Property Care Association and restrictive practises

An open letter from ISSE to the CMA

I was recently made aware of extensive correspondence between the CMA and other organisations about the damp industry.  This is the text of an openly accessible letter to the CMA about the restrictive practises being promoted by the damp industry. The link to more information is appended.

Please note we do not in any way endorse the ISSE.

Dear Competition and Markets Authority,

ISSE wrote to your organisation in April concerning the anti competitive practice perpetrated by Property Care association(PCA)in favour of their own members and supported by RICS surveyors and mortgage lenders. Your initial response is that you do not respond to individual complaints. A further letter then
established that you were too busy investigating other matters to investigate this complaint.

When Angela Smith MP wrote on behalf of ISSE in May CMA then referred the matter to Sheffield Trading Standards. They have advised ISSE not to hold out much hope and that since May they have
still not investigated the matter. They said they would look at the case late July. So far they have not responded to further very recent E mails. This would imply that as it is now almost 3 months since they agreed to act but so far seem not to have commenced this process and thus regard it as a low priority of little importance.

An ISSE member then contacted Newcastle Trading Standards who have very firmly refused to investigate even an individual complaint and have informed ISSE several times that they regard it as the duty of CMA to do so not Trading Standards.

The public interest concern here is that RICS surveyors are not  trained in damp and timber issues most of which involve poor ventilation increasingly occurring due to the Governments' insulation drive. As a consequence consumers which include some 5 million asthma sufferers who suffer from damp buildings and 1250 die every year from asthma alone are being driven against their will and better interests to a trade body whose first interest is the support of its members making money from treatments which may
be unnecessary.

'Which' Magazine in 2011 in an article 'Unnecessary Treatments' found that of the PCA members it tested not one PCA member could tell the difference between a burst pipe and rising damp.

ISSE members who have available to them a suite of awarding body backed Diploma wards can provide a fully qualified and professional survey with right of appeal to ISSE in cases of complaint. Yet ISSE
members are having to leave the industry because of this anti competitive potential cartel and consumers in the meantime pay out billions over the years for unnecessary treatments.

This anti competitive marketing support is being actively condoned by Trustmark. The CEO of a scheme operator - the PCA, and now a director of Trustmark,  wrote to British Board of Agrement (BBA) in Oct 2013 to seek to prevent consumers from finding out that many damp proofing products do not work despite BBA issued certificates of 'gold standard fit for purpose' Agrement Board Certification. BBA state on their web site that there isn't even a viable test for those products. When Dept of Business Innovation and Skills asked BBA about this, BBA said in 'their opinion' the products work.

Consumers are entitled to a guarantee that they do work not an 'opinion' based on an admission that there is no viable test, as one does not currently exist.

The PCA web site makes claims it offers awards and its'members are fully qualified. However PCA web site does not inform consumers that these qualifications are issued in a self certified process by PCA themselves after a 3 day course. This is totally inadequate to understand complex damp and timber issues.

Consumers continue to be potentially misled into unnecessary treatments and use of several ineffective products because RICS members and mortgage lenders such as Leeds Building Society refuse to allow any other surveyors other than PCA members to undertake these surveys.

The above in the opinion of ISSE is a potential cartel to support businesses to recommend treatments to consumers that may not be necessary and exclude surveyors who are not likely to recommend unnecessary treatments and who do know how to advise them fully in an independently validated qualified and competent way.

Please advise as to what document entitles CMA to exemption from administration of the UK and European Consumer protection laws in full. Please supply authoritative documentation that supports
selective implementation of consumer laws that CMA has used in denying a remedy to this matter and answer how and why it has recommended trading standards investigate when trading standards
are not prepared to do so.

Please can CMA advise on the remedies and appeals available to consumers to support the administration of consumer law when CMA do not regard it as their responsibility.

Please can CMA provide copies of documents and letters and responses it has in its records to indicate how and whether it has dealt in any way with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

William Kidd

Chair ISSE


This is the full link to other information relating to extensive communications about PCA activity.  It makes fascinating reading:

Anti Competitive Practises 

Who supports the PCA? The CHEMICAL companies of course!

Who supported the PCA awards in April?  Turns out they were:

  1. Triton Chemicals.
  2. Safeguard Chemicals.
  3. Nviro Chemicals

All three PCA Manufacturing members what a con! I'm told Nviro produces DPC cream with 9% formulation and the PCA knows!  

Who does the PCA have on it's Board - One recently 'retired' board member owns and runs a chain of timber and damp companies, one of which was taken to court for dumping asbestos, and completely failed to identify any of the issues that were in the famous Which? damp trap - they walked straight into it.  Here is the link to the Timberwise prosecution:  Damp company Timberwise prosecuted for illegal asbestos dumping  Another is Hudson Lambert - head of Safeguard Chemicals.  Another is now on the Trustmark board.  Trust!!!!! Ahem - no.  Nice people - with absolutely NO incentive to sell rising damp treatment WHATSOEVER.

This massive con needs to be stopped.  I'm particularly interested in people sending us copies of surveys by PCA companies, together with our assessment of the properties.  We have a huge file of them here, but need to establish which companies are the biggest con artists.  Particular names crop up again and again - we need the help of the public to nail these people down and prove that their surveys are complete fraud.  When Trading Standards are swamped with a flood of complaints, I think we will have proved the point.  There are some VERY interesting things going on behind the scenes in some Trading Standards offices at the moment - we'll keep you posted on the results.

I, for one, would hate to be a Property Care Association member in the near future.

Property Care Association interferes with BBA certification

This is a letter from Stephen Hodgson, chief executive of the Property Care Association in which he is openly attempting to pursuade the BBA, the Government quango like body which tests and approves building materials, to give him what he wants.  Hodgson obviously does not like the fact that the BBA is unable to actually find a test methodology which works.  He was recently appointed to the Board of Trustmark..

This anti competitive marketing support is being actively condoned by Trustmark. The CEO of a scheme operator - the PCA, and now a director of Trustmark,  wrote to British Board of Agrement (BBA) in Oct 2013 to seek to prevent consumers from finding out that many damp proofing products do not work despite BBA issued certificates of 'gold standard fit for purpose' ( See entire text of open letter above - which was issued with the letter referenced here )

Property Care Association to BBA

The letter is all the more interesting in that it states that 'Site Diagnostic equipment is not capable of such accuracy... ' when referring to moisture contents of 6%.  This is an open admission that PCA members are routinely NOT able to tell if a wall is wet.  Our equipment can very simply and easily test the moisture content of a wall to within 1% and probably 0.5% accuracy.  Scientific literature clearly states that moisture content of walls can vary by as much as 4 or 5% between seasons.  If the Property Care Association is unable to measure moisture to these tolerances, it follows that they cannot diagnose dampness in a building.

All their products are given a pseudo respectability by the BBA - British Board of Agrement - which was a government organisation.  BBA in my view is using its' position to generate over £100m a year for itself. There is wide spread dissatisfaction with BBA in the whole construction industry and to take tens of thousands/ millions collectively from manufacturers to issue certificates and then say it has no test to support those certificates is potential fraud and is misleading the public too. They are even worse than the PCA - at least the PCA is a trade body that is therefore expected to act like it does - if it can get away with it - which it has by posing as a learned body with awards which it isn't. However in the case of BBA this is a former govt agency committed to providing bench mark testing - not a licence to print money for salaries and high expenses for its' owners i.e. its' directors - it needs prosecuting and disbanding. It's run by Claire Curtis Thomas the most scandalous MP ever in expenses claims hounded out of office in early 2000's for claiming £180k in postage costs and when questioned offered a £200 refund !!!  

Damp and Condensation
The Which? report that slammed the damp industry

This is the Which? report which uncovered the shambling incompetence of the damp industry operators whom they lured into a trap to test their behaviour.

The Which? report

Guess who did the worst?  Timberwise.  And guess who owns Timberwise?  Yup - you guessed it - the man who controls the Property Care Association.  

The report makes amusing reading if it wasn't for the fact that it showcases how shambolic, how incompetent, how fraudulent the damp industry is.   

The Which Magazine investigation in 2011 found that all the 'damp surveyors' examined, most of whom were PCA members, could not differentiate between a burst pipe and rising damp and recommended unnecessary treatment.

The Property Care Association, endorsed by RICS Chartered Surveyors, are confirming that their ‘qualified’surveyors, after a 3 day course, can gather and diagnose a complex set of diagnostic data upon which the health of the buildings’ occupants are dependant. They then simply recommend that a damp proof course is injected as we have seen in Which Report 2011. 

Stephen Hodgson was asked by Which? to investigate the companies involved - No report was ever produced.

Despite a great deal of blustering on the Which? forum, no investigation results were ever published. Hodgson's co-director on the Board of Trustmark recently wrote to me saying:

The PCA is an approved scheme operator for TrustMark, and has been since the scheme was first established in 2005. It maintains this status through demonstrating its compliance with TrustMark’s core criteria, the Government-endorsed standards at the heart of the scheme, and it is audited annually to ensure it is carrying out its duties in terms of vetting and monitoring its TrustMark-registered firms, handling complaints etc.  

So - Trustmark is vetting them, Hodgson has failed to investigate the companies involved in the investigation - one of which was owned by one of his co-directors on the board of the PCA at the time - strange that.  So Liz Male, Chair of Trustmark - how do you explain that they have failed to investigate themselves - how does Trustmark manage to give them a clean bill of health over this one?  The public deserve to know what is going on.  You earned an MBE apparently for this little mess - please explain THIS to Which?


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