Online Scheme Management
Managing sectional title schemes online is becoming more and more of a reality. It’s happening here through services like The Massive and it’s happening overseas through services like OurBodyCorp and others.
What can online management tools do?
- They allow scheme documents such as rules, sectional plans, minutes of meetings, financial statements etc. to be saved and shared online.
- They offer digitized community discussion forums where the different role players can communicate with each other.
- Notices of meetings, including attachments and other announcements can be easily sent out to owners and bondholders via email.
- They allow access to an online calendar where important scheme meetings and other events are scheduled – sending reminders when necessary.
- ‘Tasks’ can be created to track ‘action items’ that arise from meetings and round robin resolutions, for example if a trustee is tasked with obtaining three quotes for repainting the building he can log his progress in requesting quotes from contractors, uploading quotes once received and so on so that owners know the status of a project at any given time.
- Online surveys (polls) can be completed to see whether there will be sufficient support for upcoming resolutions and in some jurisdictions voting can even take place online.
- Owners can update their contact details online.
- The scheme’s accounts can be managed online with all income and expenses being recorded and the scheme’s cashbook automatically being updated. Owners can also access their ledger accounts to see if they are up-to-date with levies or in arrears.
But what about taking the online interaction one step further?
- Scheme’s could list restaurants that deliver to the area on their online platforms.
- There could be a list of recommended tradesmen that owners could rate.
- The scheme could make money by selling advertising space to contractors and service providers who want to advertise to the owners.
The possibilities are big!
When I look at this I see the future of scheme management but why is it taking off so slowly in South Africa??
Here are my thoughts:
- People generally don’t like change. In a self managed scheme, the retired accountant doing the books on excel has been doing it this way for years and doesn’t want to learn a new system. For the managing agents – they have their management software and administrative processes that work well enough so why change?
- To successfully use an online management tool – ideally every owner should support the use of an online system and use it. In South Africa many people still don’t trust ‘online’ services. But this attitude is slowly shifting and we’re seeing this with the increase of online retail sales.
- It prejudices those owners who aren’t online. There are still some older people who don’t use the Internet and some who don’t even use email. Of course these numbers are getting less and less as time goes on. And, a well designed online management system could always have an option to print and send hard copies of notices etc. to those owners who aren’t online. So this shouldn’t be a complete barrier to entry.
I’m excited about the possibilities for online scheme management in the future!
What are your thoughts on this issue, do you think it’ll take off?
Image source: http://cusolutionsgroup.blogspot.com
Jennifer, can you or someone please clarify?
Trustees meetings via SKYPE:
Question- from sto: If you have 5 Trustees all at different locations I think the meeting would be invalid – but what about having a quorum all in the same room, and then other Trustees giving their input via skype? When it comes to taking a vote, only the Trustees in the main room would be counted. To me that would be perfectly legal and binding.. Interesting thought. The Skype-ing trustees would be able to give their input, but not entitled to vote. It sounds feasible. A possible complication would be if the Skypers were all against a proposal, and a minority of the those in attendance voted against it. The proposal would be legally agreed, but in reality the majority of the trustees were against it. All decisions would have to ratified in writing. Comment please Jennifer?
Skype trustees meetings – from stoReasons given by the owners not to allow Trustee meetings via skype? The world is changing, and owners must realise this. If they allowed these meetings via skype, do they realise that the Trustees would have more time to deal with Body Corporate business, and be more amenable to call meetings. It is a win-win situation. We must all embrace the use of technology as it is for the benefit of all. If they won’t allow the use of skype, I am surprised that the owners didn’t ban Trustees from using cell phones and computers. I can’t think of a single reason why owners would not allow the use of skype.
. PMR15(1) talks about Trustees regulating their meetings as they think fit. pro-active.
Trustees meeting via SKPE: Anne in STO said You would need an unanimous resolution allowing trustees to hold meetings via Skype, as it would have been an amendment to the Management Rules.
If Skype is used, a unanimous resolution is needed for:
The dates and times of Skype and other trustees meetings be sent with levy statements. All owners are allowed to attend trustees meetings, whether by Skype or physically.
A detailed agenda by email with motivation of all points would have to be provided by email to ALL owners beforehand,
And the minutes of the trustees meeting should then be sent to trustees by email within a week, corrections asked for and then also be emailed to ALL owners. This should also be decided at SGM.
You should change your rules accordingly.
(all complexes really should change their rules about informing owners about dates of trustee meetings, sending agendas and sending minutes if trustee meetings with levy statements, to ALL owners).
relevant sections of the Act or Management Rules. If unanimous decision by owners were not taken, any decisions taken by the Trustees at a Skype meeting will be invalid?
They refuse to provide information – information is hidden – it should be available on the web. ST and HOA are governed by the King principles.
HOA Would Do Well to Adopt King 3
Disturbing lack of Transparency Non–profit Home Owners Association NPC“ They may have more to cover up than either we thought or than they told us.” The HOA directors should adopt the principles contained in the King 3 code on corporate governance, to curb the increasing difficulties they face in service delivery, corporate governance analysis and controlling levy increases.
Audit outcomes reports for 2006-2007, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 painted a dismal picture of the financial state, and mal–allocation of levies. A proposed investigation into possible fraud and corruption is seen as the biggest challenge faced by homeowners; followed by a lack of financial management, open and transparent management and funding/income constraints. One of the aims of the internationally reputable King 3 code – which sets the standard for corporate governance in SA – is that it be applied by all entities, including sectional title blocks, timeshare, financial investment companies, entertainment holding companies and their subsidiaries and municipalities.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman said that the application of the King 3 governance principles by sectional title complexes and timeshare resorts and homeowner assciations would go a long way to addressing the problem of badly run “small” businesses.
The risk advisory services leader said the principles needed to be taken seriously, not just by the “big” private sector but also by sectional title companies and nonprofit entities. President Zuma said that the government “must work faster, harder and smarter” in order to address the challenges it faced. In the same way, the managers at sectional title complexes, “must work faster, harder and smarter.” The King 3 code does not address the application of its principles and each organization has to consider the approach that best suits its size and complexity.This presents HOA’s and sectional title complexes with a challenge to apply the principles or explain why they have not been applied, or why they refuse to apply them.
A SA Institute of Chartered Accountants spokesman, said: “The application of King 3 to local government and HOA Pty. Ltd. and local sectional title and timeshare complexes, is extending good governance principles from application in the private sector to making the public sector and the general public more aware of these good governance requirements.”Mervyn King (the chairman of the King committee on corporate governance) says that good governance revolves around leadership, sustainability and corporate citizenship, which are all concepts that will affect local and national government as we strive to meet the requirements set out by the constitution for all South African citizens as well as meeting the challenges as presented by climate change,”Among the key King 3 principles is providing “integrated reports” annually and throughout the year, covering all areas of finance and sustainability.
The HOA is not sustainable if its exclusitivity is affected and the value of homeowners properties decline if the principle under which they purchased, a walled estate , arevnot enforced.The directors and trustees have to lay bare any dealings or ownership to the homeowners. They have to give explicit details of how they possibly enrich themselves at the expense of the homeowners. Specifically how they strive to lower the property values of homes of owners to enrich themselves in strange ways. The way in which directors have managed to enrich themselves at HOA NPC by ” cooking the books” and by awarding tenders to themselves and paying rent which is 10-20% of the going rte, is scandalous.
In our block, all except one have a computer, a hand-held device, or other means of electronic communication. We enjoy extensive use of the internet-connected computers for statement distribution, minutes of meetings, etc., and print only two copies, one hard copy for the file, and one for the computer-averse owner. We have been working online for the past 7 years and see no reason to change. Don’t hold your breath, Karen Miles, about NAMA or EAAB doing anything. It’s almost like asking conveyancers to insist purchasers read and sign the BC’s Conduct Rules.
What is foremost in my mind is the transparency of all the day to day management of the Trustees and / or management agent. My experience in our body corporate has been lack of understanding of the Sect. Title Rules between Trustees and the Body Corporate. Creating a division between owners. Some cliques are formed and depending on who is the most determined rules are either followed or disregarded.
In my opinion any person who chooses to be elected as a trustee should read the Survival Manual written by Graham Paddock. Then only can they understand the complexity of taking on the responsibility of a Trustee. Thank you for this opportunity.
Thank you Yvonne! We would absolutely love it if the Sectional Title Survival Manual was mandatory reading for every person elected as a trustee, or even better if each person elected had to do a Paddocks Trustee Training Course – online of course! 🙂
I AGREE, I DID THE COURSE WITH PADDOCKS OF MY OWN ACCORD SO I COULD BE A BETTER TRUSTEE, BUT STILL ENDED UP WITH THE OTHERS NOT BOTHERING TO ABIDE AND COMPLY, EVENTUALLY I RESIGNED I WAS SO FED UP. I THINK THE ONLINE IS GREAT AND THERE IS NO EXCUSE, YOU CAN PULL IT UP IN MEETINGS, YES FOR THOSE WHO ARENT TECH, THERE WILL BE HELP FROM MA OR SOMEONES CHILD ETC. BUT IT SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED BY NAMA AND EAAB.
I imagine it will become standard practice in a few years – for some it will obviously take longer than others. There are obvious advantages for schemes which employ an MA. For a self-managed retirement village it’s not so simple. Many of our owners and residents are do not have computers, or have one which they use exclusively for using e-mail to keep in contact with distant relatives. A mere handful of owners use e-mail to contact the trustees. One of our key trustees is in fact computer illiterate, and some of the others are almost so. So for schemes like ours, on-line scheme management is a long way off.
I think its a fabulous idea, for my experience, it will take out all the corrupt chairpeople, and managing agents who do as they please, without informing owners. the more open communication the better. there will always be those who dont want change or feel threatened by it. if someone isnt on email, surely they could go next door to see, or get printouts handed to them. We must push for this.regards, karen.