Category Housing Society News

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 

Habit #6: Effective management committees create an inclusive culture

Inclusive CultureIn this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the sixth habit of effective management committees to create an inclusive culture. Effective management committees believe and create an inclusive culture so that the residents also pitch in for the welfare of the apartment. In our earlier blog post, we talked about Habit 5: How effective management committees implement smart financial control. Read more…

Pointers for the committee members to create an inclusive culture:

Co-opt Members: The present committee members have the option to co-opt or choose additional members for the board. More members in the committee would imply more hands to work for the welfare of the residents. Residents once given a designation and authority as a member of the committee would be more willing to contribute their time and energy for the betterment of the apartment.

Create Sub-Committees: The management committee takes all decisions and executes the same for all functions. However, the work done may become faster if the management committee creates a sub-committee with a small group of people who will be assigned to focus on a particular function such as finance or vendor management. The sub-committee can make recommendations to the management committee and the final decision can be taken by them.

Create Task Forces: Communicating to the residents that the management committee needs help in a certain task is very important. Don’t feel ashamed to ask help from residents. Someone or the other will always be ready to volunteer. Create a task force with residents willing to help and execute your plan. For instance, if the management committee wants to implement waste segregation methods from the next month in the apartment, create a task force who would educate people about the do’s and don’ts and ensure it gets implemented.

Events: An effective management committee always ensures that it conducts events wherein residents and committee members mingle and exchange thoughts. It’s a great platform wherein the committee members can meet residents and let them informally know what all the committee is planning for the welfare of the apartment. Conducting events is a great way to stay connected to the residents.

Create opportunities for residents to bond:   An effective committee will always create a culture that helps residents bond with each other. The committee can create sub-committees, task forces, and conduct events for residents to bond. Using social media is always a great way to connect with residents and the residents to bond with each other. Posting cultural events photos, creating forums for discussions, posting interesting blogs all helps the residents to bond with each other.

A committee cannot be effective until and unless the residents support them. Don’t work in silos! Create an inclusive culture and collaborate with the residents to reach your goals.

Do you think the management committee in your apartment complex creates an inclusive culture by asking help from residents? Do let us know by commenting on our blog. Log onto regularly for the post on next habit of effective management committees.

Habit #5: Effective management committees implement smart financial control

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

Pointers for the committee members to practice smart financial control:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Habit #4: Effective management committees are highly disciplined

Committee MeetingIn this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the fourth habit of effective management committees of conducting committee meetings in a disciplined manner. Conducting and attending meetings in a disciplined manner is something an effective management committee cannot avoid. In our earlier blog post, we talked about Habit 3: How effective management committees always take responsibility. Read more…

Pointers for the committee members to conduct meetings in a disciplined manner:

Conduct regular committee meetings – How can the performance of a management committee be judged in a single metric? The only metric through which one judges the performance of a committee is the number of meetings conducted by the committee and the minutes of the meeting published for the residents. Typically, most committees have approximately 52 meetings in a year. Most management committees of a decent size apartment complex meet at least once a week and if they are not following this practice it’s about time to follow it!

Circulate formal meeting minutes to residents – Formal meeting minutes should be circulated to residents in a disciplined manner after every committee meeting for maintaining a high level of transparency with residents. Without circulating the meeting minutes, there will be no pressure built on the committee to perform or act on the agendas in the pre-decided timelines agreed in the meeting. Assign the responsibility of publishing meeting minutes to a particular committee member and ensure it get published for the residents.

Never skip a committee meeting – Attending meetings on a regular basis is a must for all committee members. Ensure that you attend all meetings. In case, your physical presence is not possible in the meeting due to some reason; utilize technology, conduct teleconference or a video conference and stay updated. With one or other person always absent during the meeting, the committee is never able to take a concrete decision.

Ensure meeting action items are closed – Ensure that meeting action items always get closed. Committees discuss several apartment related issues in a meeting, however, make sure someone jots down the action items after every meeting. Once the action items are finalized, empower the rest of the team to ensure that each and every action item mentioned on the list is closed.

If the management committee members ensure that each and very committee meeting is conducted regularly and the action items decided in the meetings are closed in the pre-decided time mentioned in the meeting minutes shared with the residents, it will be more than enough to satisfy the residents about the performance of the management committee.

Does the management committee in your apartment complex conduct regular committee meetings? Do let us know if it worked for you by commenting on our blog. Log onto regularly for the post on next habit of effective management committees.

Habit #3: Highly effective management committees always take responsibility

Take responsibility and save your boat from sinking!

Take responsibility and save your boat from sinking!

In this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the third habit of highly effective management committees to always take responsibility. Responsibility and accountability are the key to the making of any effective committee. We talked about Habit 2: How effective management committees always communicate in our earlier blog post. Read more….

Pointers to keep in mind for committee to behave responsibly and take responsibility:  

Do not resign at the drop of a hat – Probably, the easiest thing to do as a management committee is to resign. This is quite a prevalent trend in most societies. Members who do good work get upset due to nasty comments from residents or other committee members and as a result, resign. This is not a practice followed in effective committees. One needs to understand that as a committee member you are holding a responsible position and you need to behave responsibly. You cannot resign at the drop of a hat and have to develop a little tolerance to comments/nasty remarks and continue your good work. Do not ignore the comments, but understand the situation and then contribute positively towards it. Do not resign and leave in-between with the community that depends on you hanging in-air.

Take responsibility with an initiative to complete decisions taken – Taking decisions in committee meetings is very easy. But, ensuring the decision reaches the completion stage is the toughest part. One needs to follow up constantly and then ensure that the decision taken is finally completed. Most of the committee members are not from facility management background and what one lags is adequate knowledge to take decisions to the completion stage. Taking initiative and putting extra effort is the key. Research the issue and try to understand and gain in-depth knowledge about what is essentially required, call vendors and consultants for collecting information. Mobilize the people within the community for support and if it is a good initiative, ensure that it reaches the completion stage.

Focus on implementation of decisions – Most of the initiatives taken in apartments never reaches the implementation stage. One spends time in researching, collecting information, gaining in-depth knowledge but due to multiple discussions and arguments among committee members, the initiative never really reaches the implementation stage. For instance, someone in the committee suggests installing CCTV in the apartment for better safety and security of the residents. You take up the initiative, spend time in researching, calling vendors, taking price quotes but somehow realize that the committee members are not that enthusiastic about it. So, you go with the flow and drop the ball somewhere in-between and   it never gets implemented. Don’t let that happen, don’t drop the ball in-between. Ensure implementation of the decisions by convincing all the committee members about the importance of the initiative for the welfare of the residents.  

Be accountable post implementation of decisions – Accountability is something that comes with responsibility. If you hold a responsible position in the committee and are assigned the responsibility of an assigned task, you are bound to be accountable for the same. A lot of committee members take the implementation of decisions very seriously but do not want to be held accountable for the same. For instance, in some apartments, where CCTVs were installed none of the committee members assigned with the designated task were aware about the workings of the CCTV. Most of the committee members did not want to be held accountable and claimed about how their job was only limited to selecting the vendor and it was mainly the vendor’s job to come and install it. So, basically no one from the committee had a clue about how the system worked after installation. The assigned committee members were unable to answer questions mentioned below –

a)How will the CCTV footage be used?

b)What is the working process for CCTV footage?

c)How many times should one check CCTV footage?

d)Who and how will others access the CCTV footage?

As a result, a good as well as expensive initiative went waste in the above mentioned apartments. Accountability is very important for successful implementation of the decisions.

The formula for successfully implementing your committee decisions is given below:

Responsibility + Initiative (Research + Finalizing Vendors) + Implementation + Accountability

The above mentioned formula is followed by most of effective management committees. Do let us know if it worked for you by commenting on our blog. Log onto regularly for the post on next habit of effective management committees.

Habit #2: Highly Effective Management Committees Always Communicate

Effective CommunicationIn this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the second habit of highly effective management committees to always communicate. Communication can break all barriers and this is what effective management committees realize vs. the ineffective ones. We talked about Habit 1: How effective management committees’ work as team in our blog post last week. Read more……

Pointers to keep in mind for the committees for following an effective communication plan:

Do not be secretive about your committee operations: Keeping the residents updated through periodic updates, via newsletters, mails and notices etc. is always a good idea. Larger the community is, more is the need for a solid communication system. Some committees create a committee role especially for drafting notices and keeping the residents of their community updated. Sharing information and communication with residents about your operations for the welfare of the apartment creates a positive image of the committee in the mind of the residents.

Create a formal grievance redressal system: In most apartments, complaints are resolved only when residents start making a huge hue and cry about a particular problem. Don’t let the residents come to you with a grim face about how their complaints have not been resolved. Instead, set a formal process to log and resolve complaints. Use help of technology to address complaints. Essentially, what apartment management committees require is a system with an automatic escalation mechanism. This system sends out an alert to the responsible committee member whenever there is a breach of stipulated time to address the complaint by the service staff or the estate manager.  The automatic escalation mechanism makes the committee members aware whether the complaint has been taken care of or not and reduces one’s dependence solely on the estate manager for the checking the complaint status and increases the satisfaction level of the residents.

Maintain constant communication with residents at the time of crisis: At the time of crisis, in instances such as BESCOM switching off the power, breakdown of the lift, and shortage of water supply keep the residents informed about the problem and constantly communicate with them via SMS/emails etc. There are three advantages that you may derive from this –

a) The residents will stop calling you and you will be able to focus on how to resolve the crisis.

b)The residents will be assured that someone is working on their problem. Residents are not looking for immediate solutions. However, they do need to be ensured time to time that someone is looking at their problem.

c) You may get unexpected help from residents to solve your crisis, for an instance, a resident may have some influential contacts or may know a vendor who can help you solve the crisis.

Share fact-based updates with residents: Larger the complex, the more comments/questions you will be receiving from the residents. Do not try to answer each and every comment/query. This is a very time consuming task and often leads to futile discussions. Collate all comments, queries data and send only fact-based updates to residents collectively. This will ease you from the pain of answering each and every question of the residents and keep the residents satisfied that their answers have been answered with stated facts.

Always remember communication is the key to any and every problem.

Do let us know your views on this. Log onto regularly for the post on the next habit of effective management committees.

Police registration for domestic help should become mandatory?

antiCrimeWith the two brutal murders committed by domestic help in Juhu and Bandra, the whole issue of negligible numbers of police registration for domestic help across India has been unveiled. As per a Mumbai police official, prior police registration of domestic help with local police can act as a deterrent for any crime. Even though residents of that area claimed that registration of data with police does not ensure safety, police officials very clearly mentioned that the if the domestic help is aware that his/her information is available with police, a fear factor to get caught after committing any crime will always prevail in their mind.

Reluctance to register domestic help from employer/resident’s side

A very basic question that arises in one’s mind is why only a negligible number of about 9-10% of domestic help is registered with police. Why don’t all employers/residents register their domestic help with police? The main reason behind the employers not registering the domestic help are:

a)    Employers not willing to take the pain of registering the domestic help with police

b)    Employers fearful of losing their domestic help as they may leave the moment an employer asks them to submit their details before local police

c)    Domestic help unwilling to share their details due to the fear of being unnecessarily harassed by police

The only people who ensure that they register their domestic help with police are those who keep things of high value at their homes, have full time maids for their children or senior citizens who keep domestic help to take care of them.

How do residents conduct the “unofficial” verification process and why police verification takes a back seat?

Most of the residents hire help through trusted references like friends etc. or if a particular person is working in several households in the neighbourhood, people just assume that it’s more than enough to hire someone. After a point of time, when a person becomes familiar to his/her new employer, the complete need of registering the domestic help with local police takes a back seat. With increased comfort level between the employer and the domestic help, police verification is never a priority. But honestly, is familiarity or comfort level enough to judge one’s criminal bent of mind?

Only when a domestic help leaves on bad terms or a resident feels threatened with a particular individual’s action, he/she tends to register that person with police.

Is simplification of the registration process a solution?

As per the current process, the employer takes down the details of temporary and permanent address of the domestic help and submits it to the local police with a photograph and ID proof. A lot of residents’ complaint that this process is time consuming. Quite a few residents claimed that if the police commences an online registration system, wherein one does not have to go to the police station personally, the number of registrations will increase. As per certain residents, one needs more facilitation centres who can help residents in employing bonafide domestic workers.

However, as per some of the police officials the entire system can be quickly simplified if the housing societies or resident welfare associations can collect the data from residents/ domestic help and submit the entire data set as a whole with police. The police department in Mumbai has been holding regular meetings with the housing societies to make verification mandatory in the apartments. The data with police deters planning of any criminal activities and enables police to detect crime faster. This process needs to be followed by all residential areas/apartments across India to keep their residents safe.

So, if you have still not registered the domestic help in your apartment, please prioritize this over all other activities for the safety of the residents of your apartment.

Better safe than sorry!

Source: DNA

Homebuyers can expect a drop in real estate prices, HSI survey reveals

Housing Sentiment Index

Housing Sentiment Index

The demand for affordable properties is seeing a continuous upward trend in the Indian real estate market. However, homebuyers are expecting the property prices to decrease in the next 6 months.

This was revealed in the buyer sentiment survey jointly carried out by Magicbricks and IIM Bangalore in Pune, Noida, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad.

The Housing Sentiment Index (IIMB-Magicbricks HSI) forecasts that homebuyers expect real estate prices to drop in the period of next 6 months. Overall, the aggregate HSI (Housing Sentiment Index) measured across 10 cities dropped sharply by 29%.

As per the survey, soaring prices, circle/guidance rate and high inventory levels were some of the reasons for this sentiment.

The home consumer loans and EMIs are also expected to ease a bit with Reserve Bank of India cutting its key policy rate by 0.25%. The bank base rates are expected to be cut down by March and reduce the lending rates. The realtors expect the demand for affordable properties to go up with the change in the RBI repo rates.

Source: Economic Times