If you live in a sectional title complex that has more than 20 units, you likely have a property management agency taking care of the complex. 

But, what do they actually do?

A dedicated property management agency runs everything from administration through to property maintenance and operations.

As an owner, or even a tenant, it helps to know what the property managing agents responsibilities are so that you know what to expect from them. 

We’re going to deep dive into what property management is all about, and the many facets of what it involves. Hopefully clearing up any questions you may have.

What is property management?

To get the most out of sectional title living, it’s important to understand the role that the managing agent plays in the ecosystem.

You’ll find property managers for sectional title complexes, homeowners associations, share block schemes and retirement villages.

Most property management agencies will assist with administration, maintenance and financial services. 

Managing agents also tend to act as the ‘middleman/lady’ between residents of the scheme and the trustees. Helping keep the peace when issues start getting feisty (and we know that they do…).

What are property managing agents’ responsibilities?

There are three key areas that managing agents are responsible for:

  1. Admin
  2. Finance
  3. Property management

Each agency will generally offer their own set of services, but some of the general property managing agents responsibilities include:

  • Preparation and distribution of monthly levy statements.
  • Payment of approved invoices to creditors.
  • Providing financial reports at month end.
  • Monthly recovery of service fees (electricity, sewerage, refuse).
  • Keeping financial records.
  • Budget planning at financial year end.
  • Managing the body corporates bank accounts.
  • Liaising with meter readers.
  • Issuing clearance certificates.
  • Management of Trust and Investment Accounts with embedded governance.
  • Submitting financial records to Auditors.
  • Submission of Audit Files to auditors for Annual Tax Returns.
  • Insurance facilitation through Brokerage.
  • Preparing and managing Annual General Meetings, Special General Meetings and Trustee Meetings.
  • Conflict resolution between residents and trustees.
  • Guide the trustees and owners in terms of the Sectional Title Act.
  • Appointing supervisors, caretakers and gardeners – essentially maintaining the property.
  • Provision of a legal address domicilium citandi et executandi for the body corporate.

Before signing a contract with a new managing agency, make sure to be clear about the services that they offer and responsibilities that they’re taking on.

Responsibilities don’t all lie within the managing agent…

“We all assume that the managing agent knows everything about the scheme and that they will advise the trustees in the best way because of their experience,” says Juan Nel, an experienced Facilities Manager. “But remember that they change jobs and get promoted like you and me. Imagine having a new property manager and a new group of trustees – it’s a case of the blind leading the blind.”

With every new appointment, there’s the risk of losing valuable on-the-ground knowledge. Which is why it’s so important to have a proper plan in place. It helps keep everyone on track for longer than the current years nominated Trustee decisions.

This is also where property management software, like Unity, comes in handy. 

One place to keep track of everything. 

From contact details to records of past issues, maintenance plans and quote approvals (and more). Handovers become a breeze, and there’s no excuses for things slipping through the cracks.

“Unity has helped us with staff handover, for example I filled in for a colleague while on maternity leave and Unity made the handover easy,” says Jade Stylianou, Estate Manager at EEM².

What to look for in a property managing agent

Because they take on such an important role when it comes to managing your sectional title scheme, it’s so important to make sure that you hire a reputable company.

Before appointing a new managing agent it’s important to get at least 10 contactable references. This can help with determining the legitimacy and standard of work offered by the company.

Make sure that they have the right accreditation (EAAB, NAMA, SAPOA) and are a registered Financial Services Provider. Though, they will always be subject to the scrutiny and audit of all affiliations.

Other questions to ask:

  • Are they located within your area?
  • Have they been around for a while?
  • What property management systems do they use?
  • Are they approachable?
  • Do they have good communication practices?
  • What are their monthly fees?

What happens if you aren’t happy with your property management agency?

It’s a fact, not all property managing agencies are good. While there are some great agencies managing complexes across South Africa, there are also many that aren’t great.

Are your emails left unanswered? Property maintenance abandoned? Invoices forgotten to be paid? Or dodgy payments slipping through the cracks?

These are all signs of a poor managing agent. Unfortunately, many agencies are managing multiple schemes with hundreds (or even thousands) of units. It’s a lot to deal with, leaving the poor property managers left scrambling to keep up.

If this is your current property management agency. Then you absolutely have the right to change companies. 

Lynn, a trustee in a small complex in Weltevredenpark adds that, “Our complex was with one of the big commercial property management agencies for several years. The company tends to manage large-scale estates with hundreds of units. Ours, however, only has 37 units. We found that we were often forgotten about, with our dedicated portfolio manager too busy to assist. It just wasn’t working, so we got a few other quotes and decided to move across to a smaller agency. So far, the move has been great!”

If you aren’t happy, gather the trustees within your sectional title scheme and discuss the different options available. It’s your investment that you’re looking out for.

When living in a sectional title, it’s vital that you know how your property is being managed, who it’s being managed by and what to do if you run into problems.