Indeed, it is extremely difficult to find a Russian who would be completely satisfied with the provided utilities. Pipe leaks, interruptions in the supply of hot and cold water, cold in apartments, leaking roofs and debris in the entrances, an icy porch and icicles on the roofs – the list of claims that residents of apartment buildings can make to public utilities is very wide.
And since the intermediary between the so-called resource supplying organizations – the local water utility, power supply, heating network and residents of apartment buildings are usually the Housing and Maintenance Offices or management companies, which are increasingly replacing the usual housing offices, the bulk of claims are related to the work of these organizations, in responsibilities which includes the management of an apartment building.
Let’s make a reservation right away – this article is not talking about HOAs – homeowners’ associations, as well as the choice of a management organization. We will try to consider such a painful issue as the responsibilities of management companies and housing offices in order to understand what exactly the owner of an apartment has the right to demand from these organizations, their main responsibilities, as well as the obligations of owners to utilities.
First of all, it is worth remembering that housing offices, DEZs (directorates of a single customer) and management companies in general are commercial organizations, that is, earning money from providing utilities to residents of apartment buildings. So in the monthly bills that the owners and tenants of apartments receive, there will necessarily be a part that makes up the profit of this organization. It would seem that in such a situation, management companies and housing offices should be interested in providing high-quality services, which will increase profits and require timely payment from residential property owners. In practice, the profit of the management company is not at all tied to the quality of the provided utilities – bills will regularly come to each apartment, regardless of how clean the entrance is, whether the snow has been removed and what is the temperature of the water in the central heating batteries.
And if homeowners do not begin to defend their rights, demanding that utilities pay due attention to their needs, the situation may not change for years, which is most often the case in our country..
So, the responsibilities of management companies and housing maintenance offices include:
- To maintain not only the house, but also the adjacent territory in proper order, that is, to engage in landscaping, cleaning, beautification of the local territory, to monitor the state of technical structures. Thus, if the services of a janitor are included in the monthly fee paid by the inhabitants of the apartments, then the cleanliness in the courtyard of an apartment building lies entirely on the shoulders of the public utilities..
- Ensure the presence of lighting lamps at all entrance areas, without exception, as well as in front of the entrance to the house and in the local area. Lanterns located in the local area are managed by management companies..
- Timely inform the residents of the house about all changes in tariffs – utilities are obliged to warn about the increase in rent no later than 30 days before the date of charging the amount to be paid at the new tariffs.
- Provide owners and tenants of housing with full information about the management company, as well as the phone numbers and addresses of the fire brigade, sanitary and epidemiological station, emergency services, local police department and district administration. Ideally, each apartment building should have a sign not only with the house number and street name, but also at the stand near the entrance to the entire list of phone numbers and addresses of services that the inhabitants of the house may need.
- Organize timely garbage disposal, that is, conclude an agreement with the relevant specialized organization or take out household waste on your own, daily, and the capacity of garbage cans must comply with the standards established based on the number of residents of the entrance or house. It is worth remembering that garbage containers should be located no closer than 20 meters from the entrance to the staircase and windows of apartments, but no further than 100 meters from an apartment building.
- In winter, the duties of housing and communal services services include cleaning the local area from snow, cleaning the roof from ice and icicles, sprinkling the sidewalks and steps of the entrance to the entrance with sand or sand-salt mixture.
- At least once every 10-15 years, carry out major overhauls of the house, which includes the repair of the entrance, the facade of the house, replacement of the roof and other necessary work.
- Monitor the condition of the supply systems of the house – wiring at the entrance, sewer pipes, water inlets and the courtyard gas pipeline. The law establishes the maximum service life for communications: for cast iron pipes this period is 40 years, for steel pipes – 15 years. However, if a leak is found, then the replacement of the damaged area and repairs must be carried out in a timely manner – no later than 3-5 days after the discovery of the malfunction..
- In case of receiving a complaint from the owner or tenant of the apartment, the housing office or DEZ are obliged to respond within two days – to refuse (with an explanation of the reason for the refusal) or unsubscribe to receive and satisfy the complaint. It is best to submit your complaint in writing and make sure it is properly registered. By contacting the management company by phone, you need to ask the position and surname of the person who accepted the complaint of the apartment owner.
- Warn residents of the building about planned power outages or hot and cold water supply no later than 10 days before the proposed outage. State the reason for water or power outages.
- In case of repair work inside the residential premises, agree with the tenant or the owner of the home the time of the work no later than 3 days before the planned repair.
- Regularly conduct reconciliation of utility bills and provide documents confirming the correctness of the charge and compliance of the amount of payment with established norms and tariffs.
- Ensure the provision of utilities in the volumes necessary for consumers, for which the ZhEK or DEZ must conclude contracts with resource supplying organizations.
- For a more accurate calculation of the amount of payment for the provided utilities, monthly record the readings of general house metering devices, such as heat meters installed on the house or on a separate entrance. Provide this information if requested by the owner or tenant.
- To recalculate payments for utilities in the event of their low quality, failure to fulfill their obligations or interruptions in the provision of services, the duration of which exceeds the established norms. That is, if for a certain time (12 hours) in the house the temperature of the living quarters is below the prescribed mark – 18 degrees Celsius, then a recalculation is carried out for that day – a decrease in the amount of payment for heating. You can also demand recalculation if hot water does not reach the standard temperature – plus 45 degrees Celsius. And the lower the hot water temperature, the more significant the reduction in the amount of payment for this type of utilities should be..
- After receiving a complaint or information about an accident in the house, send a representative who would record the fact of a leak, flooding or accident.
This list of obligations of housing and communal offices and directorates of a single customer can be supplemented by other obligations, depending on the requirements of local legislation and the concluded agreement with homeowners.
The responsibilities of management companies as a whole also include all of the above points, however, they may vary depending on the terms of the concluded agreement with the HOA or each individual homeowner.
The responsibilities of the owners and tenants of apartments include:
- first of all – timely payment for all provided utilities – no later than 10 (in some cases 20) of the month following the month of consumption;
- timely informing management companies, housing offices or DEZs about accidents and malfunctions in an apartment or house;
- ensuring the safety of seals on installed devices for apartment or general house registration;
- providing (once every six months) access for representatives of the housing office or the management company to the apartment for taking meter readings. Access times to the apartment must be agreed in advance.
It should be noted that in the Russian Federation today there is no clear legislative regulation in the field of public utilities. So, there are almost no rules and requirements for the professional activities of management companies, standards have not been developed that would determine the quality of work and services for the management of apartment buildings, in fact there is no responsibility of management companies for the provision of low quality services or failure to fulfill their obligations.
Of course, in the event that the quality of utilities does not satisfy the owner or tenant of housing, then he has the right to demand a recalculation of fees for services and change the management company through the court, by filing a statement of claim detailing all claims against utilities. However, in practice, such cases are more the exception than the rule, although usually the court takes the side of the owner of the apartment if his claims are justified and legal, and the management company has repeatedly neglected its duties..
At present, there are still too few Russians, despite the huge list of claims to the housing and communal services system, are ready to go all the way in defending their rights. That is why the reform of the housing and communal services system is still delayed not only due to the lack of a proper legislative framework, but also due to the inertia of the majority of homeowners in apartment buildings..