Draft: Block Management Sector Code, 1st edition

Section 1 Dealing with consumers

1 Introduction

1a You must comply with the expectations set out in Section 1 of the Overarching Code in relation to:

  • acting ethically, with honesty and with integrity
  • having a professional standard of skill and care
  • treating all consumers fairly and equally regardless of their race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender recognition, disability, pregnancy or maternity, or nationality
  • complying with all relevant legislation
  • seeking to avoid conflicts of interest and declaring them where unavoidable
  • communicating clearly, accurately and transparently when representing your services
  • reporting breaches of both the Overarching Code and this Code to the regulator (*)
  • being open and transparent with the new regulator about matters that might affect their or others' trust in the profession
  • disclosing and reporting information relating to a property that may affect a homeowner's safety or does not conform to relevant mandatory property standards, and working with any building safety manager to ensure that homeowners are kept informed with regards to building safety issues
  • data protection and client information
  • ensuring transparency with regard to referral fees
  • complying with the instructions of your client.

1b Where managing agents do not comply, this will be taken as a breach of this Code, as well as a breach of the Overarching Code.

2 Complaints - general/against the managing agent

2a You must have an in-house complaints procedure in place, setting out a clear timeframe for responding (the overall process should not take more than eight weeks, starting from the date the complaint is received and ending on the date your final view letter is issued) and steps to be taken to inform the complainant (*) if these timeframes cannot be met.

2b Your procedure must be in writing (*) and made available online, in an office (where appropriate) and shared with complainants when requested. The procedure must explain to the consumer how you will respond if the issue is in relation to agent actions or instructions they have received from a client.

2c Where a complainant raises an issue that is not your responsibility, you should, if possible, direct the complaint to the appropriate person and/or organisation.

2d You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that your complaints procedure is accessible to all complainants - for example by providing translated copies.

2e You should ensure that complaints are dealt with consistently, fairly and sensitively.

2f You should train your staff to welcome complaints and value them as a way to learn and improve services.

2g When complaints are made verbally, you should use reasonable endeavours to ascertain whether it is a formal complaint or not, and if it is, communicate the decision to the complainant.

2h If the complaint cannot be resolved at the time it is being made, a proper investigation must be promptly undertaken. A formal written response, setting out any remedial actions if required, must be sent to the complainant.

2i A senior member of staff or designated complaint handler not directly involved in the issue should deal with the complaint.

2j For complex complaints where the timescale needs to be extended beyond that in your written procedure, you should agree with the complainant a reasonable date for response.

2k If the complainant remains dissatisfied, the complainant must be told how the complaint can be further pursued. This should provide the opportunity for a speedy, separate and detached review of the complaint by staff not directly involved in the original complaint. Such a review should be sent to the complainant.

2l Following the conclusion of the investigation, a written statement of the final view, and including any offer made, must be sent to the complainant. This letter must also tell the complainant how the matter can be referred to the redress scheme of which you are a member, pointing out that any such referral by the complainant must be made within 12 months of the date of the final view.

2m You must belong to a government-approved redress scheme and provide details of that redress scheme to the complainant.

2n You must abide by any determination made by the redress scheme.

2o You should make complainants aware of other organisations that can provide advice or casework, or take up complaints, such as Citizens Advice, LEASE, and Shelter.

2p All complaints must be recorded, stored and managed accurately and in line with data protection legislation. You should monitor the complaints you receive to identify whether there are any systemic or training issues you need to address.

3 Disputes between occupiers

3a When requested to deal with disputes between occupiers, you should always refer to the title documents and your delegated duties under the management agreement, and should not go further in dealing with parties than permitted by these.

3b Disputes between occupiers may follow your agreed complaints procedure; however, when dealing with disputes between occupiers you should:

  • Use your knowledge and experience to guide your client on how to proceed, advising them of the options available - including dispute resolution.
  • Be mindful that by your actions you do not assume a responsibility you do not have.
  • Always have regard to the enforceability clause in the title documents before embarking on any action that involves expense from the service charge, and take client instructions.
  • Have your client's authority before pursuing any enforcement action, and confirm that the client will be responsible for the costs until or unless recovered from the homeowner.
  • Give complainants realistic estimates of the likely time and cost involved in any enforcement.
  • Be mindful of any documentation that governs the relationship between the individual and communal areas.
  • Consider other methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, and suggest this method of dispute resolution where appropriate.