8th September 2021
Save the date: the Oxford Weekender is back!
Save the date: the Oxford Weekender is back!

Back for 2022, and taking place over the weekend of 1– 3 April 2022, the popular Oxford Weekender will once again be held in the splendid surroundings of St. Hugh’s College, Oxford.

The three-day conference runs from Friday to Sunday with the theme of Property Management Unplugged. Over the weekend, there’ll be more than 40 keynote and break-out sessions, designed to let property managers plug any gaps in their knowledge and expand their skills in all the areas that now impact our sector.

We’re also teaming up once again with the IRPM to offer delegates the opportunity to take their level 3 or level 4 exams in leasehold management over the weekend.  There will be sessions based around the IRPM syllabus including pre-exam preparation workshops.

Tickets are priced at £375 plus VAT to include two nights’ accommodation and dining at St. Hugh’s. For IRPM members wishing to take up the workshop and exam bundle offer, there will be an additional cost of £395 to cover the cost of the course material, workshop and the exam.

Places are strictly limited and tickets will go on sale during September. So save the date and look out for more details coming soon.

You can register your interest with Property Management Legal Services at For those interested in the IRPM workshop and exam offer please fill out an expression of interest form here:

20th August 2021
Belvoir Group launches block management service in partnership with B-hive Block Management Partners
Belvoir Group launches block management service in partnership with B-hive Block Management Partners

Having successfully trialled the proposition for the last 18 months with one of their Northwood Franchisees, the Belvoir Group have now signed an exclusive contract with B-hive Block Management Partners for them to offer a block management solution to all of their 340 offices across all brands - Northwood, Newton Fallowell, Lovelle, Nicholas Humphreys and Belvoir Brands.

B-hive is the Partners division of HML Group, block management specialists who manage over 85,000 units in England and Wales. B-hive operates independently from HML and provides comprehensive training to enable Partners to perform the role of Block Manager compliantly and efficiently. Partners can compete with each other using their own brands and B-hive provide all the necessary back-office solutions to client finance service charge accounting, compliance, essential services, systems, software and a client portal.

CEO Dorian Gonsalves said, “We are delighted to have partnered with such a capable company and to have been able to bring this additional service to our Franchisees. This is a great opportunity for our Franchisees to put their brand in front of more customers, bringing their specialist local knowledge, with B-hive sitting in the background providing the systems that are required. By adding this service, our Franchisees will look to build relationships with a much wider audience and deliver a wider range of services to clients.”

5th July 2021
HML launch block management Partners model
HML launch block management Partners model

HML, a market leading block management specialist, has launched B-hive Block Management Partners. B-hive is a specialist division that offers solutions to existing property professionals, such as sales and letting agents, surveyors and existing property managers looking to run their own business in their locality.

B-hive Partners will trade under their own brand and will have access to our back-office solutions, inclusive of client finance service charge accounting, compliance, essential services, marketing, systems, software, a client portal and comprehensive training to enable them to perform the role of Block Manager compliantly and efficiently.

Alec Guthrie, CEO, comments; “We’ve been trialling a service that marries the big capable company with the small local operator, enabling our partners to focus on the local, tailored service, with us supplying the regulated activities compliantly. This now works really well, we have some great testimonials to support the proposition and we are now ready to offer this to the wider market. B-hive allows the local entrepreneur to thrive and to promote their own local brand whilst the corporate machinery takes care of the regulatory challenges.

HML have spent nearly 20 years consolidating a fragmented market but legal reform coupled with added regulatory compliance makes it difficult for small operators to tick all the boxes. B-hive brings to the market an exciting opportunity, bringing small together with big. It’s the perfect partnership for the future leasehold market.”

HML’s extensive experience is derived from operating within the estate and block management sector for 50+ years and currently manages circa 85,000+ units.

B-hive manage the complex legal and regulatory issues, leaving our partners to focus on the core of their business, which is looking after their customers and providing a quality service that is both profitable and growth-driven.

This model offers long-term recurring revenue streams and also allows our partners the opportunity to cross sell their existing services to a wider customer base.

Essentially, this is a mutually beneficial partnership, with our partners serving the client, whilst we provide our back-office solutions, with both parties sharing the profit.

5th July 2021
Leading property law firm to raise money for suicide prevention charity this July
Leading property law firm to raise money for suicide prevention charity this July

Leading property law firm Property Management Legal Services Limited is to donate £5 to national suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS for each new instruction received during the month of July.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people – male and female – under 35 in the UK. The charity, based in Warrington, aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by shattering the stigma around suicide and equipping young people and their communities with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

A key part of the work PAPYRUS does is via HOPELINEUK, a confidential call, text, and email helpline for young people with thoughts of suicide or those concerned about a friend or relation who may be having suicidal thoughts. Every £5 raised can help pay for a potentially life-saving contact to HOPELINEUK from a young person wanting to stay safe or keep a loved one safe.

“The charity is really close to our hearts as one of our team lost her best friend to suicide in December,” says solicitor and CEO Cassandra Zanelli.

The firm will be running the campaign on its website throughout July and hopes not only to raise money for the charity but also to raise awareness of the vital work it is doing with young people around the country.

7th April 2021
FirstPort appoints Andrew Urwin as new Head of Technology
FirstPort appoints Andrew Urwin as new Head of Technology

FirstPort, the UK’s leading residential property services provider, has appointed Andrew Urwin as its new Head of Technology. 

Appointed into the brand new position, Andrew will play a leading role in delivering FirstPort’s vision of ‘People First’ technology.  

Through significant investment in its digital integration programme, FirstPort is developing industry-leading solutions, integrating systems to streamline communications and optimise operations for the benefit of FirstPort’s customers, employees and partners. 

Andrew joins FirstPort having previously worked at DevOpsGroup, helping numerous businesses to integrate new, innovative technologies and brings a wealth of experience and expertise. A specialist in digital transformation, Andrew will play a key role in implementing FirstPort’s vision of delivering services underpinned by new technology to help make customers’ lives easier. 

Andrew is among less than 30 people in the UK to be recognised by Microsoft as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, for his skill and solutions he has built in Microsoft Azure. 

Andrew said of his appointment: “I am excited to join FirstPort at a time where digital integration is a key part of the company’s vision for future success. 

“I am passionate about helping businesses optimise their customer experience, through a continual strive for innovation. I look forward to helping FirstPort stay on the cutting edge of technology and constantly remain up to date with any major changes which could help or affect our customers. 

“Through FirstPort’s new digital strategy, we will implement market-leading solutions, to improve the way we work with customers, colleagues and suppliers, allowing us to further enhance the service that we provide.” 

31st March 2021
ARMA CEO steps up to lead board
ARMA CEO steps up to lead board

The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) has announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nigel Glen, will be stepping down from his post after five years and will be seeking election to ARMA’s Board as Executive Chairman.

Nigel joined ARMA as Chief Executive in 2016, and has led a far-reaching transformation of the organisation, creating a strategic plan to increase ARMA membership and bolster ARMA’s political influence as the leading trade association for residential managing agents in England and Wales. During this time, ARMA membership has increased by 40%, and now in its 30th year, ARMA is larger than it has ever been, with over 500 firms under membership, cementing its position as the voice of the leasehold management sector.

Dr Nigel Glen commented:
“It has been my honour to lead ARMA through what have been an extraordinary five years. We have had to face up to the harsh realities of the Grenfell tragedy, the long and drawn-out campaign for leaseholder funding, and to help guide our members through the Covid pandemic.

“I am proud of what the team at ARMA has achieved over the years – ARMA is now financially secure, fit-for purpose, bigger than ever and has the highest public, media and Government profile that it has ever enjoyed. Although I am leaving ARMA in my current capacity, I am delighted that the Board has seen fit to propose that I join as executive chair, advising on strategy and political policy.”

Chairman of ARMA, Michael Jacobs, added: “The CEO role at ARMA has exponentially broadened over the last few years, and in agreement with the Board of Directors of ARMA, the timing was right to begin the search for a full-time CEO position, whilst retaining Nigel in a strategic and political capacity and retaining continuity of our high-profile work with government and the wider industry.

“During his tenure, Nigel has led the industry through the most tumultuous and challenging years that property management has seen, from the Grenfell tragedy and resulting building safety crisis; the upcoming leasehold reform and regulation of our sector; through to the Covid pandemic and its impact on our industry. During that time, Nigel has driven the turnaround of ARMA in financial and membership terms, strengthened our contribution to Government policy and our political and media profile and influence have never been higher or more positive.

“Along with the rest of the ARMA Board, I would like to thank Nigel for all he has done on behalf of ARMA in the past five years and am delighted that he will remain with us for the foreseeable future – we look forward to continuing to drive ARMA’s success and growth.

Nigel Glen will remain in post as ARMA CEO until the end of June 2021, when it is proposed he will take up position as Executive Chair on ARMA’s Board. ARMA’s current Chairman, Michael Jacobs will become Honorary Chairman. The Board has started the process to identify the next ARMA CEO, and a successor will be announced in due course. Nigel will remain as interim CEO until the new candidate takes up the position.

30th March 2021
FirstPort links with Turing Trust to equip Malawian school
FirstPort links with Turing Trust to equip Malawian school

FirstPort, the UK’s leading residential property services provider, has teamed up with The Turing Trust to help equip a new computer lab at Ntchuwa Primary School in Salima District, Malawi.

The Turing Trust was formed by the family of Alan Turing, the legendary mathematician and computer scientist, best known for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes during the Second World War.

Today, the charity honours his contribution to the early years of computing, by providing quality IT resources and training to schools in sub-Saharan Africa. This is largely achieved by refurbishing computers donated by businesses and other organisations.

In early 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, FirstPort donated 68 tablets, which were then reprogrammed by Turing Trust volunteers at its headquarters in Edinburgh, ready to be issued to their new home. Many of the volunteers were trained in computer repairs by the Turing Trust.

Restrictions imposed due to the subsequent pandemic meant that deliveries were delayed. However, Ntchuwa Primary School eventually took receipt of the devices, which are now being used to teach IT skills to around 500 students per year.

Anthony Vaz, IT Director at FirstPort said: “We are proud to have worked with the Turing Trust to donate equipment which will make a big difference to the education of pupils at Ntchuwa Primary School.

“At FirstPort, we understand the importance of technology as a means of communication and improving the way people live. We are delighted this equipment will now help children to develop their IT skills in their new computer lab!”

James Turing of the Turing Trust, said: “The donation of tablets from FirstPort has been truly transformational for hundreds of students at Ntchuwa Primary School in Malawi. For the first time students will be able to use digital resources to support their learning with local e-learning content.

“These tablets have also enabled us to support schools without access to electricity as we have been able to use solar power for these low-energy devices. So this has been very exciting as it is the first time that we have been able to deliver digital learning in off-grid environments using these technologies and will be a stepping-stone enabling us to support more communities with improved solutions in the future.

“We are extremely grateful to FirstPort for making this project possible and making a world of digital learning possible at Ntchuwa Primary School. Thank you.”

15th March 2021
Mainstay expands property portfolio to the South Coast
Mainstay expands property portfolio to the South Coast

Residential property management company Mainstay has expanded its property portfolio to the South Coast by taking over the operational management of Dolphin Quays, a prestigious development in Poole, Dorset. 

Built in 2002, the 104 residential unit prime waterfront development overlooks Poole Harbour, and boasts views to the National Trust owned Brownsea Island, the prestigious Sandbanks peninsular, and the rolling Purbeck Hills.

This latest contract, alongside another upcoming new business win in Bournemouth, has enabled Mainstay to gain a foothold in the region to further expand its existing portfolio and continue to offer its wealth of expertise and experience in residential property management.

Mainstay won the contract, which begins 25th March, following a six property management company tender process held by the Dolphin Quays (2009) Limited Resident Management Company after the departure of its previous managing agent

Mainstay Technical Director Charles Lucas says: "It has been a long held Mainstay aspiration to grow our presence on the South Coast, and we are thrilled to be doing so in such a prominent and stunning location."

Dolphin Quays (2009) Limited Director Neil Fuller says: "Mainstay came highly recommended and emerged quickly as the frontrunner in our selection process. We are looking forward to working with the Mainstay team to improve the service and value we deliver to our leaseholders."

The Mainstay management team will work with the development's previous managing agent to ensure a smooth transition of services over the coming weeks. A full audit will also be carried out to identify cost efficiencies and service improvements for the development and its residents.

Mainstay is part of the wider FirstPort Group, the UK’s leading residential property services provider.

3rd March 2021
New Supply Chain Operations Director appointed by FirstPort
New Supply Chain Operations Director appointed by FirstPort

FirstPort has appointed a Director of Supply Chain Operations to ensure that customers and clients are at the centre of its strategy.

Derren Chamberlain has joined FirstPort from ISS where he was Chief Procurement Officer for just over four years, as well as being part of the senior leadership team for UK and Ireland. Whilst there, he led a full-scale transformation of the function, including policy, processes, people, and systems.

Prior to this, he was Supply Chain Director for the Maritime Services at BAE Systems where he designed and executed a supply chain strategy to improve operational performance, with a strong focus on Estates and Facilities Management.

Derren brings to FirstPort 25 years’ experience of procurement and supply chain leadership. His first priority will be to review and transform FirstPort’s full end-to-end supply chain management approach, with a focus on improving engagement with its suppliers to create demonstrable value to customers and clients.

He will also be defining and finessing how the organisation uses its world class procurement system, Coupa, making sure it is providing FirstPort with measurable evidence of good practice as well as areas where improvements are needed so that they can quickly be addressed.

Speaking of his appointment, Derren says: “My first impressions of FirstPort is a committed team which is professional and holds very strong values. I want to make sure that we are seen as a centre of excellence within the business to support colleagues, and across the industry as we refine and measure our progress. Ultimately, it is about being able to evidence to our customers and clients that we are delivering the best quality and value services possible.

“I’ll be looking at how we evolve and enhance our supply chain, making sure our local and national contractors are working in partnership with us and are fully embedded into our teams to provide a first-class service.”

25th February 2021
First-of-its-kind report reveals key role managing agents need to play in wake of leasehold reforms

70% of Resident Directors currently spend ten hours or less a month on their role, but leasehold reform and industry changes (such as the effects of the draft Building Safety Bill) could increase this if Directors don’t have access to the support they need. 61% are currently employed, and at least a third (33%) are involved in additional responsibilities outside of work or their role as a Resident Director, such as sitting as board and committee members, or acting as school governors, charity trustees and volunteers. 

A first-of-its-kind report conducted by FirstPort has identified eight in ten (80%) Resident Directors go to their managing agent as their first port of call when they need help in their role. The property management company undertook the in-depth report with more than 200 Resident Directors across its network, to better understand their wants and needs. With the introduction of new leasehold reforms offering leaseholders the opportunity to take more control of their homes, and an estimated 4.3 million* leasehold homes in England alone, it is likely the number of Resident Directors will rise in coming months – and with it, the part to play for property managing agents.    

The report reveals the biggest incentive to become a Resident Director is a sense of pride in their development (70%), followed by a desire to support their neighbours (36%). With the home environment having become even more important over recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many neighbours becoming closer, it is likely this figure will continue to rise over the next year. 

Resident Directors’ key priorities when it comes to the day-to-day management of their properties include value for money from managing agents (58%) and contractors (55%), ensuring the property’s service charge budget is accurate (52%) and successfully completing repairs and maintenance (52%).  

New and proposed changes to regulation and compliance are expected to have an impact on priorities, however, as more powers will mean more responsibilities. Some areas of responsibility are a cause of concern. In particular, Resident Directors picked out insurance (75%), building safety (72%) and sustainability (71%).  As residents are granted greater control over finances, insurance, and fire safety, informed advice will become more important. It is likely Resident Directors will benefit from additional expert support in these areas in the coming months and years.   

FirstPort’s Chief Operating Officer, David Young, said: "It’s great to see homeowners engaging with their communities and opting to become Resident Directors. Resident Management Companies are a powerful way for residents to get more involved in the important decision making about the management of their homes and to play an active role in supporting their community. 

“The proposed changes to regulation and building safety may, understandably, worry some Resident Directors but that is where having a great property manager comes in. Managing agents play an important role helping Resident Directors to successfully navigate and fulfil their responsibilities. We know Resident Directors often take on the legal responsibilities and liabilities that come with this role without any formal training and while carrying on with their day jobs.  

 "Working with a responsible, professional property manager means Directors have peace of mind that they’ve got the right support in place for them and their communities, and a safe pair of hands to take on the technical and time-consuming jobs that come with managing complex residential developments.” 

FirstPort understands the responsibilities, pressures, and complexities that property management creates for Resident Directors. With over 40 years’ experience, FirstPort works with over 1,000 resident managed developments across the UK, helping RTM and RMC Directors meet their management and legal obligations. To read the report in full, and find out more about FirstPort, visit

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