Legal structure required for building management

Saturday, May 21, 2011
Issue 1312, Page 2
Word count: 549
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Macau’s building management companies and security guards are ‘uneven’ quality wise, with management fees the most common triggers of disputes between companies and property owners, according to the Building Management Resources Centre.

Supervisor of the resources centre (under the umbrella of the Macau General Union of Neighbourhood Associations) Chan Pou Sam, told the Macau Daily Times yesterday that the government launched a public consultation into the legal system pertaining to the hierarchical structure of building management and security guards in the second half of 2010.

The First Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly told reporters this week that the government is planning to scrap one article of the Civil Code Property Law in favour of a new bill dedicated to building management.

“We [the resources centre] and the Property Management Business Association both hope that the law can be implemented as soon as possible,” Chan said.

“The quality of building management companies and security guards in Macau is very uneven. The issue of management fee standards has also led to many disputes,” he added.

However the First Standing Committee said on Tuesday that the draft law is still ‘just a framework’ and related government departments are working on provisions, so it was not clear when it would be submitted to the legislature for deliberation.

Nevertheless, the standing committee disclosed that the draft law will require related companies and industry practitioners to obtain professional licenses and qualification. Rights and obligations of the companies will also be regulated covering their civil liability and minimum capital as well as management fee standards.

Chan agreed with the new professional qualification requirement, stressing that it’s ‘very important’ to ensure the quality of company service and property owners receive the protection they pay for. “There were cases in the past where the company took all the building management fees and ran away”, Chan said.

“We also met some building security guards who didn’t know how to use a fire extinguisher”, he told the MDTimes.

Elderly security guards are sometimes employed in old buildings and Chan said the human resources problem coupled with low salaries make it difficult for companies to hire more competitive employees.

“People living in old buildings usually earn lower incomes and they won’t be charged a high management fee. The companies therefore have limited budget to hire security guards,” he pointed out.

Yet, he stressed that the draft law cannot impose an age limit as it will trigger concerns over discrimination.

Meanwhile, Chan told the MDTimes that management fee disputes were mostly found in newly established ‘luxury’ apartments, where owners were only notified of the amount of the fee once they moved in or received the house keys.

“If they hadn’t signed the management contract they wouldn’t be given the house keys. It’s like robbery,” he said.

This situation, Chan added, is also relative to the sale of incomplete property. “When buying unfinished apartments people have no idea how much the management fee is going to be and which company is managing the building.”

He admitted that buyer awareness is low, although the “sale leaflets and real estate agencies also don’t mention the fee”.

Chan said property owners would complain about the quality of management service, such as insufficient security guards and patrols, or ‘the guard opening the entrance door to strangers’.

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