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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Managing your condo management

Professional services of registered valuers a good alternative as they have the expertise.

If you are buying a condo in Malaysia, here are a couple of things they don’t tell you in the advertisements.

The first thing is all about the condominium principle. This is a concept drawn together by Western idealists from crowded socialist European countries where they reckon they might have perfected the rules for all living on top of each other. Brief historical research would also reveal that the same countries also probably hold world records for civil war, communal strife and suppression of minorities but that is all confined to history and so should do nothing to dent their credibility.

Basically, the condominium principle is a bit of starry-eyed dogma inspired by the works of Karl Marx. It makes some sweeping assumptions about the desire of the individual to act only in the common good and dictates that any areas outside one’s own unit are all jointly owned for the benefit of the community. This can be anathema to any free-spirited Malaysian who sees the colonisation of his corridor and the ability to park anywhere any time as being merely matters for negotiation.

You can probably guess the second thing about the condominium principle, which is that it creates a small bureaucracy with far-reaching powers extending right up to one’s front door. It assumes that owners will clamour to donate their time and energy to this public service, whereas the more canny ones will of course stay at home, leaving the way open to those who are either na├»ve or power-crazy.

Malaysians are all generally quite smart so it is no surprise that joint management boards and management corporations are often run by Klaus or Pierre. Those owners who have declined involvement usually regard these committees with a certain amount of suspicion, surpassed only by their general contempt for the original developers who initially managed the property and then left with the accounts in a mess.

Malaysia now has nearly 10,000 stratified projects and some, particularly in the low-cost sector, are in serious decline, having reached a point where the arrears of service charge are so formidable that it is impossible to provide minimal service standards.

Despite recent amendments to the Strata Title Act, it is going to take some time to sort some of them out.

It is in this climate that the professional property manager finds himself invited to take control.

In fact, managing common areas is a task that can be performed without professionals by the joint management board or the management corporation which is formed when strata titles are issued. It can be achieved by directly employing suitable staff. However, that is very time consuming for the committee, which has to monitor these operations on a voluntary basis. They may also face unwanted legal liability if mistakes are made. The alternative is to engage the professional services of a registered valuer. Under Malaysian law, only registered valuers can provide property management services on a professional basis. They have the expertise, and they carry professional indemnity insurance.

These are the principal functions of the property management professional in a condo:

Financial Management: Budgeting, collection of service charges and sinking fund, payment of salaries and other recurrent operating costs and keeping proper records.

Maintenance: Routine inspections, monitoring the specialist service providers, scheduling preventive maintenance, dealing with day-to-day repairs.

Cleaning and landscaping: Monitoring and maintaining high standards.

Security: Formulate procedures, monitor and inspect.

House rules: Propose, communicate and implement a complete set of rules.

Insurance: Review, quantify and advise.

Reporting: Monthly and annual budgets and reports.

If you are in need of the professional services of a property manager, you can get a list of registered persons from the Institution of Surveyors, on 03-79551773 or 03-79569728. Alternatively, you can log on to the website of the Board of Valuers at

Bon chance, Pierre.
·The writer is executive chairman of Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd property property consultancy.

By The Star (by Christopher Boyd)

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