Legally speaking, the property manager, whether or not a professional, is responsible for :
- – Drafting the minutes of the decisions taken at the General Meeting (article article 577-6, §§ 10 and 11) ;
- – Recording the decisions in the condominium’s register within 30 days of the Meeting and transmitting them to the co-owners and other property managers (article 577-6, § 12); executing and enforcing the decisions made at the General Meeting. (article 577-8, 3°).
The General Meeting of the co-owners is absolute. It decides which work to have or not to have done. These decisions are voted upon at an ordinary or extraordinary General Meeting, based on the proportion of votes. The property manager is responsible for executing or enforcing the decisions made at the General Meeting and performing all provisional acts of preservation and administration. The property manager can act alone for certain projects, namely urgent repairs to preserve the building’s physical integrity. Certain condominiums set a maximum amount to which the property manager can act alone.
A General Meeting is the meeting of all the building’s co-owners. It may be ordinary or extraordinary. An ordinary General Meeting takes place every year at a date set by the basic act or by the General Meeting’s decision. An extraordinary General Meeting may be called at any time by the property manager or at the co-owners’ request. The General Meeting may officially deliberate once double quorum is met, that is: more than half the co-owners are present or represented and at least half the lot owners are present or represented.
With regard to general meetings, the law stipulates that co-owners be summoned by registered mail. However, email may have a legal value if the co-owner has informed the property manager in writing that he or she wants to receive such summons by email and not by registered mail. In many instances, co-owners prefer to receive summons to General Meetings by email or regular mail simply to reduce the costs to the condominium. Communication happens more and more by email: billing, summons, notices, meter readings, etc.
The property management firm is responsible for overseeing work in the building’s common areas. Work done in private areas is the co-owners’ responsibility, but it is recommended to inform the property manager when work is being done. The General Meeting may decide that it is one of the co-owners who monitors the work in the common areas (quotations, follow-up, etc.) or authorize an expert to manage more specific projects (architect, engineer, etc.)
It’s the property manager who manages the building’s insurance contract. It is thus he or she who manages everything related to common areas and claims by co-owners
The General Meeting of the co-owners is sovereign and that is where it is decided if work will or will not be done. These decisions are voted by the lot owners. The property manager may independently decide on urgent work in order to preserve the building’s integrity. The General Meeting may, if it chooses to do so, give the Condominium Board the power to decide on certain work and establish a maximum budget within which it can work without needing to return to a General Meeting for a decision.
Billing may done quarterly or annually. When done quarterly, it is based on actual usage charges during the quarter. When done annually, the co-owners makes provisional payments throughout the year and a statement is prepared at year’s end. Based on the actual costs, the co-owners are reimbursed or must pay the difference to the condominium.
EasySyndic is a professional property management company whose services are suited for small buildings or condominiums of fewer than 8 units. In fact, managing small-scale condominiums is substantially different from large-scale buildings. This means fewer restrictions and administrative burdens. All the while offering the same legal services as a “traditional” property management firm, EasySyndic proposes the usual services at prices adapted for small-scale buildings of fewer than 8 units in order to ensure that “management fees” don’t represent over 50% of the condominium’s annual fees. In addition to the usual services, EasySyndic offers a series of custom services (project and claims management, utilities included, extraordinary general meeting, litigation…) with clear fees.
A property management firm’s responsibilities are covered in the Belgian Civil Code article 577-8 §4. Modifications to the law in 2010 seriously increased the burden on property managers. That is why many condominium associations call upon a professional property management firm. According to the law, a property manager’s responsibilities include:
- Convening the General Meeting; ;
- Drafting the minutes of the General Meeting and recording decisions in the condominium’s register ;
- Executing and enforcing decisions taken by the General Meeting ;
- Performing all acts of preservation and administration ;
- Managing the condominium association’s funds ;
- Representing the condominium association in legal proceedings, as well as in the management of everyday affairs ;
- Submitting a statement of outstanding debts within 30 days, when such is requested by the notary ;
- Informing all concerned parties with regard to the dates of Meetings so that they may provide requests or comments in writing ;
- Transferring the building’s file to a successor within 30 days ;
- Arranging for liability insurance for the duration of its contract ;
- Making it possible for co-owners to have access to all non-private documents or information related to the condominium ;
- In order to have a competitive call, assembling a number of quotations based on the records of expenses previously incurred
- Present to the ordinary General Meeting a review of the contracts for regular supplies
- Maintain an updated list of individuals entitled to take part in the deliberations of the General Meeting and their contact information;
- Keep the condominium owners’ association’s accounts in a clear, precise and detailed manner, in accordance with the minimum standard chart of accounts as prescribed by the law;
- Prepare the provisional budget in order to account for current maintenance expenses, the maintenance and administration of the common areas.
The tasks entrusted by law to the property manager are numerous and broad. The breadth of a property manager’s responsibilities requires the utmost thoroughness and understanding, notably of the building’s constitution and the provisions of the law. In the preparatory work, errors by the property manager can have very serious consequences for the co-owners:
- the building’s deterioration ;
- financial loss in the case of a co-owner’s prolonged delinquent accounts ;
- non-coverage in case of claims because of inadequate insurance.
A non-professional property manager must make arrangements for liability insurance during his or her mandate. Be advised that when property management is done on a volunteer basis, this insurance will be charged to the condominium owner’s association.
There is no obligation for a property manager to be a professional. But given the requirements, the increasingly weighty legal responsibilities, and the complexity of the task, more and more condominiums are choosing to call upon the services of a professional property management firm.
A property manager becomes mandatory as soon as there is co-ownership. When the property manager is not nominated in the condominium’s statutes (the basic act), a person must be nominated by a General Meeting in order to represent, if necessary, the condominium, and to fulfil obligations towards the condominium’s suppliers. This person may be a professional property manager or a volunteer, member or not of the co-owners’ association.
If the contract is for one year, renewal of the property management nomination is decided at the annual General Meeting of the co-owners. If a property manager was nominated in the condominium’s basic act, the mandate fully expires at the first General Meeting. However, the contract may be terminated at any moment by a vote at a General Meeting of the co-owners, and under the conditions laid down in the contract. A new property manager is then nominated at that same Meeting. The co-owners will have contacted various property managers and asked for quotations before the General Meeting in order to elect and nominate a new property manager.
The term of a property manager’s contract is from one to three years, maximum. The property manager is not allowed to draw up contracts for the condominium where the terms exceed that of his or her mandate, which is decided by the General Meeting of the co-owners.
The obligations of a property manager are laid out in article 577 of the Civil Code. The principal tasks of the property manager are to implement the decisions taken at the General Meeting, manage the condominium’s funds, and represent the co-owners’ association in the management of matters of common interest as well as in legal proceedings. On a more informal basis, the role also consists of listening to the co-owners and, if necessary, making urgent decisions. Remaining neutral and never choosing sides for one co-owner or another are part of the mandate.
You must contact the property manager, provide your contact information as well as that of your tenants, if such is the case.