What is an Apartment Owners Association?
One of the most integral parts of community living is the Apartment Owners Association – a body that sets certain rules, principles and works endlessly towards the well being of its residents. Its effectiveness increases the quality of life even in the best apartments in Kerala. They are held responsible for maintaining the facilities and amenities of the apartment and conducting timely events or awareness programs. It is their duty to ensure the protection of every owner’s rights.
An apartment owners association may or may not be legally registered; but once registered, it has all the rights to sue or defend any legal action as well as enjoy the legal benefits.
Roles, rights and duties in an Apartment Owners AssociationAn apartment owner’s association runs well when every duty is carried out exceptionally well by the people working for the association. The following are their role descriptions,rights and duties.
A. The Member
Role: Every owner in the apartment complex organically becomes a member of theAssociation. In the case of joint ownership, the first person named in the title document is typically the member. A person who is not an owner of an apartment in the complexcannot be a member of the association.
Duties: It is their duty to attend every General Body meeting, pay dues decided by theGeneral Body on time and to abide by all the by-laws.
- Every member has the right to vote in the elections carried out at the Annual General Body Meeting or at any other official meeting. The number of votes shall be in proportion to the number of apartments owned by every member. The member has a right to authorize a proxy to vote in his absence.
- Every member has the right to inspect all records, books of accounts of the association with 3 days prior notice to the Management Committee.
B. The Associate Member
Any person other than the owner, who is wholly residing, occupying or otherwise in lawful possession of any apartment in complex becomes an Associate member of the association. The Associate member pays maintenance charges to use common facilities, but does not have right to vote, unless authorized by the owner of the flat in writing.
C. The General Body (GB)
Role: The most supreme authority of the association is called the General Body which is formed by all the members of the association.
Rights: The General body has the right to amend, alter or add by-laws with the consent of at least 13 voting members of the GB and its decision is binding on all the members.
D. The Management Committee (MC)
Role: A board of members elected by and from the GB that represents the Association before all government and other official or non official bodies in all matters is the MC.The work of the MC is reviewed by the GB at the annual general body meeting or any other meeting. The MC is typically composed of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Treasurer (together known as the Executive Committee) and 8 other members.Duties:
- Maintain recreational facilities and amenities of the apartment.
- Allocate responsibilities to employees for carrying out day to day activities as a part of administration of the building.
- Represent the members of the Association, in every matter related to the building with the aim of protecting their rights and interests.
- Encourage and promote religious, cultural and educational activities
- Open and maintain one or more bank Accounts of the association in the name of the association with any nationalized bank as decided by the committee.
- Ensure that the income received by the association is evenly distributed in promoting the objectives of the association and is not put to any personal use.
- Keep safe custody of all original documents and licenses connected to the land and building.
The three pillars of the Management Committee
PresidentThe president has general control over all the affairs of the association. He/she is the only person who can sue with the consent of the general body or defend any legal action against the association. All legal proceedings are instituted, continued or defended by the president and He/she signs all documents and papers relating to the association.In the absence of the president, the committee may authorize the secretary or the treasurer to sign all such documents, papers etc for and on behalf of the association.
SecretaryThe secretary is responsible for the executive administration of the association, subject to the control of the committee.
TreasurerThe treasure has complete custody of all properties of the association including the funds. He/she is empowered to operate the bank accounts of the association jointly,with president, or secretary. The treasurer has to make sure the association be held together by close bonds of trust and goodwill.”
Powers of the Apartment Owners Association
There might be several disputes that may be brought to the attention of the association tobe resolved, of which some may even required legal intervention. In such cases, the apartment owner’s association needs to take charge and settle matters between members or residents in the apartment and help resolve disputes outside the court. The following are the powers of the apartment owner’s association under various circumstances:
1. Power to recover the maintenance feeThe cost of maintenance of facilities and services enjoyed by the residents in the apartment is called a Maintenance fee. Builders usually allow the apartment owners to form their own association and fix the maintenance charges. In the event of default by any member, the association has the right to charge interest and penalty from the defaulter, and the power to recover this amount. The apartment owners association has the right to sue defaulting members and initiate legal proceedings for recovery of any outstanding payments but it cannot terminate any facility enjoyed by the owner.
2. Power to take legal action against members guilty of offenseThe management committee is responsible for all matters concerning the apartment as wellas the rights and interests of members. Any member in the apartment owners association who steals, forges or causes any loss to the association shall be liable to be punished. The association also has the right to take legal action against members held guilty of any offence.
3. Power to file case against the builderThere are several situations when the builder cheats buyers with extremely poor quality of construction, by not responding to their queries or grievances and even failing to deliver projects as promised. In such cases, the apartment owners association has complete power to file a case against such builders to obtain compensation for such losses. They even have the power to lodge a police case and file a criminal case against the builder.
The other side of the coin!
There are some cases where the apartment owners association drastically fails to meet the requirements of the residents, even in the best. When such issues are raised, it is the responsibility of the committee to address them at the earliest. In situations where the association fails to take action against such a complaint, members can approach the court to seek relief for their grievances. Otherwise, the members have the right to address the problem to the concerned Registrar of Societies. The Registrar will then have the right to even cancel the registration of the apartment owners association.
It is important to note that wherever you’re buying an apartment, whether it’s in Kochi, Trivandrum Kottayam or Thrissur, only a great apartment owners association can make living in your dream apartment truly a delightful experience and can help work towards developing stronger bonds with other residents. Remember to always buy an apartment or home with a trusted builder like Kalyan Developers and ensure its management committee is elected wisely!