Many developers and management companies employ professional firms such as Oriel Property Management Ltd known as managing agents to provide maintenance and other services in housing developments.
The managing agent and the management company are two very different entities. The managing agent works under the instructions of the management company. Before you buy, you should find out if the developer and/or management company has appointed a managing agent.

Typical Services

  • Inspecting and maintaining common areas
  • Organising refuse collections
  • Collecting service charges from owners
  • Administrative duties such as arranging insurance cover
  • Organising meetings between the management company, owners and residents
  • Providing information and advice and responding to enquiries from owners

If you are living in an apartment complex or a gated estate, it will have several common areas accessible to all the residents. These typically include the lobbies, stairwells, lifts and main corridors. There may be other areas that the owners share collectively, such as the roofing and possibly some common parking places and green spaces around the development. Many new housing schemes and apartment blocks have a management company which is responsible for the maintenance of these shared spaces and services.

The management company is established for two key purposes:

  • To manage and maintain these common areas
  • To be the legal owner of the leaseholds of each unit and the common areas
  • The rules of company law (which they must adhere to) also offer an effective structure in terms of administration and ownership

While most houses are owned freehold (where you own both the property and the land on which it is built), multi-unit development properties such as apartments are generally owned as leaseholds. You own the property, but not the land on which it is built.

Management companies are formed to manage multi-unit developments because:

  • They can be an efficient means of management
  • They resolve the leasehold issue
  • The rules of company law (which they must adhere to) also offer an effective structure in terms of administration and ownership

Developers generally appoint a management company and the managing agent at the outset of a development, often before the first unit is sold.

The developer should:

  • Inform buyers that a managing agent has been appointed
  • Outline the services to be provided
  • Explain the managing agent’s procedures for dealing with requests/complaints from owners

Managing agents should only be employed on the basis of a written contract with the management company, which clearly sets out both parties’ obligations and responsibilities.

A binding written contract is the legal basis for resolving any disputes that may arise between an agent and your management company. As part of the contract, the agent should agree to meet at least quarterly with the management company or residents’ committee.

The developer should also provide the management company and the agent with:

  • The title documents and counter part leases
  • An agreed snag list and practical completion certification
  • A register of all capital assets
  • Warranties and other guarantees, including test records for drainage, water and heating pipe work
  • Certifications for fire safety, health and safety, planning and building regulations
  • As-built drawings

Owners pay the costs of employing the managing agent as a part of their annual service charge contribution to the management company.

The cost of the agent will depend on the firm, but largely depends on the range and quality of services provided.

Unit owners pay an annual fee known as a service charge to pay for the maintenance of these common areas and other shared services such as cleaning and waste disposal.

The management company sets the service charge. If the homeowners own the management company, it is up to them to establish the level of service charge, how services are provided and whether the company should employ a managing agent to run its day-to-day affairs.

Members of the management company are entitled to information from the company to substantiate the level at which the rate is being set.

The company should provide you with as much information as possible on how last year’s budget was spent, and how it has calculated the charge for the forthcoming year.

The directors should also consider providing detailed income and expenditure information in relation to service charges.

Service charges are not an optional payment if they are part of the terms and conditions of your contract to buy the unit.

Once you conclude the contract, you have an ongoing legal obligation to pay these charges, usually on an annual basis. So make sure your solicitor explains these obligations.

So not paying may leave you open to legal action, and any outstanding debts can be tied to your property. For example, unpaid service charges can be deducted from the money you receive if you subsequently sell your property.

When you buy your unit and receive your membership certificate you legally become a member of the property management company.
The Membership or Share Certificate is a key legal document which your solicitor should obtain for you. It confirms that you as the owner of a unit are, under the terms of your purchase agreement, a member of the management company.

The use of a company structure means that members have certain rights under company law, in particular the Companies Acts.

All company members are entitled to:

  • Adequate notification of the company’s general meetings
  • Timely information about the company’s operations and finances
  • Participate and vote in the annual general meeting (AGM)

You are also entitled to inspect and obtain copies of:

  • The company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Minutes of general meetings of the company and resolutions
  • Various registers kept by the company, including the register of members and the register of directors and secretaries and their interests
  • Periodic financial statements, directors’ reports and auditors’ reports about the company’s financial affairs
    The company must hold a general meeting at least once a year, and all members must be invited to attend. It must also file an annual return with the Companies Registration Office; this must contain certain fundamental information about the company and its financial activities.

The Memorandum and Articles of Association is an important document which every company must have. It is important as it sets out how the company will be run, and what rights you as a member will have.

The Memorandum and Articles of Association must be open to inspection to every member free of charge. It must also be submitted to the Companies Registration Office where the public may view it.

As a corporate body, the management company owns the freehold of the common areas of the development. The company, on behalf of the owners, is the legal owner of these areas, and the owners share collective responsibility for them.

Membership of the management company should allow you to have a say in how the common areas are managed. But you should not personally need to be involved in the day-to-day running of the company’s affairs or put your name to contracts entered into by the company. Companies generally appoint directors to do this work.

For Further information on property management download a copy of Property Management Companies & You by the National Consumer Agency

National Consumer Agency – Property Management Booklet

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