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07 Oct 2011 00:00 by arne56 Star rating in La Cañada and Uppsal.... 192 posts Send private message

arne56´s avatar

Like Roberto, I think we would be better off without administrator. Problem is, most owners are very unsecure and trust everything the Administrator says.

In Sweden we normally cope very well without administrator. I have experience from tree different community of owners with a bord that runs all administration.

The biggist job is for the cashier who has to check every payment and chase deptors.

Does anyone have experience of running an community in Spain without administrator.

- How does the economics work. Can the bank do the control of payments ?

- Is it wise to have a lawer doing legal contacts?

- Can we write the minutes in English and Google translate for the book of minutes?? (Does anyone reads them?)

The rest seems easy and are things the board have to do anyway.



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08 Oct 2011 17:36 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4534 posts Send private message

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I never actually said I thought we would be better off without an administrator - only that in my experience they are generally not fit for purpose! On the contrary, I have argued with neighbours who suggested we dispense with the expense of having an administrator when we can "do it ourselves". These suggestions always come from members who have never been president, never lift a finger to help with any community matters, and invariably do not even live on the premises so are blissfully unaware of what goes on when they are absent, and have the luxury of suggesting what "we" should do, knowing that they will never actually have to do anything personally due to their (rather convenient) absence.

So can we do without the administrator?

On the face of it, running a community wherever in the world it is, is a simple matter of common sense. OK, we're in Spain. I understand Spanish. However, despite living here many years, I do not and never will understand the Spanish people. I apologise to any Spaniards who may be offended by this, but it is a FACT: foreigners are invariably (not always) treated differently. This can act as a barrier to getting things done (I can accept overpaying, but sometimes you can't even get that far). There is also a frequently underestimated cultural difference in general attitudes. As a northern European, I will never be able to shrug and accept the lack of service which a Spaniard often regards as normal. When expressing my frustration at the lack of progress on various (to me) important issues recently (excessive bank commissions, social security and Hacienda fines due to errors on employment matters, legal alterations to the lift installation that may result in fines if not dealt with promptly, etc. etc.) our charming administrator said, and I quote: "Welcome to Spain". 

Many of these issues I end up dealing with myself  because ultimately it seems to be the only way to get anything done, so one could argue that there's no point in having an administrator. However, I do not get paid for this (nor do I want to be) and more to the point, I simply do not have the time. I have a job, and connot be taking time out constantly to deal with the community. Ditto for most other owners. Secondly, I have absolutely no knowledge of complicated legal or tax matters (not even in my own country, let alone here). These are things that a qualified adminsitrator is supposed to know about and not only advise us on, but deal with competently and professionally.

My point is, in my home country, with a perfect understanding of the language and culture, and a level of service that I consider normal, I could conceive of running a community without "professional" help. I don't think I'd have a problem with it in Sweden either. But here, the hurdles are too great to attempt it. Perhaps if you have a well educated Spanish retiree owner in the community who actually wants to do the job it's an option, but for me here it's not. The problem I have is dealing with the overall incompetence of our administrator (and we recently changed because the old one was crap!) It's incredibly frustrating, but chasing him is better than trying to chase the bank, the lift engineer, the social security, Hacienda......

And believe it or not, our community consists of just 12 apartments and one locale (and NO debtors)!

I can only speak for our community, every one is different, so it will be interesting to hear from others. If you are fortunate enough to live somewhere where nothing ever goes wrong and never will, you can probably manage just fine without an administrator. 

By the way, I don't think using Google translate would be a viable option for legal minutes: try translating this tirade into Swedish and see how much you can understand! (and no, nobody reads them, but they should nevertheless be in correct Spanish!)



_______________________

 

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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10 Oct 2011 11:33 by Fighter2 Star rating. 237 posts Send private message

Like Roberto I speak only for our urbanisation Mazarron Country Club and my experience in the last 5 or more years the last 2 of which I have been the President.  Mazarron Country Club is a large urbanisation of 800 individual villas large and small.

For the last 5 years 2 previous presidents place their faith in their respective choice of Administrator, of course they were duly approved by the AGM of the time, the latter of those Presidents not only placed her faith in the Administrator but  also conceded total responsibility for the operation and finances of the Community , the only person with access to the Community Internet bank account was the Administrator as an example !!.

To say this was a disastrous mistake is a huge understatement and that mistake led the community to the brink of bankruptcy, it left a fractured and fractious community spirit, it left a large part of the urbanisation reliant on generators for electricity,  a continual reliance on expensive tankered water supplies every July and August with constant threats to the water supply during the whole year. Community fee debts rose alarmingly out of control at the same time as spending continued unabated whilst the then  elected committee steadfastly refused to regain control from an increasingly beligerent and inefficient Administrator, Community accounts both payables and receivables were in a state of complete disarray, with debtsto suppliers past and present of over €175,000 and rising at a rate of €12,000 per month.

The Adminstrator had set up the generated electrcity scheme charging owners for the service and then dropped the scheme without notice leaving electricity supply threatened and several debts behind him. He had taken control from the developer of the water supply removing the approved supplier and installing an out of district company, he received all payments from the owners water bills and constantly left paying the estate water bill to the point we were disconnected, he appointed rubbish collection at twice the price of the previous supplier, the gardeners were berated by him very severely when they offered to reduce the cost of the service to help the growing community debt problems... sadly the incumbent President and her committee appeared powerless to recover the situation.

Finally I gathered together a large team of owners with diverse skills but importantly a desire to rescue the urbanisation from impending disaster. After an AGM at which no one else stood the Administrator insisted that the developers( a heavily community fee indebted developer) NO scribble on the voting paper meant we could not be elected and we would have to apply to a judge in court for the process of election to stand, the existing President who was still in office refused to sack the administrator and so almost 3 months later an EGM was called and we rallied proxy votes from over 500 owners to ensure we had enough votes to overcome the twin majority requirement.... still then the Administrator refused to sign the minutes and enter them into the minutes book which again meant we were unable to assume control.

Finally after almost another 2 months he relented on the promise we would keep him and pay him for 3 months to enable him to handover all the community documentation including the absolutely necessary minutes book, without which we quickly found we could do absolutely nothing.

In March of 2009 the Administrator resigned after signing all community documents to us in the Notary, he was 2 weeks later to deny via an email to all owners that he had resigned and threatened to take us to court for the 9 months balance of his €4200 per month... luckily for him he never followed that threat through.

We employed a name only Administrator for the next 12 monthsat a cost of only €1500 per month to ensure we had a fallback legal advice situation but in March of this year we asked for permission of the AGM to operate without any Administrator, a situation completely allowed under the rules of HPL, we were granted this request and now operate completely without one preferring to rely upon a local solicito,r who assisted us with the difficulties the Adminsitrator caused during the period he obstructed our election to office, for on demand legal services.

Since coming to the Presidency we have reversed our severe, almost bankrupt financial situation to one of a very healthy balance with money available to invest in our very beautiful urbanisation, we have through personal contact, combined with very heavy pressure when required, reduced private owner community fee debt to under 5% from over 30%, we have through our own funds completed the water infrastructure and have had no water shotages through the summer for the first time in the history of MCC, we have managed the connection to Iberdrola of all but 140 home and they will be connected before Xmas, there is now a real sense of community spirit as despair and a desire to leave has been replaced by incredible progress and the start of several groups dedicated to improving evrything from Garden areas to help groups for those in need.

We immediately challenged all suppliers of services to the urbanisation and reduced our spends significantly for the same service from the same suppliers, you can draw you own conclusion to that outcome and have recently reduced costs further whilst improving the services  by concentrating our spending with a single multifunctional supplier. All our decisions are taken by majority vote of a board of 7 who meet every Friday evening, we are supported very strongly by almost an army of volunteers who look after various functions such as communitcations, IT, security, accounts, debt collecting, services management and recently engaged the services of an experienced Spanish resident to manage and perform maintenence of the urbanisation, an appointment that has proven a very succesful one.

Today more  2 years after we decided enough was enough and after some very difficult timesand some very long hours that saw us threatened with legal action and more we are very much in control of our own destiny, we are still keen and willing but when our job is finished which is when the urbanisation is totally complete, we recognise we will have to make this happen and are working to that end, we will want someone to manage it on a daily basis and for that we will need to make an appointment... will it be an admistrator?, if I get my way ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! , they have no affinity, no empathy, no interest in the urbanisation... only its ability to generate fundsfor them and for some that also  includes by fair means or dubious ones. We now know that our previous administrator left only when it was clear to him that there was no further earnings enhancement opportunities available for him...indeed we were staring at bankruptcy.

If you have enough of the skills required, have people with enough resolve, enough energy and a determination to succeed opertaing without an Administrator is pretty simple but it is also very very rewarding in both a personal sense and in the context of the urbanisation itself. None of the board or the supporting volunteers takes a single cent for their services in fact it is expressly disallowed for any of the total team to carry out any services to the community for payment.

If you would like more information about how to proceed, the potential pitfalls ( there are some) how to handle your switch from administrator to self government don't hesitate to pm me, if you are close enough we would be very happy to meet up for a chat or communicate via email, whatever suits you.

Best regards

Barry Smith

Mazarron Country Club


 



This message was last edited by Fighter2 on 10/10/2011.



This message was last edited by Fighter2 on 10/10/2011.



This message was last edited by Fighter2 on 10/10/2011.



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10 Oct 2011 18:40 by arne56 Star rating in La Cañada and Uppsal.... 192 posts Send private message

arne56´s avatar

Very intresting Barry.

We are just about to move to Spain after summer holiday. Will contact you in a few days.

The problem in our community is that it is a clan that collect all the proxys in a way I would not use. The sybioses between this clan and the Administrator will be the first struggle. I am pointing out all the braking of law the Administrater do but the most owners are rather apathic.



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10 Oct 2011 20:35 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4534 posts Send private message

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Wow. Barry, I am impressed. What you have achieved is remarkable and I take my hat off to you and your fellow owners. And to do this in such a large community is no small task.

Having said that, I suppose in a larger community there is more chance of finding as you put it "a team of owners" with the necessary skills and desire, not to mention time, to make a difference. As Arne says, one of the biggest problems in many communities is the general apathy and reluctance to get involved (understandably) and the smaller the community, the fewer volunteers there are likely to be. In my case, I am pretty much on my own as there are only 3 other owners who actually live here permanently, and like me they cannot really afford the time. It's hard enough to get them to attend an annual meeting, let alone have regular meetings to discuss and sort out any pending issues.Of course, you would think the problems should be fewer and smaller, and thank godness we have no debtors to chase, but many of the issues are probably the same as they would be for a larger community. They may cost relatively less to fix, but the time involved in sorting them out doesn't necessarily scale down. 

Anyway, well done Barry, and good luck Arne!



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"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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10 Oct 2011 21:02 by meggie Star rating in England. 114 posts Send private message

Gosh, Barry, how fortunate for your community that you were willing to put all that hard work into reversing the downward slope towards bankruptcy for your community.  Is your community all, or mostly, made up of British and other nationalities besides Spanish?  It makes me wonder how the Spanish communities get by, seemingly, without too much difficulty...

I am now absolutely convinced that, if and when we buy a place in Spain, it will NOT be one that is part of a community of properties!



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Mag




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11 Oct 2011 10:47 by Fighter2 Star rating. 237 posts Send private message

Hi Meggie

Our community is very multi-national, British, French, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Belgians and a small but increasing number of Spanish.

Regarding communities, unless you wish to live in a smallholding out in the campo or a small village Community of owners are a way of life here, not all are afflicted by an administrator such as the one we had and just a reasonable amount of due care a control of any administrator will avoid what almost brought us down.

Certainly don't be put off Spain.... the lifestyle is wonderful even though I have a full time job in a large multi-nantional it is still the place to live.

Barry





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11 Oct 2011 19:25 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4534 posts Send private message

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Barry has a full-time job AND pretty much runs a community of 800 properties.

Barry is a Superhero!

I really hate to say this, and I may well get slated for doing so, but I think the clincher may well be the nationality mix; our little community is overwhelmingly Spanish, in fact, I'm in a minority of approximately one. Think what you may.....



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"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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11 Oct 2011 21:33 by meggie Star rating in England. 114 posts Send private message

Thanks for the reply, Barry.  We are warming towards the idea of Spain again,,,after having been put off for a long time because of the problems some people have had trying to secure themselves a property.  As a result there has been loads of good advice given on this (and other) sites for prospective buyers. 

I wonder, Roberto, whether you think the fact that you reside in a 'little' community helps.  Maybe some communities are so large that it becomes difficult to keep tabs on everyone?  Or maybe you're right...the Spanish have been living in such communities for so long that they know how to keep things running smoothly between each other?



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Mag




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11 Oct 2011 22:30 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4534 posts Send private message

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No, no, no, Meggie, you haven't been following me! For sure, a large community must be a nightmare to run, but being as small as we are doesn't make it any easier because there's nobody - I mean NOBODY, willing to help keep things running. I feel like I am single handedly managing the day to day maintenance and administration of an entire building, for no financial reward let alone thanks, and yet I only own about a 5% share of it. Why would anyone in their right mind do that? And you must have misunderstood my comments about the Spanish - they have been living in broken down communities so long, they accept it as normal, and frankly don't seem to give a sh1t anyway. I believe Barry and his multi-national assistants have achieved what they have simply because the majority are not Spanish.

But you shouldn't be put off Spain for this alone. There are far better reasons to be put off Spain! (You can find many of them elsewhere on this forum). Anyway, (I've heard) there are some communities that function properly. Just try to buy somewhere with no lifts, no gardens, no pools, certainly no employees, and there shouldn't be too much that can go wrong!



_______________________

 

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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12 Oct 2011 00:05 by meggie Star rating in England. 114 posts Send private message

Doh...what am I like? I see what you mean, Roberto and I could see you shaking your head at me whilst saying, 'No, no, no!'. Thanks for the clarification.  It certainly makes more sense to know that the Spanish are used to living in run-down communities. They really don't seem to worry about that sort of thing...don't know whether that's a good thing or not.  I must say, though, when we lived in Catalunya, the locals did take great pride in adorning the outsides of their dwellings with as many flowers and plants as they could get onto them and they did look lovely (covered up all the peeling-off render etc).

More good advice, too, Roberto. Thanks!

Now....where are all those places with no lifts, no gardens, no pools and no employees?  Either that or Mazarron Country Club....



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Mag




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12 Oct 2011 19:34 by Fighter2 Star rating. 237 posts Send private message

Come to Country Club Meggie, you won't be bored and it's the nicest Urganisation in Murcia !!!

When you visit let me know you're coming and I'll buy you abeer.

Barry





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12 Oct 2011 19:49 by meggie Star rating in England. 114 posts Send private message

Oh thank you, Barry!  That's very kind of you. I'll let you know when....



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Mag




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