Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Improving Communication in Community Schemes

mystrataBy Prof. Graham Paddock

Apart from financial stability, perhaps the second most important element in ensuring the successful operation of a community scheme is communication – how well the trustees or directors, with the assistance of their managing agent, communicate with residents.

When everything in the scheme is as they expect it to be, owners and other residents are often not particularly interested in how much information they have about the scheme. They may not even bother to read scheme communications. But when they have a problem of some sort, very often they expect to be kept informed at a very high level and to have every question answered as a matter of urgency.

Some schemes address the issue of keeping owners and residents informed by circulating the minutes of their meetings, issuing regular newsletters and making sure that requests for information are handled in a predictable and reasonably efficient manner.

We must bear in mind that most trustees and directors are volunteers, and they cannot be expected to be available 24/7 to address owners and residents’ queries or assist them with the wide range of challenges that they may encounter in their homes and within the scheme. And the managing agent similarly is not available at all hours. So it is important that owners are told who they can contact when urgent situations arise – if, for example, the power or water supply stops, the electric driveway gate stops working or there is an obvious problem with the swimming pool.

Apart from emergency communications, there are a range of techniques that should be considered. These include:

  1. Encouraging owners to attend and observe trustee or directors’ meetings
  2. Holding a quarterly or half-yearly information meeting
  3. Establishing an online presence to allow owners and tenants to download documents, log complaints and communicate with the managing agent, the trustees or directors and with one another
  4. Sending out regular newsletters by mail and email

Scheme websites can be a very useful addition to a scheme’s communication strategy. Owners and residents should not be forced to go online to communicate with the managing agent, trustees or directors, but where a scheme does have a dedicated website this can be used to facilitate online communication between the trustees and directors and between them and the managing agent, as well as that with owners.

Before you consider spending money on establishing a scheme website and undertaking the costs of maintaining it, I want to mention that Mystrata South Africa, in which Paddocks holds a share, is in the process of developing software that will offer every community scheme a FREE website.

These MyCommunity websites will allow different levels of access and functionality for managers, trustees/directors, ordinary owners and also tenants, so as to allow each one to get access to the documents they are entitled to see and to interact at an appropriate level.

What are your views on individual scheme websites? Share with us by commenting below…

 Image source: Pinterest

 

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5 comments on “Improving Communication in Community Schemes

  1. P B vanNiekerk.
    January 26, 2017

    Our M A do not want to supply us with e-mail addresses of co- owners in the complex.
    We need at times to interact with each other on issues like how they perceive resolutions taken by the Body Corporate that affect owners.They hold the P O P I act as a reason for not giving owners e-mail addresses to each other. Instead they give us the owners postal addresses should we want to communicate with each other. This method can take up to weeks and months to communicate with co-owners. In this day that electronic communication is the norm we think the M A should supply us with each of the owners e-mail addresses for easier and faster communication with each other.

    Can we please have Paddocks view on this important issue.

    Thanks

    • Paddocks
      February 9, 2017

      Dear PB van Niekerk,

      Thank you for your comment. We are more than happy to help, however we do not give free opinions / advice. Please email us on consulting@paddocks.co.za with regards to your matter, and we can provide you with a no-obligation quote, so that we can assist you.

      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

  2. Nette
    February 25, 2015

    Can the owners at the AGM require proof that the new proposed trustees have paid their levies up to date? So can an owner ask for proof from the MA that the proposed trustees have paid their levies on the day of the AGM, before the meeting starts?
    Can the owners give a directive to the trustees that the number of units who have paid up levies, and the number whose levies are not up to date, be sent as an additional document on a monthly basis?
    Can a directive be given at the AGM that the trustees send the dates and the agendas of the planned trustee meetings to all owners, and/ or should the rules be changed too, to make this permanent?
    The MA refuse to e-mail copies of minutes of trustee meetings to owners; does this actually mean that the BC will have to pay the air travel cost of owners who live elsewhere to visit the MA’s office? What is the interpretation of ” make available for inspection” mean in the digital age?

  3. g8way
    May 18, 2014

    I built a website for our complex – mainly as a selling aid. I would love to move it to the forum you described. http://willowdown.gr8way.com/ .

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