HOW DOES SERVICE CHARGE HELP IN KEEPING YOUR HOME ENVIRONMENT ORGANISED?
Updated: Mar 21
When growing up in the 80s & 90s the environment in Kenya was so serene in most parts of the country and major towns. A generation above us enjoyed the same level of serenity. Life was organized since systems were working. The systems were well managed from the transport system to collection of garbage, the education system, hospitals you name it.
So, what went wrong?
One-word Management. Whist we can blame it on corruption or the politicians, the root cause is mis management.
By the mid 2000 a new emergent concept was introduced in Ke
nya called Gated Communities. Gated communities are relatively new phenomena that have become very popular globally and in Kenya. Gated communities have been observed not only in the USA but also in other parts of the world such as Lebanon, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Latin America. They are security developments with designated perimeters, usually walls or fences, and controlled entrances that are intended to prevent entry by non-residents.
Examples of gated communities in Kenya are estates in Runda and Green Park in Athi River. Gated communities also include Apartments. Apartments have common areas which are spaces or facilities within the apartment building that are shared by owners or occupants of the apartments e.g. stairs, corridors etc.
The concept is that Residents of the gated community or flat SHARE the amenities, i.e. Security, Water, Gardening, electric fence and development of the environment. Since the costs are shared the residents enjoy subsidized rates, then they would otherwise have cost them if they were living in a stand-alone house. Thus, one would imagine that this would create a great community set up. Since family’s would also be brought together. In most cases ad especially where there are more than 20 household this is not the case.
Allow me to delve deeper. Properties including houses and flats are sold to individuals, company’s, saccos or investment groups. The whole idea around investing in a house within a gated area is to share amenities, including water, security, gardening, backup generator etc. amongst the owners of the individual homes.
The residents in gated communities (GC) in Nairobi, Kenya have been promised elusive life with high expectations of convenient lifestyle without knowing the costs of maintenance of the shared facilities. The prospective buyers have remained ignorant of existence of any guidelines and policies that operate in the gated housing development.
Ideally, property owners or residents should be the ones forming or hiring property managers — an arrangement that would allow them to peg the service charges based on the real costs of providing the shared amenities and share surpluses that may accrue from efficient A large majority of flats or gated bungalow houses are managed by the property developer, a management committee, a management company formed by the owners of the individual homes or a real estate management company.
A large majority of these estates are poorly Managed. Thus, bring about disorganization. Which is a pity. Imagine that you have invested into a gated community, then it is not maintained well. This can a well reduce the value if your investment in the long run. Poor Management further brings about a challenge in collecting service charge from residence due to lack of services delivered to tenants. The idea here is that when one goes to a shop to buy a full loaf of bread, the shop keeper should sell a full loaf of bread and nothing short of this.
It is important to make the following consideration’s in Management of gated communities:
· Who is the single point of the facilities management; are they doing it full time or as a community service?
· How do you deal with administration load?
· How do you bill residents?
· What facilities management systems would you use
· How would you group establish transparent procurement through market independence
· Do you have a common bank account?
· You would require Accounts of the management group at the end of the financial period
· Adherence to occupational health, safety and security standards
· Environmental sustainability
Whichever way your community chooses, i.e. whether to management by Residents or a property management firm. The afore mentioned points are very important in ensuring a management system for your Gated Community.
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