Archives: April 22, 2015

Five Quick Tips about Better Apartment Management

quick-tips-271x300 Apartment management is becoming one of the most challenging jobs, with growing sizes of apartment complexes in India. With most of the members offering a voluntary service to their apartment residents as a management committee member, the personal life of an individual gets quite affected in dealing with apartment maintenance issues.

At times it becomes difficult for new management committee members to understand which areas to concentrate on to offer their residents a superior experience of staying in the apartment.  Five quick tips for management committee members for better apartment management are: 

Automate Society Billing & AccountingFinancial matter often becomes a bone of contention between committee members. Accounting and book keeping, income and expense tracking, penalty calculation should be streamlined as soon as possible. Try to reduce your reconciliation efforts and try to 100% automate your billing and collection effort. The best option is to employ a software that incorporates tools such as Income Tracking, Penalty Calculation, Maintenance Charges Payment Reminders, Metered Utilities and Payment Gateway offering significant effort reduction without disturbing your current accounting practices and to help you in better apartment management.

Resolve Resident Complaints Efficiently – Resident complaint management is one of the toughest areas one has to deal with as a management committee member. Ensure you set up a system as soon as possible for central tracking of resident complaints, suggestions and requests. The whole process of residents filing a complaint and committee members resolving and closing the issue needs to be automated. Use a software that will help you track the complaints at various stages with an auto escalation mechanism to escalate unresolved complaints. This will increase the resident satisfaction and enhance their faith in the management committee.  

Communicate effectively with your Community – Effective communication with your community is very important. Use community collaboration tools to post notices and reach out to everyone, securely share photos of community events within the society, have healthy discussion on any topic via discussion forums, send important messages/emails to other committee members or residents. Create and publish articles like Policy on Pets, Waste Management Guidelines, Diwali Celebration Tips, and Monthly Newsletter for residents – the list is just endless. For better apartment management, it will be an intelligent move to use a software that offers the facility to use all these communication tools at one go and create a strong communication link with your community.

Manage Apartment Facilities & Staff Smartly – Residents often complaint about how the apartment facilities are not maintained well by maintenance staff etc. Save yourself from the pain of manually overlooking asset tracking, inventory management, parking lot management, maintenance staff and service staff management. Offer superior experience to residents by empowering them to book an apartment facility online! Maintain a central record of visitors visiting your apartment for security purposes. Managing and keeping a check on all the above mentioned areas is a herculean task. What you need is an apartment management software that does it all for you and help you manage all apartment facilities smartly.

Proficiently manage society data – Maintain directory of owners, residents and flats in your apartment in a systematic manner for reaching out to them easily. Maintain list of office bearers and committee members for communicating with them in an effective manner. Centralize all your society data in one place for your own convenience. Create an online presence for your complex and provide details such as amenities available, directions, location of the complex to visitors or interested parties outside the complex.

It’s time for you to move away from countless number of confusing spreadsheets and remember to become a management committee member you don’t need to learn about accounting and facility management anymore. A good apartment management software can do all that for you. What you need to focus on is creating an inclusive culture so that residents collaborate with you to manage your apartment in a better manner.

Don’t just be a complex, be a smart apartment complex. Get your Society on – Today for free!

Online petition against high security deposits charged from tenants in Bengaluru

petitionLandlords demanding for a 10-months to 1-year security deposit from prospective tenants is quite a common norm in Bengaluru. This practice is often quite shocking for young professionals migrating from other cities to Bangalore since this trend is still not very prevalent in other major Indian cities.

Fresh college graduates who have just joined a job at times have no other option than to borrow money from friends and family. Even though the security deposit is quite exorbitant, most of the tenants have no other option than paying the same.

Rachelle Chandran from Bengaluru has filed an online petition in March protesting against the very high security deposits demanded by the landlords in Bengaluru. She has demanded for implementation of uniform rent law across Bengaluru for security deposits.

It’s a common practice to ask for a high security deposits from tenants and the full amount not being returned by landlords. The owner has the right to deduct security deposits by mentioning random maintenance costs. This is a highly unfair practice and the petition demands an answer to the same.

The petition mentions the Model Tenancy Act 2011, which recommends a set of rules “to balance the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants” with other clauses to protect the tenants’ interest. Another suggestion mentioned in the petition is to reprimand a landlord who charges security deposit 3 times in excess of monthly rent.

The petition also demands for a “fast-track rent tribunal” to solve the issues between landlords and tenants and the ability of tenants to file FIR against landlords in case of any money fraud.

About 3,000 people have already signed the petition and are voicing their anguish while supporting the petition.

Although the petition is a great initiative and if action taken, it will help the tenants and save them from depositing a large sum of money in the name of security deposit, another fact cannot be left unnoticed that the rights of the landlords also need to be protected while making new laws as there are also situations wherein tenants refuse to pay for maintenance charges or repair work that occur due to their negligence! The amends to the law needs to a balanced one, protecting the interest of both the landlord and the tenants.

Source: The News Minute

Don’t just be a complex, be a smart apartment complex. Get your Society on – Today for free!

Investments in Indian real estate sector slumps by 6 percent in the last four years, Assocham survey reveals

DeclineInvestments from various private and public sources in the Indian real estate sector have slumped by 6 percent in the last four years, a survey by Assocham revealed. Investments in the real estate fell from Rs Rs 15.2 lakh crore in 2011-12 to Rs Rs 14.3 lakh crore in 2014- 2015.

As per a poll conducted by Assocham, the real estate projects that grabbed about 76% of the investments remained non-starter during the 2011-12 to 2014-2015 period.

The top 5 states that grabbed the maximum share in total real estate investments are:

  • Maharashtra – 21%
  • UP – 14%
  • Gujarat – 13%
  • Karnataka – 12%
  • Haryana – 8%

Clocking a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 82 per cent, Assam has recorded maximum growth in attracting investments in the real estate sector during 2011-12 and 2014-15 followed by Bihar (19 per cent), Odisha (17 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (16 per cent) and Uttarakhand (12 per cent) amid top five states in this regard.

The states that registered maximum fall in real estate investments are:

  • Jharkhand – 40%
  • Himachal Pradesh – 37%
  • MP – 29%
  • Haryana – 16%
  • Gujarat – 7%

The survey was based on the feedback taken from 100 big and small realty companies based in top cities such as Pune, Mumbai, Lucknow, Jaipur, Indore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Ahemdabad to ascertain the budget implications.

About 75% of the real estate developers were unhappy with the government’s lack of focus on improving demand and supply situation in the real estate sector. The survey also indicated that the realty sector was disappointed with exclusion of 100 Smart Cities plan from the Union Budget.

In addition, the increase in service tax rate to 14% will make the real estate more expensive and impact the sales as well since it would decrease the purchasing power of an average consumer.

Real estate developers are also concerned about increase in service tax on construction and excise duty on input goods, as also increased on petrol and diesel coupled with increase in freight rates on cement will lead to rise in construction costs.

Referring to urgent need for speeding up procedural requirements for real estate sector, the real estate industry has pressed for a single window clearance system for various approvals leading to operational efficiencies and cost saving, along with need for a predictable and stable policy framework. Ownership-wise, private sector accounted for 85 per cent of the total investments attracted by the real estate sector across India while government/public sources accounted for remaining share of merely 15 per cent.

Source: Economic Times 

How can the RWAs stop the increasing commercial establishments in residential areas?

stopQuite often it is noticed that there is burgeoning growth of commercial establishments in residential areas. More commercial establishments in a residential area results in residents getting disturbed day and night due to the commercial activities and hustle bustle happening in that area. How are the area RWAs across the country tackling with this issue?

Panduranganagar RWA has been complaining to BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) for a very long time about the growth of commercial establishments in residential areas. However, BBMP chose to turn a blind eye towards this issue and the existence of about 34 commercial establishments in residential areas operating without trade licenses.

Even though the RWA has now moved to the high court, BBMP officials have failed to initiate action against the illegal establishments. Panduranganagar had complained several times to cognisance of the matter, the residents worked on their own making use of RTI and found that as many as 34 commercial establishments in their locality were functioning without trade licences.

The layout was initially formed by the Bank Officers Housing Cooperative Society in BTM Layout limits after approval by the town planning authority. In 2004, the BDA declared the layout as residential in nature. To promote and preserve the beauty, decorum and infrastructure of the layout, activities such as construction of unauthorized multistoried flats or apartments and commercial buildings was prohibited.

In 2015, the layout was also classified as Residential (Mixed) as per the revised master plan. Yet, the area has been witnessing burgeoning commercial activities with several establishments including IT companies, Ayurveda clinics, fitness centres, hotels and schools popping up within the jurisdiction of the layout.

A couple of years ago, a commercial establishment running as a marriage hall in the area was shut down after residents complained to BBMP. But the same building has now been converted into a lodge with bar attached!

The RWA has been complaining for past 4 years but the BBMP had been paying no heed to their woes. Panduranganagar RWA has set an example for all other RWAs by taking the right decision to move to the high court. Other RWAs need to buckle up and start following their example.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

Should approval from area RWA become mandatory for running a PG?

pgIs an illegal PG (paying guest accommodation) being run in your neighbourhood? How many times do you get disturbed with the boisterous crowd staying in the PG and making a ruckus in your neighbourhood?

Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has decided to regulate the entire practice of running illegal PGs in the city. In fact, GMADA has made it mandatory for the PG owner to obtain a NOC (no-objection certificate) from the area RWA (Resident Welfare Association).

Moreover, in case of absence of any registered RWA in a particular area, NOC needs to be obtained from the immediate neighbours.

Currently, there are about 600 PG accommodations being run in Mohali. Out of 600 PG accommodations, only 7 PG accommodations have been registered. The 7 registered accommodations would also have to get their registrations renewed.

Moreover, as per the new notification, it is mandatory to take permission from GMADA to set up a PG in a particular area. In addition, people planning to commence a PG will need to pay Rs. 10,000 as a processing fee to acquire a 3-year licence to run a PG. As a result, the permission will have to be renewed in every 3 years. A list of authorised applicants will be put up on GMADA’s website, and only these will be allowed to operate PGs.

The owner should be using a part of the PG accommodation and the area of the house cannot be less than 7.5 marla if it is to be used as a PG accommodation. Unauthorized construction should not take place after completion certificate and the residential accommodation needs to be sanctioned as per building bye laws.

The PG owners will have to furnish a list of those living in the PG along with the tariff plan. Officials from GMADA can conduct inspections anytime at the accommodation.

Furthermore, as per the amended policy, even the guardians or parents will be held accountable for any unruly behaviour of the PG occupants.

The notification warns the occupants against indulging in any disorderly activities leading to breach of peace, disruptions in the civil and social atmosphere, or affecting the rights of the other residents of the locality, failing which police action can be initiated and the registration of the PG can also be cancelled.

Is this a good trend to be followed in all major cities in India?

Source: Hindustan Times 

Tool #2: Conduct healthy discussions via ApnaComplex Discussion Forum or Mailing List

discussion forumApnaComplex Discussion Forum is used for conducting healthy discussions on any topic with residents, owners or committee members. This is the most frequently used communication tool out of the complete list of ApnaComplex Communications tools.

Scenario when to use Discussion Forum:

  • Enquire about a good school nearby
  • Solicit feedback on a particular gas agency service
  • Discuss how best to celebrate a chemical free, organic holi

Advantages of using Discussion Forum:

  • An online forum to post topics and replies in a threaded and organized manner.
  • Discussions can be access controlled – can be made open to all residents, or only owners or only between committee members.
  • Advanced editor is available to post topics that can include text formatting, images, and hyperlinks.
  • Eliminates the need for multiple forums, multiple yahoo/google groups as all discussions are stored in a central place.
  • New committee members and owners get instant access to all past discussions.

Administrator Rights for Discussion Forum:

  • Administrators can close topics from further discussions.
  • Topics can be archived for future reference.

How to start a discussion on a new topic via Discussion Forum (on the portal):

Step 1: After logging in ApnaComplex portal go to Forums

Step 2: Click on Discussion Forums

Step 3: Select a new topic to start a discussion (Alternatively you can also search for a topic, take a look at archived topics)

Step 4: Choose the visibility option from the following – residents, owners and committee members

Step 5: Post the topic

Discussion Forum

Mailing List

You can also use the mailing list for conducting discussions. Essentially, both discussion forum and mailing list serve the same purpose. A topic started via the Discussion Forum (by logging on to the portal) can continue via mail. However, there are slight differences between the two:

Discussion Forum Mailing List
  • Requires approval from portal admin.
  • Attachments get stored.
  • Does not require approval from portal admin.
  • Attachments in the mail do not get stored.

How to use the mailing list for starting discussions?

1. Typically, each community has three mailing lists in the form of:

a) – To start a discussion with residents

b) – To start a discussion with owners

c)  – To start a discussion with committee members

2. Any member by sending mails to the above email IDs can start a discussion since it will automatically post it on the discussion forum with the visibility option for the appropriate group to view the same.

3. Members can reply to the emails and the emails would automatically get posted to the group discussion forum in a threaded manner.

Mailing List

Hope with this blog using discussion forum and mailing lists for your discussions will be a much simpler process. Do let us know your doubts on using discussion forum or mailing lists and we would try our best to help you. Also, let us know if you found this helpful by commenting on this blog.

Real Estate Bill Ready for Cabinet Nod

RealEstateBillThe NDA government led by BJP is now all set to push the real estate bill to curb black money circulation in the real estate sector. The bill also talks about commencing a buyer grievance redressal system.

The government wants to make the sector consumer friendly for the middle class by making the real estate transactions more transparent and ensuring that this particular sector does not cater only to the rich.

As per government sources, Narendra Modi seems to be keen on the real estate bill expedition since it will protect the consumers from the dubious players in the real estate market.

In December 2014, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill had come up in the cabinet, but was deferred. Presently, a new cabinet note is ready for government’s approval.

Housing and Urban Poverty alleviation, the nodal ministry has removed the bar on buyers approaching consumer forum in case of any dispute. By addressing concerns over project completion timeline, redressal and funding transparency, the bill aims to help genuine buyers.

Under the new government, the ministry, after discussions with stakeholders, sent a note for the Union Cabinet’s approval in December. The Modi government amended the UPA bill to cover commercial properties. The earlier bill covered only residential real estate. The government also snipped the quantum of receivables from buyers that have to be kept in escrow account for other ventures from 70 per cent to 50 per cent, to ensure that consumers’ money was not diverted to other projects before delivering the earlier ones.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had also expressed concern over the delay in setting up a real estate regulator to keep a check on activities of realtors.

Source: Hindustan Times 

Tool #1: Notify all residents in one go via ApnaComplex Notice Board

Notice BoardApnaComplex Notice Board is used for communicating short-lived, one-way messages. You can post notices online and reach all the residents in one go. All notices will be emailed to the members (based on the notification settings of the user).

Scenario when to use Notice Board:

a)Let the residents know about a clothes exhibition being held on the weekend

b)Inform only the residents of your complex about a house now available for rent

c)Notify residents about swimming pool/water tank cleaning

Advantages of using Notice Board:

•All notices will be visible on the online Notice Board till the expiry date of the notice. You can set the expiry date from 1 day to 1 month.

•Flash notices can be posted, which will be shown in a popup dialog that users cannot ignore.

•Documents can be attached to notices.

•Replies sent to this message will be sent out only to the poster of the message.

•Reports like expense statements can be published on the notice board.

Administrator Rights for Notice Board:

•Publish Special Notices that will reach all members of the community – including members who have not yet joined online. This enables one way communication from the association to all members on key events.

•The Special Notices message will be sent out all people even if they have opted out of daily/weekly digest feature. This can be used in case of highly important or emergency communication.

• Post notices which are visible only to Owners, or only to Committee members.

• Approve all notices before they are published to every one (configurable setting).

• Change the expiry date and the access level at the time of approving.

• Extend date of expired notices and also delete all notices.

How to use Notice Board after logging in ApnaComplex?

Step 1: After logging in click on Forums

Step 2: Below Forums click on Notice Board

Step 3: Click on post new notice

Alternatively, you can also search for notices or see the list of expired notices.

Notice Type

Hope this blog gave you a better idea of when and how to use the notice board. Do comment on this blog if you have any queries. We would try to solve the same for you. Keep checking the blog section for more help articles on ApnaComplex communication tools.

Should maintenance of public parks be handed over to respective area RWAs?

Public ParkIn Delhi, there are quite a few pubic parks where one can get some fresh air and relax in the morning and evening time. However, out of around 6400 parks, most of them are in a sorry state. Recently, the public parks have started being misused for personal use.

Parks in Delhi, which were essentially created to be used by old people for relaxing and children for playing are now being used for marriages and other functions. This not only restricts the general public from using the park facilities but also degrades the park facilities. It has often been noticed that once the functions gets over, tonnes of waste are left behind leaving the public park in an unhygienic condition.

The law does not allow public parks to be used for personal functions such as marriages etc. In 2009, after an NGO had filed a complaint against Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Development Authority claiming that both were allowing park misuse for personal functions, Delhi High Court had issued strict instructions to both the bodies from allowing any social gathering events in a public park. However, the judgement has been ignored very comfortably and in the peak marriage season, it’s very common to spot marriages etc. being conducted in a public park. No concrete action has been taken as yet to prohibit this practice.

Another major misuse of the public parks is done by people with pets. People with pets use the public park as an execratory ground for their pets. It’s quite a common to see pet owners with their dogs in such parks. Unlike the West, in India, no one is under the compulsion to clean up the mess. As a result, the public park is polluted making it unfit for the local residents and small kids to use the same.

In many areas, parks are not well maintained. It is more of halting place for cattle and stray dogs. In quite a few parks, one can see anti-social elements gambling and drinking in broad daylight obviously making it impossible for a common man to relax and get some fresh air in the public park. All this is a result of utter negligence of the authorities.

The most effective way of ensuring the maintenance of such public parks is increasing greater citizen participation. Handing over the maintenance of public parks to the respective Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of that particular area is an idea that can be mooted upon. Resident welfare associations are active bodies that keep their area/apartments clean for their residents and are always interested in the welfare of the residents. If the responsibility of maintaining the public parks are handed over to respective RWAs, it will be an interesting change to witness in Delhi/NCR wherein the public parks will start being used by the nearby residents for relaxing rather than people with vested interests turning the public park into a marriage community hall.

Source: New Delhi Times