BMSMA framework empowers MCSTs to manage their own estate (Lianhe Zaobao Exchange)

Friday, 5 June 2020

We refer to the letters “MCST潜在问题值得重视” (14 May) and “加强管制公寓管理代理公司” (20 May), regarding the governance of strata-titled developments and the conduct of Managing Agent (MA) companies.
Strata-titled developments are premised on the concept of community-based property ownership. Subsidiary proprietors (SPs) own their individual lots and share ownership of the common property in the estate. Such collective ownership also entails joint responsibility for the upkeep of the shared areas. The Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA) therefore provides a legal framework that empowers a management corporation (MCST), which comprises all SPs, to decide how best to manage, maintain or improve the estate.
MCSTs are required to elect a management council to oversee the operational matters involved in running the estate. All SPs can participate by either volunteering themselves for election as council members, or by voting on decisions of the MCST at general meetings. SPs are therefore encouraged to attend the MCST’s general meetings to cast their vote on important matters discussed, including the election of council members who can best represent their interests. As SPs are not only joint owners but are usually neighbours as well, it is important for SPs to cooperate with one another to arrive at mutually-agreeable decisions. Where differences cannot be resolved between SPs or with the MCST, the BMSMA provides a dispute resolution mechanism for parties to apply to the Strata Titles Boards (STB) to seek resolution.
There are safeguards in the BMSMA to prevent abuse of the self-governance framework to protect SPs’ interests. For instance, a council member who has a pecuniary interest in any proposed contract that the MCST may be entering into is required to declare his interest and refrain from taking part in the discussion or voting related to the contract. SPs may also pass a resolution at a general meeting to place restrictions on the Council in making decisions for the MCST. 
The Commissioner of Buildings will investigate possible offences under the BMSMA, including failure by a council member to comply with any of the above requirements, and may require the Council or MA to provide documents as part of the investigation. The Commissioner of Buildings will also refer offences outside the purview of the BMSMA to the relevant authorities such as the Police or CPIB for further investigation.
MCSTs may engage MAs to  help with the day-to-day management and maintenance of the estate through a private service agreement. To ensure transparency and good governance, the Council can put in place administrative processes, which may include tendering framework for procurement of services and/or decision making guidelines in times of emergency. 
To raise competency of MAs, BCA has worked with industry associations to develop a competency framework for the training and upskilling of MAs. The Association of Property and Facility Managers and the Association of Strata Managers have also introduced voluntary accreditation schemes for firms and individuals providing MA services, which will include requirements on training and experience. MCSTs should appoint MAs that can meet their needs and expectations, and can consider MAs that are accredited under these accreditation schemes.

Lim Chong Yong 林宗荣
Director, Building Management Department 署长,建筑管理处
Building and Construction Authority 建设局

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