Bottom Line: Supertech locking of facility management office one find morning and leaving maintenance services without proper handover to the RWA is a case study for all the wrong reasons. Track2Realty looks into the grey zones of maintenance of the housing societies. We speak to cross section of professionals to find a way out.
The residents of a housing society, Supertech Emerald Court, in Noida were taken aback one fine morning when they found the office of facility management locked. The builder had left the maintenance overnight after having tussle with the Residentsâ Welfare Association (RWA) for quite some time over the maintenance, or rather the lack of it. The residents alleged that the builder had left them in the lurch as it was not a proper handover of maintenance to the RWA.
The incident yet again exposes the critical issue of facility management and the conflict between the builder and the buyers. It also highlights how the builders keep the buyers disconnected with the maintenance services even when the RWA is formed.
Track2Realty asked the following questions that Supertech failed to reply:
Q. Is it justified on part of Supertech to lock the facility office and leave maintenance all of a sudden?
Q. What is your reply to the allegations of the RWA that Supertech did not fulfill the obligations of a formal handed over?
Q. Has Supertech transferred the maintenance fund and the IFMS to the RWA? If not, why?
Q.Â If there were long standing disputes with the homebuyers why did not Supertech hire a professional arbitrator for reconciliation?Â
Relinquising maintenance responsibility without a proper handover and ensuring that the basic services like the water and electricity does not get affected is the responsibility of the builder. But in this case it appeared to be a blame game where the builder alleged that the residents had not paid the maintenance for months and the residents in turn were asking for the transfer of maintenance fund, including the IFMS (Interest Free Maintenance Security) and Sinking Fund.
Analysts point out that the handover of maintenance entails a formal process where various factors that come under maintenance, like power backup, water supply needs to be ironed out. A developer should ideally handover the facility management to the RWA within 12 months of obtaining Occupancy Certificate.
To smoothen out this handover process, the developer should ideally bring on a Facility Management Services Company once the project nears completion so that a systematic maintenance process can be established during the handover/possession phase, which will enable the RWA to take charge sooner and more efficiently.
Kunal Lala, Vice-President, SILA (a property consultant with Facility Management at its core) maintains that transparency & accountability on part of the developer is desired by every buyer, and the same can be easily showcased through facility management. A developer and the service provider need to involve the buyers with all facility management related decisions as early-on in the process as possible.
âA strategic partnership and clarity of guidelines of the processes to be followed as per the contract that has been mutually agreed upon will help with fewer conflicts between the buyer and the Facility Management Services Company. The contract between both should be drawn in a way that their interests are aligned and it is a win-win situation for the buyer as well as the service provider,â says Lala.
How to reduce conflict?Â
Professional facility management company than builderâs in-house team should take over maintenance
Buyers should be made a part of decision making in facility services
Maintenance transfer to RWA must be process driven and not ad hoc
In case of conflict, a professional arbitrator should be appointed to take amicable decision
Most of the facility management professionals agree that the developer could have easily avoided this by hiring a facility management company. This would have eased the maintenance pressure on the developer as the facility management company would have put a âTransition Teamâ on board to oversee the fit-out and flat handover process, reducing the burden on the developer.
In that case, the facility management company would be solely responsible for the maintenance of the property and would adopt a process-driven handover of the flats to the buyers, ensuring complete transparency and enhancing the value of the property as well as that of the developerâs brand name.
Nikhil Hawelia, Managing Director of Hawelia Group nevertheless feels the onus of having a seamless transition from builder to buyersâ association lies on either parties. Accoding to him, the lack of trust and understanding about each other should not be allowed to escalate to the extent of builder leaving the maintenance overnight.
âYes, it is a loss of brand identity for the builder and being in maintenance office the first duty to reach reconciliation lies with him. However, there are situations when the builder finds it tough to deal with a group of vested interests whose only aim is to take over the facility management even when majority of buyers are against it. In such a case, the builder cannot afford to ruin his brand reputation and has no choice but to leave. But in this case also, the handover should be thorough process driven. If there is a need, the builder can hire a professional arbitrator for the same,â says Hawelia.
It is trus that whatever be the case, even if hostile buyers asking the builder to leeave the maintenance, the builder must act mature and professional. One can always hire a professional arbitrator to ensure an inclusive approach is adopted while dealing with buyers who refuse to pay monthly maintenance. They need to be encouraged to become a part of the maintenance process while the property is being handed over.
Such buyers usually have grievances which are unattended for a long time and this leads to resentment. A dialogue should be encouraged between the buyer, developer and the Facility Management Company maintaining the property, to arrive at a mutual understanding. The buyer should also be explained that paying the monthly maintenance will help maintain their property in an optimum manner, resulting in value enhancement for their asset.
By: Ravi Sinha