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RM Reports

Facility management in housing societies: The role of property managers

by Akhilesh K Prasad

Imagine a housing society with 25-30 units. One fine morning, the water pump goes kaput. The issue is brought to the notice of a 3 or 5 member committee that looks after the day-to-day affairs of the apartment complex. These committee members are elected from the resident owners in the housing society. All of them have day jobs of their own. Also, the committee must reach a consensus as to the plan of action and who to get the water pump repaired by. Work schedule, often coupled with internal politics or personal ego causes a delay in getting the work done. Thus, the residents of the apartment might have to suffer without water for the next one or two days.

A water pump is just one of the common facilities in a housing society. There are several others that may be categorised as follows:

  1. Engineering services: Electrical maintenance, lifts, plumbing, energy and utilities come under this category.
  2. Soft services: Janitorial, cleaning, landscaping and security are a part of daily activities of most real estate assets such as malls, shopping centres, cinemas, offices, organizations, and also housing complexes.
  3. Workplace solutions: These are extended services that help in the smooth functioning of an office, organization, and sometimes a housing society. They may include reception, reprographics, catering, transport, concierge, courier and goods transportation, along with the provision of drivers and cleaners.

As a resident of a housing society, as long as there is regular water supply, waste management, and upkeep of the lift, garden, generator etc, all we’d need to care about is our personal apartment space, maintenance payment, and electricity bill. But a lot goes into maintaining the common facilities. Many housing societies have lately started outsourcing facility management to professional managers or firms.

A property manager ensures that all facilities are in order. He reports to the management committee and is assisted by a team of technicians who look after the upkeep of the building and its infrastructure. Societies have also started adopting management software such as Apartment ADDA, Apna Complex and Common Floor.  These are also managed by the property manager.

In smaller apartments, property managers are seen merely as executor of task lists that the managing committee hands out to them. In larger housing societies, the property, estate or multi-dwelling unit (MDU) manager can take decisions on his own so long as they are budgeted and accounted.

With advancement in technology, engineering and administrative demands, the role of the property manager is becoming more technical, complex and demanding. He is involved in all aspects of the apartment complex. He also needs to be aware of compliances, and in touch with representatives of local authorities.

The toughest challenge, however, is the petty personal demands of residents that often come at the expense of the greater good. The residents making such a demand being a client, the property manager often needs loads of patience to handle such a situation. He may also be responsible for the resolution of maintenance disputes in housing societies.

Nevertheless, given the multitude of day-to-day issues with respect to facilities in a housing society, the need of the hour is a person or team trained and dedicated to handling those issues. Hiring a property manager or a Facilities Management Company for the purpose is definitely the way forward.

An MBA by qualification, Akhilesh has dabbled into various businesses. He is a keen    debater, data miner and analytically inclined. His blogs tend to present a fresh perspective on any given matter

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