Keep estates out of the hands of property agents

The Building and Construction Authority’s current review of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act is long overdue. In particular, restrictions should be placed on the number of proxies a person can hold at an estate’s general meeting.

In the condominium where I live, a property agent garnered more than 50 proxy votes from owners who could not attend the annual general meeting – more than the number of owners present at the meeting – and thus dictated all the decisions.

He voted in three property agent associates and a client to the next management council (MC). He voted to reduce the number of MC members from 14 to seven. Subsequently, he made himself the chairman.

The BCA should coordinate the review of the Act with other government agencies such as the Council for Estate Agencies and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Apart from proxy limits, the law should prohibit the formation of an MC wherein the majority of members are property agents. Restrictions should also be placed on property agents holding key MC appointments (chairman, secretary, treasurer).

By virtue of their jobs, property agents are likely to face conflicts of interest while carrying out MC duties. MC members would have access to information such as owners’ particulars and contact details, potential foreclosures and units available for lease.

Within my estate, I observe tenants moving in and out frequently, so short-term leases, which are against the URA’s regulations, are apparently rampant here.

As more people buy properties for investment, the likelihood of owners nominating property agents to be their proxies will increase. In cases where there is collusion to take over the MC, what recourse do residents and owners have?

The law must move with the times to ensure that control over a housing estate does not fall into the wrong hands.

Source : Today – 17 May 2012

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