I’ve been a director of our flat management company for 30 years. For around 25 of those, I’ve also acted as our company secretary. I’ve got a good understanding about what our responsibilities to Companies House are.
I know we’ve got to file our accounts and confirmation statement every year –and I know what time of the year we have to do it. I know it’s up to us, not Companies House, to deal with issues such as broken gutters, or worn carpets, or broken doorbells.
However, there was a time when I did not know any of this.
In many ways, I was lucky. Having moved into my flat, I got to see first-hand not only what my predecessors did as directors, but also the part that the company secretary plays. When my turn came to take over as secretary, I had a good understanding not only of what to do, but how to do it.
I knew we had to have an annual general meeting (AGM) every year. I knew each of us had to receive an agenda for that AGM, together with a copy of the accounts, and that there was a procedure we needed to go through. Like, for instance, taking care of any external decorating which might need doing over the coming year.
I also knew it was us who were responsible for organising that decorating, not Companies House. I would not dream of contacting Companies House about painting, or to sort out a dead bird on the roof of the building! But would I have known that had I just moved in, become a director and not had anyone to learn from? If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I would.
Fortunately, Companies House is very good at providing hints, tips and advice on the responsibilities that come with being a flat management company director. I sometimes take a few minutes just to check their website. I find it helpful and really appreciate the information they provide.
Whether you’ve been a flat management company director for 25 years or 25 days, you will find it extremely useful. If I was starting out as a director now, and I had little or no immediate support to call on in terms of finding out more about my responsibilities, then Companies House – or more specifically their website – would be my first port of call.
Although we always have our AGM in November, over a few pre-Christmas mince pies, we also make time to hold special meetings whenever somebody new moves into the block, partly out of politeness but also because we like to know who they are. That gives me the opportunity to present them with their share certificate and explain about our collective responsibilities as directors and shareholders. Ideally, their solicitor should already have informed them about their responsibilities prior to moving in, but we find that does not always happen.
Those meetings, together with the AGM, are important in terms of sharing information. It also gives the other directors and shareholders the opportunity to understand more about the work of the company secretary, should I ever decide to move and someone else has to take over.
If there’s one last thing that I’d want to emphasise, it’s this – being the director of a flat management company is not something to be treated lightly.
It's a responsibility, particularly if the role of company secretary falls on your shoulders. You have to be organised and remember what needs to be done and when. But then that goes for a lot of things in life. And help, as I said, is always there in the shape of Companies House and the advice and guidance on its website. If there’s something you need to know, then the chances are you’ll probably find your answer there.