We all do our fair share of cleaning over time, but when it comes to cleaning that 200, 300 or 600 apartment Owners Corporation, Cleaning takes on a whole new meaning. Especially if we are on the cleaning sub committee trying to find competent cleaners for our new or mature OC.
We can break this into two areas.
1. General Building Cleaning Services: This is your daily cleaning, and;
2. Specialist Cleaning: This includes external windows 50 or so floors up, car park cleans and specialist floor and surface treatments.
Cleaning budgets for sizeable Owners Corporations (formerly Body Corporate) can easily exceed $200,000 per annum, but can also be for just a few thousand dollars for the smaller OC. The sizeable contracts need considerable work and thought to get it right and often will require modification over time. Specifications should be thought through to also give tendering cleaning companies an overall view of the scope of works to be performed. You can also invite tendering companies to have input into your cleaning ‘Spec’ , especially for a new development, as often they have the knowledge re good work practices and efficient use of time on site.
Also under the Owners Corporation Act in Victoria it should be noted that when dealing with large contract sums and in fact any contract for that matter, there should not be a conflict of interest in the appointment of contractors providing a service to an OC. This is why it is a matter of practice to call for three tenders for this type of contract/service agreement. This must be a matter of practice for all contracts that an OC enters into, so that those lot owners on the Owners Corporation Committee of Management who represent all lot owners are transparent in their dealings and do not fall foul of the legislation. Often you may have a preferred cleaning company and as long as a transparent tendering process is followed and they are competitive there is no reason to exclude them from performing works for your OC. Again transparency is necessary simply because of the shear size of some OC’s now that often control budgets in the $millions and not just the $thousands. For efficiency of time I have personally had situations where I could have appointed cleaners and for that matter other contractors, that have had all the desirable attributes and no matter what my reputation, I would have been found wanting (an embarrassed) if I was asked one simple question – ‘Where are the other quotes?’
There is certainly a growing need for ‘performance clauses’. This gets back to you signing a contract on behalf of your OC for provision of a service, and then finding you have no remedy if you don’t get that service or level of service your OC has paid for.
We have noted that often Cleaning Companies, just like many providers of services to Owners Corporations will wish to negotiate longer term contracts. You as the OC must retain control within the contract. What we mean by this is that should the company you have a contract with ‘on sell’ your cleaning contract to another company you may wish to have provision for this in any agreement that voids the agreement upon sale or calls for re tender. The longer the term of the contract with your OC means it is more valuable to on sell to a buyer. This is simply to stop the cleaning contract you have being traded like a commodity and issues such as a drop in the standard of cleaning occurring (and it happens).