Using a property management company is the best worry-free way to make sure that your complex maintains its high standard. It’s also the best way to navigate the tricky relationships that come with the many different personalities that make up the body corporate.

Proper management of your complex or estate is essential to ensure that you preserve the value of your property investment, as well as to ensure financial stability is preserved.

As property management companies play such a vital role in supporting property owners, you should spend a fair bit of time researching what you need before choosing the company that you want to go with. 

There are many property management companies in South Africa, but not all management companies are created equal

Here’s how to make sure that you’ve found a good one!

Firstly, why is choosing the right management agent so important?

As a sectional title unit owner, you are putting your investment on the line. Not only do you want to work with a managing agent that knows what they are doing in terms of maintenance, sectional title law and the other administrative tasks that come with it. But also a company that is reliable when it comes to managing the finances of your sectional title scheme.

One of the most significant risks with working with property management agents is the misappropriation of funds. There are some horror stories of complexes going into debt due to poor planning, funds going missing, and accounts not being paid. You obviously don’t want this.

Sadly, there have been many disreputable companies who have set themselves up as managing agents and don’t do a great job. Worst case scenario is schemes becoming insolvent, neglected and quickly losing value.

While being trustworthy is probably the most essential thing to consider when choosing a property management company, there are a few more things to look out for.

Read more about the role of managing agents in sectional title schemes.

Choosing a property management company

Before allowing others to take control of your sectional title scheme, there are a few key elements to consider when choosing a property management company. 

An excellent first step is to do some research, either in-person or online. Some things you should look for include understanding the ethos of the company, their terms and conditions and getting to know prospective property management agents. 

Having an interview with a few property management companies can help you make your decision easier. You’ll get a better idea around the different services that they offer, and also get a feel about the people that you’d be dealing with (the relationship between the trustees and managing agent can be a tricky one).

You should also check the company’s track record carefully and ask for a few references. When looking for companies to consider, ask your friends and family if they have any recommendations – personal referrals are always best!

What to look out for 

Here are a few key pointers to look out for:

  • Check if the managing agent has a Fidelity Fund Certificate from the Estate Agency Affairs Board. If they’re going to be collecting levies, then they are legally bound to be registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board and hold a current Fidelity Fund Certificate.
  • Ask for a list of other schemes that the managing agent manages. If they confidently hand over the list, it’s a good sign that they are reliable.
  • Make sure that they are familiar with the Sectional Title Act.
  • Check on the expertise and services on offer. Establish that they can provide all the day-to-day administrative and operational assistance you require.
  • Enquire about what insurances they have. They should have their own professional indemnity and fidelity insurance policies to protect them against financial losses due to employee mistakes or dishonesty.
  • Do they have the capacity to take you on as a client? Managing agents are notoriously overworked, so make sure that the agent dedicated to your scheme doesn’t already have too much on their plate.

Do they use Unity?

Unity is a cloud-based property management software that is designed with property management in mind. One advantage of using Unity is that it allows property management agents to streamline their entire operations into one format, including contact management and administrative tasks like document tracking.

Having everything in one place while using Unity makes it easy for property managers to track, trace and report on everything relating to property management. Say hello to contracts, maintenance routines, contact details, insurance information and service provider details all located in one convenient location. 

Property management companies who use Unity have a competitive advantage for many reasons. Firstly, Unity is advantageous because it is a cutting-edge management system that is the first of its kind in South Africa.

Secondly, Unity can help property management companies save time in every way. Unity only takes seconds for the most tedious of tasks, from pulling historical records to generating reports. Gone are the days of searching in an outdated filing system for records! Added to this is improved operational visibility, and the ability to keep tabs on third parties, staff members and categorisation for each property in their portfolio.

Managing agents can set up unique portals for trustees, managers and residents within minutes. This innovative system means that approvals, project briefing and review policies are massively simplified – and you’ll no longer need a board meeting for every detail! 

If a managing agent is using Unity (which many of the property management companies in South Africa are), then you know that they’ve got their act together!

So, perhaps the first question to ask a prospective managing agent is, “Do you use Unity?