Who is the building manager and what is his job?
Duties of a residential building manager in Serbia
In recent decades, with the growth of construction and residents in the Serbian capital, the needs for organizing all aspects of residential living in apartment buildings have significantly increased, such as regular maintenance, cost management, and repairs. Previously, these matters were handled by the presidents of the residents' assembly, who were often the owners of the apartments themselves. However, in recent years, this responsibility is increasingly shifting to professional management. Moreover, there is data indicating that over 50% of residential communities in Belgrade engage professional managers.
A professional building manager is a relatively new profession in Serbia that has experienced significant growth since the Serbian government enacted a law in 2016 requiring every residential building to be registered as a company and have its representative. It is essential for the building to have a bank account to which all collected funds owned by the residential community will be directed.
Whether the manager is from among the residents or a hired professional, their actual duties are extensive and demanding from both legal and human aspects. Considering the list of responsibilities, it becomes clear why their complexity often surpasses the capabilities of individuals, leading to the emergence of professional managers.
Аll responsibilities of building managers
Addressing current building issues
Building managers are available 24/7 to receive requests from residents. While floods, elevator malfunctions, and other emergencies may not be daily occurrences, managers are expected to be ready for urgent action at any time. These tasks may be more manageable in smaller buildings, but for average high-rises, many issues extend beyond standard working hours.
Legal matters and financial management
Dealing with legal challenges such as property registration and distinguishing common from personal property is a task that often requires legal expertise or assistance from professionals.
What property managers most commonly deal with, in addition to resolving "acute" issues, is planning of mutual expenses. They organize the collection of funds from all interested tenants, the majority of whom must participate when initiating a project, such as installing an intercom, for example. In addition to planned expenses, there are unexpected costs that require a quick reaction and the gathering of funds to resolve the issue as soon as possible. The manager handles the funds according to the decision of the residents, maintains accurate records, and regularly submits reports, including the annual final account.
When it comes to professional management, there is also insurance that covers unforeseen expenses, but it requires the consent and additional payment from the residents. These matters can pose a challenge in transitioning to professional management, as the majority of resident votes are needed for such a step.
Updating the lists of tenants and owners
The manager is responsible for maintaining precise records of all apartment owners and tenants in the building. When it is not possible to establish contact with individuals residing in the apartments, the manager contacts the police. In accordance with the law, apartment owners are obliged to inform the manager about leasing their property so that current tenants can participate in the maintenance costs of the building. Failure to report may result in the owner being obligated to cover these expenses, even if they do not reside in that apartment.
In addition to the above, the manager enforces house rules, addresses tenant complaints related to individual behavior, and is obligated to act as a mediator in cases of disputes among residents concerning communal issues. Due to all these responsibilities, the role of a manager involves direct interaction with people, effective communication and soft skills.
Other responsibilities of the building manager
The following points provide a closer look at what a typical workday of a building manager entails and the regular tasks they handle. While these are not the only tasks and are not always predictable, here are some of the fundamental duties:
Registration of the building in the Register of Residential Communities;
Recording residents to state-owned company "Infostan";
Posting notices for residents;
Conducting resident meetings;
Engaging services for regular maintenance of the building's hygiene, pest control, and rodent extermination;
Anticipating future projects to improve living conditions;
Managing the budget of the community, communicating with external services, legal representation of the building, and many other related tasks.
Most common Q&A about building managers
Who can become a building manager?
A building manager can be the owner of a unit in that residential community or a hired professional manager.
When does a building get a forced manager?
A forced manager is appointed by the local self-government if residents do not choose a manager; the role is temporary until the selection of a permanent manager.
Is the manager paid for their work?
If a unit owner performs the manager's role, they do not receive compensation; professional managers are paid based on an agreement.
How is a professional manager paid?
Payment for professional managers is based on an invoice provided by the manager to each resident.
What is prohibited for the building manager?
The building manager cannot enter a unit without the owner's permission and is not authorized to perform repairs in units or common areas.
Recently, a discussion has been initiated regarding amendments to the Law on Housing and Building Maintenance, introducing certain changes for residential communities. The obligations and duties of residents would essentially remain unchanged, and the building manager could still be a person from among the residents with a mandate of four years. The most significant change in building management concerns professional management.
Instead of individual professional managers, the emphasis in the future will be on so-called "organizers of professional management," i.e., companies or entrepreneurs engaged in the relevant activity who will play a key role in building management. They will choose and replace professional managers at their discretion. The main goal of this adjustment is to shift responsibility from individuals to companies specializing in this activity and capable of efficiently addressing residents' issues 24/7. It will be their responsibility to organize request reception through a call center or in a manner that suits them.
New costs for residents?
According to the law, the residential community takes responsibility for damage resulting from maintenance deficiencies or improper execution of tasks on the building. For example, in the case of a detached facade hitting someone's car and causing material damage. Insurance will be provided for such cases, and professional management will take care of it. Until now, a professional manager had to have a mandatory insurance policy of 10,000 euros, but now that amount will be much higher because the responsibility will lie with legal entities.
Insurance premiums may or may not represent an additional cost for residents, depending on the condition and type of the property, as costs vary for new buildings and buildings several decades old. Also, since professional management organizations handle a larger number of residential properties in one area, they could be more cost-effective for residents compared to hiring an individual.
How will the building manager be chosen?
According to the proposed amendments, the residential community will not be allowed to choose or dismiss a professional manager on its own. This decision will be made by the aforementioned organization, with the obligation to inform residents of the reasons for the decision. However, the residential community will always have the right to change the organization it collaborates with.
The benefits of the proposed amendments to the Law should be reflected in faster and more efficient problem-solving at the residential community level, and the duties of the manager and the organization above them will be more strictly defined. It remains to be seen whether and how quickly residential communities across Serbia will begin to accept professional management as a more advanced option.
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