In Conversation With Lorraine Collis, Chief Executive of ELM

Lorraine Collis is the Chief Executive of ELM Group, the leading leasehold estate management company responsible for the management of Beechcroft developments.

With a history dating back 50 years, ELM Group, which includes the Retirement Leasehold Housing Association and Ethical Leasehold Management Ltd, provides a comprehensive property management service to all sectors of the residential property market.

Having spent a number of years working in the property management industry and being envious of ELM’s pedigree and reputation, Lorraine was delighted to join ELM in 2011. Since joining the company, her strong leadership and progressive business strategy have led to a business-wide improvement in ELM’s working environment and in both employee and customer satisfaction, setting the bar for the level of service in the property management industry.

Entitled, ‘The ELM Way,’ Lorraine’s business strategy brought her much-deserved recognition as a ‘Champion of Change’ at the Women in Business Awards in 2016.  In the same year, ‘The ELM Way’ training programme was shortlisted as a finalist in the people management awards organised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the professional body for the Human Resources industry in the UK and worldwide. 

We questioned Lorraine about ELM, its history and background, the benefits of ELM’s estate management service, what the service charge covers and the tasks carried out by ELM’s dedicated team of Estate Managers

ELM has its origins in the Retirement Lease Housing Association, conceived in the late 1960s and formed in 1970/1.    At that time, the only developments with managed communal facilities were council-run but RLHA’s founding trustees believed that retirees who were not eligible for such developments would appreciate the benefits of communal living with well-managed facilities.

With the support of Coutts Bank, RLHA was set up as a charity and in 1973 completed work on the UK’s very first leasehold retirement estate – Vicarage Close in Ringmer, which is managed by ELM to this day.   

The Vicarage Close residents were freed from the worries and challenges of property maintenance; all communal facilities were maintained by RLHA and the costs were covered by service charges.  

Between 1973 and 2007, RLHA grew from strength to strength and, in 2007, created a wholly owned subsidiary called Ethical Leasehold Management Ltd (ELM) largely to manage non-retirement estates. During this time, following the 1991 Housing Act, its status changed from being a charity to having charitable status whilst still remaining a not-for-profit organisation.

In 2014, RLHA rebranded, changing its name to ELM Group to cover both RLHA and ELM Ltd.   Today the ELM Group is still a freeholder of many retirement estates as well as a managing agent.

Since the early 1980s, the organisation has been managing developments for other developers as well as for leaseholders, private landlords, Right to Manage Companies and Housing Associations.  By the end of 2018, the Group was managing 2,500 properties on 90 estates, 40 owned by RLHA and 50 by other organisations and individuals and this has increased considerably since then.

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