Swatchh Bharat: How Housing Committees are Working Towards cleaner Societies

The old adage of “cleanliness is next to Godliness” is one of the most important tenets in a residential complex or a gated community. Keeping a clean environment requires sustained effort and strict implementation by the management. But what makes it so important and how can a management committee ensure a clean environment within the premises? Read on to find out. 

Why is cleanliness important in a gated community?

The cleanliness of a city falls under the purview of municipal corporations. However, gated communities typically manage many of their civic amenities internally, including the maintenance of clean premises. Hence, the regular cleaning and garbage handling is the management committees’ responsibility. In most societies, these tasks are handled by housekeeping staff that can include cleaners and waste handlers. In some places, gardeners or landscaping staff may also fall into this category as they are responsible for keeping lawns and garden areas clean. These tasks are critical for the following reasons:

  • Maintaining hygiene in the society
  • Keeping the premises clean and free of clutter
  • Ensuring an aesthetic appeal
  • Prolonging the lifespan of assets like railings or water/drain pipes. 
  • Removing any chances of infestations 
  • Keeping a clear path for movement of residents
  • Removing chances of fire hazard
  • Maintaining resale value 
  • Uplifting the spirit of residents

Responsibilities of housekeeping staff

The housekeeping staff is essentially responsible for maintaining clean and hygienic premises. This can include:

  • Cleaning common areas, including walls, rugs, and furniture 
  • Sweeping of roads and other paved areas 
  • Cleaning pipes and drains
  • Dusting, wiping, or polishing of assets like lifts, furniture and other soft furnishings. 
  • Garbage collection
  • Ensuring that water or other waste is not collected at any site for a prolonged period.
  • Sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming common areas
  • Undertaking minor repair and maintenance work. 

How do MCs ensure a clean environment?

Ensuring clean premises requires a continuous multi-level approach by the management. It’s important here to understand that the responsibility for cleanliness does not lie with the management and cleaners alone. It is also the responsibility of each resident to follow all guidelines on littering, garbage disposal, and coordinating with the cleaning staff. The management ensures cleanliness in the complex premises through the following measures: 

  • Regular supervision of cleaning staff to check attendance and performance
  • Formulating garbage collection policies to ensure proper segregation and timely collection. 
  • Maintaining smooth coordination with municipal bodies or private vendors for timely disposal of garbage. 
  • Carrying out timely maintenance of hardware such as pipes and floors. 
  • Ensuring hygienic conditions by removing any garbage pile up or water accumulation.
  • Regularly supervise and analyse STP capability and functioning. 
  • Plan and enforce policies on waste and recycling management.
  • Formulate and enforce cleanliness policies, including waste segregation and littering.

How does ApnaComplex help in maintaining cleanliness? 

A key aspect of maintaining a clean society is timely communication. The implementation of cleanliness policies depends on effective and timely communication. ApnaComplex assists the residential communities in ensuring immaculate surroundings by offering residents, management committee, and the staff a common platform of communication. This can assist in the following ways.

  • MC can inform all residents of various policies through the ApnaComplex app.
  • ApnaComplex Community Wiki acts as a repository of information on various initiatives, articles, tips and newsletters
  • Residents can lodge complaints and suggestions.
  • ApnaComplex Admin Console helps in professional processing of complaints, suggestions and requests through SLA-based matrices. 

ApnaComplex is India’s leading mobile and web-based platform for apartment management and accounting. It leverages a comprehensive ERP that integrates various dimensions of managing a residential complex, from managing finances, to managing data and operations. ApnaComplex is offered as a hosted solution with zero infrastructure setup by the society

How Residents can Help their Elderly Neighbours

The elderly have always been valued members of every community in India. Grandparents, older neighbours, and even unknown seniors are treated with respect and deference. However, urbanisation and the growth of nuclear families have had an adverse impact on this tradition with more and more elderly now often living on their own. 

The increasing isolation of the elderly becomes even more concerning when we consider their expanding population which is expected to rise by 41% in the coming decade to reach 194 mn in 2031. It means that we are likely to have more and more elderly people in our neighbourhood.

Why the elderly may need help? 

In the absence of the traditional joint family, many senior citizens today are often living alone or may not have sufficient help at home. This can be both emotionally and physically challenging for older people. They are highly likely to suffer from anxiety regarding their health. Advancing age also increases the likelihood of severe cognitive impairment and mental and neurological disorders like dementia or alzheimer’s. 

Physically, the aged population is the most vulnerable as the incidence of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes increases with age. It also takes them longer to bounce back from an illness. As their overall energy and strength levels decrease with age, the ability to take up strenuous work also becomes limited. 

But one of the biggest reasons why we must go out of our way to help elderly neighbours are the intangible benefits that we can gain, including wise counsel and companionship.

How can resident associations help the elderly?

Resident associations can take some simple but very effective steps to help their elderly members, such as:

Checking regularly: A small team should be assigned to regularly check on the aged population that lives alone. This should preferably be done through in-person calls since many older people may be reluctant to share their concerns to avoid burdening others. It can also go a long way in lessening their feeling of isolation.  

Assign an emergency team: One of the major concerns among older people is falling severely sick where they may need urgent medical assistance. Hence, it is advisable to assign a team that can be available in an emergency. The team should have contact details of aged residents and their next of kin. They should also make themselves aware of the procedure to follow in case of a medical emergency in terms of notifying family members, calling an ambulance and keeping a tab of nearby health centres.

Ensuring safe neighbourhood: An accidental fall can have a far-reaching impact on the elderly. As bones get more brittle with time, a fracture often takes a very long time to heal, further curbing their mobility. Yet, senior citizens must stay physically active. Hence, care must be taken that walkways are properly maintained and there are no obstacles, bumps, and uneven surfaces. Avoid putting any stairs on walking routes and ensure every place can be accessed by a wheelchair. Similarly, terraces and stairs should always have handrails.

Space for rest and community: The walkways should have benches at certain intervals to allow people to take some rest on their walk. A place for elders to gather and meet their contemporaries is also extremely important as this sense of community can be vital for their mental wellbeing. 

Helping with chores: Reach out frequently to the senior citizens in the society to find out if they need help with chores. This can include carrying out their grocery shopping, driving them to a meeting or religious place, or for smaller tasks around the house. 

Involving in community activities: Make the effort to involve senior citizens in community activities, such as appointing them in an advisory role for community-wide events or religious functions. We can identify people with unique skills and qualifications, such as those interested in arts or gardening, and involve them in related activities.

These are just some of the small steps we can take to create a safe and friendly atmosphere for the elderly neighbour in our community. Remember, frequent visits, phone calls, and just staying constantly in touch with them will go a long way in fostering their wellbeing and happiness.

How does ApnaComplex help in creating elder-friendly societies?

As an apartment management app, ApnaComplex can help in driving elder-friendly environment in a residential complex through the following features:

Gatekeeper: With security being one of the key concerns for most senior residents, entry regulations through ApnaComplex Gatekeeper feature ensures a comprehensive security system. Residents receive real-time notifications on visitors, pre-approve entry of chosen guests or delivery personnel, and can track staff attendance. 

Communication: This feature provides senior citizens an opportunity to connect with others in the community. The app contains discussion forums and groups where they can find like-minded people, seek companionship, or find useful information. It also acts as a crucial information platform through Community Wiki, Notice Board, and Document Repository. 

Online Society Helpdesk: One of the main challenges for many senior residents is ensuring regular maintenance of repair of their home. Today, many housing complexes offer these services for residents. With the Online Society Helpdesk, residents can raise complaints and drop suggestions. It allows the society management to track redressal of complaints, ensuring timely resolution. 

With end-to-end apartment management solutions, ApnaComplex allows resident associations to create a safe, friendly, and convenient place for elderly neighbours.

Graphic with text "How to Improve Kids’ Play Area' with a background of a playground

What to Keep in Mind When Remodeling Kids’ Play Area

There are numerous reasons why children need outdoor playtime. Other than ensuring good physical health, play is also important for their mental health and in learning crucial social skills. Children find friends, learn to interact with others, and develop confidence in their physical and social skills through outdoor activities. Games also play an important role in stimulating their curiosity and their drive to work towards a goal. They get to work with others, form friendships, and learn about group dynamics. Hence, a playground is seen as an essential component in any residential area. Other than attracting families, playgrounds often double up as socialising spots for parents, grandparents, or other caretakers. 

If your society has just a swing and slide for a playground, it may be time to reboot, refurbish, and improve the playing lot. Here are a few essential steps that you can follow:

Pick a good location

The play area can be situated in the middle of the complex or at any corner, but it’s critical to keep it away from any hazardous places like STP, water tanks, garbage area, cylinder storage, and mechanical or electrical closets. Similarly, it should not be located on a terrace even if you have high fences or railings. Children can be ingenious when trying to overcome such challenges.

Include these 3 essential elements 

Every play area should have active, sensory, and creative elements. Active elements include slides, swings, monkey bars, and other similar equipment. Pick any playing apparatus that encourages children to climb, hop, jump, balance, swing, pull or push. The most common sensory play areas are in the form of sand pits where children can be messy. You can also add implements like toy spades or buckets. 

Creative elements can include blackboards, musical instruments like metal pipes, tree houses, or a play house. These are places that let their imagination take hold. Other than these play areas, see if you can extend the playground into green areas, like a garden with trees where children can spend some time with nature. 

Get suitable flooring

Children can very easily fall prey to a sudden accident. It is advisable to go for rubber flooring in active play areas. The rubber surface protects children from falls and reduces the chances of injuries. Today, you can also get rubber mats with interesting patterns. At the same time, make sure that any hazardous elements like sharp objects are removed from the play area. 

Add benches

While children are rarely interested in benches, their caretakers do find them handy. Add a couple of benches or similar seating areas for parents and other caretakers. They are more likely to linger and let the children play if they also have a place to sit and wait.

Ensure regular maintenance 

Regular maintenance of the play area is critical to ensure safety. Apart from regular cleaning and sweeping of the area, we must also carry out regular inspections of the equipment to check for loose bolts or attachments, broken or jagged edges, or any other apparatus that is coming apart. Sand pits must be raked regularly to check for bits of glass, feces, rocks, and other foreign objects. Any issues like stagnating water or pits in the flooring must be immediately addressed. The same goes for play equipment that has been damaged. Keep in mind that this can directly impact the safety of children. For more details on maintaining a play area, read our article here

Play areas are an essential investment for any residential area, necessary for the health and wellbeing of their most precious occupants – small children. The regular improvement and maintenance of the play area are necessary not only for their enjoyment, but also to ensure their overall wellbeing and safety. 

Graphic of building roof with nursery and text saying, 'Building Sustainability with Rooftop Farming'

Why & How to Start Rooftop Farming

Rooftop farming can trace its roots back to ancient Mesopotamia. What had possibly started as an attempt at self-sufficiency, slowly picked up the pace for myriad reasons, from beautification to the setting up of a tranquil, quiet corner atop one’s home. Today, apartment complexes and gated communities have once again taken the lead in rooftop farming, utilising limited urban spaces in an innovative manner while creating a pleasing environment for residents. 

What is rooftop farming?

Rooftop farms or gardens are manmade green spaces atop industrial, commercial, or residential buildings. While a rooftop farm is meant for farming produce, it can also include rooftop gardens which are mostly conceived for decorative or leisure purposes. 

Benefits of rooftop farming

Besides their decorative effect, rooftop farms or gardens have many other benefits, including:

Food for residents: Depending on the availability of space, rooftop farms can be used to grow almost any kind of food, particularly vegetables, fruits, and herbs. With complete control over farming practices, residents can use the rooftop to drive campaigns like organic farming or permaculture. 

Temperature control: Temperature control is a major concern in many of our urban areas. Bare rooftops absorb and radiate heat, becoming part of urban heat islands. These are areas where high human activity raises the temperature. In contrast, rooftop gardens absorb the heat, reducing ambient temperature while improving the air quality. On a large scale, rooftop gardens can have a significant impact in reducing heat islands and improving the air quality in urban areas. 

Recreational: Studies have shown that green spaces can improve mental health, boosting attention, creativity, and memory. Rooftop gardens make ideal recreational spaces for all residents. In the case of a rooftop farm, it can also be a strong binding factor for community building. 

Reducing rain run-off: Thanks to insufficient urban waste infrastructure, rainwater run-off often becomes a worrisome issue during heavy rains. Rooftop gardens can reduce peak runoff by forming a retention basin where plants hold the excess rainfall.  

How to start your rooftop garden?

To start a rooftop garden, the key steps are to prepare the roof, select the right plants, create a watering and drainage system, and install wind breaks if needed. 

Preparing the roof

Start by checking the building codes to gauge how much weight the roof can safely handle. Pick a durable area that can withstand the weight of planters or soil beds. You can use large and small planters, create raised beds, or cover the roof with planting soil like any garden. In case you decide to go with creating beds, start with waterproofing and insulating the roof. 

While most modern buildings have waterproofing, it is still advisable to apply a waterproof layer like plastic sheets, bitumen roofing, concrete admixture, or a polymer coating. Make sure it is root and rot-resistant. You can also opt for an insulation or protection layer made of polyurethane foam, XPS extruded polystyrene boards, PIR panels, polystyrene cement, foamed concrete, or autoclaved aerated concrete. The protection layer is also important for drainage. 

Select the right plants

The plants should be selected as per the air and wind exposure on the roof. Different areas of the roof will have different sun exposure. So, it’s best to gauge the sun’s movement over the roof throughout the day. Take note of areas that are always under a shade, such as the area next to a wall. Whether growing ornamental plants or food crops, pick your plants as per their need for sunlight. Given the limitation of maintaining a specific soil depth, it’s also important to pick plants with shallow roots. You can choose large planters for plants with deep roots, but keep the overall weight in mind. If the roof has high wind exposure, you may have to build some kind of wind barrier. 

Preparing the soil

It’s best to opt for well-draining, lightweight, and aerated soil that is rich in organic matter. 

Drainage and irrigation

Water management, both in terms of irrigation and drainage is critical when it comes to roof gardens. Roof farming usually has a very high water requirement because of high sun exposure. At the same time, efficient drainage is critical to ensure that water does not pool anywhere. Manually watering the roof can work, provided it is carried out regularly but not in excess. Drip irrigation and sprinklers are good options. For drainage, you can use plastic drainage models, porous mats, granular material, or a water storage reservoir. 

Now that you have the basics of rooftop farming, you can start creating green spaces in residential complexes. Apart from working towards food security, these spaces can be critical places for members of the community to meet, relax, and connect with nature and each other. 

ApnaComplex logo and text saying 'Rainwater Harvesting: Are you doing enough?' on a light blue background

Is Your Society Still Dependent on Tankers? Blame it on Outdated Rainwater Harvesting

India is in the midst of a severe water crisis. Despite a 4% share of the world’s water resources, large swaths of the country are water-stressed with a 2019 NITI Aayog report terming it as the worst water crisis in its history. 21 cities, including Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai, have exhausted their groundwater supply, impacting more than 600 million people. 

One of the measures taken to address this problem is rainwater harvesting (RWH). As a sustainable approach, RWH can be instrumental in optimising water conservation. Instead of piecemeal solutions that are often expensive and unreliable, this system seeks to use freely available rain water, thus helping people to gain water self-sufficiency. But are we leveraging the full potential of rainwater harvesting? As many gated communities and residential complexes face drying borewells and become increasingly dependent on water tankers to meet their daily needs, it is time to ask ourselves – are we doing enough to fully realise rainwater harvesting? Should we invest in new designs?

Making rainwater harvesting mandatory

The realisation of an impending disaster has been building up for some time now, thanks to environmentalists, water activists, and citizen movements. India’s water problems are complex, compounded by high water dependence in agriculture, a growing population, and urbanisation. While these problems require a well-planned, coordinated and long-term approach, we also need an intensive short-term solution that can help in staving off the water crisis. 

Rainwater harvesting (RWH) is seen as one of the essential mechanisms towards resolving some of the immediate concerns on water conservation. As a result, rainwater harvesting has been made legally mandatory in at least 14 states and 3 Union Territories. The imposition of the policy has been highly sought and with good reason. 

However, this implementation has not been without its own challenges. As our borewells run dry and water scarcity deepens in our big cities, it becomes imperative that we re-evaluate existing RWH policies and equipment in residential complexes to evaluate their effectiveness. With the emergence of new designs and approaches, residential societies have the opportunity to upgrade and improve their existing systems to ensure a sustainable approach towards water conservation. 

Why must residential complexes invest in rainwater harvesting? 

Many residential management committees view RWH as just another box they have to tick for legal compliance or to gain green certification. Few realise the long-term environmental and financial benefits of this approach. Today, the groundwater levels are so depleted in many of our cities that even borewells have dried up. Consequently, many residential communities depend completely on tankers for their water supply. However, this can only be a stopgap solution since it focuses on meeting escalating consumption without replenishing the source. 

RWH addresses water depletion in a sustainable manner that replenishes the groundwater, improving the water table in an area. It focuses on harvesting rainwater, available freely, through a proper filtration system. It is used to capture rooftop rainwater and surface runoff for storage or to recharge the groundwater. 

In short, rainwater harvesting allows residential societies to:

  • Reduces dependency on tankers and saves 20-30% on water bills
  • Prepare for the possibility of water cuts 
  • Free access to fresh and high-quality rainwater during monsoons
  • Conserve rainwater for various purposes like gardening and cleaning 
  • Significantly improving TDS quality of consumable water.
  • Addressing the hard water crisis since rainwater has a high TDS.
  • Recharge borewells, improving the water table over a period. 

But is your RWH design doing its job?

India has a long tradition of rainwater harvesting. Even in arid regions of the Thaar desert, traditional structures like kundis, baoris, jhalaras, tankas, khadins, and baolis were used to store rainwater directly and were often adequate for meeting local requirements. In high rainfall areas like the Brahmaputra valley and the Indo-Gangetic Plains, storage structures like dighis and dongs were built to ensure proper conservation and utilisation of rainwater. 

Over time a more conventional design emerged where rainwater would be stored in a large pit and filtered by using a combination of sand, pebbles/gravels/metals, carbon, and charcoal. The problem here is that this structure contracts all sediments in one place, increasing the likelihood of choking. Maintenance is cumbersome as filtration media has to be removed by a mechanical device and needs high effort. In addition, there are no measuring parameters to check the performance of the structure. 

Unfortunately, these conventional systems often fall short, unable to completely meet heavy requirements. This can be evidenced from the inability of residential complexes to replenish their borewells despite installing RWH systems. In fact, many RWAs find themselves even more dependent on tankers. These structures are also almost impossible to quantify in terms of performance. We have almost no means of gauging their efficiency.

So, while rainwater harvesting is a sustainable solution, we need a design revolution to improve the existing systems. We need to rethink and invest in designs that use a different filtration structure and media. It must be accessible for repairs and easy maintenance with a measurable performance. Residential societies must take the initiative and partner with RWH specialists who are design-based and can think out of the box. It’s time to gain water independence! 

Graphic of buildings on a blue background with the text 'Apartment Management Software: What You Should Expect'

9 Things to Expect from an Apartment Management Software

As society management becomes increasingly complicated, technology has taken the lead in simplifying the processes. Providing a single platform for all management functions, digitalisation allows for better transparency, improved functioning, and more cost efficiency. Consequently, many management committees are now adopting these with alacrity and have seen a marked improvement in their functioning.

The popularity of these platforms has also spurred their development. Today, many of these applications offer a bouquet of services. If you are planning to onboard an apartment management software, here are a few things you should look for: 

Simple User Interface (UI)

An easy-to-use UI is every app’s biggest USP. In the case of apartment management software, it becomes even more necessary because it is utilised by people from different backgrounds, ages, and education levels, from the guards, to apartment managers and residents. It should not require any technical knowledge to utilise the app.

Single platform

Apartment management software enables management of all functions from a single platform. Legacy systems relied on different softwares to manage functions like accounting and facility management which often led to mismanagement and lack of coordination. Leading solutions like ApnaComplex combine all different functions, from complaint booking to filing maintenance, on one platform. It enables ease of supervision and scrutiny, while facilitating coordination.   

Real-time visibility

The platform must enable real-time visibility of financial reports, notifications, complaints and other miscellaneous records to ensure transparency, supervision, and effective communication. The complete visibility of data can benefit different key functions. 

Real-time complaint tracking

To ensure quick redressal of complaints, the platform must enable complaint booking and resolution. ApnaComplex has an escalation matrix where every unaddressed complaint is automatically routed to the next person in the chain of command. This enables the supervisor to stay abreast of the maintenance team’s performance while ensuring that complaints are resolved on time. 

Visitor management system

Today, every MC is looking for a comprehensive visitor management system (VMS) that can keep track of all guests, vendors, delivery people, or other entries into a society. The end-to-end system should be easy to implement, starting from the guards at the entrance to the resident who will receive the guest. Leading VMS today offer multiple innovative features to help regulate visitor entry and movement in a housing complex. Gatekeeper, ApnaComplex’s highly comprehensive VMS, allows pre-authorisation of visitors, tracks staff attendance, and tanker movement within the society. 

Accounting & Billing

With a high number of units, multiple revenue sources, and numerous expenses, accounting & billing has emerged as one of the most challenging tasks for any MC. An apartment management software like ApnaComplex offers a highly viable solution through its easy format that allows ease of use and automates tasks like billing, collections, and payments. Other than basic bookkeeping functions, the software should also enable the members to track expenses, generate invoices, and keep track of defaulting members. 

Effective communication

One of the challenges in managing a large housing complex is effective communication. Information must be dispensed quickly and must reach every resident in time. Critical information can include a wide range of spectrum, from default in payments to delay in picking up garbage. Apartment management software like ApnaComplex offers multiple avenues of communication from community forums to notifications with the aim of reaching residents quickly and effectively. 

Facility management 

For many MCs, facility management can be tricky, especially as assets start to depreciate. Digital apartment management solutions enable us to view the entire performance of an asset, from its purchase date to service history. Another valuable feature is facility reservation, whereby residents can book any facility through the app without any human intervention. In this category, ApnaComplex also offers an inventory tracker, a key concern for every society. It allows the management to keep a tab on inventory, flagging any shortages. 

Feedback, support, & training 

Training is an important step when onboarding the platform. It’s important that all functionaries, from the treasurer to the staff, are trained to understand and use every feature in the app. The app must also remain dynamic and responsive to the MCs requirements through constant feedback. ApnaComplex has been continually developing on the basis of its own evaluation and feedback from users. To ensure full functionality, the platform is also completely customisable. It is the only app that allows front-end customisation by users.

There is little doubt that apartment management software can enable the smooth functioning of the management committee by improving performance, ensuring transparency, and cutting down on costs. But before you make a decision to onboard a software, make sure it offers the above benefits.

To know why ApnaComplex is a leading choice for apartment management software, read our article here.

If you need more details, read our article, Here’re the top 10 reasons to pick ApnaComplex over any other society management app!

Picture of a parking lot with the text 'Keep Parking Lots free of Strays'

How societies can keep strays away from parking areas

When it comes to stray animals, whether cats or dogs, people broadly fall under three camps in a housing society. The first are people who are vehemently opposed to any eviction, the second are those who see strays as a menace and want them removed, and the third category of people simply don’t care either way. 

Whichever category one falls in, it is always safer to ensure that strays have their own ‘territory’ within the complex. Places like parking areas should be kept free of strays for their own security. Allowing strays to roam free in such areas can result in an unfortunate accident where a car or a heavier vehicle may run over the animal. What are the options available in dealing with strays in the complex? Can we remove them altogether or should we look for more humane solutions? 

Can we remove the stray from the society?

Strays like dogs are territorial animals and it is illegal to remove them from their territory. It is also illegal to cause them any injury or to feed them poisonous food. Since the society premises can be seen as their territory, removing strays from the area is illegal. As per the law, it is the duty of every citizen to take care of their natural environment, which includes living creatures like strays. But where the movement of strays can cause problems, such as in parking areas, it is best to look for harmonious solutions that can meet the requirements of both the strays and the residents.  

Humane ways of restricting stray movement in parking areas

To ensure a harmonious resolution or avoidance of any human-stray conflict, residents must approach the problem of stray movement in parking areas in a systematic manner. While we should restrict their movement in such areas, it is not practical to put any kind of barrier or traps to discourage their movement. Restrictive traps can maim or injure the animal and other barriers like gates may prove ineffectual.

This issue should be resolved systematically:

Vaccinating and sterilising strays: Vaccination is important for the safety and security of both the strays and the residents. It protects the animals from any infection and stops them from being carriers of diseases. Sterilisation is necessary to ensure that the population of strays does not exceed manageable levels. Residents or assigned volunteers can carry out both exercises though a vet or through municipal authorities and NGOs in their cities. 

Designate feeding areas: One of the most effective ways of curbing movement of strays in a particular area is by creating designated feeding areas. This can be the garden or another area that is sufficiently away from the parking lot. Make sure that the strays are fed at this spot at a fixed time everyday. Over time, they will move to the new area. Feeding also helps you keep track and identify the strays on the premises.

Making the parking lot less appealing: This can be achieved by removing any food that can attract the strays. Make sure that there are no open garbage bags or bins. These must be tightly closed or tied up. 

It must be emphasised here that this exercise to remove strays from the parking areas must be handled carefully and with sensitivity. It is illegal to hurt or remove strays from their territory and hence, a suitable solution lies in gently nudging them away from parking areas by offering them a new territory. 

Text saying "how to soften hard water" with water bubbles and ApnaComplex logo on a dark blue background

How Housing Societies Deal with Hard Water

Water is one of the most valued resources for any habitat. From drinking to mopping floors, the average Indian uses 135 litres per capita per day. Despite being water-rich, India’s huge population means that the country remains water-stressed. An uneven supply of water also puts stress on areas with scarce water resources, such as the NCR, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. 

With highly limited availability of freshwater, most households today depend on groundwater to meet their daily requirements. However, the available groundwater often has a high concentration of minerals, which means that most of it is hard water, leading to a high requirement for treating hard water in housing societies.

What is hard water? 

Hard water is a type of water that contains salts of magnesium and calcium, in the form of chlorides, bicarbonates, and sulfates. It may also contain ferrous iron. Hardness of water can be temporary or permanent. Hardness caused by calcium carbonate can be resolved by boiling the water. However, hardness caused by other salts is permanent as it cannot be treated by simply boiling the water. 

The continued use of hard water for domestic purposes can lead to multitude of problems, which can include:

  • Health problems like kidney stones
  • Itchy skin and dry hair
  • Deposition of scum on utensils after washing
  • Scaling of plumbing fixtures and appliances, eventually leading to their breakdown.

Hard water is also ineffective when used with soap. The calcium and magnesium ions in the water form an insoluble gelatinous curd when combined with the higher fatty acids of a soap. It means that you will find it hard to produce any lather. These complications mean that hard water cannot be used for any domestic purpose, whether mopping floors or cooking food, without prior treatment.  

How to deal with hard water

At home, there are multiple means of treating hard water that can range from home remedies to commercial solutions. These include:

  • Boil it. However, this will work only in case of temporary hard water. 
  • Get water softening solutions that contain chelating agents. The solution is added to hard water to soften it. 
  • Use a final rinse of vinegar after hard water usage. For instance, use a final vinegar rinse after washing your hair or utensils to remove any chances of salt accumulation. 
  • Scum and scaling on appliances can be treated by commercially available products that are designed for these purposes. 
  • You can use commercially available home water softening systems that are attached to the faucet or to the central water supply. 

How societies treat hard water

With a high density of population, housing societies depend heavily on groundwater supply to meet their demand. To make this groundwater, which is mostly hard water, suitable for domestic consumption, housing societies today follow a centralised water softening mechanism which is based on RO technology. These industrial RO treatment plants can be highly effective in reducing TDS or Total Dissolved Solids by as much as 80%-90%. A water meter is attached to the water softener plant to monitor the quantity and in measuring regenerated water. The water should also be tested regularly to ascertain its functioning. 

Budgeting 101: How to Optimise Your Society’s Spending & Improve Cost Efficiency

As a governing body, budgeting is one of the key functions of a management committee. With the estimation of revenues and expenses, a budget forms the financial foundation of a housing complex which decides the allocation of funds towards various categories. Smart budgeting can help a society to cut costs, thereby increasing the allocation of resources towards key areas. Hence, one of the Treasurer’s main roles is to track budget variance and ensure optimisation. 

What is Budget Optimisation?

Budget optimisation is the process of allocating funds in the most efficient manner to realise a desired objective, whether to reduce expenses or to improve the delivery of services. Budget variance is one of the important tools in achieving budget optimization. It is the process of periodically measuring the difference between budgeted and actual figures for a particular category, such as housekeeping. 

Budget optimisation is also important to ensure cost management. By allocating an appropriate budget, a treasurer can put a ceiling on the expenditure for different categories, such as security, housekeeping, or renovations. However, its success depends on the availability of adequate allocation for each category. This is where budget variance plays an important role. 

How does the ApnaComplex Budget Variance Report help in ensuring budget optimisation?

As a comparative measure, the objective of budget variance is to empower treasurers and financial controllers to improve their forecasts. A favourable budget variance indicates gains or profits while an unfavourable variance indicates a budget shortfall. The ApnaComplex Budget Variance Report is a revolutionary tool that digitises variance reports, enabling MC members to keep a constant track of their spending. This can help them to:

  • Compare actual expenses with budgeted expenses at any given time. 
  • Track accuracy of forecast, improving its effectiveness over time. 
  • Put a cap on expenses when the report indicates overspending, thereby controlling overall expenditure. 
  • Identify areas that see consistent overspending 
  • Facilitate financial reporting and management 
  • Validate additional allocation of funds when required
  • Identify areas that need better financial management
  • Save time and effort by automating variance calculations 

More ApnaComplex budgeting tools to improve optimisation

The ApnaComplex automated accounting function offers many other tools that can further help in improving cost optimisation. These include:

Removing chances of untraceable expenses: One of the challenges in managing the finances for a large complex is keeping a tab on various expenses. The billing and collection module in the accounting software mandates recording every financial transaction, removing chances of fraudulent or missed entries. This means that the MC, at any given point, can trace a detailed account of every expense. 

Ensuring on-time collections: Timely collection of maintenance is vital in ensuring the society’s revenue streams. The GST-compliant Society Billing & Accounting feature by ApnaComplex completely automates the process of calculating and issuing notices for maintenance payments every month, ensuring on-time payments. It identifies and notifies defaulters, thereby reducing the chances of missing or incorrect payments. By automating all accounting functions, this feature also reduces the society’s accounting work by more than 80%. 

Tracking expenses: With the Expense Tracker feature, the Treasurer can check expenses under each category. It is a vital tool in keeping a constant track of spendings as they occur. 

Improving financial management: The fully automated accounting functions are designed to remove any chances of human error or fraud in financial transactions. The digitisation of the financial records allows for complete transparency of data where expenses can be tracked to the source. This data is vital in improving the financial management of the society by identifying areas of high expense, trace performance of assets, and help in cutting down on avoidable expenditure. 

If you want to learn more about our budget optimisation tools, get in touch with us at support@apnacomeplex. Our team will help you understand the various features you can use for reducing costs and improving your balance sheet!

Importance of a Management Committee

If we see the residents of a housing society as a small community, the management committee or MC is the governing body for this community. Although not entrusted with the wide-reaching powers of an elected government, their roles, functions, and responsibilities are very similar to our elected representatives. The management committee is responsible for the overall upkeep of the community, its assets, and improving the lifestyle of its residents.

What is a management committee?

A management committee is a group of people who are entrusted to run a housing society. In a cooperative housing society, the management committee is elected by the members of the general body during the annual general meeting. The election rules can differ as per the model bylaws. 

Typically, the number of members in a management committee depends on the number of units. To qualify, a candidate must be above 18 years of age, a resident of the housing society, and must have cleared all dues to the complex within three months of nomination. Every committee must have at least one woman. Since there is no ban on re-election, MC members often have a very long tenure. 

Importance of a management committee

As the governing body of a housing complex, the management committee holds a vital position in enacting different policies, managing finances, and ensuring the general upkeep of the society. 

Management of the complex: The key function of the MC is to ensure the smooth functioning of the various maintenance activities of the complex. This includes regular cleaning, asset management, landscaping, and general beautification. The MC also periodically undertakes reviews, repairs, and renovation of various assets, such as gym or playing equipment, lifts, walkways, or other common areas and facilities. 

Collection and utilisation of funds: The MC uses various avenues to collect funds, including parking fee, maintenance charges, and non-occupancy charges, to maintain the reserve and sinking fund for the complex. In addition, the the committee may also collect funds from residents for a special purpose. These rates and charges are fixed by the MC from time to time and in accordance with the society’s bye-laws. The committee may also opt for alternative sources of collecting revenues. These can include charging different vendors or leveraging different marketing or branding opportunities in the complex.

Vendor management: A housing complex can have multiple vendors, including produce stalls, grocer, food or beverage stalls, maintenance or civil work suppliers and more. The MC is responsible for selecting a suitable vendor as per need and in ensuring their continuation if required.

Ensure compliance: While the MC does not have the legal authority to pass any legal sentence on the residents of the society, it can impose fines and penalties if there is a breach of the society’s bye-laws. These powers are important in ensuring that residents follow certain agreed-upon rules and regulations. Common regulations pertain to maintaining cleanliness or discouraging unwanted behaviour, such as littering or damaging society assets.

Ensuring harmony and positive spirit: In case of a dispute between residents, MC members often act as mediators. Their responsibility is to settle disputes amicably or to pacify all parties involved so that a resolution can be formed. However, the MC’s role goes much beyond keeping general peace in the community. They can also play a more active role by fostering a positive spirit by arranging events like society-wide competitions or celebrations like festivals or carnivals.

Ensuring safety and security: In gated communities, the MC is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of residents. This can include allowing and tracking visitors or to formulate policies to safeguard residents. In special circumstances, like a pandemic, the MC may also impose specific restrictions like wearing masks in public places. Such measures are taken to ensure the safety of all residents.

Providing additional facilities: The MC may also arrange for additional facilities within the complex, such as the provision of play areas and equipment, or the availability of medical staff on the premises. These facilities can be extremely important in improving the quality of life of the residents. 

In short, the MC manages all operational, financial, and administrative functions in a housing complex. As we see the emergence of more and more well-planned gated communities across Indian cities, MCs can be seen as the micro-governmental bodies, responsible for maintaining or improving the general standard of living conditions within the complex premises.