ApartmentADDA is the product of 3Five8 Technologies Pvt. Ltd. You maybe a part of a Management Committee, who in spite of Busy Schedules and Demanding Careers, raise their confident Hands to become President, Secretary, Treasurer in Housing Societies of High Rises.
This is it! ADDA Clubhouse is finally here to make clubhouse management organised, easy and on one single platform.
The apartment community Clubhouse is THE most underrated treasure trove in any gated community. An entire plethora of facilities remain unused or are misused. Reason? Lack of a centralised management system. ADDA Clubhouse is the answer to management committee members’ headache of utilising the facilities to their full potential.
So Why ADDA Clubhouse?
Excellent question! Your apartment community clubhouse holds the prospect of increasing revenue manifold. All it requires, is an integrated system to make facility booking easier. ADDA’s ability to be flexible enables management communities to customise their clubhouse management according to their community guidelines. It assists in coalescing revenue collection, facility maintenance and clubhouse security in one app.
Advantages of ADDA Clubhouse
The most significant advantage is to turn the Clubhouse into a golden egg laying goose. Unlike the fable, this goose will only lay more and more golden eggs in time.
The management committee decides the access permission for clubhouse facilities. Maintenance defaulters can be barred from using the clubhouse until dues are cleared.
A single integrated platform allows management committee to relay activity and facility information to residents, creating higher awareness of privileges available on campus. This in turn, leads to more bookings. Higher bookings generate higher revenues.
ADDA Clubhouse provides a separate book for tracking only Clubhouse revenue. Income, expenses and budgeting can be worked out through the app itself while sitting in the comfort of your house. Comparison of annual balance sheets help to strategise further improvement in clubhouse revenue models.
Automated door access management helps to monitor security and track entries and exits to the clubhouse. Security is a major part of successful clubhouse management. It can even track third party presence in your community’s clubhouse. With ADDA Clubhouse, managing guest facility booking is orderly. Coupled with integrated biometric system to track users, this assists in opening clubhouse usage to third parties securely. More the booking, more the return on investments.
What does ADDA Clubhouse offer?
Well, just about everything you need for smooth clubhouse management.
Management committees can customise bookings based on slots, hours or day(s). It gives residents the options to book the clubhouse according to their need and convenience. Therefore, multiple parties can use the clubhouse on the same day.
Easy payment options through online payment gateways and UPI to avoid delays or hassles in payments. The records are synced to the app for all relevant members to see, thereby, increasing transparency. Timely payments help to constantly increase revenues. The Clubhouse becomes a sustainable income source for the community – it earns not only to maintain itself but also contributes to community development as a whole.
Subscription based payment methods and pay-as-you-go methods encourage more residents and tenants to use the facilities available literally at their doorstep. Guarantee of easy refund set-up encourage more facility bookings.
ADDA Clubhouse is the 21st century automated mechanism needed to step up apartment management. At ADDA, we aim to build sustainable communities. Then why not target financial sustainability too? Let your clubhouse be the genie in the bottle paving the way for all your apartment community wishes coming true.
Unbelievable title to this article, isn’t it? It is absolutely justified to wonder if at all an apartment management system can cease to be a headache for the management committee members. Collecting maintenance dues, utility bills, compiling a defaulter list, charting budget, income, expenses, maintaining the books, managing apartment facilities, setting up stern apartment security system, keeping the residents involved in community building activities are some of the basic responsibilities of a management committee member. Yet, here we are. Claiming these duties and serious responsibilities can be accomplished without much of a sweat. Naturally, the very obvious question arises – how?
The answer is short and simple – technology. Technology is that messiah, the world needed to keep up with its growing demands. It cuts down workload remarkably, increases efficiency and has the potential to be a sustainable approach to most issues we face on a daily basis. There are very few fields that have still not been touched by the powers of technology. And then there are fields like apartment management. Management of gated communities have been one of the most underrated responsibilities. Management committee members are an unappreciated lot doing a thankless voluntary job. The creation of cloud based apartment management system is a small way of showing the MCs, the value we attach to the time and effort they devote to assist in building better communities around the world.
Numbers Aren’t That Scary
An average gated community earns approximately close to a few lakhs per quarter as maintenance alone. There are added incomes in the form of facility bookings, utility charges and interests, assuming the association has investments in the name of the apartment complex. In an apartment management system, the accounting infrastructure must be dealt with the same seriousness as the apartment security system. Accounting and security form the backbone of gated communities.
A manual accounting system is not only prone to errors, but difficult to oversee and track on a daily basis. With a software system in place, the income and expenditures are visible on the dashboard with a few clicks. The records are available for access to other managing committee members, ensuring everyone is in the know about the financial status of their community. A software based accounting system is practically paperless and with a cloud based record storage, there is no fear of losing important records. Vendor payments, purchase requests, comparison of expenditure and savings with respect to previous years are streamlined. All information is available at one place. A clean record keeping is of great assistance to the auditor during the annual audits. The plus point? Defaulting percentage comes down to contribute to increasing income.
Facility Maintenance Made Breezy
Facilities like swimming pools, gyms, clubhouses, community halls or tennis courts are some of the common privileges available to residents for their use. However, most residents are often unaware of booking procedure, charges and facility usage rules and regulations. Facilities are equivalent to investments that has the potential to earn interest on them if used wisely. That is where digital apartment management system comes in handy. With automated booking calendars and online payment options, the management committee can earn revenue and use the facilities to their full potential. It rules out the issues of double booking and ad hoc requests. With document sharing features, every resident can be made aware of the rules and regulations of using the facilities without going through the hassle of informing every booking party of the dos and don’ts repeatedly. With improvised facility management modules, they can even be integrated to the apartment security system to check entries and exits.
Everybody and Everything Gets By With A Little Help
A gated community requires constant love, care and attention like a proper beloved spouse. That is not possible without the existence of an efficient maintenance system. If every minor problem, required a walk to the association office and running around to be solved, it will show on the upkeep of the community as a whole. A methodical system of maintaining an apartment community goes a long way and ultimately increases the valuation of the units in the real estate market. Apartment management software makes it easier to communicate to vendors and maintenance in-charges for prompt resolution of matters requiring attention. It also helps to coordinate beautification of the premises. A well knit system is cost effective, saving the committee thousands of rupees lost to shoddy jobs that need to be repeatedly corrected. An effective structure leads to better utilisation as well. The same organisation can be used to implement sustainable initiatives like rainwater harvesting, solar power, waste management arrangements.
Being On The Safe Side. Always!
It is always better to be safe than sorry. A successful apartment management system is not possible without the presence of an orderly apartment security system. To err is human is a common phrase we have all grown up, hearing. This is perhaps the most applicable when setting up a security system. Installation of CCTV cameras and biometric devices is one way to go about it. However, records stored by these devices are dependant on hardware systems. A simple malfunction can delete terabytes worth of important security data. Therefore, it is always necessary to have a cloud based arrangement that makes data retrieval easy. Software dealing with apartment management system helps to keep a meticulous database of all entries and exits, regular visitors like staff, delivery personnel, caregivers and vendors. It helps to track the attendance of community human resources, along with water pilferaging, overstaying of visitors. A combination of software and hardware security system, powered by human instinct is a sure guarantee for a safe community – the home to children, elderly citizens and women, who are the most vulnerable sections of our society.
There Is No Key Better Than Communication
So what ties up all the points discussed above to create the perfect community? Communication. If residents and MCs do not communicate freely and productively, none of the tenets and best practices of apartment management can be executed flawlessly. Software gives a dedicated platform to communicate entirely about apartment related topics. It helps the MCs have a more democratic set up, leading to transparent management. The more the communication, the easier it is to involve residents in community activities creating stronger bonders, healthier societies and united neighbours.
Apartment management will never be an easy task. It requires as much effort as maintaining an office structure. However, this task can be made easier with a little faith on technology. The constant stress of work life and family life is more than enough. Let apartment management be a fun productive co-curricular involvement that helps MCs develop not only into better managers, but also stronger human beings.
Managing an apartment community was never a child’s play and will never be one. It requires immense time, effort, dedication and commitment to ensure a community runs smoothly. Therefore, Owners Association Management have a huge responsibility on their shoulders. Accounting, customer care, technical support, property and facility management are a few priority services Dubai OAMs handle among other duties. Projects are placed under the care of a community manager for the personal touch.
Being a successful OAM need immense focus to provide exemplary service to the board of owners. Expectations are always high. It helps to remember a few points to warrant a degree of trust among clients and prove to be a game changer in the market.
Effortless Accounting Infrastructure
The one word that comes to mind when planning and executing policies about account management in apartment communities and gated communities – sprezzatura. A simple way to define it, would be,”Paddling like a duck in a pond – all calm and grace to the sight but swimming insanely underneath.”
Employees of OAMs have to be constantly vigilant when it comes to account management. A comprehensive financial management demand an adaptable strategy to secure the day to day transactions with zero hassle. An online module for payments of bills to vendors and collection of maintenance due from occupants boost efficiency. Considering we are increasingly moving to a lifestyle where we are constantly on the move, it helps to have online access to pay or receive payment from anywhere, anytime. It helps to have a disciplined method to prepare a budget for the maintenance of a property. With RERA and Mollak tightening the laws, it only makes sense to frame a consolidated well thought out budget covering all segments of income and expenses. Switching to dedicated apartment management software makes community accounting that much easier, comprehensible and crystal clear.
Monthly financial reports help to maintain transparency among owners, residents and the OAM. It also helps to assess the income and expenditure and to take decisions of spending less or more in necessary segments. Having established relationships with suitable investment vehicles, contribute to increase available finances to maintain the communities under the OAMs.
Happy Customers Maketh A Successful OAM
Every OAM must remember the customer is their lifeline. It is only logical to ensure customer base is content and satisfied with services and grievance redressal. Customers should not feel they are communicating with a void space on the other side. The reassurance to resolve their concerns or answer their queries should be diligently maintained. A personalised customer care structure goes a long way to build branding and trust in the firm. At the same time, it is advisable to remember, the modern customer also prefers an easily accessible customer care support base. This is where apartment management apps come into play. In the hands of an efficient community manager, apps are the middle ground between accessible and personalised customer support. Customers can put a face to the admin and can be rest assured their questions and concerns won’t be piling in the corners of an overflowing inbox unanswered. A successful OAM is built on the performance of dedicated customer care professionals who understand each community and the unique problems they may face. A customised solution to such problems inspire a strong human bond, that often go beyond the professional.
Technology Is Your New Best Friend
The surge in new properties is not going to stop anytime soon. Manual systems have their limits to manage several properties. The amount of records needed to be maintained will fill up a few mailrooms without breaking a sweat. Technology is the only answer to sustain the management of this growing segment. The software segment has duly addressed this issue and has come up with apartment management software. Following a SaaS model, proptech is the new in thing in the real estate industry. Dedicated community websites are a viable extension of a property that is digitised using management software.
Apartment management software and apps come with several integrated modules like accounting, facility booking and management, repairs and maintenance of property as well as security. Software helps in automating paperless invoice generation, it helps in reminding residents of timely due payments. The automation helps in increasing revenue and gives OAMs a chance to take up initiatives for the communities under them, beyond the obvious services. Notices, violation letters are easy to send to residents promoting a healthy connected living space to residents.
State Of The Art Day to Day Community Management
To be a successful OAM, a company should remember the board of owners are handing over the maintenance of their home to the company. So what helps to show customers the respect an OAM has for their homes?
Regular property inspections keep OAMs in close touch with their end customers – the residents. It creates the impression of a company willing to be involved with their clients and not just treat them as money making machines. A company that revolves their management schemes around government policies create the impression of being an honourable establishment with strong professional integrity. Bringing in the human factor enhances a company’s brand image. Guaranteeing services like access to 24*7 emergency medical care to community members help to amplify the company’s competence. Establishing preferred vendor relationships assist to control the quality of services offered and minimises liabilities. It aids to regulate the upkeep of common areas and any other facilities requiring preservation. A good community management foundation also increases the valuation of a property owing to great maintenance.
Miscellaneous Services – The X Factor Making An OAM Unique
Any good company has a USP. Great care should be taken to ensure the USP is indeed unique and establishes a clear distinctive identity of the company. A productive way to go about it is to offer services unique to the brand. Some miscellaneous services that can be offered are real estate legal aid to clients, managing handovers, initiation of maintenance collection process, transition of owners, rental property management for villas and apartments, supervision of property maintenance, repair and renovation services for client communities, board member training seminars or educational symposiums and owner board establishment. This is one segment where the sky is the limit for OAMs to explore and find out what would best suit their target clients and also take the firm a step towards being inimitable.
Like Rome, a successful OAM is not built in a day. Concentrated labour, a temperament to adapt to change and the human factor – all fundamental elements necessary to achieve the target of being a force to reckon with in the industry – are significant touchstones for OAMs.
It’s 2019. Yet apartment complexes around the world are severely dependant on entirely manual systems to manage their communities. Remember the time when people were still wary to let their typewriters go and migrate to MS Office to digitalise office spaces? Office goers who have been used to a certain system for years and sometimes decades, felt uncomfortable trusting a machine with decreasing their workload. However, it has been considerable time since office spaces have been digitised and the glowing results are for everyone to see. The same goes for apartment management software. While the caution is understandable, there is indeed no harm in trying it out.
Apartment management software are a one stop solution for all aspects of managing apartment complexes and gated communities. Be it financial management, clubhouse and facility management or gate management, the software takes care of every need. Most importantly, using a management software has several benefits. Listing a few of them:
Paperless management committee. With one environment crisis breaking down on us after the other, it is only wise to switch to sustainable systems.
Increased efficiency with reduced effort. Management committee members devote their time voluntarily to ensure a gated community runs smoothly. An apartment management software cuts down their workload and empowers them to serve their home better.
Seamless record keeping. With a cloud based storage system, every resident and committee member can stay constantly updated with all management affairs of their community.
In this article, we will review how gate management ledgers are things of the past and apartment management software are the way forward.
Too many ledgers
While there may not be something like too much chocolate, however, the concept of too many ledgers exist. A gated community depending on gate security ledgers or registers cannot function using just one dedicated register. There are several different ledgers for staff, visitors, delivery personnel increasing the probability of errors. An apartment management software comes integrated with gate management systems in place. Just one device is enough to keep records under multiple separate categories. Considering the records are synced to the cloud, it is accessible to the office bearers of management committees. Hence, security can be more efficiently supervised, not only by the guards on duty but also by the Association members.
Transience is Not Always In the Best Interests
Yes, we are all aware of how change is the only permanent feature of life and how change always leads to new beginnings. Unfortunately, that is not a notion anybody would like their gate security to follow. It may seem your security registers are safe from tampering on a daily basis. Let’s face it – your ledgers aren’t locked up in a vault or aren’t secured in a fort. It would practically take as much time as blinking to delete or change data in the ledger. At the outset, this does not feel like a big deal. Yet the consequences of such a loophole can be disastrous in the event of a serious incident. With apartment management software’s security modules, the risk of changing records becomes negligible. In a digital space, changing records aren’t easy and any attempt to tamper with records, always leave a digital trail behind.
The Gaps In Gate Management Ledgers Are Not Pretty
Who doesn’t like to just walk in and out of a gated complex? Who wants to go through the hassle of signing names and check in and check out times when you are probably in a hurry? No one. As a result, registers are often incomplete. While strict gate staff can still get each visitor to sign in with their names and phone numbers, they often miss the same visitors to sign out. So there is no way to track how long a certain visitor has remained in the complex. Nevertheless, management software have thought about this issue and created easy digital check in and check out systems. With dedicated techniques in place to identify authorised visitors and staff, such software are capable of cutting down on risks of impersonation. At the same time, since overseeing security becomes easier for management committee members, they can immediately alert guards in case of missing entries and immediately rectify such security flaws.
When Reviewing Records Need Good Biceps
Those biceps and triceps can get their required exercise in Cult.Fit or similar establishments. Reviewing records should not be a stressful job. No one deserves to carry heavy registers and ledgers and sit poring over bad handwriting for hours together to make sense of it all. Also, the bigger the community, the faster manual ledgers get over. Thus, when reviewing records, one has to go through a considerable amount of books. This automatically leads to a very lax supervision of gate security. Apartment management software makes evaluation ten times easier. For starters, one doesn’t need to make those annoying pilgrimage to the association office or security office to check records. A couple clicks on the smartphone or laptop and every record is neatly organised at the fingertips. The best part? All this can be done while watching Netflix and chilling.
Going Through The Same Thing Over and Over
Domestic helps, household staff, community staff, vendors, delivery personnel are few categories of individuals visiting gated communities everyday. Having regular visitors repeatedly making entries in a ledger everyday is unnecessary. It only contributes to queuing at the gates. Since a manual system cannot be supervised minutely, we often tend to take things easy and not keep proper records of daily visitors. A gate security module in management software helps to check in and check out daily visitors at just a click. It is fast, efficient and reduces queuing. These staff records can even be accessed by residents ensuring the community is indeed connected, in the true spirit of the term.
Ledgers are not an ideal long term solution. They have to be constantly replaced with new ledgers. Their storage is another major issue. Throwing away security ledgers is risky and not preferable. Unfortunate incidents within the compound are always probable. Security records can go a long way to help resolve such problems. With incident reporting features and a paperless automated system, once again, the software scores over traditional methods.
Ledgers Do Not Help Security Guards with their Jobs
Let us understand the resources we employ to man our gates, are after all humans. As is the rule of the species, they are susceptible to flaws. Guarding gates is a demanding job. The guard must be alert and on toes every moment of their duty hours. It does not hurt to make their jobs a little easier. Apartment Management Software were not crafted with the aim to replace the accountant, the auditor, the management committee members or the security guards. They were designed to rise above human fallacies and empower the ones who make our homes safer and better. With SOS alerts, easy record keeping, hassle-free record retrieval, visitor management, the software helps guards to carry out their responsibilities to their full potential.
In the initial days, migrating to an apartment management software may feel like a risky big leap and even expensive. However, the pros of having a digital management system far outweigh the cons and contribute to healthy and noticeable return of investments.
Picture this – a well maintained gated community, lush green garden, shiny apartment blocks as good as new – however, the complex is almost a decade old. What could possibly be the secret to such a well maintained housing society? The answer is not only obvious but also very simple. Smart management of society finances and a modern approach to society accounting is equivalent to a long term investment. A well maintained balance sheet reflects itself on the upkeep of a cooperative housing society. Therefore, it becomes necessary to incorporate some best practices to sustain a healthy society accounting infrastructure.
5 Best Practices Of Cooperative Housing Society Accounting Discipline
Wondering how discipline, of all things, can be counted as a best practice? Well, oftentimes, it’s the simple values that can make a lot of difference. Discipline in society finance management can lead to a streamlined system of collecting maintenance dues, wiser expenditures, increased income and financial sustainability for the society as a whole.
Cash transactions are often confusing for a cooperative housing society. It requires a lot of meticulous documentation. There is a word to describe cash transactions in a housing society – messy. Considering, the treasurer and all other management committee members are offering voluntary services to run the society smoothly, cashless transactions go a long way to make things easier.
Lets review the advantages of enforcing a disciplined cashless housing society:
Cashless transactions can be done from anywhere at anytime. There need not be someone present in the Association office 24*7 to facilitate transactions. With the ease of internet banking and society management apps integrated with payment gateways and UPI, cashless transactions are no longer complicated.
Cashless transactions leave an automated trail and paperless records at multiple places. With more stringent cloud security solutions coming to the forefront everyday, a cashless society accounting system is as safe as it can get.
With cashless transactions, there can be dedicated bank account(s) for all the credit and debit transaction for the cooperative housing society. Having dedicated account(s) that records all the cash flow results in transparency in the management of the society.
While preparing for the annual auditing, it helps to have dedicated account(s) that has the records of all the cash flow that has occurred. It is easier to go back and review all details of all transactions that has happened in a certain financial year.
Regular Follow Up, Record Keeping, Process Petty Cash Transactions
Whether using a manual accounting system or a digital accounting system, regular follow up of account books cannot be overlooked. With a manual system, it gets unwieldy to review the registers or ledgers regularly. This issue is not problematic with a software however. With a digital system, the treasurer or whoever is in charge can review the digital account books from the app at their own convenience and comfort.
If you are the Treasurer of your cooperative housing society, you must understand easy, accessible records are your new best friend. Money is one of the most complicated assets any organisation, residential or business, have to manage. (To let you in on a secret : it helps to have a wee bit OCD when it comes to keeping flawless financial records of your housing society).
Despite all the attempts to shift to a cashless society, there will always be certain transactions that cannot be cashless. We still have to enlist the services of individuals who may not have the option of resorting to a cashless financial set up. In such cases, avoiding petty cash transaction is not an option. Therefore, a good practice would be to keep regular track of this transaction. For example, the ADDA Admin module allows management committee members to enter details of petty cash in the app itself. It helps other management committee members with access to view such negotiations and keep themselves updated.
Every system always has enough room for improvement. Society accounting is no exception. Be it a manual or a digitalised system, the aim of all housing society management companies should be perfection. While perfection is usually an ideal that is often unachievable, one can always reach close to it. Shifting from a manual to a digital system definitely helps. It cuts the workload of the management committee members by a huge margin. With a more efficient system in place, a cooperative housing society can even focus on increasing income by renting out its facilities to residents frequently or even to third parties. A digital system comes in exceedingly handy regarding these bookings. With transactions and booking taking place on a single platform, it is convenient to keep track of the extra cash flow. Increased efficiency of the accounting system automatically translates to wiser expenditures.
A digital system helps to compare yearly books easily with pictorial graphs. It helps to formulate productive decisions regarding which expenses can be foregone or which sector of society management requires more funding. The objective should be to ensure value for every penny a housing society earns from residents, vendors or any other third parties.
Sustainable Accounting System Equals Sustainable Society
An efficient digital accounting system makes way for the next step of developing a self reliant cooperative housing society. With wiser expenditures and increasing income, the housing society as a whole can invest their funds in profitable ventures. One such example would be fixed deposits which can be made for shorter durations too. With excess funds in hand, the management committee can implement plans of solar power, rainwater harvesting, biogas plant and kitchen garden – all within the housing society for the benefit of the residents. A leading example in implementing such a housing society is Sustainable City, Dubai. With an environmental crisis breaking over our heads, it has become imperative for management committee members to consider sustainable living as a part of their agenda.
The best is always saved for the last. The end of the financial year and the beginning of the new one, March to June of every year sees the management committee in office going through a difficult time collating data and readying the documents for the auditor. Filing taxes is another headache management committee members have to go through. Filing TDS, GST, Professional Tax and Society Registration are some of the few annual documentation committee members must do. With an efficient, digital system in place, assets and liabilities in the balance sheet are filled up automatically based on the daily entries made by admin members. Accountants and auditors are usually third party services hired by housing societies to deal with this financial year end duty. A clean digital record helps them carry out their tasks quickly, efficiently and most importantly, effectively.
Integrating a few best practices to manage society accounting might feel like a gruelling task to do. However, with determination and patience, it has the potential to reap huge rewards. Most significantly, a strict adherence to a few best practices help to improve efficiency in leaps and bounds. And Tara Stiles explains the impact of increased efficiency,”Efficiency is a great secret that can drop us right into our ideal life path, but it is a hard one to practice and something that takes constant maintenance and work.”
As we write this, Chennai is still battling one of the most eye-opening environmental crisis in recent times. The water scarcity in Chennai was not an unforeseen event. The symptoms had been showing itself as early as 2004. Citizen Matters reports on June 21, 2019 edition,” The 2017 CAG report had pulled up the Government of Tamil Nadu for the 13-year delay in the notification of the Second Master Plan 2011, a loophole that the CMDA used to permit construction converting agricultural land and wetlands based on the proposed Second Master Plan. The unplanned development lacked the necessary infrastructure to mitigate population pressure on water resources.”
With the water crisis breaking upon the citizens of Chennai like a landslide, ADDA, in collaboration with Citizen Matters, presented the Chennai edition of the Water Management Workshop on June 22, 2019. The event was supported by knowledge partners Eco365 – Sustainable Living and Rain Centre, Chennai and presenting sponsors Smarter Homes and WeGot with FOMRRA as Community Partner.
The Workshop Begins
The event opened with introduction and context setting by Meenakshi Ramesh of Citizen Matters. She laid the ground for the workshop to follow. The gathering of 70 representatives of gated communities in Chennai had to face some hard facts. With 54% deficit rainfall from the North East Monsoon this year, and Chennai having lost water bodies large and small that add up to ten times the size of the Velachery Lake over the last four decades, the water scarcity was inevitable. Citizen Matters set the tone of the take away from the workshop – the philosophy of reduce, reuse and recycle. “We have always been recycling. The common sense practices followed by our ancestors must be embraced again”, reminded Meenakshi.
The Jayalalitha government had passed a state-wide ordinance in 2003 making it mandatory to install rainwater harvesting systems in all structures. However, surveys have shown 27%-52% of structures that did not comply with the instructions of the government. Disorganized planning and inefficient execution, rendered a strong initiative futile and fruitless. Apathy towards environmental problems has resulted in unaware citizens who are trying their best to be dynamic, fail. Most structures with Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) systems, are only collecting runoffs from the terrace. A huge chunk of the water falling in the open spaces get lost due to perfunctory installations.
“Harvesting rainwater and then setting up borewells is akin to putting money in one bank and trying to drawing from another bank.” With this statement, Shekhar Raghavan, director of Rain Centre, Chennai highlighted the significance of water management and to trap in our renewable natural resources to battle the environmental crisis staring at us. Mr. Raghavan, an eminent authority on Rain Water Harvesting, proceeded to explain the various methods of rainwater harvesting, stressing on open wells – “Open wells are the insurance for the future.” Mr. Raghavan ended his note on the true spirit guiding environmental crisis mitigation,” Rainwater harvesting is a community effort. You should knock on the doors of your neighbor and tell them to start harvesting and then enjoy the fruits of the efforts as a community.”
Grey Water Recycling
If there’s anything, the Bangalore edition of the Water Management Workshop had taught was, any water that can be used should not be allowed to go down the drain. The Chennai Water Management Workshop took the lesson a notch further and discussed about grey water recycling by Indukanth S. Ragade. Busting myths of stench and concerns about hygiene, Mr. Ragade educated the gathering on the steps to recycle and reuse grey water.
“People might think there are too many chemicals in the water used in the kitchen and for bathing and washing but it is not true.” He presented the working of the three compartment overhead tank to recycle grey water. The sections include potable or drinking water, water for general use and water for flushing. Having a hierarchy of water purity helps in getting these divisions done faster and easier at home or apartment setting. Hierarchy of water purity refers to the conscious decision to determine the level of pure water needed for each use. For instance, the water used for drinking and cooking and mopping floors need not have the same intensity of purity. Grey Water recycling for gated communities is indeed a possibility with the availability of a common garden within the premises. “Any local, water-loving plant, soil space and a moderate amount of sunlight is the minimum requirement for greywater recycling in your premises”, says Mr. Ragade.
There’s Nothing Called Too Much Conservation
Meera K of Citizen Matters took the Water Management Workshop further presenting her tips on conserving and managing water in apartment units. She advised budgeting the use of water on a daily basis in our personal lives. She further suggested an understanding that not all activities require potable water to be accomplished properly. So certain water can be reused. For instance, houses with RO purifiers can use the discharged water to water plants or clean the house or wash the utensils. She presented the closed-loop zero-waste recycling model followed by T-Zed of Bengaluru as a sustainable model.
Peeyush Kothari of Eco365 and Kasturi Rangan of SmarterHomes made the audience aware of products available in the market that will assist them in economizing water usage in their homes.
Harsha Koda, the member of FOMRRA, shared his experiences of implementing RWH in his community. “We were able to save 5000 liters over the last 25-minute spell of rain this week”, he said referring to the short spell of rain that hit Chennai recently.
The Workshop ended with Angshuman from ADDA informing the audience about how the ADDA App can be used to track and monitor water tankers and prevent pilferage.
Water, once gone, will never come back. This is not something we are unaware of. Apart from sharing useful takeaways, what the Chennai Water Management Workshop taught us was how avoidable this present water crisis was if only the right steps were taken at the￼ right time. Perhaps nothing can best sum up the objective of the Water Management Workshop in Chennai than the words of Mr. Indukanth S Ragade, “A time will come when the water tankers will not be available no matter how much you are willing to pay for it. Water is a very critical resource and we must value it.”
It’s the good, the bad, (and sometimes the ugly) that makes our lives so exciting. There is not a single aspect of existence that only has advantages. So why should Accounting be an exception? Accounting, in itself, is a necessary evil. The nuances are complex and one always enlists the help of an accountant, even for simple tasks. With everything around picking up pace and joining the bandwagon of creating their niche in cyber-space, Accounting is not to be left behind. Accounting software and apps have been in the market for quite some time.
Apartment complexes are one of the growing markets for accounting software. With more and more people looking for affordable housing, apartment complexes are coming up in nooks and corners. With their acres increasing, managing committees of apartment complexes are finding an increasing need for accounting software for the complexes. However, housing societies have accounting needs quite different from business owners. Consequently, the demand has led to the development of accounting software specifically customised to suit the needs of apartment complex dwellers.
Pros that Make Accounting Software for Apartment Complexes a Hero
Simplicity is The Key
We have enough complexities in our daily life – be it at home, office or romance. Life was not meant to be lived by fretting over numbers. Software developers around the world empathised and built accounting software. Data entry is simple. Laymen, with absolutely zero idea about accounting, find it easy to navigate around such software. Considering apartment management committee members do their duties voluntarily, it is of immense help to have a product which is guided by the principles of lucidity and swiftness. Considering, time is money these days, the way forward is minimum effort and maximum output. Accounting software for apartments do exactly that.
The Age Of Automation
The first few days are always tough. On installing the software, the next step is to sync bank and credit accounts information and importing data from previously used systems. In case, a complex is migrating from a manual system to an automated one, all data will have to be physically entered in the system. However, that is exactly where the sweat and toil stops. Once set up, expense trackers and budgeting modules take care of preparing the balance sheet accordingly, all ready for the auditor(s).Cost Effective
Investing in an accounting software is a long term plan. Initially, set up cost may seem high. Getting new hardware, subscribing to a fitting software, might make the pocket feel a burning hole. But like all things around you, the burning hole is temporary. Subscription renewals and software upgrades are nominal compared to the initial cost. It also helps to make a significant part like accounting, as paperless as possible. Apartment accounting software reduces the need to involve third parties, thereby bringing down expenditure on a regular basis. It also makes the residents and Managing Committee members more self dependent regarding the management of their own finances.
This is, of course, the most basic advantage of any technology whatsoever. While saving time and money, apartment accounting software help to minimise errors in documentation, record keeping and calculation. It is a well known fact that getting the balance sheets perfected is an immense responsibility. Manually handling it, is bound to result in errors, which will obviously need revisions and further corrections. This only leads to drain of finances.
Apartment complexes and housing societies have a variety of needs other than accounting. For instance, as a society, they may subscribe to smart water meters, biometric gate entry systems, gas services, etc. Having resident data on so many platforms is inconvenient and often, risky. Accounting software systems for housing societies are crafted with this security concern in mind. Thus, they allow for integration with other services on their platform. This allows the residents to have their data in one place and not risk a security breach.
Cons that Make Accounting Software for Apartment Complexes a little less Heroic
No man made product is infallible. They are always prone to glitches and malfunctions. Therefore, assuming accounting software are flawless and not susceptible to flaws, is downright unintelligent. Every apartment management committee will have to be prepared that once in a blue moon, the software or app might face technical snags and things will be a little unorganised as the system recovers.
Support & Maintenance
In continuation to the point above, a software’s technical failing appears more glaring if it does not have a good support and maintenance system. It is always advisable to research the support network of the accounting software, management committees are intending to invest in. Apart from handling glitches, good support system also includes timely subscription renewal. Another hurdle in choosing the perfect software, is keeping track of software updates. Apartment accounting, being a fairly new niche, software often stop upgrading themselves and the product reaches a stage of stagnation. A good apartment management software is the one that constantly redefines and renovates itself to keep pace with the changing times.
There is only so much software can do (which is basically 99% of your requirements). With cooperative housing societies adding new features to their premises each passing day, management committees may have specialised needs uniquely applicable to their societies. While most society accounting software are open to customisations based on their clients, the limit to integrate stops after a certain point of time. Therefore, it is always wise to research the market to find the software best suiting all, or at least the majority, of the society’s needs.
“The first rule of any technology……is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.” – Bill Gates. No automated system will ever be good enough if the people handling it are incompetent. During data entry, especially manual data entry, extreme caution must be exercised to ensure the resulting balance sheets of the society account are correct.
Society billing software were not formulated with the objective to entirely replace the human factor in society management. Considering, management committee members are voluntarily devoting their time to make a healthier, cleaner, safer and organised community, they deserve all the help they can get. Society management software were envisioned with precisely the aim to make the jobs of MCs easier. After all, happy MC, happy community.
Maharashtra landlords and tenants have always been tangled in the horns of a dilemma when it comes to the Leave and License Agreement. L & L Agreement is necessary to be registered under section 55(1) of Maharashtra Rent Control Act 1999. Section 55(2) places this responsibility clearly on the landlord. Section 55 further stipulates, in the absence of a written registered agreement, contention of the tenant about the terms and conditions on which the premises have been given either on leave and license or even let out shall prevail. Under Section 55(1), it is clear that only the agreement of tenancy or leave and license executed between the landlord and tenant or the landlord and the licensee is required registration.
What gave birth to the dilemma horns?
Landlords and tenants attempt to bypass the rule to register their L & L Agreement, mostly for the costs incurred in the process. Landlords and tenants have to share payment of INR 1000 in urban areas and INR 500 in rural areas as registration fees. Parties are also expected to pay stamp duties. In accordance to Article 36A of Bombay Stamp Act, 1958, the following is the formula to calculate stamp duties:
Rent per month x Number of months = A
Advance rent for the period/non-refundable deposit = B
10% x Refundable deposit x Number of years of the agreement = C
Total amount subject to stamp duty = D = A+B+C
Stamp duty = E = 0.25% x D
Therefore, higher the monthly rent and deposit, higher the stamp duty. On the other hand, getting a Leave and License Agreement notarised by a notary is a simple affair and can be done on something as simple as an INR 100 stamp paper and very nominal notary fees.
With the Maharashtra Rent Registration Department, directing the law enforcement department to verify ONLY registered L&L agreements, let us look at some of the long term benefits of registering the documents, despite the seemingly high costs:
Proof of Address
Registering the agreement, gives it validity to act as a proof of residence for the tenant. Individuals staying in rental properties, usually do not have electricity bills, telephone bills or water bills issued in their names. Consequently, they find it difficult to furnish proof of local address. Since notarised agreement do not have the legal weightage of registered documents, they are often refused as proof of local residence in places that are thorough and meticulous with their documentation. The validity of notarised agreement is questionable. Hence, there is no guarantee that places which had once accepted notarised agreements as residence proof, will not reject or stop their services due to insufficient documentation.
Landlord And Tenant Legal Protection
There is no predicting when trouble might strike. It gets only worse when it is of a legal nature. The laws of the land laid down often benefit the tenants in events of legal disputes between tenants and landlords. In the event of absence of a registered agreement, the tenant’s claims of the provisions of the rental agreement will be upheld in court. Conversely, protecting the tenant’s fundamental tenancy rights, becomes simpler. Seeking redressal at the first steps, like filing police complaints, is less complicated and definitely more hassle free. There is also a chance of receiving fair justice. The absence of a registered agreement, causes court battles to be heavily dependant on which party can afford a better lawyer. Keeping a registered agreement, at the very onset of the tenancy, helps to do away with this disparity in event of unfortunate legal issues.
Detailed Specification Of Clauses
Unlike notarised documents, registered agreements go through rigorous verification. As a result, they include every clause a proper leave and lease agreement should contain. Some important clauses that every landlord and tenant should take note are:
Details of landlord and tenant including government approved identity proof of both parties and permanent residential addresses.
Explicit details of monthly rent amount and what it includes. It must also be mentioned if rent is to be paid in advance or arrears.
The amount of security deposit collected and its type – refundable or non refundable.
The exact period of validity of the agreement. The usual time period is six to eleven consecutive months in one calendar year.
Mention of maintenance and utility charges in exact amount and who is responsible for their payments.
Clear statement of terms and conditions of cancellation and notice periods.
Lock-in period and all penalties incurred on breaking it.
Representations by both parties noting down responsibilities of landlord and tenant responsibilities towards financial transition, property management and behaviour in society at large.
Any other miscellaneous clauses that are relevant to the property being rented out.
Saving a few bucks in the process of drawing a rental agreement, may seem to be a good deal at the outset. However, we all know how materialism is moh maaya. Thus, look deeper into registering the leave and license agreement. So while it may feel a tad on the expensive side initially, it is also a promise of security of tenancy terms from the state to its citizens.
Co-operative housing societies are an immense responsibility to manage. With their sizes increasing every day to take a form similar to integrated townships, managing them has become a task of its own. The Management Committee takes responsibility to manage all aspects for the smooth functioning of these societies. It is a voluntary task and demands a lot of time and effort from the committee members. Considering, they fulfill these responsibilities alongside their daily work pressure and family commitments, it makes sense to opt for an automated system that will reduce the workload of the committee members and improve efficiency. Keeping this requirement in mind, technology has gifted the market with Society Management Software. But why do you need it anyway?
Managing “complex data” – What is it?
So there are all these funds a co-operative housing society has to manage – maintenance charges, repairs fund, reserve fund, sinking fund, working capital. Sounds intimidating already, doesn’t it? This is where the software comes into play.
Manual bookkeeping can be strenuous and prone to errors. In a manual system, the committee has to maintain multiple registers or ledgers. Each ledger keeps track of different accounts, expenses, and income in each of these accounts. Calculating and compiling the balance sheet at the end of each financial year, are hectic and most often have flaws. Consequently, there are repeated revisions and correcting
Society Management Software allows listing expenses under pre-set labels. They can help track purchases made for society. There need not be several different registers to maintain different kinds of accounts or funds – just one software to calculate all data and create an automated balance sheet; all ready for the auditor to review and receive approval.
Communication Is Key
The Society Management Software gives a dedicated platform to communicate among society members. WhatsApp and Facebook groups are not marked as a dedicated society management tool. Bigger the societies, more the number of WhatsApp groups. This system makes it difficult to track the official WhatsApp group. The continuous pinging of irrelevant forwards and messages are distracting and users often mute notifications, thereby missing important notices. However, with a steadfast software, there is one single official forum to converse on everything related to society. Notices cannot be posted randomly by anyone and everyone. Only verified notices are posted. Activities are updated. Records of activities can be kept in the form of pictures for all to see. Greater the communication, more the transparency, deeper the bonding.
Harmony is the keyword for a society to survive and function smoothly. However, that is difficult if there is a lack of transparency in the management of society. The human mind tends to suspect at the slightest chance. Suspicion can soon snowball into nasty paranoia causing tiffs and unnecessary arguments, resulting in a chaotic living environment.
With Society Management Software, data retrieval is easy. Access can be given by admins to other members of the society to view details of billing, purchases, the status of facility management and maintenance of the common areas. Financial data (not bank details), discussions, activities, updates, records of everything stays in the cloud space. No information, no record is ever lost.
Optimum usage of facilities
So you have bought that nice shiny apartment near Juhu Beach. Very sassy. Very luxurious. You pay a hefty maintenance fee. You also pay your fair share of utility bills. Yet you have hardly used the facilities your society has to offer. Why? Either you are unaware of the details of facilities offered or you don’t know who to approach to use them properly. Softwares are customized to include what facilities your society offers. Just sit at home, chill with Netflix and browse your Society Management App to see what are available.
Book facilities from time to time for your personal entertainment while being in your home ground. These smart apps also allow the user to see the availability of facilities in real time.
Also if you don’t use the facilities, who will?
Think about the last thing someone gave you for free (friends and gifts not included). Drawing a blank, aren’t you? Yeah! Thought so. Nobody does anything for free. Nobody will maintain a society for free. So yes, you got that right! You need the paisa and you need to ensure reaching the maximum income potential.
There has to be a flawless system to remind payment of maintenance dues and an efficient system to track defaulters. Late payment penalties have to be tracked and constantly added till payments are all cleared up. A gentle reminder helps individuals to pay their dues more effectively. Accordingly, the income grows to maintain society well. A beautifully maintained society adds higher value to the respective private units in the real estate market. A faultless, organized balance sheet showing an upward growth in income can even help the society be sustainable and self-sufficient someday.
One cannot stay in an apartment and not have the issue of the occasional leaking pipe. And at times like these, help is of utmost necessity. Unfortunately, in a manual system, one complaint will be bounced off one person to the other before it reaches the concerned department. A work that could have been resolved in 2 hours, takes about 12. The software does away with the unconnected middle levels and connects the residents directly to the maintenance team. It is a tool in the hands of both parties to increase their efficiency.
Last but never, ever the least is security. A gated society needs as strong a security system as possible. The best security is the one where humans and technology work together. Society Management Software the correct blend of it. Visitor approvals, authentication, timely check-ins and checkouts are a few features, apps provide to ensure a smooth, yet efficient gate security. The catch? It can help an apartment/housing society be paperless, contributing to environmental sustainability without compromising on luxury and safety.
Technology and humans – both have their limits. Technology needs monitoring and feeding of data into it, to work. Humans are prone to fallacies and exhaustion. Home is the place where we escape after a hard day’s work. Home is where we rest. If managing our home, starts to feel like a burdensome chore, we lose that one abode of peace in our lives. Hence, if a simple software can help ease some of that burden, then why not give it a shot?
Before we even start talking about Waste Management, we should think of reducing the waste we generate. For us Indians, it should not be difficult at all. We just need to look back to the age old practises of our forefathers. Nothing was a waste for them. They lived completely zero waste and simple lives. And they practised eco-friendly lives too. They could draw a line between need and greed. There was nothing called disposables at that time. They always used reusables like stainless steel. If you bought it once, many generations could use the same (people didn’t mind a dent or two). Handkerchiefs were used instead of tissues; our fathers and grandfathers always carried cloth or nylon bags when they went shopping, both of which were reusable. There was no concept of bottled water. Water from railway stations was safe to drink. Biscuits were sold loose and there was not much packaged food. In that kind of life, where was the waste? People would enjoy homemade food, went for picnics carrying homemade food or cooked at the picnic spots if possible. It was so much fun because there was much camaraderie. Sharing clothes among siblings and cousins was most normal.
Today we have bottled water in various sizes, we have more disposables in the form of Styrofoam plates, bowls and glasses, laminated and waxed paper plates and cups, plastic cutlery and containers; we have tissue papers, plastic straws and the worst of course — the plastic carry bags.
Did we remain thirsty when bottled water was not available? Were we hungry before disposable utensils were introduced? Did we not shop before plastic carry bags were invented? Did we not drink cold beverages and coconut water without plastic straws? We did everything and enjoyed it too.
No doubt that the invention of plastic has been a boon to society. Unfortunately indiscriminate use of it has made it a bane.
Indiscriminate use of plastic has contaminated our oceans, rivers, soil and air. The human race has become its own worst enemy and the enemy of our planet. No other creature ever creates any trash in this world.
The shift needs to be from single-use items to everything that is reusable and will last for years, a choice best for the environment but also for our pockets.
Let us pledge to live life in harmony with other living beings — plants and animals. Believe me, life will be happier and healthier.
How do we reduce waste?
Certain wastes will still be generated. Let us understand the waste management practices to deal with them.
Let’s audit the waste that comes from our homes. We will divide it into organic waste and inorganic waste. A very simple way to understand organic and inorganic is to ask the question – is this Nature made or man-made?
Our daily waste: kitchen waste, paper, cardboard, plastic containers, plastic packets, plastic packaging, glass bottles or jars, metal from foil containers, medicines, and sometimes some electronic waste as well.
What do we do with all this waste? We collect it all in one bin (lined with a plastic garbage bag) and give it to the corporation sweeper the next day to carry it away somewhere. Out of sight – out of mind. We forget about it as soon as it leaves our home.
Waste Management in Apartments and Homes
For interest, let’s trace our garbage once it leaves our homes. It is collected by the corporation sweeper who comes to every lane every morning to clean and take away the garbage. He then puts it into a compactor to be pressed together to reduce its volume, then it goes to the landfill with the waste collected from all over the city. Kolkata alone generates 4000 tons of waste every day. Together this mixed waste generates all the greenhouse gases that we know are polluting our environment and thus affecting our health.
Interestingly, if we look at our home waste, 60% of it comes from our kitchen. Of the remaining waste 25-30 % are recyclables.
Another scenario: we can maintain three bins at home. One for our kitchen waste, the second for recyclables and the third for non-recyclables and non-compostable that will go to the landfill. Thus we can divert 90% of the waste from going to the landfill. That’s the impact our choices can have.
Now, what should one do with all the kitchen waste? The answer is compost. Composting is a natural process, but it takes some time. At home we must hasten the process due to lack of space. You just need to spare about 4 sq. feet of space and 3 compost containers (the size will depend on the size of your family and the amount of waste you are generating). The organic waste when composted at home reduces its volume by 75%. I have tried all methods of composting and in my experience, aerobic composting is the easiest for home/apartment composting. It has no foul smell and is quick; it will take around ten minutes a day. After a little practice, aerobic composting is seamless.
The ABC of composting at home
The three things required for aerobic composting are:
Nitrogen (Kitchen and food waste, fresh flowers and grass and fresh leaves)
All the above materials are readily available and cost nothing (except cocopeat, which is simply an option).
You can use an earthenware or a plastic composter. Put a layer of carbon at the bottom of the composter (approx. 1”), then put a layer of the kitchen waste on it. Cover it with a layer of carbon on it. Continue to layer the compost bin alternately with kitchen waste and carbon; the top layer has to be carbon. Once the composter is full, cover the composter and put it aside. Open it every few days and turn the compost so that more oxygen can be introduced and the composting process can happen faster. While the first bin is composting, start the second bin in the same manner. Similarly, when the second compost bin fills up, start the third bin. As the third bin fills up your first compost bin will be ready to harvest.
Problems you can face:
Sometimes your bin may start to smell. The bin will only smell when the nitrogen levels are more than carbon. Add more carbon immediately and the smell will go away.
When you see that your compost bin has white worms, similarly, add more carbon to it.
The bin should not be too dry or too wet and in a span of 60 days your waste will turn into a soil amender which will provide nutrition to the soil.
What to do with this compost?
Now that your compost is ready, you have the perfect excuse to start a small balcony garden. Grow herbs at home and grow a few vegetables. If you have access to a terrace build it into a vegetable garden and enjoy chemical free food on your plate. You can also plant indoor oxygen producing plants in every room to make it healthier to breathe. Or: gift compost and plants to your green-thumbed family and friends!
As we saw earlier, there can be many things in our recyclable bin. We should look for a recycler in our cities. They usually collect the waste from homes, once one has a considerable amount. Connect with them to collect them from you, so that we do not use more virgin resources than we have to. As it is, we have used up more than we should have.
Once we follow the three bin system, the amount of waste we produce is drastically reduced. We’ve all seen the disgusting pictures of landfills across the country. On Environment Day this year, let’s all make a pledge to stop being complicit and do whatever we can to reverse environmental degradation caused by our unsustainable lifestyles.
Lata Bhatia is an active member of Rotary Club. In April 2016, with a group of like minded persons she has started GREEN LEGION. Green Legion aims to clean and green Kolkata through waste segregation, recycling, composting and making urban terrace gardens and vertical gardens in apartments. She is in the advisory committee of Green for Life Foundation, Joint Secretary in the Mentaid Association.