Archives: October 28, 2011

Accounting Enhancements: Book Closing for a Financial Year

We have released an enhancement to Accounting in ApnaComplex. Most societies have a need to ensure that accounts are not “modified” unintentionally (or intentionally) once the accounts are audited and approved by the general body.

To meet this need, your favorite software now supports “freezing” (or closing) of accounts for a given accounting period. Go to Accounting->Accounting Periods and click the “Close Accounting Period” which will lock all transactions of that period. No one (even community admins) will be able to make any changes to the transactions once the accounting period is closed. You have to make a special request to Support team to “unfreeze” an accounting period.

This provides an inherent safety net ensuring no changes to the accounts once they are approved in AGM by the general body.

The Power Backup Options in a Housing Society

With the steadily growing instances of power cuts in the country, a housing society should essentially have power backup plans for its residents to live their lives unhindered. Power cuts can be a major hindrance when you’ve planned your day out, and staying in a housing society that has poorly developed power backup options can be frustrating.Thanks to growing technology, the options for countering power cuts are many and the housing society management can choose from different backup options. Residents can opt for smaller backup options for personal use as well.

For common use, the housing society management can install diesel generators, as many such backup options are provided in prominent complexes. You can opt for regular generators, in case the backup in your housing society is not proper.

power backup options

Choosing a Suitable Backup Plan

You can choose your power backup option based on the area you live in, the weather in the region, and the kind of appliances you use.

The most efficient power back up plan is the fixed generator through which your AC loads, electrical appliances and essential lights can work. Depending on the size of your flat in the housing society, you can choose a generator.

A 5000 watt generator would be ideal for a three bedroom apartment, and a diesel generator can be a cheaper option as the fuel cost is less. Even solar generators have come out in the markets, and these run only on solar energy, which is renewable and nonpolluting.

If you’re looking for temporary options, you can use inverters through which bare essentials like the refrigerator, electrical fans and a few lights can be run.

Choosing a Price Range

A generator is most expensive of the lot and the price varies depending on the amount of energy it can hold. The range of an ideal generator is Rs 30,000 upwards.

For the people with lighter pockets, an inverter will be most suitable as it costs one tenth the price of a generator. An inverter runs on a rechargeable battery, so you can cut back on fuel costs.

Installing a Power Backup

While installing a generator or an inverter, care should be taken connect the main electrical appliances and lighting. Depending on the climate in your region, your appliance should be fixed. This is because if the climate is cold, care should be taken to prevent the internal pipes from freezing.

If the climate is hot, necessary covers or shutters should be made for the appliance to prevent it from overheating. Always choose a user friendly engine which is easy to use because you’ll have to manually switch on your generator or inverter. You should learn as much as you can about the appliance and fixing smoke alarms is another must.

Power Backup Maintenance

A generator is a high maintenance machine as it needs regular servicing and sufficient amount of fuel that should be added at all times. The installation costs for a generator can be very steep.

An inverter has lower maintenance and since it works on a battery, the terminals need to be oiled regularly. Both appliances should be run during regular intervals. If they are being used for a long period of time, you should schedule sufficient breaks in between to prevent them from overheating and exploding.

When you choose your power backup, make your choice based on your essentials and necessities. Try and take an eco conscious approach as solar power options can be helpful in the long run.

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 trial as well so that you can try before you buy!

Complaint Box Enhancements: Control Community Complaints

Continuing with our philosophy of continuous, incremental enhancements – Administrators now have a setting to control if members can post Community Complaints (which is enabled by default). When disabled, members will only be allowed to post Personal complaints. Go to Complex->Settings to see this in action.

Configure ApnaComplex to suit your society needs better!

Accounting Enhancements: Viewing Deleted Expenses / Non-Member Income Entries

ApnaComplex now provides a view into the audit logs that are maintained in the software automatically. Administrators can now see the list of expenses and non-member income entries that were deleted along with the time stamp of deletion and details of the user who deleted them. Makes it easy to investigate any “missing” transactions. Go to Expense Statements and Non-Member Income Statements to see this in action.

Never face an issue of “I remember entering that expense last time, wonder who deleted it now” – which happens in most desktop based accounting software.

ApnaComplex releases enhanced Penalty Rules Engine for Apartment Associations

In yet another first and setting the standards for web based society accounting, ApnaComplex announces the availability of a new Penalty Rules Engine to all the customers. While ApnaComplex all along had the ability to calculate interst rate based on a percentage rate of the reducing outstanding balance, we now enhanced the penalty calculation engine to be able to calculate penalty for a wide variety of cases such as one time late penalty, per day penalty, %age on invoice value, %age of the outstanding value, slab based penalties etc. All the treasurer needs to do is to set choices for various criteria and get the penalties at the click of a button.

Listed below are some of the cases which ApnaComplex Penalty Rules Engine supports. Do note these are just a small list of possibilities. The engine supports nearly innumerable penalty schemes. Treasurers now can calculate penalty for one or more charge types (not just maintenance charge – but any charge type and any number of types) and you can get a fair idea of the powerful engine with the examples below:

Examples of Penalty Calculations supported by ApnaComplex

1. Calculate penalty at a flat rate of Rs. 25/- per every day of delay.
2. Calculate penalty for at a rate of Rs. 500/- for 1st week of delay and Rs. 1000/- there after
3. Calculate penalty at a compounded rate of interest on the invoice amount.
4. Calculate penalty at 10% per annum on the maintenance charge for a delay of a week and 20% of the maintenance charge if the payment is delayed by more than week
5. Calculate penalty at 2% per month on reducing balance as per the payments received against an invoice.
6. Apply penalty charges only if the outstanding amount is greater than a minimum amount
and many more..

Now, don’t you call this a true Diwali Gift for the treasurers!?

Apartment Management Enhancements: Storing Flat/Unit specific Documents

ApnaComplex now has the ability to store documents related to a flat/unit. All along documents can be stored in the central repository for consumption of all members or committee members. Administrators can now attach documents such as a floor plan, sale deed etc to specific unit which would be only visible to the administrators and the flat/unit owners. Check it out at Complex->Residential Units and clicking the ‘Manage Documents’ icon against a unit.

Do note while the owners of the unit can see and download the documents, they cannot upload or delete documents. Only Administrators has the necesary authorization.

Apartment Fire Safety – The Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

A housing society needs special fire safety measures and this is mainly because it houses many flats or houses, within one or multiple buildings. People share common areas and amenities such as club-houses, lifts, play and parking areas, pools, and terraces and the threat of a fire breaking out will always be high unless proper measures are taken.Fire Safety

The Problem of Housing Society Fire Safety

One of the biggest challenges faced by a housing society is the danger of a fire breaking out. Since these societies largely comprise of many flats that are built next to each other in order to achieve maximum utilization of space by commercial builders, exit routes in some cases are not clearly defined or sufficient for the large number of residents involved.

The primary aid in case of a fire, therefore are fire-extinguishers, and a housing society needs to invest in appropriate fire-fighting mechanisms for the safety of its residents.

Fire safety refers to:

  • Measures taken to prevent a fire from breaking out
  • Reducing the risk of severe injury or death due to fire
  • Managing a fire incident with use of equipment and evacuation techniques, reducing damage to property
  • Making involved parties aware of evacuation procedures and alerting them in case of a fire

Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers come in four different varieties. These are:

  • Water fire extinguishers (The most widely used and economical fire extinguishers)
  • Foam fire extinguishers
  • Dry Powder fire extinguishers
  • CO2 fire extinguishers

Choosing Fire Extinguishers for a Housing Society

The choice of the appropriate fire extinguisher depends on the class of fire, which is based on the nature of the fire or the material involved in the fire. There are six classes of fire, ranging from classes A to F.

  • In Class A, the surrounding material near the fire is primarily solid, like paper, plastics, and wood.
  • Class B fires involve flammable liquids like petrol, paraffin, and oil.
  • Class C fires are fueled by flammable gases.
  • In Class D, metals are the items that are burnt.
  • Classes E and F are fires that occur around electrical apparatus and cooking fats and oils respectively.

Depending on the class of fire, i.e., the materials that are directly involved in the fire and the materials in the surrounding areas, the appropriate extinguisher has to be selected and used. Water fire extinguishers are mainly used for Class A fires, but they are unsuitable for Classes B and E. Foam fire extinguishers are versatile and safer to use but more expensive.

Proper Placement of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers need to be placed in strategic and easily accessible locations. Residents should be made aware of them and some volunteers may be trained to use them, on each floor and block of the housing society.

Fire extinguishers need to be checked from time to time for their efficacy. Mock fire-drills are important in educating residents about evacuation and safety in case of fire, especially in high-rise buildings, where lifts are generally closed when the fire spreads.

This article aims at collating and providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. While ApnaComplex has taken every care to ensure the information is accurate, we suggest to please use it only as a guidance for further discussion and action with help of relevant professionals.

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 trial as well so that you can try before you buy!

Apartment Fire Safety – Safety Measures within the Complex

The need for fire management has become an integral part of every housing society, and this is especially true in a housing system where hundreds and thousands of people reside in close quarters.

Effective safety measures including actions or precautions should be adopted in a housing society in order to forestall any hazards or accidents and make sure that no residents are harmed, or even the buildings for that matter.

Fire Safety Measures in a Housing Society

Fire safety measures should be taken when a housing society building is being constructed; steps should be implemented to protect the structure while the building is standing; and general safety tips need to be taught to all residents in order to train them for emergencies.

There are some basic conditions that need to be fulfilled:

  • Your housing society buildings should conform to the local building code.
  • The upper limit tenancy within any part of the building should not be exceeded.
  • Fire suppression systems should be installed (like sprinkler systems), and fire hose reels, fire hydrants, and fire extinguishers need to be provided.
  • The residents of the housing society must be given lessons on how to use fire extinguishers and fire hose reels.
  • Fire extinguishers should be placed in easily accessible spots so that the occupants of the housing society know about their location and can easily access it at the time of need.
  • Fire extinguishers need to be checked and maintained on a monthly basis by the maintenance crew.

fire safety measures

  • Automatic fire detection and alarm systems (smoke detectors) should be installed on all floors and these will inform the occupants about the impending danger ahead of time and they will be able to evacuate the building without any mishap.
  • The maintenance team should ensure that all alarms are free of dust by regularly vacuuming over and around them. They should replace the batteries in smoke alarms regularly.
  • Proper exit signs should be installed as these will help the occupants to act quickly in case of a fire.
  • Smoke exhaust systems can be installed on every floor as they help in minimizing the accumulation of smoke in case of fire, which could be quite dangerous and life threatening.
  • Hazardous materials should be stored very carefully as they are most likely to catch fire within the building.
  • Flammable materials should be monitored within the building.
  • One of the important steps is to conduct fire drills throughout the year. Once this is done in a regular manner there will be less chaos during an emergency.
  • The housing society management can conduct fire safety education programs for children during the weekends.

Failure to meet these safety measures will significantly affect the levels of fire safety in a housing society building and can compromise on the safety of the occupants.

Tips for Residents

You can also work towards maintaining a fire safe housing society by following these small tips.

  • Don’t overload electrical systems.
  • Be careful about smoking near combustible objects.
  • Don’t store combustibles near equipments that emit heat, sparks or flame.
  • Maintain all electrical wiring in good condition.
  • Maintain your heating and cooking appliances.

Once these safety measures are followed, the housing society will be truly protected against sudden mishaps and accidents.

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 trial as well so that you can try before you buy!

Bangalore Graduates Constituency Election – Register to Vote

Thanks to Mr. Srinivas A, one of ApnaComplex well-wishers, we learnt about Bangalore Graduates Constituency Election to be held sometime around May 2012. Here is gist of what we gathered in Q&A format.

Register today to vote in Bangalore Graduates Constituency Election

Register today to vote in Bangalore Graduates Constituency Election

Q: So, why are we talking about an 2012 election NOW?
A: Simple – the voter registrations for this election will be closed by November 5th 2011.  Hence the urgency.

Q: So what? I am already enrolled as a voter, have a voters card and have even voted earlier for our assembly elections.
A: No. The regular voters card will NOT be valid for voting in Graduates Constituency Election. You need to follow a separate enrollment process.

Q: Really? How is this “Graduates Constituency Election” different from other elections?
A: For a “Graduates Constiutency Election”, only a subset of pouplation are eligible to vote. Only Residents of the constituency who hold a college degree from any recognised University in India, which they received at least three years ago are eligible to vote. Basically, this is an exclusive opportunity for educated population to make a difference by electing deserving people to our legislature.

Q: Ok, you got me interested. What should I do to register myself to be able to vote in 2012 elections?
A: Follow the three simple steps below:
1. Download Form-18, print it and fill it.
2. Make a copy of your degree certificate AND address proof  (such as Ration Card, regular Voter ID card,  passport, driver’s license, electricity bill etc.)  and self-attest them.
3.  Go to your nearest BBMP office and submit these documents (take along the original degree certificate to be validated by BBMP staff).

Do note, you can submit the documents of all your family members as well.

Here is more detailed FAQ.

We would encourage ALL graudates in Bangalore to register themselves to be able to vote when the elections happen. Since the time is short, we encourage all resident welfare assocaitions to run campaigns in your complex/layout. As a part of your campaign, if you need any help with respect to having the form-18 available etc. do drop a comment below and we would be glad to co-ordinate.

You can download the Register to Vote Poster, print the same and post the same in your society’s noticeboard. Please ensure you add a volunteer’s name from your society after printing.

Apartment Fire Safety – Basic Knowhow About Fire Escapes

With Diwali around the corner, safety measures in a housing society must be taken against all possible threats to ensure that there are no mishaps of any kind.
fire safety escape routes

Fire safety in a housing society is especially of prime importance, and fire exits must be provided in all buildings and this is mandatory.

Housing Society Fire Escapes

A fire escape is an emergency exit usually located outside a building but always as a separate entity from the main building. As the name specifies, it provides an escape route in case a fire breaks out within the housing society building or any other emergency surfaces, when the main exit is cut out of access.

Fire escapes have many levels, and they have horizontal platforms on each level (floor) that are connected to each other through ladders or stairs. These escapes are made of steel to keep leaves or snow from settling on them. They are generally made from fire resistant materials and extend from windows at every level.

The access from the inside portion of the housing society building to the fire escape is usually through a fire exit, but in certain buildings, the only access might be through the windows.

Fire escape doors are normally fitted with fire alarms in a housing society in order to prevent unauthorized people from gaining access and in order to prevent people from using the route for other purposes.

Installing and Maintaining Fire Escapes

  • If you find out that your housing society building does not have fire escapes, you can take up this issue during a resident meeting and ensure that the management committee gets them installed.
  • Every floor must have fire escapes as an alternative to staircases and lifts as these can’t be used during the time of fire.
  • The maintenance team should ensure that no objects are kept in front of the fire escape, in order to ensure that the exit route is not blocked.
  • The exit routes must be cleaned and maintained regularly by the maintenance team so that there are no problems during an emergency. This should be done on a monthly basis.
  • While installing the fire exits or escapes, care should be taken and quality infrastructure should be installed as this is a serious investment.
  • The ladders can be of chain or web type. Railings should be provided along the ladders and the fire escapes in order to prevent any falls.
  • The ladder from the first level of the fire escape to the ground floor can be fixed. A better idea would be to opt for a ladder that swings down along a flexible joint or slides down.
  • Movable fire escape ladders are preferred in order to dissuade burglars from entering the buildings through such fire escapes.

With your personal safety and the safety of your family in mind, ensure that you bring up the concept of fire safety during resident meetings so that fire escapes are installed. While moving into a housing society, ensure that the buildings have proper fire safety measures in place.

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 trial as well so that you can try before you buy!