It pays to appoint a managing agent

Managing agents have time and again been able to rescue sectional title schemes when their arrears have got out of hand and the scheme is beginning to deteriorate as a result of poor maintenance, says Michael Bauer, general manager of IHFM, the Cape headquartered property management company – and, he adds, managing agents have regularly done this when the trustees of the body corporate have grown desperate.

“It is illogical for trustees to resist appointing a managing agent when they are in difficulty,” says Bauer, “and to do so has, sadly, often resulted in schemes seriously losing value.”

Recently, he said, his company IHFM had been appointed to assist trustees of a small body corporate which was owed R102 000 in levies – and which consequently owed a similar amount to the municipality for water, electricity and sewerage and other services.

After six months, IHFM, by implementing efficient debt collection, had reduced the arrears to R36 000, were able to pay back the municipality half of what they owed them – and to negotiate for their services to be continued.

“The difference between the way many bodies corporate go about things and the way an efficient managing agent operates is that the agent will run the scheme like a business,” said Bauer.

This, he added, means that members in arrears on levies will be confronted and made to pay or face the legal consequences. In many schemes this onerous duty is often not taken seriously by trustees and, as there will always be some members who will take advantage of the situation, this will result in the sectional title whole scheme running into serious debt.

If trustees want to check on the standing of a managing agent, they should, said Bauer, as a first step investigate whether they are members of NAMA, the National Association of Managing Agents and are registered estate agents holding a valid Fidelty Fund Certificate. They should also ask for references.

These steps, said Bauer, will give the client peace of mind and serve at least as a partial guarantee that the agent is competent.

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