Questions & Answers:

Committee Concerns

14 February 22

Ballincastle Property Services Portfolio Image: Committee Concerns. How can I become involved with my management committee? What is an owner’s management company? What is a managing agent? Who appoints the managing agent? How to complain?

How can I become involved with my management committee?

When you buy a property in a multi-unit development, you legally become a member of the OMC. This happens automatically and means that you have legal rights and obligations. When you buy your property, your solicitor will get a copy of your membership or share certificate. This is an important legal document which confirms that you, as the owner of a unit, are a member of the OMC.

As a member of the OMC, you have a say in how the common areas are managed. If you are elected to
become Director of the OMC, then you will become involved in the running of the company.

What is an owner’s management company?

The OMC is the legal owner of the common areas on behalf of the owners of the units.
The OMC is also a party to all sales of units in a development because it “owns” a share in each property. The OMC cannot legally prevent the sale or purchase of a unit, but it can take action against you if you don’t pay your management fees.

Members have certain rights under company law, the Companies Act 2014.

All company members are entitled to:
   Adequate notice of the company’s general meetings
   Timely information about the company’s operations and finances
   Participate and vote in the annual general meeting (AGM). Section 15 of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 states that there is one vote for each unit, regardless of the number of owners of that unit. An OMC can seek a court order to change this vote distribution, but only where it is considered essential to protect an economic interest or necessary in the interest of fairness and justice.

You are also entitled to inspect and get copies of:
   The company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association, now known as the company’s Constitution. These are important documents which every company must have. They set out how the company will be run, and what rights members have. The Memorandum and Articles of Association must be open to inspection to every member of the company free of charge. They must also be submitted to the Companies Registration Office where the public may view them.
   Minutes of general meetings of the company and resolutions
   Various registers kept by the company, including the register of members and the register of directors and secretaries and their interests
   Periodic financial statements, directors’ reports and auditors’ reports about the company’s financial affairs.

The Company Secretary, at the registered office of the company, is the primary contact point for company correspondence. Queries in relation to the above registers and documents should be directed to the Company Secretary in the first instance. If a satisfactory response is not forthcoming, the matter should be taken up with the directors at the OMC AGM, or by writing to the directors at the company’s registered office.

The company must hold an AGM at least once a year and all members must be invited to attend. The company must also file an annual return with the Companies Registration Office that must contain certain information about the company and its financial activities.

As a member, you are also entitled to express an interest in becoming a Director of your OMC or to vote for someone else to become a Director. If you have concerns about how your OMC is operating, you can consider becoming directly involved as a Director of the OMC. It is important to know that Directors of OMCs must follow the same rules and obligations as Directors in any other type of company. You can get information on being a Company Director from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

As a member of an OMC, you have certain obligations, including:
   To pay management fees
   To pay sinking fund contributions
   To be bound by house rules
   Your solicitor will talk you through your contract before you sign it and explain the specific obligations you are signing up to.

What is a managing agent?

Many developers and Owners’ Management Companies (OMCs) employ managing agents to provide maintenance and other services in housing developments. The managing agent works under the instructions of the OMC.

Managing agents’ services typically include:
   Inspecting and maintaining common areas
   Organising waste collections
   Collecting management fees from owners
   Administrative duties, such as arranging buildings insurance cover
   Organising meetings between the OMC and owners
   Responding to enquiries from owners

Owners pay the costs of employing the managing agent as a part of their annual management fee. The cost of the agent will depend on the firm, but largely depends on the range and quality of services provided. Before you buy a home in a multi-unit development, you should find out if the developer and/or OMC has appointed a managing agent.

Who appoints the managing agent?

Developers generally appoint a managing agent at the outset of a development, often before the first unit is sold.

The developer should:
   Inform buyers that a managing agent has been appointed
   Outline the services that will be provided
   Explain the managing agent’s procedures for dealing with requests/complaints from owners

Once an OMC has been established, it appoints a managing agent. This should be done through a written contract between the OMC and the managing agent.

How to complain

The contract between the OMC and the managing agent should set out how the managing agent should deal with owners’ complaints. If you are not happy with the managing agent’s performance, you should raise the issue with your OMC, but you should not withhold your management fee as a protest. This is a breach of your lease, and the Multi-Unit Developments Act, and could lead to financial difficulties for your OMC.

Who regulates managing agents?

The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) licenses and regulates managing agent services. You can make a complaint to the PSRA about a managing agent, but you should contact your OMC first, as the OMC employs the managing agent. The PSRA also regulates other property service providers such as auctioneers and estate agents.