Category: Apartment Owners Association

4 Guidelines For Choosing An Interior Designer

An interior designer works closely with you on the project and sees to it that your vision is given shape in the most effective way. Choosing an interior designer is highly subjective as the project involves personal taste and preferences. Here are a few things to consider before you select the right candidate for the job.

 

  1. Verify Their Credentials

Before you hire an interior designer, verify his or her credentials. Check if they the prerequisite license to work as an interior designer. Ask about the designer’s education, training, work experience and other credentials. A good interior designer will have had comprehensive training that includes flame-spread ratings, space planning, AutoCAD, 3-D modelling, and lighting.

 

  1. Be Clear About What You Want

You need to be sure about what you want before you can start calling prospects. Assess the level of your involvement in the creative process and the amount of guidance you need. Know whether you are open to suggestions from the designer, or if you are firm about what you have come up with. Having a clear picture of your needs will ensure that you hire the right person.

 

  1. Scrutinize Their Portfolio

Studying a designer’s portfolio will give you an idea about his or her style and working methods in similar projects.  If you can arrange for a visit to one of the designer’s completed works, you can get an up-close and personal taste of their finished project.

 

  1. Choose A Designer With Transparent Billing Methods

Understand the fee structure of your prospects in order to know if their billing methods are transparent. Find out if the designer is going to charge you a flat fee or by the hour.  Make sure you let your prospective designer know about your predetermined budget. Having a clear understanding of what you are paying for will ensure that the work is not compromised by any financial disagreement that may come up later.

Interviewing and choosing an interior designer for your project can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months. Do not hurry, as picking the right designer is critical to the long-term success of your project. Try using the ApnaComplex database to find a verified designer to suit your needs. Selecting the wrong designer, no matter how experienced or qualified he or she may be, can lead to a décor disaster.


Why Chartered Accountants prefer ApnaComplex

Presently, the number of apartment complexes in India is growing exponentially. With the growing number of apartment sizes, management committees are looking for some active help from chartered accountants or auditing firms to manage their accounting operations. This scenario offers a huge potential to accountants to grow their business.

 

ApnaComplex, a mobile and web-based apartment management service is a one-stop solution for all housing society requirements. The Billing and Accounting module is now being increasingly trusted by chartered accountants (CAs) as their technology partner for offering premium service. In this digital era, CAs who have adopted ApnaComplex achieved multi-fold growth in their business along with reducing their manual work.

 

Top reasons Chartered Accountants prefer ApnaComplex over other software:

 

  1. Best accounting software across India:

ApnaComplex offers online services, integrated with emails, SMS and online payments providing a clear edge over other players.

  1. Helps in saving time and money:

The accounting software helps in easing the accounting effort drastically and automates a lot of accounting process. Even non-accountants can be employed for data-entry.

  1. Supports a growing business:

Not only do the accountants use ApnaComplex for their existing customers but also acquire customers referred by ApnaComplex. As a result, the customer base of accountants grows in size.

  1. Offers convenience to work from anywhere and everywhere:

ApnaComplex accounting software enables accountants to enter and access data digitally. One does not need to carry all data to a centralized location. Moreover, multiple people can work on entering data simultaneously, further speeding up the work.

  1. Provides training and support:

ApnaComplex offers regular training and support on the product and conducts periodic refresher courses. This allows our customers to master using it.

 

The ApnaComplex accounting software is specially designed for a housing society

 

ApnaComplex automates the following housing society requirements for the accountants and management associations:

  • Offers readymade flat-wise sub-ledger
  • Automates unit-wise due generation
  • Provides flat-wise account statement
  • Automates calculation of late payment interest
  • Automates allocation of a collection to invoices
  • Generates reports

 

So, partner with ApnaComplex today to create synergy. Get powered with technology to offer superior accounting services and maximize your revenue.


Standard Domestic Help Rates: Can it be Achieved?

Domestic help/maids have now become a necessity for almost all households in India. Presently, with the average citizen working in the 9-5 shift or more, basic household chores need to be taken care of. It becomes essential that you hire the right person for all these activities that affect your day-to-day lives.

 

Some of the cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad have several high-rise apartments with 700+ people residing in the same. The amount of domestic help available in such apartments should also be abundant? But this is not the case and the simple rule of economics that demand generates supply fails here. Finding domestic help is not easy irrespective of where you stay or how much you can pay. Sooner or later you do go through the pain of finding the right domestic help and retaining the same. Essentially, the story remains the same whether you reside in a big apartment or small: demands by the domestic staff for salary hikes are too frequent and largely unaffordable.

How can you tackle this problem?

 

Tips to standardise domestic help rates:

  • Prepare a rate card for all the household activities and ask residents to pay only that much.
  • Every maid needs to carry a No-objection-certificate from her previous employer so that the prospective employer ensures she/he is not switching jobs for money.
  • Residents are requested not to deviate from the rate card.
  • Any domestic help asking for more than the agreed rates are penalized.

 

Pitfalls of standardised rates:

The question that arises from the above pointers is that how easy is it to apply these rules to housing societies. A lot of residents were happy with the above-mentioned resolutions, however, some disagreed to the resolutions claiming that they were quite capitalist in nature and if doctors/engineers can demand their price, why can’t the domestic help do the same? The whole demand and supply economics lies in the scenario that if you can afford a maid for Rs. 8,000 and can very well afford it, it doesn’t matter to you if others in the apartment are paying Rs. 3,000. The others sooner or later will have to succumb to the so-called “market rate” pressure and increase the salary bars.

 

The resolutions mentioned above can only work if people living in an apartment work as a team with their associations and come to a common resolution wherein neither the domestic help is exploited nor are the employers blackmailed for sudden pay hikes.

 

Until then people with maids/drivers working with you for more than a year, good luck in maintaining them. For people searching for a good domestic help, best of luck for your quest to find the right domestic help!


Ensure Vehicle Safety with Vehicle Sentry

Vehicle Tracking of is one of the key responsibilities for security guards of every apartment. In addition, Vehicle Security itself is a very important issue for every society. With theft of vehicles increasing, it has become an imperative for societies to address this issue. How would one know whether their vehicle is safe and is still at the same place they left it? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep track of your vehicle’s movement whenever you are not using it?

 

The system in most housing societies:

“Parking lot stickers” are issued to vehicle owners. These are stuck to windshields. Vehicles are permitted entry into a complex after the sticker is verified by the security guard. However, since there is no way to “deactivate” the sticker the entry of unauthorized vehicles even after they left the society cannot be controlled. Further, there is no record or log of the entry or exit of vehicles of the residents. In case of a security issue, this can be a major shortcoming.

 

Our solution:

Vehicle Sentry is a Vehicle Tracking System that is RFID based and fully integrated with the ApnaComplex cloud. At a broad level, Vehicle Sentry includes RFID tags for all authorized vehicles and RFID readers at the gate. This allows you to track the movement of your vehicle when it exits or enters the apartment gate.

 

How does Vehicle Sentry work?

Authorized vehicles are first fitted with RFID tags. Next, RFID readers are installed at the gates. These Readers come with ApnaComplex’s own custom hardware called ‘Sentry Controller’ that acts as the gateway between ApnaComplex Cloud and the RFID Readers. Sentry Controller helps sync the vehicle entry, and exit information to the ApnaComplex cloud server in near real-time, and also keeps the reader in sync with tags issued for new vehicles and de-activated tag list.

 

Important features of Vehicle Sentry:

  • When a Vehicle with valid tag passes near the gate, the light/buzzer connected to the reader will buzz indicating the detection.
  • It can also be configured to hoot for invalid tags.
  • It can be hooked up with a boom barrier for automatic entry/exit.
  • Vehicle movement information will get automatically synced up with the ApnaComplex portal.
  • Admins can check the vehicle movement records any time in the portal.
  • Data of any new tags issues or old tags deactivated will automatically update the RFID reader (as long as it has internet connectivity)

 

Benefits of Vehicle Sentry:

  1. Increased security in your society:

The movement of every vehicle entering and leaving the campus can be tracked, making it more secure. Unwanted intrusion is avoided with the use of Vehicle Sentry.

 

  1. Easy and quick Updates:

All the data for your entire apartment complex is stored in a single database. Any other RFID solution you implement will force you to maintain separate databases for vehicles and apartment units. This means you need to manually update the same information over and over again. Vehicle Sentry is an integrated solution and redundant efforts do not come into the picture.

 

  1. Cost Effective:

No extra hardware is needed apart from RFID reader installed at the gate. All functionalities are driven from the ApnaComplex portal. Your estate manager can issue and deactivate tags to be updated to the portal. In addition, you could just deploy the vehicle movement tracking with our boom barrier, making it very cost effective for the housing society.

 

This is yet another innovative approach by ApnaComplex to keep your mind free from worry while providing you with the best services possible. To know more about Vehicle Sentry and to implement it in your society, kindly submit a sales request at the Contact Us page and we will get back to you with the details.


Goods and Services Tax - Real Estate - ApnaComplex

Impact of GST on Co-operative Housing Society and Real Estate

Basic Introduction of GST and its Perspective as a Contractor and a Developer
GST (Goods and Services Tax) is one indirect tax for the whole nation, which is meant to be a unified indirect tax across the country on construction services and will make India one unified common market. The present structure of Indirect Taxes is very complex in India. There are so many types of taxes that are levied by the Central and State Governments on Goods & Services. It has been long pending issue to streamline and subsume all the different types of indirect taxes and implement a “single taxation” system called “GST”.

Implementing the GST will ease the compliance, uniform the tax rates and structures, remove the cascading effect of taxes levied by States & Centre, will improve the business competitiveness and will benefit everyone doing trade in some or the other form whether as a contractor or as a developer.

In the current system in India, tax is levied at each stage separately, by the Centre and the State, at varying rates i.e. 10.5% / 6% / 4.5% for service tax and different rates by different States, on the value of construction services. But under the GST system that is set to be introduced, tax will be levied only on the value added at each stage by the sub‐contractors, main contractors and developers or builders. It is a single tax collected at multiple value additions with a full set‐off for taxes paid earlier in the value chain by sub‐contractors and main contractors. It is pertinent to note that the inter credit of different taxes paid in the current regime be a service tax, VAT, CST, etc. to Centre or States are not allowed and thus becomes a part of the cost on the suppliers. Thus, under GST the final buyer / client will bear only the GST charged by the last person i.e. developer or builder or the contractor.

Structure of GST in India

In India, a dual GST is proposed whereby a Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and a State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) will be levied on the taxable value of every transaction of supply of goods and services.

The Dual GST is expected to be a simple and transparent tax with one or two CGST and SGST rates. The structure of the model law comprises of CGST Act, SGST Act and IGST Act. The dual GST model would give adequate flexibility to the States to levy taxes on a comprehensive base of goods and services at all points in the supply chain. Thus, financial liberty of the States would be maintained. GST is a consumption based tax. It is based on the “Destination principle”. GST is applied on goods and services at the place where actual consumption materializes.

GST on Co-operative Housing Societies

The Centre and the States would have parallel jurisdiction for the entire value chain and for all taxpayers. The administration of GST under the three components will be as under:

  • Central GST (CGST) – to be levied on intra state trade and administered by the Centre
  • State GST (SGST) – to be levied on intra state trade and administered by the State Governments
  • Inter‐State GST (IGST) – to be levied on inter‐State trade and administered and collected by the Centre.

To the extent feasible, uniform procedure for collection of both Central GST and State GST is prescribed in the respective legislation for Central GST and State GST.

It can be noted that IGST will not be a Tax in addition to the SGST and CGST so one should not presume that IGST is a third tax but it is only a mechanism to monitor the interstate trade of Goods and services and further to ensure that the ultimate SGST is gone to the consumer state since the GST is a destination based tax.

Impact of GST on Co-operative Housing Society as well as Real Estate Sector
Implementation of the GST law will have a positive impact on the Co-operative Housing Society and on the real estate sector with expected reduction in its tax burden. The law will single‐handedly solve many of the challenges faced by the real estate sector. Heavy taxes that are being borne in a non‐transparent manner are expected to be very transparent in GST. It is unclear what would be the rate of GST applicable on construction services, hence it would be difficult to confirm the exact impact on GST on the Co-operative Housing Society. However going by the informal discussion, it is learnt that the rate is expected to be something between 18‐20%, which is what the current rate directly and indirectly being borne by the construction sector. Besides the simplicity in taxation, GST would bring in other advantages like transparency, seamless credits, ease of business by lack of border controls, promoting economic efficiency through a destination based taxation system. Overall Construction costs would be reduced to some extent which would benefit the end consumer. Apart from the advantages, the complexities in the compliance and assessments shall also be greatly reduced as the tax laws would also be unified.

There would be lesser burden of tax on purchases of major inputs like cement and steel, as tax credits would be available for set off at various stages which are currently restricted. The restrictions on credit utilization would be eliminated, thus strengthening the credit chain in the system. If this so happens, there will be increased credits available in the procurement chain and hence better utilization of input tax costs towards output GST Liability.

Since GST may be levied on a single value, the current issue of levying tax on tax (VAT on central excise duty) is likely to be removed. Hence the cascading effect of taxes shall be removed with the resulting transparency which will significantly reduce tax evasion through more efficient transaction‐tracking methods, and improved enforcement and compliance. Hence the implementation of GST will enhance the investment in Housing Societies & real estate sectors.

It is widely expected that GST would reduce the construction cost in the hands of developer and thereby aid in reducing or at least maintaining the current level of prices in the housing societies as well as in the real estate sector.


ApnaComplex now on iOS!

We are excited to announce the availability of ApnaComplex App on iOS from today.

Apple_iOS-new
Users should be able to log and track complaints, check out members and staff directory, get useful contacts, send SMSs to entire community and more.

ApnaComplex is a pioneer who leapfrogged Society Management to the Smart Phone generation with the launch of ApnaComplex Android App way back in May 2012. We have lots of exciting enhancements on the iOS App as well along with Android in coming days! Stay tuned for more!


Habit #5: Effective management committees implement smart financial control

In this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the fifth habit of effective management committees of implementing smart financial control. Smart financial management is the key to success for any management committee. In our earlier blog post, we talked about Habit 4: How effective management committees are highly disciplined. Read more…

Pointers for the committee members to practice smart financial control:

Treasurers need to do more than just signing cheques – In most of the apartments, the role of a treasurer is restricted to signing cheques and issuing receipts. This is not the right practice. The role of a treasurer is a very important one and both the committee and treasurer has to understand that. As a treasurer, ensure you have a budget in place at the start of the financial year. There may be undue pressure on you from other committee members or residents to spend on various new initiatives but do stick to your budget. Always remember it’s easy to spend but more difficult to stick to the pre-decided budget and as a treasurer if you are able to do that, you are certainly doing a good job.

Do not approve ad-hoc expenses – Committee members or residents always come up with new initiatives and every new initiative has an additional cost attached to it. As committee members spend more time with each other, you develop a certain level of friendship and comfort with your co-committee members. The problem arises when you are not able to say “NO” to a co-committee member for an expense, which is out of your budget. As a treasurer, learn to say no to the ad-hoc expenses, which makes a hole in your budget. At times the treasurers need to be ruthless to spend their finances judiciously. For instance, in one of the apartments, one of the committee members suggested a sliding gate, which would have looked great and would have been easier to access, but the treasurer did not approve the budget for the same. Was it a good decision? Yes, because one needs to understand the difference between “feel good things” vs. “necessities”.

Set a strict approval process for payments – As a treasurer, it is both your duty and right to question each and every expense. Keep a strict check on the new expenses being incurred. Set your budget and set a process for slab approvals for fool proofing the system. Create a rule or mechanism for payments approvals, provide the same to the entire committee and ensure it is followed by the whole committee. Do not go easy on the slab approvals and try going around it. Ensure you yourself follow it for making the entire committee follow the same.

Publish monthly reports on budget variance – Show the same enthusiasm to calculate dues as well as expenses. Most of committee treasurers show a lot of enthusiasm while calculating and collecting the dues or maintenance charges from residents. However, when it comes to calculating the expenses or the budget overflow, one loses enthusiasm and the budget variance calculation is always delayed. Ensure budget variance report is published in a timely manner on a monthly basis. Also, publish the report on how much was the overflow every month. This will help you analyse where exactly did you go wrong and will help you and the committee balance it out the next month itself. Otherwise, at the year end audit, one can only realize the mistake of overspending but will have no time to correct it.

Committees and especially treasurers need to understand that the resident welfare cannot be achieved by overspending on “feel good” things instead spend the resident money carefully and judiciously on the necessities and try to achieve small objectives, which are in-sync with your pre-decided budget. This will lead to a higher level of resident satisfaction.

Do you think the management committee in your apartment complex practices smart financial control? Do let us know by commenting on our blog. Log onto www.apnacomplex.com regularly for the post on next habit of effective management committees.


Is controlling domestic help rates in apartments becoming essential?

domestic-helpDomestic help/maids have now become a necessity for almost all households in India. Presently, with both men and women working in the 9-5 shift or more, the basic household chores need to be taken care of by the maids, cooks, nannies, drivers etc. It becomes essential that you hire the right person for all these activities that affect your day-to-day lives.

 Some of the cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad have several high-rise apartments with 700+ people residing in the same. The amount of domestic help available in such apartments should also be abundant? But this is not the case and the simple rule of economics that demand generates supply fails here. Finding domestic help is not as easy as earlier irrespective of where you stay or how much you can pay. Sooner or later you do go through the pain of finding the right domestic help and retaining the same.

 Essentially, the story remains the same whether you reside in a big apartment or small. The residents of an apartment always complain that how maids, cooks and drivers in general force residents to increase their salary. A lot of household help quit frequently to join new employers who pay them higher or just become very adamant and demand for immediate pay hikes/bonuses forcing their employers to reconsider their compensation.

 Almost all apartment associations have discussed these issues and attempt to come up with regulations to control the rates of maids in an apartment such as below:

  • Prepare a rate card for all the household activities and ask residents to pay only that much.

  • Every maid needs to carry a No-objection-certificate from her previous employer so that the prospective employer ensures she/he is not switching jobs for money.

  • Residents are requested not to deviate from the rate card.

  • Any domestic help asking for more than the agreed rates is penalized.

 The question that arises from the above pointers is that how easy is it to apply these rules to housing societies. A lot of residents were happy with the above mentioned resolutions, however some disagreed to the resolutions claiming that they were quite capitalist in nature and if doctors/engineers can demand their price, why can’t the domestic help do the same? The whole demand and supply economics lies in the scenario that if you can afford a maid for Rs. 8,000 and can very well afford it, it doesn’t matter to you if others in the apartment are paying Rs. 3,000. The others sooner or later will have to succumb to the so called “market rate” pressure and increase the salary bars.

 The resolutions mentioned above can only work if people living in an apartment work as a team with their associations and come to a common resolution wherein neither the domestic help is exploited nor are the employers blackmailed for sudden pay hikes.

 Until then people with maids/drivers working with you for more than an year, good luck in maintaining them. For people searching for a good domestic help, best of luck for your quest to find the right domestic help!


Apartment Complex Events – Tips for Planning Pongal Celebrations

In the rush and stress of urban life, we often forget about the ancient customs and traditions associated with our festivals. In fact, one of the common complaints of parents living in apartment complexes in cities is that their children are unaware of their roots and culture. Yet another complaint often heard is that city living has cut the links that develop between members of a community.

Have a communal Pongal celebration in the apartment complex is a good way to solve these problems. Children get to know more about their culture even as their parents learn to interact and develop friendships with their neighbors.

Tips for Planning Pongal Celebrations


(i) Pongal is a four day festival. While it might not be possible to evoke a good response to an event stretching out over four days – give the hectic pace of urban life – plan to have at least a two day celebrations to create a true impact.

(ii) The first day of Pongal, known as Bogi, is normally marked by a pooja and a bonfire. The bonfire in the evening can be made into a community event.

(iii) Make arrangements for the bonfire well in advance. Keep one person in charge of the entire event. Designate a safe area for the bonfire, which is away from parked cars and other fire traps. Involve children in the activity of building the bonfire. Also ensure that safety precautions are in place. Check that fire extinguishers are in working order.

(iv) On the second day of Pongal celebrations – the Surya Pongal – arrange for women in the apartment complex to draw kolams. Get children involved in the activity, so that they learn about this tradition. Some apartment complexes even arrange group kolam competitions.

Pongal Celebrations

(v) Cooking the pongal can also be an event where all the residents in the complex participate. This again adds to the excitement and fervor of the occasion.

(vi) A community lunch can be organized. The residents of the apartment complex should be encouraged to bring in one dish each for the lunch. This will again involve a lot of planning and interaction – which is the point of holding Pongal celebrations in your apartment complex!

(vii) Have special events for the children. A quiz competition regarding Pongal traditions, a exhibition of Pongal Panai pots painted and decorated by the residents and a cultural program are just some of the ways to get children involved more actively in the celebration. These activities will also build up a special atmosphere in the apartment complex and add to the sense of festivity.

(viii) The success of the Pongal celebrations in your apartment complex will depend on the degree of participation. It is therefore essential that the event is well planned taking everybody’s suggestions and ideas. Discussions should be held and responsibilities assigned to make sure that the event goes off smoothly.

Group celebrations can reduce the feeling of alienation that people living in apartment houses often experience – and Pongal is definitely a good reason to celebrate!


Get your Society on ApnaComplex – Today!

ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trail as well so that you can try before you buy!


Announcing Request Box for your Housing Society – Streamline issuing NOCs, Address Proofs and everything

In yet another first and raising the bar for Society Software, ApnaComplex – India’s #1 Apartment Management Software, now announces Request Box.

Problems that Request Box Solves

In most housing societies, it is a common practice to issue No Objection Certificates, No Dues Certificates, Address Proof Letters, Move Out Letters etc. upon request by Members of the Society.

However, issuance of these letters usually follows a process of verification and approvals. For example, the society office would check among other things if the tenant has returned the club house access cards before issuing a No Objection certificate. Also, the General Secretary or Treasurer may have to approve these requests before a letter is issued.

This is a significant administration overhead on society office. Even for Members, they need to make multiple visits to the society office in order to get the required letter. This often delays the entire process of issuance.

In order to reduce the efforts required, ApnaComplex now supports a new feature – Request Box.

How does Request Box Help / Work?

With help of Request Box, Administrators can first configure various categories of Requests that can be raised by Members. For example, administrators can create a new Request Category called “Issue NOC Certificate”. Each Request Category needs to have configuration defined for:
1. Approver List
2. List of items to checked by the Approvers
3. Template of the Certificate that is issued once necessary approvals are obtained

With help of above configurations, the society can customize who all would approve a given request, the questions or items to be checked before approving, the format of the certificate to be issued.

Powerful all in one!

Along with Request box functionality, we have added two new roles – ‘Request Box Administrator’ and ‘Request Box Assistant’ that would help community admins delegate better. Request Box Administraor can primarily do the configuration activities (like setting up workflows, checklists etc.). Request Box Assistant (typically the society’s estate manager) would be able to raise requets on behalf of members if needed, track the progress on the request and can issue the certificate to the members once all approvals are done.

One of the existing role ‘Purchase Request Approver’ is now renamed as ‘Request Approver’ to be inline with the Request Box. Members with the Request Approver role can now approve both Request Box Requests and Purchase Requests.

Go to Helpdesk->Request Box to get more organized and manage your society professionally!