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Jaime-Lee Gardner
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Louise Martin
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Effective utility management guides estate managers through rough economic seas

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Effective utility management guides estate managers through rough economic seas

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3 min read

The sluggish economy and continued inflationary pressures are taking their toll on the property market in general. According to credit bureau TPN’s latest report, the last three years have seen a steady decline in demand for residential properties, with a concomitant increase in the supply of properties. What’s more, the bureau says vacancy rates remain consistently high at 8.64% with escalations at just 4.85%. Most worrying for estate and property managers is that tenant good standing numbers continue to decline, with a current level of 81.8%.

Keeping the lights on

Given the current environment, property managers are under increasing pressure to minimise tenant churn. Keeping residents happy while ensuring that they efficiently manage the rental collection is, in itself, a full-time job. Recovering and managing utilities on top of this is causing significant stress for most managers and bodies corporate.
Most municipalities are moving towards bulk electricity supply to estates and complexes. This means they will lay down one meter to the estate and, thereafter, the body corporate or estate manager has to monitor and pay the bill for the whole estate’s consumption.

This leaves managers, tenants and bodies corporate with a very limited set of options. They can agree to split the utilities bills pro rata, which encourages overuse, and inevitably leads to conflict; or they can install their own kwH meters and read them every month, which is administratively costly, and also leads to disputes if tenants don’t trust the readings. But there is a better option.


Citiq prepaid offers a new way of managing utilities

The prepaid sub-metering option is vastly superior to trying to manage a post-paid offering with manual meter readings, working out shared services, and then invoicing units. Not only will each unit have its own, independently measured meter, but Citiq Prepaid will collect the money from each unit and, once its fees have been deducted, the money will be paid over to the trustee or person delegated to deal with the municipality, allowing one simple monthly payment. In addition, Citiq Prepaid is one of the few vendors that allows clients to log onto its custom-built online portal, where clients can see the industry’s widest range of reports on collections, payments, remittances and more.

This transparency truly empowers Citiq Prepaid customers, and is a firm favourite with estate managers, owners and tenants alike.

This solution is elegant in its simplicity. It removes any debate about which tenant has used what electricity – a situation that can lead to lengthy, costly and often deeply unpleasant disputes.

One of the main pain points for estate managers is ensuring timeous and accurate preparation of monthly reports to their bosses. Many of the utility management systems on the market produce data that is almost impossible to use in regular reporting.
The Citiq Prepaid online system gives estate managers  remote access to usage  and transaction data and reports in easy-to-understand formats. Primary reports are also automatically emailed every month, easing the administration burden.


Trust is the cornerstone of good relationships

Prepaid sub-meters provide transparency and reduce risk for everyone involved. For tenants, prepaid makes their own electricity consumption more visible and ultimately more manageable. Moreover, when you can track your consumption from day to day it’s much easier to budget than when you have to deal with arrears billing often received months after the fact.

Tenants can also access their easy-to-understand history, and see exactly what they paid for, and owners can see information for all their properties, and quickly identify pilferage or discrepancies between the council bill and what tenants have spent.
While we wait for calmer economic waters, ensuring that utility management is transparent, the admin is efficient, and the reporting is trusted, will make at least one aspect of the estate managers’ difficult job easier.

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