Home Truths

Gogan's guide to apartment living is refreshingly no-nonsense, writes Edel Morgan

Gogan's guide to apartment living is refreshingly no-nonsense, writes Edel Morgan

Former management agent Robert Gogan sent us the final draft of his book The Essential Guide to Apartment Living in Irelandand one gets the impression his experiences running apartment blocks have left him in no mood to pussyfoot around certain issues or tell people what they want to hear.

Refreshingly no-nonsense, the book tackles just about every situation apartment owners will encounter in a clear, accessible style. Occasionally though, out of nowhere, it veers off into a rant. Under the heading Troublesome Neighbours and How to Deal with them he definitely hits the nail on the head when he points out that managing an apartment development has more to do with managing people than property.

It continues: "There are thousands of unreasonable people living all around us - the type of people who stroll through life without caring one iota about their fellow citizens and who carry on exactly as they wish without the slightest regard for the inconvenience, nuisance and annoyance which they're causing to others by their actions . . .


"These individuals are out there - on the roads, in the pubs, in your workplace, and unfortunately - and inevitably - in your apartment development . . ."

Phew! It's hardly suprising that Mr Gogan has abandoned life as a management agent of multi-unit developments in Dublin for a place less known for its apartment complexes - Achill in Co Mayo.

In his covering letter he says the understanding deficit among apartment owners appears to be increasing. "I am aware of many apartment developments which are on the road to crisis and disaster, with little or no input from the owners, a completely inadequate or non existent sinking fund and an atmosphere of abandonment."

The book, which will be self-published by his own company MI Publications, will be available in all the bookstores from early January. It covers just about every aspect of living in and owning an apartment and presents a range of solutions to tricky situations. Topics include becoming a member of a management company, the developer's obligations before handing over the scheme, hiring and firing management agents as well as financial and legal guidance for the board of directors.

There are also little nuggets of advice that a less thorough book might overlook. He reminds buyers to get a copy of the lease from the solicitor when closing a sale before it's lodged with the lending insitution. "Some solicitors tell you that its part of the title documents and full of legal jargon and you don't need it .That's not true."

He also advises that buyers insist on getting a copy of the membership certificate or share certificate, depending on the type of management company. If you buy an apartment and find the service charge has arrears attached to it, "you should insist the solicitor pays for it as he should have cleared the arrears at the closing of sale".

Unsurprisingly, he is sympathetic towards management agents who he says are often appointed when the first year's - often unrealistic - budget and service charges have already been decided by the developer and this "invariably leads to problems in subsequent years".

He says they are often at the receiving end of abuse from residents who don't understand it's not their job to lobby the developer on their behalf and says it would be wrong for an agent to spend service charges fixing problems when it's the developer's duty to do so.

Like the Rudy Giuliani of the apartment world, he refuses to play to the gallery and takes a zero tolerance approach to people who don't pay their service charge in a bid to get back at the developer , saying the only people that suffer are themselves and fellow residents when services are withdrawn. As for are those who leave bicycles in unauthorised places, he suggests a bolt cutters and a stiff fine.

- emorgan@irish-times.ie