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Enforcing Property Management Rules

By Ms. Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, Managing Director of CB Richard Ellis Thailand

Lifestyle changes have resulted in changes in the way people live and where they live, with a clear shift from living in single detached houses in suburban areas to CBD condominiums.

The shift from an individual house to condominiums requires significant adjustments. Those who are used to having their own private common areas have to adapt by sharing common facilities such as car parking, lobby, swimming pool and gym with co-owners who come from varied backgrounds and may have completely different mindsets. It is common that co-owners disagree on how building management issues should be dealt with and how rules and regulations should be enforced. Learning how to adapt and compromise is essential for those who have decided they want a condominium lifestyle and its benefits.

Property Managers deal almost on a daily basis with co-owner disputes, violation of property management rules and regulations. Building regulations are drafted by the developer and registered before the building completion and may overlook details which should be drawn up specifically for each building. Even with professional property managers involved in drafting the regulations, they often need to be revised post building completion to address practical issues and the communal majority view. Simply taking a regulation from one building and applying to another does not always work.

Two of the frequent issues are car parking and pets. Car parking issues include parking in the wrong spaces, requesting changes for parking spaces and parking in drop-off and no parking zones. For example, parking in drop-off areas is normally allowed for maximum of 10 minutes; however, this is often violated by tenants, co-owners and visitors. If one co-owner violates, other co-owners may also replicate the behavior or voice their complaints.

Not all car spaces are equal just as not all condominium units’ views or floors. Buyers need to become more assertive in demanding a known space when purchasing, but even if spaces are allocated on a lucky draw or even on first to occupy basis, car parks only work by enforcement of the rules.

Keeping pets in condominium buildings is another issue. To my knowledge, over 90% of condominiums do not allow pets. However, having a pet companion is a growing trend amongst singles, married couples with no kids or even the older generation. In a single detached house, the common areas are yours and whether you keep a pet is entirely your own choice, but in a condominium environment there may be co-owners who are not pet lovers and generally do not want to deal with problems relating to keeping pets such as noises and smell, and hence most buildings simply do not allow pets.

This sometimes leads to occupiers hiding pets in their units which may cause disturbances to neighbours. In fact, the better way to deal with this may be to allow pets and draw up a set of rules and regulations relating to keeping pets which are strictly enforced by the building manager. Possibly a pet friendly condo is a marketing opportunity for a developer.

This is just two of many examples of issues one has to deal with as a co-owner, property manager and juristic committee.

Violation of building regulations by co-owners is common, whether or not intentional. In case of new owners and tenants, they may violate unintentionally as they are not fully aware of the rules and regulations. Such violations shall be dealt with by providing information and verbal warning initially.

However, the challenge for property managers is in dealing with co-owners who intentionally violates regulations. Following an initial verbal notice, if the co-owner continues to violate the same regulations, the property manager then verbally reminds the owner again. If this fails, a written notice is issued and if not rectified then a severe action is taken. For example, in case of a car parking issue, the car wheels will be locked to punish violators.

Property managers must have both the tolerance and authority to deal with management issues and enforce regulations and punishment where this is due. They also need the support of the committee and the condominium community at large. If there are recurring and major issues in the building management which requires co-owners to voice their opinions, these issues are taken to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) where co-owners are asked to vote and the decision will be based on the majority vote. However, the AGMs are not normally attended by all of the owners and co-owners who do not attend cannot complaint about the results.

Disputes and personal issues between co-owners can sometimes be blown out of proportion and become very difficult to resolve unless owners are prepared to put common interests before their own.

At the end of the day, if you choose to live in a condominium, you need to understand the dos and the don’ts and accept that you cannot get what you want all the time, majority opinion once debated has to prevail.

Aliwassa has been the Managing Director οf CBRE Thailand for a number of years. As a Thai national, Aliwassa is extremely knowledgeable about the sale of property in Thailand, specifically large scale high value condominium developments largely in Bangkok.

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