Proper training needed to raise standards of estate management

My letter on tightening condo management has attracted much feedback ("Tighten oversight of condominium management"; Aug 9).

Following the replies from the Association of Property and Facility Managers or APFM ("Boosting standards of condo management"; last Friday) and the Building and Construction Authority ("All owners have a say in condo management"; Monday), I wish to highlight two critical gaps in the current system and present ideas on how to address some of the issues.

While the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act serves to provide the foundation for good governance by management councils, the problem remains in enforcement and implementation.

The suggestion of approaching the Strata Titles Boards to settle misconduct, misuse and abuse of funds is both time-consuming and costly.

Further, cases of council members who resign before serving a full term complicate the process of due diligence.

Beyond the call of mission, council members should be trained in various aspects of professional estate management, in order to handle their appointments competently and satisfactorily.

Courses or seminars could be conducted by professionals or consultants at management corporations' expense for inexperienced and new council members.

As BCA and APFM have agreed that the standards and professionalism of managing agents need to be raised, there is urgency to address this, given the fast-growing number of private estates here.

The demand for these services has, unfortunately, led to the hiring of staff who are not adequately trained.

This trend is expected to gain pace as more condominiums attain temporary occupation permit (TOP) status.

The Workforce Development Agency could assist in redesigning and improving the career prospects of these professions.

Tertiary institutions could develop certifications, diplomas and degree programmes for students and employees who are interested in upgrading their skills and knowledge in this industry.

Today's condominium units and private apartments cost millions of dollars. The value of such assets can easily be diminished if the estates are not managed properly.

It would be a case of penny wise and pound foolish if residents and owners are not willing to pay to ensure that their assets are maintained well.

The standards of management councils and managing agents need to be improved.

Frankie Mao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2016, with the headline 'Proper training needed to raise standards of estate management'. Print Edition | Subscribe