and the retired CEO Janet Entwistle was aware of the Price Fixing and the Excessive Commissions that have yet to be resolved and proper compensation refunded.

      65 Developments were Price Fixed and Peverel offered £100,000 compensation disguised as a Goodwill gesture, when it made £1.4 million pounds for the works undertaken.

      Janet explained that as the Proper Tenders did not reflect the true cost of the works undertaken, then the £100,00 was a refund on an amount that she was unable to estimate?

      Can you believe this story as true, should Firstport be allowed into membership with such a track record and the fact that ARMA have refused to reply to my concerns over the past 3 months?

      • It seems that ARMA may not have been aware of the Peverel/Firstport link that in 2005 some one at Peverel now Firstport decided that to make more profit they would cheat and lie to Leaseholders that was in 2004/05 and the Price Fixing Scams began. They were to escalate into Insurance Frauds and Duplication of Invoices directed by the Senior Management who were paid to distort facts which is still a Peverel/ Firstport trait.

        Does ARMA know:-

        It is understood that the report gives the background to the sham tendering that Peverel engaged in, and the disgraceful decision by the Office of Fair Trading to do a leniency deal with the company.

        The scandal inevitably raises questions over Andy Davey, former head of Cirrus, who was a director of Peverel Business Excellence.

        Everything about this OFT inquiry is scandalous. It is almost as serious as the cheating undertaken by Peverel. The OFT was either suckered into accepting a leniency deal with Peverel in December 2009, or complacently went along with the fiction that Peverel had somehow “turned itself in”.

        The demonstrable truth is that Peverel owned up to the practices because it had been rumbled. The Cirrus scam had even been outlined in the Times on December 4 2009.

        What has ARMA to say about this?

        • Is ARMA aware of the cheating that Peverel/Cirrus undertook in 2005/09 before they were exposed as Price Fixing along with 4 other contractors that systematically over charged and colluded with Peverel/Cirrus Senior Managers who escaped scot free.

      • Is ARMA aware that the changes in name from Peverel to Firstport and Cirrus to Appello has I believe intended to fool the Leaseholders who are unaware of the trouble caused by the Peverel Group over the past 8 years?

        Was it to much to expect that when an Area Manager turns up at a Budget Meeting circa February 2007 and states that the Warden Call System (WCS)that is working OK is now OBSOLETE and needs to be replaced very soon. The costs had already been priced by Cirrus Communications Services Ltd (a Peverel Company)who produced 2 OPTIONS.
        The Area Manager should have received a report from Cirrus explaining why the WCS was OBSOLETE.

        The 2 OPTIONS for the WCS were £15,000 and £20,000 so S20 CONSULTATION was necessary.
        I first asked for all the documentation regarding the 2 OPTIONS IN 2009/10 be sent to us at Ashbrook Court, still waiting.

        The WSC was hit by lightening in June 2007 (still waiting for the report documentation explaining the damage) and was considered an emergency. It was that urgent, it took 9 months before the work commenced taking 3 weeks to complete.

        You guessed it, they waited for Cirrus to tender for the work. Then using a Price Rigged Tender, so Cirrus had the cheapest, (they gave Glyn Jackson the other tenderer the cost breakdown they had tendered ) and for them to add 20% on to each item so they would win the tendered work.

        In 2009 Peverel Group admitted to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)that Peverel/Cirrus had lied about the Tender and had gained the work at 65 other developments making £1.4 Million Pounds.

        They were let off as the OFT allowed both the Peverel Companies to escape without a penalty. Both Peverel/Cirrus are still working on our development, having changed their names to hide the facts.

      • I wonder if ARMA would condone the cancelling of a meeting to resolve old issues/maters then pull out as the paper trail to show what happened when it happened and how the Area Manager could not produce any written proof of what he claimed had happened.

        Today I received an email from our Regional Manager stating that the meeting I had arranged and previously agreed by her, had been cancelled as my agenda was not to her liking.

        She stated that the agenda that was sent to her was not be open for discussion, as all the items/matters had been checked by Peverel/Firstport previously by the Area Manager and she is not prepared to reinvestigate the many complaints that were laid at his door.

        Our development at the moment has been rendered rudderless as we have no House Manager, they resigned after 2 weeks in January 2015.

        Our Senior Area Manager is on long term sick since late March 2015.

        Regional Manager is on leave.

        In an effort to resolve some very serious issues a meeting had been proposed between Peverel/Firstport and myself at Ashbrook Court.

        Regional Manager has decided that she is not prepared to discuss the items that created the problems in the first place.

        Finally at the last meeting the Area Manager admitted that there was no Paper Trails that he could provide that would justify the spending since 2008 as he gave verbal requests not written ones.

        The RM refuses to discuss, Insurance including:-
        1.Historical Insurance Claims
        2.Excessive Commissions
        3.Excessive Premiums
        4.Ownership of the Development after Administration
        5.Excessive Service Charges
        6.Historic Payments Made for other developments
        7.Refunds not repaid
        8.Interest charges denied
        9.Door Entry Payments when no communal doors
        10.Surveys charged not required
        11.Price Fixing of Peverel/Cirrus on Ashbrook Court
        12.Expense Files incomplete and missing invoices and reports

        I can take the complaint to Stage 2 Complaints Procedure headed by Chris Owens, what a farce.

    • Michael,
      ,
      Who ever it is that replace this lady will have to resolve the quandaries that are Peverel/Firstport and are they fit to be a member of an organisation that has taken over 9 months attempting to decide if they fit the bill.

      The fact that this period has been so long says that with the added Q for Quality, it would not be in ARMA interest to add them, if it did the name ARMA would seem to diminish in value.

      • Michael Epstein says

        Chas,
        If the Peverel/ Firstport companies were not to be admitted what of the quandary concerning Sue Petri, who is a senior manager at Peverel/Firstport, given she is also a director of ARMA?
        Could ARMA really have a director, whose own management company cannot be admitted to ARMA?

        • What position is held at Peverel Firstport by Sue Petri that could influence ARMA to allow this Complacent, Incompetent Company into ARMA-Q.

          It seems that the Peverel Curse which has followed it since the management buyout from McCarthy & Stone after they were fined for false advertising and after M&S had lost their court case, and decided to separate.

          The lessons of how to cheat were learnt and were to sustain Peverel for the next 12 years where they put the lessons learned into practice.

          Does ARMA know this?

    • Michael,

      Do you believe that ARMA would be aware of the latest Court Case where Peverel Services Ltd were instructed to pay over £8,000.00 after Holdings and Management (Solitaire) Ltd took JH to the Courts for arrears and during mediation required a Tomlin Order to gag her
      .
      This brave woman refused to sign this Tomlin Order and Counterclaimed.

      This lead to Peverel Services Ltd having to pay £8,237.06 into the Service Charge for the development.

      I have been informed that the counterclaim should be paid within 14 days, which did not happen?

      • Michael Epstein says

        Given the senior role of Sue Petri within the Peverel/Firsport Group and given that Sue Petri is a director of ARMA, they certainly ought to know!
        A Tomlin order is basically a means of legally settling a dispute without an admission of liability and settling the dispute in confidence.
        In this case payment of service charges appeared to be in dispute. Peverel decided to chase up the payments via the courts(as is their right). When the brave leaseholder refused to back down, far from pursuing the claim Peverel from a position of claiming money from the leaseholders changed to a position of owing the leaseholder £8,000 and then trying to keep the whole matter secret and without an admission of liability.
        Now I could understand if the defendant (the Leaseholder) had agreed to pay up on condition of a Tomlin Order (both sides achieve their stated purpose). But in this case it was the applicant who wanted the court case that wanted to settle in confidence and without an admission of liability.
        Clearly something in the evidence that was about to be presented in court caused great concern within Peverel, which would have serious implications for them.

        • Michael,
          I contacted the defendant and it seems that this is the way Peverel/Firstport continue to pay out counterclaims as a way of insisting that the leaseholder sign a Tomlin Order. This is the Gaging Order that prevents it being in the Public Domain.

          They send letters from debt collectors, JB Leich or similar to intimidate and inform as in this case 4 days before the hearing, stating that their costs were to be £10,000.

          This brave lady was not intimidated and refused forcing Peverel Services to withdraw the claim and instead pay-out a Counterclaim hopping this will have the same effect.

          Is this possible?

          It is believed that the contract that Peverel have is no longer valid with the changes in names and companies.

          They refuse to provide proof of the contract stating that the Contract is Commercially Sensitive which possible means that it no longer holds water as Locus Standi?

          • Michael Epstein says

            There have been too many similar cases involving Peverel/Firstport for it not to be a systemic procedure sanctioned at the highest level to either scare a leaseholder into a settlement or at the very least to keep details of any wrong doing on the part of Peverel/Firstport secret.
            One case involving RB demonstrated in court what RB had said all along, namely that Peverel/Firstport did not have Locus Standi. This means Peverel/Firstport could not have a management contract, nor did they have any legal right to collect service charges.
            They put immense pressure on RB, taking him to court, trying to strike out his evidence in fact deploying every trick in the book.
            They did this in the full knowledge that they could not possibly have had Locus Standi?
            Was this purely about getting money from RB, or could they be concerned in case they had mortgaged land that did not belong to them?

        • Michael,
          A Tomlin order is basically a means of legally settling a dispute without an admission of liability and settling the dispute in confidence.

          Chas says:
          Why would a company Peverel Services Ltd, pay barrister’s to take a leaseholder to court for not paying arrears and then settle on a counterclaim which they knew was being claimed, does not make sense?

          Why did Peverel decided to chase up the payments in the first place via the courts (as is their right). When the brave leaseholder refused to back down, far from pursuing the claim Peverel from a position of claiming money from the leaseholders changed to a position of owing the leaseholder £8,000 and then trying to keep the whole matter secret and without an admission of liability.

          What was gained by this action as Peverel was I believe claiming £10,000 in arrears and ended up paying over £8,000 into the Service Charge Contingency Fund?

          That would show as a loss of £18,000 and they would still have to pay Mr Leich and others?

          • Michael Epstein says

            It would appear that in any dispute with Peverel/ Firstport, excessive, unjustified legal costs are used as a weapon against the leaseholder.
            It may be of interest to note that a leaseholder has the right to ask the court to separate the amount disputed from the original claim and the legal costs claim.
            It is absolutely astonishing that Peverel/Firstport behaved in this manner (yet again)
            especially coming so close to a prestigious awards ceremony!

    • Michael is Sanctuary Housing Services Ltd a member of ARMA?
      I seen this in the Daily Express.

      On page 22 of the Daily Express today there was a an Article by Maisha Frost who Fights for The Rights of the Elderly.

      Maisha is known as The Crusader and the question is why do Sanctuary Housing Services Ltd which are a Registered Charity charge 30% of any profit made when the Leasehold Retirement Flat is sold.

      • Michael Epstein says

        As far as i can tell Sanctuary are not members of ARMA.
        They appear to have a net worth of £165m. Assets are valued at £1.67b with liabilities of £1.52b.
        So you can see that if the asset valuation are only optimistic by 10% that presents problems.
        I note their staff pension fund has a deficit of £30m.
        In addition their auditors Price Waterhouse formally resigned last year.

    • Would ARMA be interested in the refusal of the new Regional Manager was refusing to discuss the historic failings that are Peverel/Firstport.

      In an effort to resolve some very serious issues a meeting has been proposed between Peverel/Firstport and myself at Ashbrook Court.
      Our RM, decided that she was not prepared to discuss the items that created the problems we now have.

      RM stated that ” All of these matters have been responded to several times in recent years and I therefore do not intend to discuss them again” Obviously she believed the untruths that were written by those who were in charge at the time that being our Area and Regional Manager.
      It is true that the AM and RM responded several times to these issues, but they were never able to produce the documentation to justify the spending of Thousands of Pounds of our money.

      Eventually this year our Area Manager did state, he only gave verbal instructions for works to be carried out. This explains why he has been unable to produce the Reports, Contracts, Insurance Claims, that cost us many Thousand of Pounds?

      She refuses to discuss, Insurance including
      1.Historical Claims
      2.Commissions
      3.Premiums
      4.Ownership of the Development
      5.Service Charges
      6.Historic Payments Made
      7.Refunds
      8.Interest
      9.Door Entry Payments
      10.Surveys
      11.Price Fixing
      12.Expense Files.
      No doubt others will want to read this and add to it?

    • I first sent a complaint to ARMA on the 15/01/2015 regarding allowing Peverel/Firstport into ARMA-Q.

      Since then I had to send other emails to ARMA, CEO, Personal Assistant, where no response has been give just an apology for taking so long to provide an answer why Peverel/Firstport has been seen as possibly the worst Managing Agent in Leasehold.

      They had been found responsible for Price Fixing 65 Retirement Developments that they owned up to and from 2005 to 2009 the OFT and the Peverel Group themselves admitted that they suspect nearly all developments during that period were Price Fixed.

      This incudes Warden Call Systems and Fire Systems that were supposed to obsolete, but were in fact working, but the sister companies needed the work?

      They refuse to resolve problems and provide refunds where they have been caught cheating, forcing pensioners to waste time and eventually take them to court, where they have in a lot of cases paid out monies without accepting any blame.

      They then attempt to use The Tomlin Order to gag what was agreed.

      If this company is allowed to join before they refund the Millions of Pounds that they have set aside to refund monies they had received from being both deceitful and underhanded in the way they were creating work for the likes of Cirrus (now Appello) and Kingsborough (now Firstport Insurance) who were sister companies and subsidiaries of Peverel Services Ltd.

    • I wonder if ARMA is aware that at Ashbrook Court where Peverel/Firstport are Managing Agents and already a member of ARMA not ARMA- Q.
      I wonder if they would be interested that our Managing Agents have sent demands for Ground Rent as follows:-

      The Ground Rent is due on the 24/06/2015 and the demand notice is “given by Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd that as far as I have been informed is a Dormant Company?

      They have in the past been our Landlord and a Subsidiary of Peverel Services Ltd.

      Our Freehold was sold last year on 31/10/2014 to company whose director is Mark Hawthornwaite also known as Mark Hawthorn.

      This company, as far as I have been informed by the selling company, is known as Greenmount Securities Ltd who are a Subsidiary of Landmark Investments Ltd and paid less than £34,000 for the 28/9 flats.

      The House Managers House is empty and we pay the Council Tax for this house until sold?

      Peverel have a 125 year lease on this house and require an even longer lease?

      As it stands today we have NO:
      House Manager: left after 14 days
      Area Manager: on long term sick
      Regional Manager: refuses to meet even though date and venue arranged,

      She has pulled out refusing to resolve the long standing issues left by our Area Manager who will probably not return this year, or ever.
      We had a visit by one of the long term companies that have worked for years and do a decent job, one of the work force informed me they had not been paid this year?
      With the redundancy’s at Peverel Firstport, is this a sign?

  2. Michael Hollands says

    I wish Michelle a happy retirement as I did Janet a few weeks ago.
    It is a shame really, as they both arrived with good intentions to an industry which is beyond repair, without Government intervention.
    I did warn them both when they took their jobs on and now perhaps they both will believe me.
    And of course neither of them would ever take advice from those at the sharp end, like myself.

  3. Michael Epstein says

    It should not be forgotten that Michelle Banks was coming under sustained pressure before she announced her retirement.
    However laudable the intentions of ARMA-Q were,its introduction has been shambolic.
    This has caused real anger, particularly for the respectable end of the property management market.
    ARMA does appear to have admitted some rather notorious property managers, whose conduct has and still proves to be far below the standards that leaseholders have a right to expect.
    In some cases liquidated companies have been accepted into ARMA-Q
    Could ARMA risk losing the largest company in property management?.
    Loosing up to 20-30% of their membership at a time of severe cutbacks does put ARMA under pressure.
    They also only have one year left on their lease in Battersea.
    So whilst i feel sure Miss Banks was well intentioned, the simple fact is, the property management industry is not capable of self-regulation.I do not blame Miss Banks from walking the plank.

  4. A Reviewer says

    Hi

    The International Standard for Quality is ISO9001. this will include a complaints procedure, which should be in accordance with ISO10002.

    A Quality Management System which, like ARMA-Q does NOT meet the standard is effectively worthless.
    And one which is not “accredited” that is checked over my a body authorized by UKAS – the United Kingdom Accreditation Service simply cannot be relied upon.

    This ARMA-Q is a worthlessand pointless exercise in pretending to be good whilst remaining bad.

    Unfortunately EVERY Ombudsman Service in the UK is as bad ….

    It will get worse ….

  5. Fleeced says

    “Unfortunately EVERY Ombudsman Service in the UK is as bad ….”

    Ditto. I couldn’t agree more. They are either government funded or self interested businesses – that’s why. Like the government funded PHSO and the NHS complaints procedure; corrupt from top to bottom.

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