Every day, 99.co takes a piece of property jargon and demystifies it. Today, we’re looking at the MCST, and why they hire someone to nag at you for not pre-booking the BBQ pit:
What is a Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST)?
An MCST is an organisation (or very rarely, an individual) appointed to oversee a strata-titled development. MCSTs can be found for both commercial and residential developments.
One of the most important jobs of the MCST is to manage the development’s sinking fund (that’s where you pay your money to upkeep your condo, or your mall). These accounts are audited every financial year.
The MCST also convenes the Annual General Meetings (AGMs) or special meetings among the owners. It’s responsible for keeping the minutes of the meetings, and maintaining all the records for at least seven years. The MCST also keep and updates the development’s strata roll; that’s the the register of each owner in the development.
The MCST has the right to make bylaws (via the AGM), which residents of the development must abide by.
But they also maintain and improve the facilities and such, right?
Yes and no.
In theory, they should be pretty hands-on, and taking constant steps to maintain or improve the place. In reality, this varies wildly between developments.
Some MCSTs will take active steps to introduce new facilities, whereas others are content to just lay back and maintain things. Some are very active in promoting communal activities, whereas others are invisible, faceless phantoms.
For the most part, how an MCST behaves will reflect the will of the development’s owners. For example:
Say the MCST wants to have a Christmas celebration in a strata-titled mall. If all the owners co-operate, there may be a nine foot-tall Christmas tree and a man in a Santa suit. But if none of the owners care for the trouble or expense, then the mall gets a small, sad, plastic tree and a knock-off recording of Jingle Bells.
The same goes with residential developments. Not every owner is keen on an MCST that spends money like crazy, upgrading facilities left and right. This is especially true when a development is old, and everyone’s just waiting for an en-bloc.
The Managing Agent, not the members of the MCST, is usually the person you’ll deal with
Another thing to note is that the MCST generally won’t handle the day-to-day stuff. Most of this is delegated to a property manager, called the Managing Agent (MA). This is a full-time professional who looks after the property (the head maintenance person if you like).
The MA often has leeway to decide which cleaning service to hire, which security company to use, how often the gardening is done, etc. When there are complaints about these services, it’s the MA and not the MCST members who will probably deal with it. However, note that the MA cannot in turn delegate his own job to another vendor (e.g. the MA can’t hire another MA).
The MA is only ever appointed for a three year stretch. After that, the MA’s continuation will be determined at the AGM.
MAs are often accredited by one of the following agencies:
– The Association of Management Corporations in Singapore
– The Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers
– The Association of Property and Facility Managers
Who made them king of your mall / condo anyway?
The first MCST is the result of the developer’s choice. Once a development receives its Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOP), a developer has two months to appoint an MCST.
The MCST appointed by the developer will be in charge until the first AGM. At that point, the owners will decide if they want to continue with the same MCST. If they choose to have another, then there will be a handover process.
At any AGM, owners have the right to vote out members of the MCST. It’s also possible for owners to completely push out and replace the entire MCST; but this seldom happens, due to the potential chaos it can cause within the development (it also tends to put the Managing Agent at serious risk of a mental breakdown :))
In our experience, MCST handovers are seldom tidy.
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