Caretaker Duties Schedules
Preparation of Caretaker Duties Schedules
Most caretaking agreements have a detailed Schedule of Duties attached. The Schedule forms an integral part of the contract agreement. The purpose of the detailed Duties Schedule is to clearly define the duties that the caretaker is required to perform on a cyclical basis. Duties documented in the Schedule are typically carried out daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually.
It is our experience that schedules of duties frequently are the source of disagreement and misunderstanding between bodies corporate and the caretaking contractor. Conflicts occur primarily because of poorly drafted schedules that do not adequately reflect the body corporate’s needs or convey to the caretaking contractor clear and unambiguous descriptions of the work required to be performed.
Whilst it is essential to engage a solicitor to prepare a caretaking contract, it is equally important to ensure that the Schedule of Duties is prepared by an independent expert experienced with caretaking workflows. A pro forma schedule not based on the facility’s specific needs or the needs of the owners and occupiers will undoubtedly cause disagreement in the future.
At its core, an effective Schedule of Duties must be easy to read. It must also comply with the following parameters:
- Duty descriptions should not be overly verbose or prescriptive. Duty listings are not work specifications of the type prepared by architects to instruct a building contractor regarding the quality and standards of workmanship. Overly prescriptive descriptions expose the Schedule to the risk of becoming obsolete if technological or other changes occur during the period the contract is in force. They also have the effect of increasing the cost of the contract as potential caretaking contractors price in the perceived additional time involved in carrying out the duties.
- Item descriptions should be clear and concise. Clarity in the item description obviates the need for overly prescriptive duty descriptions.
- It should be obvious to anybody reading the Schedule to which element/area within the facility the duty item refers.
- The Schedule should not reference plant and equipment or facilities (e.g. lifts or swimming pools, etc.) that do not exist as part of the common property.
- All common property plant, equipment and facilities within the complex should have relevant item(s) in the Schedule of Duties relating to their care and maintenance.
- Frequencies should accurately and concisely reflect the requirements of the body corporate, based on the age and condition of the facility now and during the potential life of the contract.
- Daily duties should only be listed as daily if they are genuinely required to be carried out on each of the scheduled workdays. Often, what is appropriate is for the caretaking contractor to check daily to determine if work needs doing and then perform the work as required, with the proviso that the duty is carried out a prescribed minimum number of times each week. The difference in cost between the two approaches is significant and should concern the corporate body.
There is a misconception within some sectors of the strata industry that the underperformance of a caretaking contractor can be corrected if the Schedule of Duties is rewritten in a more prescriptive manner. This is a fallacious idea.
Underperformance is more closely related to the skills and attitude of the caretaking contractor than it is to their ability to read and understand the Schedule of Duties. If the Schedule of Duties complies with the above parameters, it will fulfil its functional requirements.
Revising the Schedule of Duties
There are several reasons why a Schedule of Duties may require revision following the initial appointment of the caretaker. The most common reason is simply that the Schedule is not fit for purpose because it does not comply with the parameters outlined above.
It is essential that a site visit is carried out as part of the revision process. It is usual to take a copious number of photographs to reference during the writing of the Schedule. It is also essential that all relevant documentation, which includes the caretaking agreement-related deeds of assignment, potentially the letting agreement, the strata plan and the CMS, be read and digested.
The client should afford the person drawing up the Schedule the opportunity to interview the relevant parties and receive feedback relating to the design and use of the facility. It is not unusual for experts involved in this process to attend the site with a standard checklist of items to act as a starting point for discussions.
Once the site inspection is completed, the relevant parties are interviewed and the documentation has been considered, drafting of the Schedule can begin. Draught Duties Schedules are generally distributed to the relevant parties and appropriate feedback is incorporated before the production of the final Duties Schedule.
To request a fee proposal for a schedule of duties for your scheme