Navigating the Responsibilities and Challenges of Being a Trustee in Sectional Title

BY Bellbuoy Group

Navigating the Responsibilities and Challenges of Being a Trustee in Sectional Title
If you're a homeowner in a sectional title scheme, you've probably heard of trustees and their role in the management of the property. Trustees are pivotal figures in ensuring the smooth operation of communal living, but what does it mean to be one, and what responsibilities and challenges come with this important role? In this article, we'll explore the trustee’s world  in sectional title, shedding light on the responsibilities and rewards that accompany the position.
Defining the Role of a Trustee
Trustees are elected or appointed individuals responsible for overseeing the administration and maintenance of a sectional title property. They serve on behalf of the body corporate, which is made up of all the owners within the scheme. The primary role of trustees is to manage the common property, finances, and overall welfare of the community, ensuring that the property remains in good condition and that the needs of the owners are met.
Key Responsibilities of a Trustee
1. Financial Management: Trustees play a vital role in budgeting, collecting levies, and managing the financial affairs of the body corporate. They must ensure that funds are available and allocated appropriately for maintenance, repairs, and any necessary improvements. This requires an appropriate debt and / or legal collection procedure to prevent arrears crippling the cash-flow of the scheme.
2. Maintenance and Repairs: Trustees are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of common property, such as gardens, swimming pools, and shared facilities. Timely repairs and regular maintenance are essential to maintain property values. Trustees are required to draft maintenance and repair plans to consider maintenance requirements over the following ten years to ensure adequate budgeting.  
3. Rule Enforcement: Enforcing the rules and by-laws of the sectional title scheme is a critical responsibility. This includes managing compliance issues, addressing complaints, and resolving disputes among residents.
4. Decision-Making: Trustees make decisions regarding various aspects of the property, including property improvements, security measures, and the engagement of contractors. Decision-making should be transparent and considerate of the members and community scheme’s interests.
Challenges of Being a Trustee
Being a trustee is a significant commitment, and it comes with its own set of challenges:
1. Time and Effort: Managing a sectional title property is time-consuming. Trustees must attend regular meetings, address resident concerns, and oversee property maintenance. This can be a significant additional workload.
2. Conflict Resolution: Trustees may find themselves mediating disputes and dealing with dissatisfied owners. Conflict resolution skills are vital to maintain harmony in the community but assistance is provided by the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS).
3. Legal and Financial Responsibility: While trustees can delegate certain work, they cannot delegate responsibility. Trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to members and may incur personal liability if gross negligence is discovered or unless all members are party to the specific decision.
4. Transparency and Communication: Open and effective communication with owners is essential but can be challenging. Trustees must keep all owners informed and ensure their concerns are heard.
Rewards of Being a Trustee
While being a trustee in a sectional title property is a demanding role, it also brings numerous rewards:
1. Community Impact: Trustees can directly influence the well-being and improvement of the property and the lives of the residents.
2. Learning Opportunities: Serving as a trustee can be an excellent learning experience in property management, financial planning, and dispute resolution. There are regular training and seminar sessions provided by various role players within the industry.
3. Contributing to Property Value: Effective trustees can help maintain and increase property values, benefiting all owners.
In conclusion, being a trustee in a sectional title property involves both responsibilities and challenges, but it can also be a rewarding experience. Those who take on this role play a crucial part in ensuring the quality of communal living for all owners and making the property a better place to call home. Whether you're a current trustee or considering taking on this role, understanding the responsibilities and rewards is essential for successful management and community development.

 October 31, 2023
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Greenacres, Gqerberha

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