Every day, 99.co takes a piece of property jargon and demystifies it. Today, we’re looking at the Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST), and why they hire someone to nag at you for not pre-booking the BBQ pit.
MCST refers to the managing body of a condominium or any compound which has multiple owners and shared facilities. In Singapore, MCSTs are usually associated with private residential developments.
When a Management Corporation is contracted to manage an estate, it’s given a name: The Management Corporation – Strata Title Plan No. XXX, where “XXX” are running numbers to identify the managing bodies.
What’s the function of an MCST?
The need for a managing body arises from the nature of private housing in Singapore. Many Singaporeans set up homes in compounds such as condominiums where numerous owners share common facilities. These compounds usually come with a swimming pool, shared common park, gymnasium, security and other amenities. Naturally, all such public facilities have to be managed, maintained and at times, improved on or expanded.
This is where the MCST comes in. Multiple property owners generally do not wish to constantly manage everything themselves, so they delegate tasks to a separate body, and this body is the MCST.
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.
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.
What exactly does an MCST do?
It’s difficult to generalise what the job scope of the MCST precisely is. The duties tend to range from managing the day-to-day cleaning and fixing of the public facilities, the upholding of the general health of a compound (e.g. taking care of leakages, mould, pest), to managing its overall security. A good MCST could expand its duties to include community development or even property appreciation.
It is both in the quality of service and the breadth of tasks that an MCST can differentiate itself from its competitors. While some MCSTs may set out to do the bare minimum, others take initiative and fix problems before you even realise they were there to begin with. Naturally, most MCSTs fall somewhere between these two extremes.
In the long run, a good MCST may mean better living at lower management fees.
How is the MCST formed?
The MCST is usually formed when the developer submits the strata title plan of the development to the Chief Surveyor, and the strata title application to the Registrar of Titles of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). The developer will also have to open a bank account under the name of the MCST and deposit all the money collected for the maintenance fund and keep a proper record of it.
Afterwards, the developer will have to hold the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) within 13 months of the MCST’s constitution. It’s during this meeting that the responsibilities of and control over the condo management is given to the property owners.
The MCST also keep and updates the development’s strata roll; that’s the the register of each owner in the development.
It has the right to make bylaws (via the AGM), which residents of the development must abide by.
The owners will then collectively appoint a management council, which in turn hires a managing agent. The managing agent is the go-to person who takes care of all the day-to-day business, and functions as the liaison between the MCST, the management council, and by extension the property owners. 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
You can read more about it on this guide.
A comprehensive list of all MCSTs
You can find the comprehensive list of all the MCSTs here. The list includes relevant information such as the condominiums information and contact details. Alternatively, you can search for the MCST information using the condo’s name through BCA’s MCST Enquiry.
How to find a new managing agent for the MCST?
To start off, look for managing agents with accreditations from organisations such as the Association of Management Corporations in Singapore, the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers, and the Association of Property and Facility Managers. These organisations manage accreditation schemes to ensure the quality, services and standards of the managing agents.
Another way would be to go out there to survey the various condos and see them for yourself. In all likelihood, all MCSTs will tell you beforehand that they will be doing a superb job in managing your estate. Yet, to be better informed, we recommend you to check out the various condos and see how the management corporations have been managing.
Here’s a checklist you may want to follow
Make a shortlist of managing corporations that you deem good candidates.
Look up which estates the managing firms are currently managing and add them to a separate list. You can save time by using this website.
Visit the estates and make a detailed observation of the facilities and public spaces.
Lastly – and this is crucial – talk to the residents and tenants. After all, it is the residents and tenants who see and experience the MCSTs work first-hand every day, and they are well-suited to sharing the pros and cons about whether their estate is properly managed or not.
Additionally, you could attend the annual general meetings. While not the most exciting exercise you can think of, you will probably get to hear a lot about the MCST and get a good vibe of how the owners judge the MCST.
How has your MCST been managing your condo? Let us know in the comments section below.
If you found this article helpful, check out Condo management: The most underrated cause of selling at a loss and How to resolve disputes with your condos’ MCST.
Frequently asked questions
What is an MCST?
MCST is short for Management Corporation Strata Title. It refers to the managing body of a condominium or development that has multiple owners and shared facilities.
When is the MCST formed?
It is usually formed when the developer submits the strata title plan of the development to the Chief Surveyor, and the strata title application to the Registrar of Titles of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).
How many MCSTs are there in Singapore?
There are currently 4,593 MCSTs recorded in BCA’s database on data.gov.sg, which was last updated in February 2021.
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