10 Dec The value of sectional title training for trustees
As trustees serve and manage a body corporate’s affairs, their appointment is one of the most important decisions a body corporate makes every year but unfortunately, many elected trustees are unaware of the extend of their roles and responsibilities.
Understanding the STSMA
Trustees have many responsibilities which they must perform within the confines of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (STSMA), the management and conduct rules of the scheme, and the Community Schemes Ombud Services Act (CSOS Act) to a lesser degree.
It is vital that any person who makes themselves available as a trustee must ensure that they fully comprehend their role and responsibilities; just assuming that trustees will learn as they go along is not in the interest of the scheme. The reality is that trustees can be held personally and legally liable for their actions if the scheme or its members suffer any losses due to trustee decisions.
Getting educated and staying informed
It is not uncommon for some outgoing trustees to be re-elected again in the following year. New trustees should lean on the more experienced trustees as they can learn from them.
The downside of re-electing trustees is that, in some cases, they may have acquired some bad or faulty habits which they will then continue to apply. If they go without ever being questioned by fellow trustees or owners on their incorrect behaviour or lack of knowledge, it can potentially be quite damaging to the scheme.
Trustees and owners can approach the following organisations or use the following resources to assist with training and improve their knowledge of sectional title legislation and the management of schemes:
- The managing agent of the scheme: Managing agents can provide guidance to help trustees in their decision-making as well as offering short training courses to trustees and owners.
- Independent sectional title trainers and consultants: There are a number of renowned consultants who offer training or who can act as independent trustees.
- National Association of Managing Agents (NAMA): NAMA is the leading sectional title association, representing sectional title managing agents and regulating the industry. They have regular workshops in various locations nationwide.
- Webinars and blogs: There are a number of excellent resources available online in the form of webinars, blogs and videos presented by independent sectional title experts.
The advantage of being in the know
Decisions taken by trustees must always be fair and reasonable, and never in their own interest, irrespective of the situation.
Well-informed and educated trustees are able to make good and sensible decisions that are in line with regulatory requirements. They are better equipped to deal with challenging issues relating to the scheme and are able to rely on their knowledge obtained during workshops or other training sessions.
Being knowledgeable, trustees can set realistic expectations for owners as well as establishing a fair service benchmark for their managing agent. As a result, the managing agent will perform better when they are being managed efficiently and when they are clear on what is expected of them. The managing agent also knows that the trustees are taking responsibility for their role in managing the scheme and that they (the trustees) are not expecting the managing agent to do all the work.
Becoming a well-informed trustee can only be achieved if there is a will to do so, and if adequate time and resources are being made available for workshops and other training sessions.
If someone takes their role as a trustee seriously, they will understand the benefit of gaining practical knowledge and the value of understanding exactly how a sectional title scheme operates. They will use these insights to perform their duties effectively and in the interest of the scheme members.
The impact of educated trustees is clearly evident in how the scheme’s finances are being managed, the state of the common property as well as the behaviour of owners and residents in the scheme.