Protection of Freedoms Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) (PF 26)

WRITTEN EVIDENCE TO THE PARKING OF FREEDOM BILL COMMITTEE RELATING TO CHAPTER 2, CLAUSES 54-56 AND SCHEDULE 4.

1. SUMMARY:

· The Association of Residential Managing Agents wishes to present written evidence that the banning of clamping and towing away of vehicles on private land will have a seriously detrimental affect on the owners of residential long leasehold property. ARMA’s much preferred route is a vigorous licensing scheme as proposed by the British Parking Association.

· Should this approach not find favour then we would ask consideration be given to the following:

· An amendment to chapter 2 clause 54(6):

Clause 54(6) of the Bill contains a definition of "motor vehicle" which includes "a vehicle designed or adapted for towing by a mechanically propelled vehicle." This would include vehicles such as caravans or trailers. As these vehicles do not have to be registered with DVLA, there is no way after the clamping ban comes into force for the landowner to obtain contact details of the registered keeper of such vehicles from DVLA. This will therefore make it very difficult to enforce parking control on private land as it will not be possible to pursue the keepers of caravans, trailers etc for payment of parking tickets. How then can a landowner control the parking of these vehicles without clamping or towing?

· That the format and content of the "contract" under schedule 4.1(1)(a) is specified in Regulations as is the content of the "notice" in clause 6.

2. THE SECTOR:

· There are some 1.8 million private leaseholders in England and Wales, their flats being located in around 80,000 purpose-built blocks or converted houses. These flats house 3.5 million residents.

· Government estimates 40% of these flats are self-managing and are likely to be small properties.

· This leaves some 1.08 million under professional management.

3. ABOUT ARMA:

· Formed in 1991, ARMA is the only body in England and Wales to focus exclusively on matters relating to the management of long leasehold residential property. The Association has over 250 firms in membership that between them manage in excess of 850,000 units is more than 34,000 blocks of flats or estates (at least 60% of which are lessee-controlled properties). ARMA’s founding principal aims are to represent its members and the interests of lessees, resident management companies and investor freeholders.

4. THE SITUATION:

· Most blocks of flats, particularly new developments, have off-street parking.

· Smaller converted properties would have a few spaces at the front of the property as with private driveways. Larger properties will have substantial areas at ground and, sometimes, basement level dedicated to parking.

· Some properties have free parking in these areas for residents but as parking is such a prized and emotional issue most spaces are allocated with perhaps a few visitor spaces (including disabled bays).

· Bays are normally allocated via the terms of residents’ leases or by a separate contract with the landlord. Whatever, the individual residents pay (in city centres substantially) for this parking and perceive it as their personal property. They expect/demand that the landlord/managing agent protects them from others using ‘their’ space.

· It is not the norm to have gates or parking attendants owing to the cost and impracticality.

· Parking at blocks of flats is complex, time-consuming and a highly emotive issue that cannot be ignored. ARMA members perceive there must be an effective method(s) for dealing with ‘illegal’ parking both in the interests of residents who pay for their spaces and health and safety – this must include a reasonably rapid way of ensuring the offending vehicle does not continue to take up a resident’s bay.

5. RESULTS OF ARMA MEMBER SURVEY:

· A total of 142 corporate members responded in the short response window allowed and responses to the questions below show the percentage of respondents who agreed or strongly agreed.

I utilise methods of parking enforcement at my sites because abuse of private land is a growing problem

93%

I believe that the proposal to ban clamping and towing away on private land will prevent me for being able to effectively manage parking on sites.

84%

The ability to use ticketing as the primary means of enforcement of illegal parkers on my sites is not enough of a deterrent.

81%

The prevailing legislation whereby drivers can ignore parking tickets by stating that ‘I was not the driver’ needs to be changed.

91%

I believe that a total ban on wheel-clamping is not the answer; the industry needs to be properly regulated in order to protect the interests of landowners, residents and motorists.

93%

Also attached as ANNEX 1 are some 100 written responses to the question: -

- In your opinion what are the likely consequences and effects on the sites that you manage, of this ban?

6. RESULTS OF A LEASEHOLDER SURVEY:

· See ANNEX 2.

7. BACKGROUND READING:

· Annex 3 demonstrating the views of leaseholders represented by the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter.

· Annex 4 an explanation as to why alternative parking control measures may not work.

March 2011