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Living as a community

13/10/2007 NST-Prop By National House Buyers Association


A look at who should take up the challenge of being part of the bodies looking after a stratified project


Whatever name you put it - Management Corporation (MC), or Joint Management Body (JMB), or Residents' Association (RA) - these are basically a community of property owners looking out for their best interests.


The first two are required by law for strata-titled property under the Strata Titles Act, 1985 and the new Building and Common Property (Management and Maintenance) Act, 2007 (BCP).


RAs, however, are voluntary organisations registered as a society.


The BCP Act allows a joint management committee (JMC) to be formed from the start, meaning owners do not have to wait for the first annual general meeting called by the developer to  have a say in how their investment should be managed and maintained.


Unfortunately, very often, only a small percentage of strata-property owners take an interest in how their properties are managed. There are also some who are interested, but who do not have the skill or knowledge to sit in the decision-making council.


This leaves a handful of capable volunteers burned out after years of rendering their services.


Challenging duties


Under the BCP Act, the JMC representing purchasers should have between five and 12 members, while under the Strata Titles Act, the MC should consist of between 3 and 14 owners.


Though these are voluntary positions they come with great responsibilities as they involve people and their investments.


Strong leadership is thus and essential component of a successful owners' corporation.


A good leader can make a difference. Selecting the right one can, in a very real way, lead to a more productive and happy community.


In choosing one, it must be remembered that "a manager does things the right way, while a leader does the right thing".


On top of that, good leaders can also motivate others to get the right things done as they have the skill, knowledge, experience and ability to command.


The person who has the special combination of insight and inspiration can be recognised by the following characteristics and abilities:

  • Accept criticism: No one in the position of power will escape criticism. Leaders have the ability to discern when criticism is valid and when it is not.

  • Has an open mind: A leader must be able to approach a problem creatively. A committee that is afraid of change will stagnate.

  • Communicates well:  He or she explains, persuades, praises and can express ideas clearly and persuasively.

  • Is decisive: Taking a stand involves making mistakes. A good leader takes a stand and if an error is made, acknowledges it and corrects the situation.

  • Possesses enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is contagious. With it, council members can be motivated to keep volunteering; without it, voluntary work becomes a burden.

  • Displays leadership by example: The leader arrives on time, never shirks responsibilities and demonstrates good work habits. He or she instils cooperation among volunteers, and works with them, not just issues orders to be followed up.

  • Listen to others: He sources for and uses other members' ideas and gives credit when it is due.

  • Has problem solving skill: He or she uses knowledge and experience to help get the job done.

  • Is sensitive: A genuinely caring leader inspires confidence in others. Leaders delegate, give and seek constructive feedback and know how and when to give praise or point out what is wrong without attacking any personality .

  • Gives sound judgment: He or she has the ability to identify and prioritise issues, and weighs alternatives carefully before making decisions.

  • Takes responsibility: He or she never blames others for problems.


If there is common property in the place you leave in, you automatically becomes a member, like it or not.


Over time, we have noticed that home owners, can be categorised into three groups: Those who make things happen; those who wait for things to happen; and those who asked "What happened?"


Which group do you belong to? Choose your leaders well and prosper - or wait for the next general meeting and run for the council member post.


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