The different demands of managing property vary from scheme to scheme. Indeed, many disputes on a body corporate committee are between one side that wants to invest to secure asset value and the other which wants to keep building costs down.

Ultimately, the majority rules but the committee must, to the best of its ability, act in the best interest of all lot owners. Given the apparent conflicting interests of the people involved how can the committee make decisions without causing an upset? And which side, if any, should they prefer? Or might it be possible to attend to every lot owners’ needs?

First, let us assess our primary interests in managing premises:

1. Securing asset value:

    Buying property is the largest single investment most people or businesses make, so ensuring that the value is stable, preferably improving over time, is paramount.

2. Ensuring proper maintenance:

    For the best enjoyment of your environment, and to ensure that the building fabric remains in good condition, it is vital to ensure the best maintenance practices are in place. This requires the building or facilities manager – or other nominated person – to plan required maintenance in good time, be vigilant and react quickly to the unexpected. First and foremost, however, we are all reliant on finding the best contractors and tradespeople to provide a quality service.

3. Minimising running costs:

    Whether it is administrative or sinking fund expenditure, it is not relevant to many lot owners; it is all coming out of their pockets. Careful consideration needs to be given to all expenditure, ensuring value for money is achieved in all aspects of the running of the building from the price of repairs to obtaining competitive maintenance contractors.

4. Removing and minimising risks to health and safety:

    One of the hot topics of the year following the introduction of the Work Health & Safety Act 2011. Every person responsible for the management of a body corporate – whether the Act applies or not – must be concerned to protect the health & safety of occupiers, visitors and workers attending site.

Presented in this manner, few lot owners would argue against each of these elements being fundamental to the life of the body corporate. Expressing decisions in relation to these values can help lot owners understand the body corporate committee’s motives and engage them in the process.

An example of how this line of thinkkeying can help is in considering that people often fail to attempt to understand others’ decisions and will make judgements based on their own standpoint. If their interest is in keeping costs down, they will naturally be opposed to large expenditure. If, however, they can see that the chosen route is not only best value in a group of alternatives but also the stitch in time that saves nine, then their perspective can change rapidly. They may not want to spend money now, but they will certainly not want to spend a lot more tomorrow.

So, what does this mean? Communication is the key. Contractors informing building managers – building managers their bodies corporate – and bodies corporate their lot owners. If everyone is aware of the decisions being made and the motivation behind those decisions it might be possible to look after every party’s interests.

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