Trafalgar News

Trafalgar News

What does it take to be a good trustee?

The trustees of Sectional Title schemes may not need specific obligatory qualifications but will find certain skills and attributes useful in dealing with the many responsibilities and duties of being a trustee.

That’s the word from Andrew Schaefer, MD of national property management company Trafalgar, who also says there is great benefit for trustees in working with professional managing agents who can help them fill any gaps in their knowledge of Sectional Title legislation, management rules and required administrative procedures.  

“However, trustees should at least have a basic understanding themselves of the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act and the standard management and conduct rules, and be aware of other legislation affecting Sectional Title schemes, such as the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act, the PAIA and POPI acts and the Consumer Protection Act.

“They also need to understand at least the principles of financial management, because they will have to review budgets, monitor expenses, ensure timely collection of levies and work with professionals such as accountants and auditors when necessary. A good managing agent will help them to compile budgets, collect levies and pay accounts, but it is the trustees themselves who have a fiduciary duty to manage the scheme’s finances and resources responsibly on behalf of all the owners, so they should also be prepared to be transparent and accountable for their decisions and actions.”

In addition, he says, being a good trustee requires a significant time commitment, even though it is an unpaid, voluntary role. “So before being elected, anyone who has been nominated as a trustee should ask themselves whether they really have the time available, not only to attend regular meetings and oversee the daily operations of the scheme, but also to address urgent matters as they arise.

“This can be difficult when one is in full-time employment or has a business to run, so trustees should also be team players who are willing to work collaboratively with other trustees and stakeholders and their managing agent.”

Schaefer says it is also an advantage if trustees have good problem-solving skills to be able to resolve disputes in the complex while respecting differing opinions, reach consensus with fellow trustees on tricky decisions and successfully plan and manage maintenance and repair work.

“Trust is of course also a crucial element in the role of a trustee, so the members of the body corporate who elect them must believe that they will not only act honestly, ethically and in accordance with the law, but that they will also be impartial and put aside any personal bias or conflict of interest to make decisions that are in the best interests of the whole scheme.”

It also helps, he says, if trustees are able to communicate well with owners and property managers as well as their fellow trustees and to provide timely and informative feedback about their activities and decisions.

“And lastly, a good trustee continually seeks to expand their knowledge and stay updated on industry trends, legal changes and best practices related to sectional title management. They are willing to learn from professional managers and attend training sessions or take courses such as those offered by Trafalgar to enhance their skills.”

*For more information or to sign up for the free online course that Trafalgar offers for Sectional Title trustees, see https://training.trafalgar.co.za/courses/sectional-title-trustee-training/

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