How much does it cost, per square meter, to paint a 10 storey building? What is the expected life of a lift? What is the annual erosion rate of a sand dune situated beneath a boundary wall? How do you determine the structural integrity of a building foundation? How much does it cost to waterproof a 3000 square meter roof? How do you determine the expected life of a 2 kilometre tar road?
Before trying to answer these questions, it might be worth considering this African Proverb – “A wise man never knows all. Only fools know everything.”
If you lack the professional knowledge and experience to provide informed answers to these questions, you are definitely not qualified to prepare a written maintenance, repair and replacement plan for the common property of a body corporate.
Every body corporate is required to prepare a written maintenance, repair and replacement plan for the common property, setting out-
- the major capital items expected to require maintenance, repair and replacement within the next 10 years;
- the present condition or state of repair of those items;
- the time when those items or components of those items will need to be maintained, repaired or replaced;
- the estimated cost of the maintenance, repair and replacement of those items or components; and
- the expected life of those items or components once maintained, repaired or replaced.
These are very difficult issues to determine and I don’t believe that it is reasonable to expect the average trustees to possess the necessary expertise to prepare such a plan, which is why it surprises me that so many trustees undertake this work themselves despite their lack of expertise.
Although there is no requirement for a person who prepares a maintenance, repair and replacement plan to have any particular experience or qualification, there is a very important requirement for each trustee of a body corporate to stand in a fiduciary relationship to the body corporate. This implies, amongst other things, that the trustees are required to take reasonable steps to seek professional advice to enable them to make conscientious and informed decisions.
Trustees have the power to appoint such agents and employees as they may consider fit, in accordance with budgets approved by members, and I always strongly recommend trustees use this power to appoint qualified professionals to prepare the written maintenance, repair and replacement plan for the common property and to carry out regular condition surveys of the scheme’s common property.
A professionally prepared maintenance, repair and replacement plan will provide a rational basis on which the members can base their decision as to the amounts of money that the body corporate needs as reserves to meet the ongoing and accruing cost of such maintenance, repairs and replacement, which will ultimately reduce the possibility of unforeseen or surprise expenses.
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 16, Issue 9.
Specialist Community Scheme Attorney (LLB, LLM), Auren Freitas dos Santos, is the Director of The Advisory, a boutique consultancy specialising exclusively in community schemes law. Contact him at www.theadvisory.co.za if you require any assistance with a dispute in your community scheme.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.