Property Management 101

Whether you are staying in a private condominium, HDB or occupying a commercial complex, warehouse or factory, as long as it is strata titled, you would need someone to help you manage the common area unless you want to do it yourself. As the name implies, the common area is the space used by everyone and is collectively owned by the owners in the particular estate or complex.

 

In most cases, as the owners are not conversant in many of the maintenance aspects and also the statutory requirements, a Property Management company is engaged for this function. In a residential situation, the Property Management company is also known as Managing Agent or Condominium Management company. In a commercial setting, the Property Management company is referred to as the Facility Management company.

Council

In a residential setting, a condominium is run by a Council which is elected from the owners of the condominium. Either the residents elect the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer during the Annual General Meeting or the Council members decide among themselves on who to handle which portfolio after the Annual General Meeting.

 

The role of the Council is one of a decision making body, representing the collective owners and for the benefit of the owners, within the boundaries of statutory limits and also self interest. Most of the operational (day-to-day) matters are hived off to the Property Management company or Managing Agent to handle. Another important role of the Council is to act as the peace-maker of the estate. Sometimes certain factions within the estate want to drive a particular agenda in the estate against another faction. This is where the Council, like a village chief, should mediate and propose the right rules for all to adopt (during an AGM) so that the various parties’ interests are taken care of.

A very good example would be dog owners vs non-dog owners. Dog owners would want to walk their dogs in the estate while non-dog owners dislike the droppings left behind. A compromise between the two groups is necessary for a harmonious estate and this is where the leadership of the Council comes in.

Managing Agent

Managing Agents are appointed during the AGM for a 3 year term, with annual reviews. At the end of the 3 year term, the Managing Agent may be re-appointed to another 3 year term if the performance is good.

Engaging a good Managing Agent (aka Property Management company) is important as your estate’s smooth functioning depends on who you engage. A weak Managing Agent would not be able to help you maintain your estate well, resulting in an erosion of the value of your home. Also, a weak Managing Agent creates frustrations and friction between residents.

Some of the tasks a Managing Agent handles are :-

– Managing the contracts and statutory requirements
– Ensuring the security is well maintained and the security guards are on duty all the time
– Ensuring the cleaning is up to mark and that the estate looks orderly
– Ensuring the estate is in a good state of repair
– Handling the finances of the estate (except signing off cheques, which are done by the Treasurer & another member of the Council)

There are more things the Managing Agent cover but always pertains to the common area.

Frequently the Managing Agent’s role is misunderstood by the residents. The residents would request for “assistance” to fix certain problems in their unit. When the Managing Agent recommends someone else to do the job, the resident may misconstrue that as being “unhelpful” and poor service by the Managing Agent. Often, the Managing Agent would try their utmost to help within their ability, time and scope.

 

Large estates normally have on-site Condominium Managers and Assistants to help man the Management Office. The office is the bee hive of the estate and residents often contact the office for their bookings, replacement of access cards, car transponders and also maintenance fees.

Smaller estates have a multi-site Condominium Manager who drops by at regular intervals to handle the needs of these small estates. The turnover of Managing Agent’s staff is often high due to the difficult demands or abuse from some Singaporean residents. It is not a pleasant task to service extremely demanding clients.

Also, not many of the Managing Agent’s staff have the demeanour or temperament to work with extremely demanding clients. Training the staff could only help the staff handle such customers a little better but tough customers will still stretch the staff.  So, if a resident could give these on-site staff a word of encouragement for good service, it would brighten their day very much.

The Managing Agent is the residents’ partner in keeping the smooth functioning of the estate. While a high & mighty Managing Agent is rare, most Managing Agent’s staff are approachable and love to provide a good service. At the end, a well maintained estate also gives a sense of achievement to the Council and the Managing Agent.

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