Managing agent dupes complex

The Motani complex in Ridgeway has been left in debt of more than R1.2 million after a managing agent in conjunction with a City Power employee defrauded them.

The managing agent had been receiving payment from the owners for their water and electricity bill for the last four years into the agent’s account, Inner City Property Management (ICPM.) Trustees and owners were issued with statements to show payments had been made to the city for services. It was only when they terminated their contract with ICPM earlier this year when the problems started to emerge.

The new management agency took over and uncovered the fraud and the staggering debt of R1.2 million. At this stage owner Shiraaz Hamilton took over to try and resolve the problem.

"We opened a criminal charge and a warrant has been issued for her arrest, but this does not help us. We hired a private investigator who found out that she has no assets in her name which we can recover," Hamilton said.

When the agent was contacted right after the fraud was discovered she had told them not to worry because their services would never be terminated, implying that she had a contact within City Power.

"We are law-abiding citizens who want to pay for services, so we have to sort this out," Hamilton added.

They have entered into an agreement with the city to pay off the electricity arrears of over R644 000, which will cost each owner about R600 a month in special levies. They had to borrow R155 000 as a down-payment.

The same however cannot be said for the water bill which currently stands at R574 000, as they couldn’t raised a deposit to enter into a similar agreement and is currently being threatened by disconnection.

"So, as things stand, our water could be cut at any time. We really feel the city should come to the party - it is because of fraud in their departments that we find ourselves in this predicament and they should shoulder some of the responsibility. Why did they not cut off our services after the first month we 'defaulted'?

"They are quick to send termination notices if accounts are just seven days in arrears. We have many pensioners and single mothers living here who cannot afford a sudden increase of over R1 200 in special levies," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said this should serve as a warning to owners in other complexes, and to body corporates to ensure the municipal bills are, in fact, being paid, and not to rely on managing agents' statements.

Tharina Truter, City Power general manager for risk and compliance, said they were investigating the matter.

City Watch

The Star

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