Small body corporate challenges

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Although it is always recommended that a body corporate utilises the services of a managing agent, there are schemes out there that may find it difficult to find an administrator that is willing to run their affairs.

This is particularly true when the body corporate involved has a small number of units. Administering a sectional title scheme involves a great deal of work regardless of the size of the complex. A managing agent will usually charge per unit and it goes without saying that most will look at the financial benefits before agreeing to administer the scheme. So where does this leave small body corporates and are they allowed to run things themselves?

The short answer to the above is yes; anyone can administer a body corporate scheme. Most of the work involved is relatively straight forward and can be compared to running you own home, although on a larger scale. Ensuring and overseeing that the gardens in the common property are maintained, carrying out property maintenance and making sure that the financial affairs of the complex are in order are just some of the duties that a managing agent will perform.

While all of this looks fairly good on paper, unfortunately there are pitfalls and very often, those who find themselves administering their complex’s own affairs discover that being at the fore of the body corporate dealings isn’t always as simple as they first assume.

Interestingly, size appears to be everything in a body corporate and it is often the smaller complexes that have the most conflict. One would think that trying to get 120 unit holders to agree on a point would be virtually impossible. However, judging by the comments received on the Private Property website, it is the residents of smaller, more intimate complexes where only a handful of owners are involved who often struggle to agree on the smallest point.

It is often the smaller things in life that irritate the most. While most residents may well consider themselves rational, reasonable people who dislike confrontation, there are times when body corporate arguments can descend into open warfare.

Employing someone to arbitrate and take control of the situation is going to make everyone’s life easier and this is where a managing agent could be regarded as being worth his weight in gold. It is often difficult for those who are emotionally involved to see the bigger picture and utilising the services of a so-called outsider can often put things back into perspective.

While it is not always advisable to adopt a live-and-let-live approach where body corporate affairs are concerned, there are times when a more laid-back approach is required. Those who have either chosen not to use or who cannot find a managing agent willing to take on the responsibility of running a small body corporate need to try and keep things in perspective. Community living comes with its own set of challenges and those who choose to overlook the petty issues at hand, may well find it easier to get along with their neighbours.

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