How to select a property manager for your community scheme

Being a property manager – or more accurately a portfolio manager – can be a thankless job. The reality is that most of our calls involve clients complaining about something that is wrong at their building but this is our job: we have to serve our clients with patience, humility and compassion. We accept that our role is essentially to put out fires and to keep our clients satisfied. Thus, it goes without saying we are a rare breed!

Required characteristics

It is important that your property manager has the right temperament. They also need to be have a working knowledge of the Acts that govern community schemes in South Africa. These Acts have just gotten a whole lot more complex which render the business of running a community scheme something of an administrative art.

The business of property management comprises a number of interlinked facets namely financial management, insurance, personnel and payroll management, statutory records and amendments, advisory services, meetings, maintenance, legal, administrative and secretarial to name a few. Well-trained and experienced property managers will recognise the processes and procedures around running a community scheme, and will be able to implement these steps in a methodical and logical way.

Checklist

In order to make sure that your property manager is up to standard, we have drawn up a checklist of their most important responsibilities:

1. Ensure your agent is registered with the EAAB (Estate Agency Affairs Board) and that they are a member of NAMA (National Association of Managing Agents).  If your agent is not accredited with the EAAB, they are not allowed to trade and collect levies on behalf of community scheme clients.

2. They also need to have a valid professional indemnity as well as a comprehensive fidelity insurance policy in place. This covers the agency against any fraudulent activities by their employees and protects the community scheme against any fraudulent activities by the managing agent.

3. A working knowledge of the new Sectional Title Schemes Management Act and the Community Schemes Management Act is of vital importance to any trustee and owner.

4. Experience is key. It takes years to gain the know-how and capability to be able to handle challenging situations effectively and efficiently.

5. Ask for references from previous and existing clients. If there have been any serious problems with the property management company in the past, you need to know about it upfront.

6. Location is always important. Is your property agent located close enough to be able to address issues without much delay?

7. The size of the property management company is important. Too large and your building will not get the personal attention you require. Too small and you may be dealing with a business not fully equipped or experienced to handle unfortunate scenarios due to ill-equipped staff or deficient systems.

Author: Leigh Maingard – MD Stonewood Properties
Stonewood Properties is a professional property management company that specialises in administrating community schemes such as sectional title bodies corporate, homeowners’ associations (HOA) and residential estates in Johannesburg and Cape Town. www.stonewoodproperties.co.za