One of the simplest places to start your search for a managing agent is to find out who the trustees are of some of the other buildings in your area and ask them who their managing agents are. You will quickly find out if there are some to be avoided and others who are highly regarded.

Once you have a managing agent in mind, it is worth requesting a few referrals – and checking up on these to ensure the managing agent is delivering above average service across all facets. While doing your due diligence, you will notice that most managing agents offer similar core services such as levy collections, supplier payments, financial accounting and sectional title advice, but it is important to try to understand how they intend to deliver these services.

For example, which property management program do they use, as this will help you determine if the financial accounting will be done effectively and if the trustees will be given regular reports on the overall position of the building. In terms of evaluating the managing agent’s ability to give sectional title advice, you should determine the qualifications and experience of the managers working at the company.

It is important to ensure that your new managing agent is not only registered with the Estate Agents Affairs Board and holds a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate, as well as registered with the National Association of Managing Agents, but that they comply with the stipulated regulations of the Board and Association. The trustees should also determine whether the managing agency holds Fidelity insurance, especially if they are going to put their building’s funds in the managing agent’s trust account.

Let’s say that you’ve done all of the above and have a shortlist of agencies, now it’s time to get down to business. Invite your shortlist of agencies to a trustee’s meetings for an informal discussion so that you can highlight the issues or concerns with your building. You may resonate with a particular agency, or they may have experience in dealing with the particular issues that you are facing, but a face-to-face meeting will really assist you in understanding whether you will be able to work well with a particular agency.

After you have selected a suitable managing agent for your building, make sure that the contract between the managing agency and the building contains all the agreed upon services and response times. Further, make sure that any additional charges are stipulated up front, such as tax submissions or the issuing of levy clearances. Try to determine who will be assigned to manage your building, the best methods of communication, the process of selecting and approving contractors, payment protocols and other operational functions. The more that you can agree upfront, the less possibility there will be for any misunderstandings later on.

Bear in mind that the relationship between a building and the managing agency does and can evolve over time, and this can be because the personnel within the managing agency change or more likely, the trustees change over time as people buy and sell into the building. If at any time you are not happy with the service that you are receiving from your managing agency then approach them in a constructive manner and request the changes that you need for things to run smoothly.

Your managing agent should be responsive to such an approach as the prerogative to move to another agency is always in the hands of the trustees.

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