Perhaps two of the most flamboyant words in the dictionary. Their meanings, well… you certainly wouldn’t want to find out when you are close to purchasing or selling property!
Paper is used extensively in homes and around urbanisations for cleaning, printing, communication, packing and much more. But paper manufacture is a huge drain on the world’s forests, not to mention a high user of energy and a polluting manufacturing process.
Using recycled paper and recycling the paper you do use is important to minimizing depletion of forests and there are lots of handy tips to reducing paper use at home and in the office. However as a community president you can lead the way by dramatically cutting the amount of paper you use and saving money by switching to online communication methods.
Use a community website to conduct polls, share ideas and information and improve communication. Having a website everyone can access rather than a notice board will dramatically reduce the amount you have to print out and will improve communication because owners can be in touch no matter where they are.
Urbytus is committed to helping communities to save paper and cut costs by rolling out our Online Community Management (OCM) software. OCM is a multi-lingual web-based solution designed to make the job of managing and living within a community easier. It allows effective, paperless communication between owners, the committee and administrators. Owners can advertise properties for sale and rent, access information and share their problems easily. The Community President and Administrator have access to easy to use management tools which can significantly reduce their workload.
Through this software we are already helping around 2 million owners to reduce their use of stamps, envelopes, paper and ink, saving them around 1.2 million Euros. We estimate that we can save large communities up to 15,000€ and help them to be more environmentally responsible. Please contact Urbytus to find out more.
Every community can decide to outsource the management of their community installations, services and book keeping to an Administrator. The Administrator therefore will be in charge of preparing the budget, managing the works, make payments and handling of all the accounts. While an Administrator needs to have a university degree in Property Administration, lawyers and accountants are also allowed to practice in this sector. The role can also be fulfilled by any owner within the same community.
There have been a few new EU directives brought into effect regarding saving energy (Directive 2006/32/EC and Directive 2009/72/EC and most recently Orden ITC/3860/2007. The Spanish supplier of electricity Endesa has sent letters to their clients to inform them that in order to comply with these regulations they will be putting in smart electricity meters which will allow homeowners to see where their energy is being used and help them to be proactive in reducing consumption.
The meter will also include a mains isolator which will trip a fuse if there is a power surge or similar, protecting equipment and homeowners. This will be installed with the new meter and activated immediately.
The process of changing the meters will take place over the next quarter and the good news is that because the meter is on the outside of the property there’s no need for you to be there. However, if the meter is located within the urbanization and access is required, then Endesa will contact the owner or the community president to arrange a convenient time.
Once the meter has been replaced you will receive a letter from them to confirm that it has been done and informing you that you can access the meter to learn more about how you are using your energy. This letter will include information on how to read the meter and of course, we’ll let you know what that says as soon as we receive it.
The installation of the new meter is free of charge but there is a monthly cost of hire of the equipment as before of 0.81 Euros a month which is simply added to your bill.
One big advantage of these new meters is that in the future bills will be based on monthly readings and will remove the normally inaccurate estimations which can cause you to be charged for more than you actually use.
If you need more information the Endesa website has good information about it, but in Spanish of course. Please feel free to ask us any questions and we’ll do our best to help.
In our next post we will be giving you tips for saving energy and the price rises which are on their way. Please communicate this important news with your community via a notice board, email or community website so they can understand the changes and save energy.
Have you lost any TV channels on your urbanization? As a community president in Spain you are probably fielding all the enquiries from the owners so we thought we’d give you an update you can share. As the president of my community, I have been lucky enough that through our community website, I’ve been able to update our owners and stop the spreading of large dishes across the community.
There has been much talk recently about the loss of certain UK TV channels such as 4HD, 4Seven and Channel 5 after many households across Spain stopped receiving them. A number of channels have moved from Astra 1N to Astra 2F with more channels due to make the move and to most this has come as a shock as they were unaware of any expected changes.
Other popular channels will be moving anytime between now and next summer and its said that if you have lost channel 5 now, then you will be very likely to lose all BBC, ITV channels and the remaining Channel 4 group including E4. However, until the channels actually make the move, it is uncertain what your current set-up will be able to receive.
What options have I got?
There are various companies offering solutions to this at the moment and many households on the Costa Blanca are being told to buy a bigger satellite dish in order to still pick up the channels. However on the Costa del Sol it’s still uncertain whether a bigger dish will even receive the channels after the move. So don’t rush out for a bigger satellite dish yet!
At the moment it seems the best advice would be to do nothing until more of the channels have made the move to the new satellite then you know exactly what you can still receive. Some people are being told they will lose all channels on the 16th December but it’s not certain which channels will be moving on that date, if any at all, however what is certain is that it will not be all of them.
The reception of the UK channels received in Spain from the new satellite is currently unknown so there is still a chance you could pick up some of the channels after the move. There is not enough space on the new satellite for all the channels to move at the same time either which is why two new satellites will be launched in 2013 and 2014 and the remaining channels will be moved over then, so rest assured that this process is likely to be gradual.
If you really miss the channels you have already lost then a solution at the moment would be IPTV which is television through your internet. Many companies are currently offering this as a solution but its worth baring in mind that it may not be the same quality you would be used to with HD channels and it relies on a strong internet connection. You can also watch UK television via filmon.com.
To be able to connect with owners on your urbanization and answer questions like this, a handy tool is an online community forum which is one of the features of our OCM community website.
Not having post delivered, or mail going missing can cause big problems for Community Presidents and Owners. To protect owners there are a number of legislations which specify what kind of mailbox each community needs to have and where they should be. Below is an overview of the rules and regulations.
A number of Spanish home owners have recently received a rather surprising phone call from their power suppliers claiming that they have an outstanding amount on the account (sometimes thousands) which needs to be paid immediately – failure to pay immediately will result in the power being cut off and the meter being removed.
Following a recent meeting at the council headquarters in Malaga, an agreement has been made to create a quick communication channel to inform foreign residents on the Costa del Sol in the case of an emergency. Diplomatic representatives from 16 different countries, including the United Kingdom, attended the meeting and will use the new channel from now on to deliver all useful information and updates to each country, directly from the consulates.
With any community or urbanization there will always be practical problems which arise. Traditionally these are brought up at the yearly AGM to be discussed and if possible resolved.
It seems the economic situation is still having a devastating effect on property owners in Spain, with many struggling to pay their mortgages and community fees. The value of unpaid community fees is expected to reach €1.6 million by the end of this year, and is having direct consequences on communities.