The role of a trustee is not a full time job

Private Property South Africa
Ross Glenn

There are many articles available regarding the roles of a trustee and almost all of them follow the same advice regarding management of levies, finances and the operations of the scheme. These may be the most important items to discuss but they are certainly not the only ones that should be.

The first order of business after the election of trustees is to hold a meeting. At this meeting, the levy budget is established and roles are assigned. What is often overlooked is how the trustees will deal with other common issues in the scheme or more specifically, the residents.

Trustees are elected to serve the body corporate and this is exactly how the residents of the scheme will view their position, as servants. Some residents will view this so literally that elected trustees are expected to be available at unearthly hours to serve their needs. This, of course, is rarely tolerated and as a result, trustees resign leaving the scheme vulnerable to mismanagement or neglect.

“The role of a trustee is not a full time job and as such, trustees must implement a process in the scheme that will reduce the impact on their lives.” says Ross Glenn, founder of Social Estate, a management and communication tool for trustees and managing agents.

If a geyser bursts in the middle of the night, the residents will contact the trustees for assistance but, if the residents have access to the contact details of the recommended service providers it would not be necessary. The details of the work can be submitted during business hours by the resident or the service provider reducing the impact on the lives of the trustees significantly. A personalised online directory would work well for this and it can be maintained by management.

The trustees must implement and enforce a means for residents to submit their requests that can be properly managed and tracked. This will prevent residents from contacting trustees directly and provide transparency. A helpdesk utility is ideal for this and is relatively easy to setup. In addition, requests will no longer be overlooked or forgotten reducing conflict between residents and management.

Sending out notices is vital as it keeps residents informed. Emails are not reliable as they are often overlooked due to the large volumes and printed notices are costly and time consuming. Trustees must implement a process by which notices can be published and are always available. This allows residents to access and peruse notices at their convenience and negates the excuse of residents not being informed. Web based notice boards can be used for this and are readily available for use.

“Social Estate is a platform created specifically for trustees to simplify their tasks within a scheme” says Ross. “It consists of a Helpdesk, Discussion Board, Notice Board, Polling Service, Private Message System and a personalised Service Provider Directory.

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