Presidency or Dictatorship!

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09 Sep 2015 20:53 by RubioExPat Star rating. 10 posts Send private message

Our President managed to get it approved at the AGM that he doesn't have to pay Community Fees in exchange for the work he does. This equates to 3,200 euros per year, not an inconsiderable sum!  

I don't consider that he does enough work to justify this and the work he does do I would rather he didn't... such as behaving as a policeman at the pool and creating an intimidating atmosphere.  Anyway I digress.. My point is that he has got this through because he makes it his business to get as many proxies as he can and so basically he proposed this and voted for it himself.  There are 27 houses in the community, of which only 8 are residents, the rest are second homes.  They always hold the AGM in March, a time of year when no-one is there, and the owners that live abroad are happy to give their proxy to the President as they don't really want to get involved, just want to enjoy their house when they come on holiday without any aggravation, and believe me he causes aggravation.  

At the last meeting there were just 6 people present, one of whom was the President armed with all his proxies.  Even if the 5 present objected it wouldn't have made any difference as he has more proxies than there are permanent residents.  In my book, this is not a democracy but a dictatorship!  Is this legal?  Is there anything to be done?  He also proposes and votes himself in as President and has allocated himself an extra parking space.  Every other house only has one space so he has effectively increased the value of his house.  As for the residents, they daren't stand up to him as he has so much power, everyone just wants a peaceful life.  Of those that do get involved we feel we don't have a voice.  There is no point in objecting to anything as he overrules everything and then you suffer the consequences.

Any ideas?!

 





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09 Sep 2015 22:27 by DuncanMcG Star rating in Manchester, UK. 377 posts Send private message

DuncanMcG´s avatar

Have you tried contacting the proxy voters and making them aware of what is happening? After all the 3,200 euros he no longer pays has to be divided between the remaining 26 residents. I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't be too happy to pay an additional 100+ euros per annum each.

Is there anyone else who would stand as president and carry out the president duties for free? If so, why not stand against him at the next AGM after collecting the required proxy votes?



_______________________
Never wrestle with a pig. You will both get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.



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09 Sep 2015 23:00 by mariedav Star rating in Ciudad Quesada. 1121 posts Send private message

27 houses and the community fees are €3200 a year? My goodness, does Hilton own the place? Are the no parking lines painted in gold leaf? I'm assuming the swimming pools are olympic sized and you have half a dozen lifeguards on duty all year round.

Seriously, I think we must have been very lucky as we have lived on 3 communities here in Spain. None of them have had presidents (or committee members) who think of themselves as demi-gods. In fact, the one we now live on, has had 3 presidents in my time and all have worked extremely hard for minimum expenses. The only thing to do is canvas all the owners, whether living there or not, and get proxies from them if they can't be bothered turning up for meetings. We did have one owner (just living here for 6 months) who put himself up for president but it was obvious he was one of these power mad types who wanted to change things and run it his way. He was quickly shown the door and the other owners (on a community of  180 houses which has 3 adult pools, 4 children pools, extensive gardens, regular cleaning and maintenance but pay from 240 to 1300 euro a year depending on size (ours is a 3 bed end town house at 450 euro a year) and very extensive street lighting plus a lifeguard in the summer) voted in someone who had the good of the community at heart. Yes, we've had a few "silly" ideas thrown in but, fortunately, we do use common sense and vote for the things we want to happen.

I'm quite glad, sometimes, that I don't seem to live in the same Spain as many posters on here.

 





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10 Sep 2015 08:43 by Hephaestus Star rating in The Peak District Na.... 1235 posts Send private message

I'm assuming that you receive a copy of the accounts, it would be very interesting to know what the president claims as expenses.

 

 

 

 

 



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I'm Spartacus, well why not?




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10 Sep 2015 09:17 by Tadd1966 Star rating in Los Montesinos. 1755 posts Send private message

3200€ per year for community fees – that is ridiculous

Your president is abusing his position and you need to do something about this and I think you have 2 options

  1. Assuming you have an administrator then you need to make a formal complaint and insist on action – if not inform them you will be taking legal action
  2. You need to take legal action – go and see a solicitor ASAP

I also think that having only 5 people at an AGM is not sufficient a quorum for the AGM to be held

Edited to add

 

I am not sure if a president can claim any benefits or income (other than expenses incurred, fuel, postage, stationary etc.) for doing the role of president (may be possible if the community votes for it).

However, if he is claiming benefits approved by the community such as extra car park, free community fees then he must declare these as income (benefits in kind for the extra car park) and pay the appropriate income tax on these benefits and income. Also he must submit valid invoices for any payments or credits so they can be balanced off in the community accounts


This message was last edited by Tadd1966 on 10/09/2015.

_______________________
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge”



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10 Sep 2015 17:21 by CostaBlade Star rating in Riviera. 115 posts Send private message

As a serving President i know of some communities that pay 3,200 euro community fees - and yes it is to high.

I also know a President (passed) that claimed 9,000 euro as his payment by using proxy votes, that in my book is clearly wrong.

 

I have served for 4 years and for the first 2 years refused any payment (we didn´t have any mony anyway), then the owners voted for me to not pay community fees (1,500 euro) whether i liked it or not - this was for all the hard work i had done in turning a rubbish community into a good one and having a surplus of funds to carry forward.

I eventually agreed, but this was to be reviewed every year and i have the option of refusing the "offer" of not paying community fees.

Incedently it is on the accounts as a gratuity, therefore not taxable.

This is because by-and-large i enjoy doing the job - i must be mad, i know.

 

As for being a "dictator or a policeman" can´t someone buy your President a beer and explain things to him, it doesn´t always work but worth a try.

Some Presidents i know are like "the state police" but they probably don´t have too many managierial skills and just need "a word in their ear" it is a difficult job (being a President) trying to be "even handed" - I am sure your man just wants to keep a really nice well run community at heart.

 

But then again there are some real numpty´s elected as President - i have met a few.

 

Interestingly in our community a lot of owners who rent out their properties give their proxy´s to an agent who has a half share in a property, which gives him a voice and a vote at our AGM, he also has anything up to 18 proxy´s from people who rent out through him, that can make life very difficult as he thinks he runs the community (for the benefit of his renters), sometimes i have to explain to him "as President, i run the community for ALL the owners" it never goes down very well !!

 

The joys of being a President eh ! who´d be one ?

 





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10 Sep 2015 17:52 by Hephaestus Star rating in The Peak District Na.... 1235 posts Send private message

Many years ago I served as a member of a village society, both the president and vice president were southerners who had really fallen on their feet by selling very expensive but modest property and replacing it with something that they never in their widest dreams imagined owning. Both were really decent guys who worked very hard for the village without actually achieving anything, I well recall the president informing me that he was an 'adopted villager', I couldn't help reminding him that it is the parent who informs the child that it has been adopted.

The thing is that neither I or other members of the society ever stood against them, I reckon that if you don't throw your hat into the ring that you don't have right to rubbish their decisions, bad as they may be. wink   



_______________________

I'm Spartacus, well why not?




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10 Sep 2015 17:59 by Tadd1966 Star rating in Los Montesinos. 1755 posts Send private message

Costablade

Incedently it is on the accounts as a gratuity, therefore not taxable.

In the community accounts gratuities may be offset as expense (receipts are not always necessary for gratuities but preferred) as with any other business, as it can be deemed as a valid business expense.

However, as for the recipient of the gratuity payment (in this case the president)  then the individual (the president) must declare this payment on a tax return as income / benefit and pay any calculated personal tax due and possibly social security payments

 



_______________________
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge”



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10 Sep 2015 18:46 by Team GB Star rating. 1245 posts Send private message

Team GB´s avatar

The lawyer Antonio Flores has written a blog about presidents remuneration.

I'm president again this year, all I get is a jar of campo bee honey once a month from the gardner, delightful though.



_______________________

 

 




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10 Sep 2015 22:06 by Tadd1966 Star rating in Los Montesinos. 1755 posts Send private message

A suggestion for the OP

Print off all of these posts and put a copy through his door and send copies to everyone in the community 



_______________________
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge”



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10 Sep 2015 23:26 by RubioExPat Star rating. 10 posts Send private message

Thanks everyone for your replies.  

Contacting all the proxy voters is difficult as the administrator won't give us contact details and they don't visit the urbanisation often.  I have had a house in the complex for thirty years and this is the first time a President has had his community fee waived.  A previous President asked for this but it was refused. Previously they just had their expenses covered.

There seems to be a general opinion that our community fees are very high for just 27 houses.  It's in Marbella, if that makes any difference.  The pool is a lagoon style, though normal size. We don't have any security or lifeguards.  Just one gardener and basic communal lighting.  The houses are town houses but built in a chevron interlocking style and when the community was first formed it was decreed that the pool would be painted every 2 years and the whole complex every 5 years.  In fact you were not allowed to paint your house independently, they all had to be painted together to maintain uniformity and because of the style of the houses it is difficult to ascertain where one house ends and another begins.  This hasn't been done for about 15 years.  (The pool has been painted though)  I keep bringing it up but they say the community can't afford it... yet they can afford to waive the President's Fees!

With regard to the President's expenses, there is a figure in the accounts "gastos a justificar Presidente" for 819 euros. Bit of a cheek when his fees are being waived!  Only just noticed that.  The fees are around 275 per month, mine are anyway, for 3 storey houses, of which the President has one.  Some of the houses are only 2 storeys and so their fees are less.. something I've never understood as the footprint of the houses are the same and we all only have one parking space and receive the same services.  Just looked in the accounts and his fees are 277.72 per month so he is benefitting by 3332.64 per year. In the accounts it shows as extraordinary expenses.

I have tried to attach a copy of the summary of the accounts but my account needs to be approved (how do I do that?).  The main expense is the gardener and the swimming pool. I could ask to see all the receipts but I'm no accountant and I don't think I would be able to offer anything to reduce the community fee.

I agree that I think the President is abusing his position but this was done at an AGM with the Administrator present so I, along with everyone else, presumed that it was legal.  I can't afford to employ a solicitor so was hoping for some clarification as to whether this is legal.  I've read the suggested blog but it doesn't seem to be clear on this. Also I don't understand about a quorum, can someone explain please, in words of one syllable!  

I don't know if he is declaring these benefits in kind to the revenue.  

This is the second year that he has had his fees waived and at each AGM he had more proxies than people present. 

There is no point in 'buying him a beer' and explaining things to him.  This man, and his wife, is drunk with power and causes trouble for anyone who stands against him.  You wouldn't believe some of the things that have gone on! He is an old man and this is the only power he has ever had in his life and he's not going to give it up easily!

 

 

 





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11 Sep 2015 13:27 by windtalker Star rating. 1768 posts Send private message

I have seen first hand what it takes to run a small development ,it is not as easy as you think I would not take up the post myself unless i was being paid for it .





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11 Sep 2015 19:15 by CostaBlade Star rating in Riviera. 115 posts Send private message

Just a note on gaining proxies.

When you meet your fellow owners get them to send you email and by default you have their email address and you can begin to collect proxies and speak to other owners, gaining support - although you might be asked to stand for President, with their support of course.

Print some contact cards (business cards) to hand out with your contact details on it, it will remind them to send you that all important email. It can be slow but you have to put in a bit of effort to get your reward.

 

The administrators are not allowed by law to divulge other owners email address´to you.

 

Best of luck





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12 Sep 2015 06:03 by ossie1 Star rating. 36 posts Send private message

I am a President in Marbella of 150 apartments. I live here full time and have turned the urbanisation around from a neglected filthy place to one of the best in Nueva Andalucia. I work tirelessly for the community. The old President, board and administrator did nothing leaving a beautiful new complex to ruin in 4 years. 

It was a very difficult process to remove them all. Involving lawyers, proxies etc, etc... A nightmare... I wrote to each owner and slipped my proxy request under the door. I recorded on my iPad the AGM and the game was up for them. They forbid me to record but I kept on doing it. They were counting votes from empty seats. When everyone saw that they were cheating the game was up and I was voted President, but I took a long time to transfer the post as they did " what every they had to do to tidy up the books ". I found an excellent administrator. And proceeded to fire all the staff bar one and the slow process of removing the contractors began. The complex is now wonderful.

Being President here has been a full time job. I do not get my fees paid but I certainly feel that even if I did it would not be enough. What I am really saying is that it depends how committed and hard working your President is. To sleep at night knowing that you have a good 'honest' person looking after your home is priceless. Unfortunately many are not, they work with the administrator and get up to all sorts of funny business. Some just like the title. 

To to do the job properly and conscientiously is extremely difficult for an often ungrateful and complaining community. Fortunately I have great support and yes I do have more Proxis than people who attend the meetings but we have just held our AGM yesterday and all matters were passed without their use. Our AGM have turned into a civilised dignified affair, a far cry from the past. 

I now now feel I can leave the post to someone else. It is spoiling the enjoyment of our apartment and we have decided to sell. 

It is unfortunate but ' in Spain ' we have decided that communal life is not for us. 

I wish you well 

Tom ...

 


body p



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12 Sep 2015 10:03 by daioakley Star rating. 38 posts Send private message

I am sorry to hear of the experiences you have been enduring.

It may be worth looking closely at the current Law of Horizontal Property.

It is some time since I looked at it, but I seem to remember that an employee of the Community may not be an officer (President) of the Community at the same time.

If the existing President is receiving a financial benefit, even in the form of exemption from paying Community fees, it could be argued that this is effectively a payment for the work he does.

From what you have told us, it would seem that the use of Community land (a parking space) for his own benefit could also be seen as a quantifiable financial benefit in kind.

Careful examination of the accounts including looking at the receipts for expenditure may show other financial benefits like commissions added to tradesmen's accounts or received from contractors as inducements.

The Hacienda may well have an interest in the situation.

 





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12 Sep 2015 17:35 by davarn Star rating in Sth Bucks. 3 posts Send private message

The administrator is bound by data protestion law, which prevents him divulging contact details for other owners.

If you want to communicate with the other owners in your community who are non resident / unknown,  you must give your administrator permission to pass your email address to them. Then your administrator can write to all owners, except the alleged miscreant president, stating that you wish to discuss some urgent community business and would appreciate their kind responses directly to you (or via the administrator if they must keep their details private).

"Urgent community business" is enough to fire at least some curiosity and hopefully a decent amount of replies/queries! Of course if there's a decent response you may call an EGM and vote the encumbent out!

Your administrator must advise you how many owners are needed to do that.

Go for it!

 

 





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12 Sep 2015 20:16 by RubioExPat Star rating. 10 posts Send private message

Thank you once again for your replies.  Some good suggestions.  Asking the Administrator to pass on my email address is a good idea.

The point about whether he has been receiving commissions is interesting.  I'd not thought about that. Also re the President effectively being an employee of the Community, that is an interesting point.  Tom, what are your thoughts on that?

Also Tom, @ossie1, you sound like you have done an amazing job.  Recording the meeting is a good idea although they are often a nightmare, you lose the will to live they go on so long and in no way can be described as civilised or dignified. A reason I think many don't go.  Also I don't find that the minutes accurately reflect what was said so I may record the next one.  Another problem is that many of the owners don't even bother to read the minutes and so don't actually know what is going on.  They just want to enjoy the time they spend in Spain, which I understand.  It seems community business has tarnished your experience which is very sad, especially after all your hard work.  I would be interested to know which administrator in Marbella you have used as I think that is part of our problem.  Perhaps you would pm me.  With regard to how hard working the President is.  Not very.  His main focus appears to be on policing the pool which has resulted in an unpleasant atmosphere and many owners would like to sell.  It didn't used to be like that and it's so sad as it is a wonderful urbanisation and it doesn't need to be like that.





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13 Sep 2015 10:51 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4536 posts Send private message

Roberto´s avatar

Ossie1, you need a medal!

"Being President here has been a full time job. I do not get my fees paid but I certainly feel that even if I did it would not be enough."

Ditto! Personally, I would not want my fees paid or any other kind of renumeration, because then other owners would expect even more from me and I would feel even more obligated. I'd prefer the other, especially non-resident, owners to have to pay a surplus of some sort to the community coffers to compensate for their lack of input in maintaining what is after all their own property.

"To to do the job properly and conscientiously is extremely difficult for an often ungrateful and complaining community."

Amen to that!

"(being president) is spoiling the enjoyment of our apartment ...we have decided that communal life is not for us."

I know that feeling all too well!

 A few more presidents like you, and a bit more understanding (of what it takes for someone else to keep your property nice for you) and appreciation of the work done on behalf of others, and communities would be better places to live.



_______________________

 

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

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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13 Sep 2015 12:00 by daioakley Star rating. 38 posts Send private message

It looks very much as if we have all forgotten the first three rules of property.

I imagine that you will be thinking 'Location, Location, Location', but in our opinion that is well down the list.

We think they are:

NO NEIGHBOURS, NO NEIGHBOURS, NO NEIGHBOURS

As the Captain of your own ship, you can be the author of your own fate.

If you fail to maintain your own property, you have the luxury of the reduction in its capital value.
Those in a Community who are conscientious and look after their own parts will always feel disgruntled by those who expect the Community to look after their interests for them and thereby preserve the value of their capital investment.

It would seem that some Presidents spend lots of Community money because the more they spend the greater the oportunity for kick-backs.
For the same reason, there is no insentive to get the best deal for the Community.

One simple example is that some owners replace the light bulbs in their own areas at their own expense.
Others simply complain to the administrator who arranges for the bulbs to be replaced at an overall cost of several hundred euros a year.

The insurance of the building and other communal aspects may well be worthy of close examination.
I was able to make a saving of more than 30% by changing to a local broker.
The administrator was not a happy bunny because the move cost her her commission. ( a perfectly normal and reasonable aspect but one which can be avoided.)
In the process it transpired that the building would not have been covered in the event of a fire because the fire detection and warning system and the fire extinguishers had not been maintained since the building was occupied (7 years!!!).
I wondered why the administrator had not seen to this perfectly normal aspect of property management.

The answer was, as in so many cases, the people with the responsibilty for so many Community things have no experience or knowledge of property or estate management.
That also seems to apply to many of those who are acting as administrators.
Qualifications and or membership of the Regional Association of Administrators does not appear to afford any meaningful protection for Communities.
 





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13 Sep 2015 12:59 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4536 posts Send private message

Roberto´s avatar

Mods: I think this thread and the other one about Presidents and Communities need to be merged, because they're covering many of the same matters.

Great post, daioakley. The lack of appreciation by absentee or apathetic owners whose investment is being maintained by other more conscientious owners is infruriating. True example: owner turns up once in a while and does nothing but complain that, for example, a certain plant is in the wrong part of the garden because it should be in the shade and not the sun, insults the gardener, insults the president (me), and doesn't for one moment stop to consider what has been involved in ensuring that when she arrives, the automatic garage doors work for her, she rides up to her apartment in the lift, the lights all work, the building is insured and fire prevention systems work, the water for her home is pumped from the basement reservoir, the pool is clean and ready to use, her fees haven't risen in years because there are no bad debtors etc. etc. 

Rant over. Our current administrator refuses to even recommend any contractors, because he does not want to risk being accused of receiving back handers. That's admirable, but it does mean that the president has to do even more time consuming leg work in areas that he (me) has little or no experience. And yes, you're correct, many administrators have no proper qualifications, membership of professional bodies or any sort of regulation - much like estate agents in Spain. That's Spain. 



_______________________

 

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

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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