What power has our management committee to enforce rules in our scheme?

Property Clinic: The issues causing concern would be mostly related to behaviour

‘To ensure that there is no misunderstanding and liberal interpretations of house rules, invite the membership to participate in a dialogue at the agm.’ Photograph: iStock

‘To ensure that there is no misunderstanding and liberal interpretations of house rules, invite the membership to participate in a dialogue at the agm.’ Photograph: iStock

 

We have read with interest your various articles about the duties of owners’ management companies (OMCs) and the respective obligations of the residents who are part of the OMC.

We are a small OMC with just 13 units so all are very aware of what is expected of all residents. We updated our rules and regulations in 2016 and will probably update them again at our next agm (delayed due to Covid-19 ) to tighten up on some of the areas that residents have been taking a liberal interpretation to in the last few years.

We understand that if there are planning issues to be challenged, then we would go through the relevant planning authority ie Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

However, what we don’t understand is what authority we (a committee of three) have to enforce the rules and regulations as introduced by all the residents in 2016.

The issues causing concern would be mostly behaviour related and/or notice of individual works that would effect the common areas, etc. If there is no way of acting on these type of transgressions . . . then we’re not sure what we’re here for except to administer the financial aspects of the OMC.

This is really causing confusion. How can we present the revised rules and regulations in the new year and what message can we convey? Or can we just do nothing except name and shame, perhaps?

The landscape within which an OMC must navigate to protect itself and its members from injury is far from perfect. There is a disproportionate balance between a breach of the governing lease agreement and the cost to an OMC to mitigate, same as it is onerous both in finance and time.

There is without doubt the need for an independent authority that has jurisdiction over OMCs. It could deal with, but not be limited to, issues such as sinking funds, lease and house rule enforcement and dispute resolution in a meaningful way with the ability to enforce sanctions promptly without the need for legal costs or delayed court times. The option of restricting utilities via the OMC infrastructure and forfeiture needs to be revisited in extreme cases.

The current option for an OMC to seek relief is with the Circuit Court via a section 24, Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 application and mediation prior to this. The process is expensive for an OMC of your size and may not provide a timely intervention.

Part 11 of the SCSI Property Management in Multi-Unit Developments Code of Practice will assist you with house-rule preparation. The Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 Section 23, 11 allows for the recovery of outlays to remedy breaches. This protects the OMC where costs have arisen as a result of a breach of lease or house rule.

To ensure that there is no misunderstanding and liberal interpretations of house rules, invite the membership to participate in a dialogue at the agm to ensure that adequate debate pertaining to same is allowed to inform all members of what is being proposed.

The members may see fit to allow for a proportionate charge for a breach of house rules made payable to the OMC for compensation. Each breach should be reported to the registered office in writing and signed by the aggrieved party. The instance of breach must correlate to at least one other independent source of written notification of such breach for the sum to be considered levied. This will allow for a fairer and proportionate framework. – Paul Huberman

Paul Huberman is a chartered property and facilities manager and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland scsi.ie

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