6. Establishing a new office
The administration unit should select a suitable office building. The office and staff quarters should be in close proximity. The selected building should meet the criteria for reasonable cost, secure location, have basic utilities and be close to basic facilities. The following checklist can assist with office selection.
- Secure adequate office space to accommodate the emergency operation.
- Identify an office building that meets the criteria for location, security, condition and cost.
- Negotiate a lease with the landlord that covers repairs.
- Arrange for water and power supply, and telephone lines.
- Equip the building with necessary office, safety and security equipment
- Arrange maintenance contracts with service providers for ongoing maintenance.
As soon as the emergency operations office building is identified, it is essential to ensure that there is adequate provision of water, electricity and telephone lines.
- All water pipes should be in good condition.
- Water outlets in kitchen and toilets should work well, and broken outlets should be replaced by the landlord.
- There should be proper water storage facilities (overhead water tank and working water pump) and the availability of additional water sources.
- Water heaters should be installed in kitchens and bathrooms.
- All outstanding water bills should be paid by the landlord before the building is handed over.
- The building should have a three-phase line and all power cables should be in good condition.
- The power meter should be in working condition and be able to take on any additional power load needed by CARE.
- All electrical outlets must be safe and leak-proof.
- The capacity to accommodate a heavy duty generator should exist.
- All outstanding electricity bills should be paid by the landlord before the building is handed over.
6.2.3 Telephone lines
- There should be an adequate number of telephone lines.
- An international line must be available or easily obtainable.
- There should be provision to draw new connections from external lines.
- The immediate installation of fax, internet and/or satellite service should be available.
- An internal intercom system should be installed immediately.
- All outstanding telephone bills should be paid by the landlord before the building is handed over.
It is general practice for CARE to sign a lease/rental agreement with the landlord using CARE’s standard lease agreement format available in the CO. A sample rental agreement is provided in Annex 18.4. In those cases where the landlord has his/her own agreement format, the document should be scrutinised carefully and, where needed, modifications should be proposed to protect CARE’s interests. Keep the following key points in mind:
- Any and all modifications or repairs required before occupancy should be included into the lease agreement.
- The responsibility for such expenses should be indicated clearly in the agreement.
- A list of all FFE items provided by the landlord should be attached to the agreement.
- The agreement should include provision for any incremental annual increase in rent or clearly state that no increases will be considered during the life of the agreement.
- Before signing an agreement, seek verification of the legal title of the property. A copy of the proof of ownership or a signed affidavit from two people confirming that the premises actually belongs to the owner should be provided to CARE if possible.
- If the landlord is represented by a relative, then this person should provide a power of attorney signed by the owner and authenticated by a notary public. This should confirm their status as a legal representative who is authorised to act for and on behalf of the owner.
- If the monthly rental payment should be sent to the same representative, the power of attorney should also clearly state this fact and the method of payment.
- As soon as a building’s lease agreement has been signed, make immediate arrangements for adequate FFE and comfortable basic furnishing.
When renting new premises, it is critical to review security and safety hazards. The following guidelines can help ensure that guidelines are met:
- Locks-Replace existing locks for the main, rear and side doors. Make adequate duplicate keys as required. Prepare a key distribution list and have a master set stored in a secure place.
- Fire extinguishers-Install both dry and wet fire extinguishers in easily visible and accessible places.
- Security lighting-Install bright security lights at key vantage points (such as the driveway, parking area, entrance, rear door and side doors)
- Emergency lighting-Procure an adequate number of emergency lamps, flash lights and candles, and store in easily accessible places.
- First aid kits-Each office must have an easily accessible, well-stocked first aid kit.
- Safe-Install in a secure place for storing cash and important documents.
- Generator-Install a generator as soon as possible, according to need.
- Fuel-Do not store fuel close to the premises.
- Security guards-Recruit an adequate number of security guards for both day and night duty.
- Smoke an carbon monoxide detector installed.
See also Chapter 14 Safety and security.
To ensure that there is no disruption in daily activities due to problems with utility services, property or equipment, it is essential to establish maintenance contracts. Monthly maintenance contracts should be drawn up for:
- photocopiers, printers, scanners and other critical office equipment
- electrical and plumbing works
- communication equipment
- internet service providers.