For residents who are keen to contribute to the estate's well being, they can join the Management Council of their estate.
These residents get nominated and voted into the Council during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the estate. The role of a Council Member is voluntary and no compensation is paid to the Council member for the work, time and effort spent.
Often, an estate will see changes in the Council members every AGM as some members become tired of the voluntary work and need a rest. Others, may stay on due to the responsibility or the passion for the estate. Nevertheless, all contribute for the good of the estate.
For the Council members, it is very important that they stay cohesive and work together. These are all volunteers coming together for the common good. They also have different skill sets, levels of contributions, years of working experience and personalities. For the more senior and more participative Council members, they may have to understand that the junior members are trying to learn something new. It is important that the more senior and participative members do not demand from the junior members the same level of commitment as themselves.
The Chairman is the most important person in the Council and estate. He/she provides the glue to put the whole estate together and is the "Village Chief". A empathic, people oriented and result focussed Chairman will be able to drive a great agenda in the upkeep of the estate. If the Chairman is visionary, the rest of the Council & residents will follow, support and accord the respect due to him/her.
The most important thing for a Chairman in this role is to be upright. He needs to demand that there should not be any interests in any of the contracts the estate gets into, whether himself/herself or the Council members. He/she and the Treasurer is in a fiduciary situation.
Property management or condominium management entails a lot of facets – financial accounting, mechanical & electrical works, civil works, water works, health, safety, legal, administration and also people handling. A Chairman who has all round experience in all these areas will be able to see the whole picture and provide clear directions to the Council and Managing Agent on what is to be achieved in the estate. It is rare to have a Chairman who has an all round exposure.
The law requires the Chairman and Secretary to call for an AGM no later than 15 months after the previous AGM. Not doing so will be an offence under the law. Thus, being the Chairman of a Council has heavy responsibilities and risks.
In some estates, as the residents/Council members shy away from taking on the heavy responsibilities of the Chairman, the same Chairman would be in office for many years. It can be quite tiring. Fortunately the law allows for the incumbent Chairman to resign, provided he/she serves notice ahead of the AGM.
The Secretary is the second key member (not in order of importance) of the Council. He/she is in charge of the key documentation eg the Council Minutes of Meeting, Annual General Meeting Minutes of Meeting.
The Treasurer is the third key member (again not in order of importance) of the Council. He/she is in charge of the financial aspects of the estate. Often he/she is the second signatory for cheques/payments. In addition, he/she would be the first person the Managing Agent work with on quotations and payments.
The law does not allow a person to serve more than 2 terms as Treasurer. This is to avoid any inappropriate practices which can impact the financial well being of the estate.