Board of Directors and Meetings

July, 7 2022 Published by Eastern Ontario Chapter - By Anne Burgoon

Strengthening the Condominium Corporation/Management Relationship

From the Volume 32 issue of the CCI Eastern Ontario Condo Contact Magazine

The relationship between a condominium manager, the owners, the directors, the contractors, the corporation staff, lawyers, auditor and engineers… can be very complex at times.

On the one hand the manager is part of your team and working towards the same goal: doing the greatest good for the greatest number while managing the affairs of the corporation. Yet the manager also has to be an advisor (offering support and stating when we disagree and why), a supervisor, and a bit of a police officer when the governing documents have to be enforced. They have to receive complaints, some of which are delivered quite nicely while others are down right nasty…and then respond in a professional manner. They have to nurture relationships with contractors in order to obtain the best service possible but be prepared to let them know when they are not meeting expectations.

Managers have to address requests for repairs and complete reserve fund projects all while monitoring the bottom line and adhering to what are often very tight budgets. Although they try to work regular hours, with evening meetings and after hours’ emergencies, a manager’s hours are anything but regular.

In an industry where managers are in high demand but the supply is low, most managers are stretched to their limit as they try to help the communities that they are paid to manage. The majority of the time, a manager provides more hours to a corporation than the contract contemplates each month.

Given all of the above, it is no wonder that in the Condominium industry, manager burn out is a serious concern. But what can be done to mitigate this?

To answer this question, several managers, with varying years of experience, were polled about what they thinks needs to change in the industry and what they want to keep.

The following are the responses received with each respondent echoing the comments of the others….in other words we had consensus on these responses.

Items that Managers feel owners and directors need better awareness:

Board meetings

Trying to stick to the agenda (as best as possible) would be appreciated (only items on the agenda should be discussed). Meetings should never go more than 2 hours. The Chair needs to be aware of the timing
of discussions (spending 20 minutes of a 2 hour meeting discussing the type of flowers to plant in the front garden, is likely not a good use of everyone’s time). Finally, directors should to come to meetings prepared. Review the minutes and be familiar with decisions that need to be made beforehand.

Micro managing

Avoid micro managing – let the manager do her/his job. If you find yourself micromanaging ask yourself why? Is it because the manager is simply not addressing the items requested? If so, have a conversation about this and present the data. Is it because that is your personality and you feel you have to control things? If so, this may need to be what has to change. You may be impeding the manager and likely undermining them.

Absentee landlord

When owners do not inform tenants sufficiently about the governing documents, this ends up falling to the manager to cite violations for which tenants are often unaware. It would be appreciated if investor owners made sure their tenants had copies of the rules, bylaws and declaration (this is actually a requirement under the Condominium Act, 1998).

Communication

When an owner calls and says: This is Lindsay, can you let me know when my window will be replaced or when an owner emails without a unit or corporation noted and ask about window cleaning? Including your full name, address and unit number with all correspondence would help immensely.

Owner requests should be reasonable and it would be helpful if owners tried to appreciate that the manager is attending to matters while keeping in line with an established budget. It is possible that the manager has to advise that your particular request may not be an item that can be repaired this fiscal year.

Repairs

It is helpful if an owner understands that a simple situation like,” there is a leak in my laundry room and not sure where the water is coming from but my floor is damaged,” triggers a whole sequence of steps that the manager must take: find the source, determine the cause, arrange for repair of source, determine responsibility for repair, check the standard unit by law and insurance deductible by law as well as Schedule C to determine unit boundaries, then explain to owner why they might be responsible for the repair based on the governing documents. Once again, having patience as these situations are sorted would be much appreciated.

What managers appreciate from owners and directors:

Managers appreciate when directors and owners understand that a manager has a life outside of work and is not expected or required to respond to emails on a weekend or at night. Theses owner emails begin with: “please do not respond to this until Monday “.

Managers appreciate directors that are reasonable and understand that to get 3 quotes for a $300 repair is simply not realistic. A simple “thank you” or “I appreciate all that you do” from an owner or director often goes a long way.

Managers appreciate when owners note that they understand the challenges they face with contractors, supply chain issues and delays due to illness.

Managers appreciate when owners volunteer to help out by being on a committee or completing some research for the corporation because they know this is their investment as well.

Managers appreciate efforts owners make to promote their community. Managers appreciate when a director recognizes that what they are asking of the manager is “scope creeping” and not part of their contract and offer to discuss how best to proceed.

Managers appreciate when a director realizes the hours the manager is putting in are beyond the number of hours that the contract ever contemplated and proactively asks how to improve things by either reducing demands or paying for the additional services.

"No manager is perfect and no board of directors is perfect. With good communication, reciprocal support and a good awareness of each others needs, this most important of all relationships in the condominium industry can work very well. Without these variables in place, the relationship is doomed to flounder and eventually fail. For managers and directors alike, if your relationship is floundering, but you want it to succeed, determine the variables that need addressing…and become aware of the unmet needs, become supportive and start communicating.”

Anne Burgoon is co-owner and vice-president of Eastern Ontario Property Management Group (EOPMG). Anne has a Bachelor of Science degree and holds her OLCM, RCM and more recently was awarded the LCCI. She is a condominium owner, has served as a condominium director and is a member of Eastern Ontario’s Manager Advisory Council and director for CCI Eastern Ontario. She worked with the CMRAO as a Subject Matter Expert in developing competencies for Property Managers in Ontario, course content for provincial courses as well and assisted in the development of the provincial exams.

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