The Duties and Responsibilities of Trustees in a Sectional Title Scheme

If you do not know what the duties and responsibilities of a Trustee in a Sectional Title Scheme are, you do not have to hide in the cupboard with shame. At Camalb Properties, we find that it is not uncommon for people who buy into a Sectional Title Scheme to have no idea what their duties and responsibilities are.

The Success of Your Sectional Title Scheme starts with you and not the Managing Agent

Yes, you have heard right. Unlike what is popularly sold to you by estate agents, you have certain duties and responsibilities when you buy into a Sectional Title Scheme. One of those duties includes being part of the group of trustees or at the very least, knowing enough of your fellow owners that you elect the best possible trustees to overlook the value of your property at your next Annual General Meeting.

A massive misconception that owners in a sectional title complex have is that the Managing Agent is responsible for the management of your complex and that the trustees can sit back and find fault with what the Managing Agent is trying to accomplish. The Trustees are ultimately responsible for the management of your complex.

What is a Trustee in a Body Corporate Scheme?

Trustees are people appointed by the owners of the various units in the complex to look after their investment in the complex. The amount of trustees elected will depend on the size of your complex. Ideally, each trustee should have a specific portfolio to be responsible for, such as:

  • Chairperson
  • Repairs & Maintenance
  • Gardens
  • Security
  • Conduct Rule Enforcement
  • Etc.

Conduct Rule Enforcement can also be divided into different trustees residing in different parts of the complex to ensure that this unenviable portfolio does not only reside with one poor sole.

How should Trustees Protect the Investment of the Owners?

In a perfect world, the following are some of the most important duties of a trustee as per the Sectional Title Law.

  1. Check that each owner pays his/her fair share (levy) towards the monthly running costs of the complex,
  2. Check that the money received (levies) is banked and used correctly,
  3. Check that owners, who are in arrears, bring their accounts up to date and do not sponge off the goodness of those who keep their payments up to date.
  4. Check that payments as determined by the budget are made as and when required,
  5. Check that the expenses as specified in the budget are not exceeded,
  6. Check that the common property is always in good repair and does not depreciate in value,
  7. Check that the Complex is adequately insured at all times so that the owner’s investment is not ever at risk,
  8. Check that the owners, and their tenants, abide by the rules as determined by the owners of the complex,
  9. Check that he/she and the other Trustees abide by the Sectional Titles Act
  10. Check that the Managing Agents, or any other agents used to assist the Trustees in their duties abide by the Sectional Titles Act.

What are some of the Practical Duties of a Trustee

The Trustees shall, on behalf of the Body Corporate, control, manage, and administer through its appointed agents and employees:

  • The cleaning, maintenance, management, and security of the Common Property.
  • The Insuring of the buildings in the scheme.
  • The maintenance, management, and improvement of the communal facilities.
  • The establishment of a fund for the repair, upkeep, control, management, and administration of the Common Property by levying contributions on the owners in proportion to the quotas of their respective units. This is commonly referred to as the 10-year plan.
  • The preparation and presentation of financial statements and reports to the Annual General Meeting.
  • The trustee shall do all things reasonably necessary for the enforcement of the rules in force.
  • The trustees shall be entitled to charge interest on arrear amounts at such rate as they may from time to time determine. Rule 31(6)

The Realities of the Duties of a Trustee of a Sectional Title Complex

In my experience most owners in a Sectional Title Complex like to be in the position of power. The reality is that there are often only one or two trustees, who diligently exercise their duties and responsibilities as a trustee.

The trustees’ responsibilities are arduous, time-consuming, and for the most part thankless job. It requires a great deal of patience, diplomacy, forbearance, and legal knowledge.

Daily criticism is almost inevitable from the remaining owners of units in the scheme bearing in mind that they do have a vested and direct interest in the running of the scheme and the preservation of their investment.

Trustees are the difference between a successful and unsuccessful scheme

Nevertheless, the trustees fulfill a vital, and indispensable function. We would go so far as to say that a proper, skilled, and careful discharge of their functions and duties by the body of trustees can make all the difference between a successful scheme (which not only benefits the owners on a day-to-day basis but also contributes towards an escalation in the value of the individual units) and a poor or non-successful scheme, (where through discontent amongst members, internal squabbling and the like, the general standard of the scheme deteriorates at worst and at best the reputation of the scheme becomes known in the market place and property values slump as a result).

A Management Agent does not Replace the Duties & Responsibilities of a Trustee

The reality is that most trustees do not have the time, skill or experience to oversee the management of their sectional title complex on a daily basis. This day-to-day administration of the scheme can be left in the professional hands of an agent such as Camalb Properties. That will ensure that the trustees themselves can concentrate on their more important function of conceptualizing and supervising the way their scheme is and should be controlled, managed, and administered in the best possible way for the benefit of its members.

It is important to note that a Management Agent is by no means a replacement of the duties and responsibilities of trustees.

When Trustees Abscond their Duties & Responsibilities

There are instances where the trustees or owners as a collective unit are for various reasons completely incapable of managing their sectional title complex. The alternative to a fully functional team of trustees is to appoint an Executive Management Agent who takes over the day-to-day management of the Body Corporate. Standard management agents are normally only responsible for administration. Read more about Executive Management Agents under PMR 28(3) & P-M4:11.

For a quick and easy synopsis of Sectional Title Management, you are welcome to refer to our Bare Basics of Sectional Title Management article and downloadable document.

Contact Camalb Properties today, to see how we can assist you with the management of your complex.

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