A Managing Agent is a contractor (a.k.a. service provider) engaged by the Management Council to manage the estate, normally on a year by year contractual basis. As most of the Council members are volunteers, the actual day-to-day management of the estate is delegated to the Managing Agent, except the powers to make major decisions.
For an estate to be well managed, the Management Council needs to be competent, knowledgeable and be able to provide strategic directions. It is also important to appoint a competent Managing Agent and make them a partner in the wellbeing of the estate.
Managing Agents are Jacks of All Trades. Typically, they have to handle the following for the Management Councils :-
- supervision of the contractors and ensure the jobs are properly done;
- implement the By-Laws of the estate;
- residents’ queries and transactions;
- provide first line advice to Management Council on issues;
- ensure the proper accounting of the receipts maintenance and sinking funds and payments to contractors;
- liaise with the authorities, renew licences and ensure the laws are complied;
- organise and minute monthly/quarterly Council meetings and;
- organise and minute Annual General Meetings (AGM) or ExtraOrdinary General Meetings (EOGM).
Managing Agents employ staff who are stationed in the estate’s office for the larger estates or “roving” staff for the smaller estates which cannot afford to station a headcount in the estate. These staff include technicians, property managers or condominium managers and adiministrative assistants for the larger estates. For the ultra large estates, there would be an accounts assistant in the estate office too.
A typical Managing Agent’s quotation to a Management Corporation would include the staffing, scope of work and exclusions. The exclusions include payments for licences, payments for other contractors’ services, audit fees etc which are the estate’s operating expenses.
It should be noted that an estate should not change their Managing Agent too often as valuable knowledge about the estate can be lost. Often the incumbent Managing Agent knows the quirks in maintenance in the estate, habits of residents and background to the estate which can help resolve issues with better outcomes and much faster than a new Managing Agent. Because of this, it is important Councils consider their Managing Agent a partner in the well being of the estate.
Supervision of contractors
Managing Agents are normally delegated the powers to manage the other contractors. For example, the Managing Agent would be concerned if the rubbish chutes are not cleared daily. They may make demands to the cleaning contractor that the rubbish chutes have to be cleared daily by a certain time eg 2pm. Most of the technical repair works are supervised by the Managing Agent’s technician and operational work by the Property Manager or Condominium Manager.
Implementation of By-Laws
The Managing Agent helps to ensure that the estate is orderly via the proper implementation of the estate’s By-Laws. Often this is with the help of the security service provider.
Queries and Transactions
A resident of an estate may want to book a BBQ pit on a particular date and time for a gathering and often the resident has to go to the estate’s office to make the booking. He/she is often served by the Administrative Assistant. Some estates allow phone booking and a few via electronic means.
If an owner is not sure about the amount of maintenance and sinking fund they owe the estate, the owner may call up the estate’s office or visit the office and the staff (Property Manager or Administrative Assistant) may serve the owner and take down the query. They may then contact the Managing Agent’s Accounts Department to ascertain the latest position of the owner before relaying the message to the owner. Some Councils / Managing Agents may provide multiple contact points to the owners. In such an instance, the owner may call the Managing Agent ‘s Accounts Department directly.
Provision of First Line Advice
A Managing Agent has to handle many facets of estate management. Some of the lines of competence are as follows :-
- Electrical engineering & works – substation, electrical switchgear, wiring, 3-phase and single phase electrical systems, electrical equipment.
- Mechanical engineering & works – plumbing, pumps, air-conditioning, water piping etc
- Civil engineering & works – concrete spalling, cementing works, structure integrity, drainage, water proofing, roofing, etc
- Architectural – as built layout, gross floor area, fascade etc
- Cleaning – general cleanliness, rubbish chute flushing, water jetting, drainage declogging and rubbish disposal
- Fire protection – fire alarm, sprinkler system, fire extinguisher, fire & emergency escalation process.
- Landscaping – maintenance and fertilising the plants, chooing the right plants for the estate, trimming and clearing overgrowth.
- Swimming pool – general cleanliness, algae growth, chlorination, water test results interpretation, NEA licence renewal.
- Security – attendance of security officers, logging of visitors and vehicles, theft, vandalism. criminal acts within the estate, domestic and neighbour quarrels.
This is a very tall order for a Managing Agent to be able to handle all these facets and provide correct advice all the time. Not all people are versed with all these aspects and often the Managing Agent is dealing with Council members who are experts in each of these lines of competence. As an example, the Managing Agent may be providing first line advice on structure and within the Council, there is a Structural Engineer. The level of knowledge of the Managing Agent would not be up to that of the Structural Engineer.
Accounting is one of the most important functions that Councils delegate to the Managing Agents. Some larger estates may be dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars every quarter in addition to a huge stash of Sinking Fund which may be in millions. Thus, any mistake in accounting could result in misaccounting of huge amounts of money.
Liaison with Government Bodies
A Managing Agent has to answer to the Singapore Land Authority’s queries on tenancy rates in the estate, BCA’s demands for licences to be up to date and queries on the Management Councils.
Organise Council Meetings
One of the many tasks Managing Agents undertake is to organise, attend and minute the Council Meetings. The purpose of the Minutes of Meeting is to record down the proceedings and decisions made so that it can be seen by all the owners and also as a record in case a situation arises when the record of the proceedings is needed to be referred to.
Organise AGMs and EOGMs
Similarly, Managing Agents organise the once a year Annual General Meetings (AGM) and if the need arises, the ExtraOrdinary General Meeting (EOGM). For these meetings, all the owners are informed formally and a package of documents are sent way ahead of time for them to read through first. In many instances, these meetings are video recorded or voice recorded in addition to the Minutes of Meeting. The Managing Agent then informs the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) on the key decisions made during these meetings.