21 Dec What planning does a sectional title scheme require prior to the end-of-year break?
Bodies corporate need to pay continuous attention to its maintenance and financial responsibilities but around mid-December each year some may need a break from the daily management activities of the scheme.
Taking a break should not be a problem if trustees and managing agents plan ahead. There are three key elements that should be considered and planned for, these are finance, maintenance, and emergency contacts.
A body corporate cannot function without the levy contributions from the members. While December levy payments may not be a concern, January levy collections may well be problematic because many people do not check their emails while on holiday which is where their levy statements will be send to.
One way to circumvent this potential problem is to ask owners to pay their monthly levies via debit order. Beneficial to both the owner and the body corporate, this method requires no further involvement by the owner and means that the owner do not need to be constantly reminded. Owners are not always willing to set up debit orders as levy statements include variable expenses such as electricity and water which they may want to keep an eye on.
Planning for the collection of January levies may involve sending out the levy statement earlier than usual, sending continuous reminders to owners to pay their levies before the start of January or asking them to pay their January levies together with their December levies.
Service providers of maintenance services generally close their businesses for the holidays around the 15th of December and re-open a month later but this does not mean there will be no maintenance requirements at the scheme during this time.
To plan for this the trustees and managing agents should provide all residents with a list of essential or emergency service provider details. This will include preferred service providers such as electricians, plumbers, fire equipment servicing contractors, local fire department, security company, local metro police and SAPS, and ambulance services.
By providing this type of information residents can attend to any emergencies immediately without having to wait for approval from the trustees or managing agent. This can also save the scheme unnecessary insurance and maintenance costs as a result of delayed repairs.
- Emergency contacts
Managing agencies will most likely operate on a skeleton staff structure during December holidays. As they are aware that things do go wrong and to ensure that the schemes in their care are covered for any eventualities, they usually share an emergency contact number for their maintenance division or contractors.
Some schemes may have a rotation system in place for resident trustees that do not go on holiday. These trustees can oversee matters at the complex and attend to any issues that may require attention. When an emergency maintenance issue occurs, they can make decisions quickly, have items repaired without delay and approve the necessary costs involved.
Planning for the December holidays when most people are on leave is always worth the effort. Once a plan has been put in place it is easy to copy it from year to the next.
The most important part of this planning process is to make sure there is always someone at the end of a telephone line that can make decisions or direct people on what should be done in the case of an emergency.