Property Management Issues
Q&A: Procedures, Harassment and Shared Facilities
From the Volume 17, Fall 2023 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
Q: What do you feel are the biggest challenges that Management firms and Managers face at the current time on a day to day basis.
A: One of the largest “burn outs” of this profession is Boards that do not ‘work with’ the manager but rather against them. Boards have vested interests as owners and Board members, and of course have the best interests of their homes in mind. However not heeding sound advice from their Managers and challenging expert opinions provided from other professions is not conducive to a team approach in “getting the job done” and doing the job effectively.
Rushing to make band aid fixes versus a more costly but proper repair, ends up costing more in the long run as opposed to addressing the issue the proper way the first time. Believing their role is to ‘save the residents money” as opposed to managing their budgets to cover their expenses and effect proper repairs is a huge challenge at times.
Management firms have cultivated working relationships with an abundance of professionals throughout the condominium industries for decades, which is why they are successful at Managing sites. You have engaged a professional management firm with a solid reputation – and to challenge or disregard their advise on the proper ways to complete work is draining and extremely time consuming to have to continually adapt to ever changing opinions.
Often times as a costs savings, Boards have wanted to put more responsibility on the Manager that should have fallen to other professionals simply due to cost savings. Please remember that Managers are NOT engineers, they are NOT your superintendents, they cannot be managing your capital projects, and Managers are NOT legal advisors. The Manager cannot continue to step into non-Managerial roles. This infringes on the license Managers now carry, causes a lot of undue stress and burns Managers out. There is a shortage of Managers in Ontario, and an ever-growing population of condominiums. The Condominium Act is specific in that Boards should be relying on their professionals advise so please hear what your Manager is telling you.
Q: With the significant increase in condominiums being built in Ontario versus the number of licensed managers in Ontario, what do you feel is the best course of action to retain current managers and intrigue new licensees into this profession?
A: I believe the industry needs more protections and Boards need to support their Manager’s.
The authorities currently created ensure the Property Management profession is licensed, educated and exists to protect the rights of owners, but we do not feel anyone has our backs or that our interests are being looked out for as Managers, rather they are being trampled. Management firms and Managers pay a lot of money to be licensed, maintain the educational requirements, etc. but the protections currently in place don’t seem to be in our interest. A lot of fingers appear to point back at the Manager or make it the Manager’s responsibility when we don’t necessarily believe it to be. Promoting an industry that has no supports in place will not intrigue many to this industry. E
Educating Boards was a good first step on the basic functions of what condominiums are, however this education needs to be widely publicized and increased each year so that Boards FULLY understand their roles and repercussions of situations that arise and decisions that are made. Education should also be readily made for unit owners upon purchase of their condominium so that they know what they are agreeing to when they purchase the unit – they have bought a part of a community that does come with rules and requirements that need to be followed. So many owners have no idea what they have purchased.
Q:In your opinion, does the industry fall short for Managers, and if so in what capacity? What would you change or not change?
A: Yes it falls short on protections for Management’s rights. The industry needs to continue to remove firms and individuals from the pool that do harm to our industry, behave in distrustful fashions, or make it unreasonably difficult to perform our duties.
Currently there is no avenue for a Manager to use when being harassed by owners, contractors and yes, sometimes Board members. The CAT is open for a limited number of items for unit owners to be heard, however there is no current avenue where a Manager can in turn expect similar considerations and support, with the outcome of a judgement for someone causing them harm. If a Board will not agree to take action on harassing issues, despite the requirement under ss.117, 119, and 134 of the Condominium Act, 1998, the Manager is left with limited options and limited places to turn. There MUST be somewhere that is more simplistic for a Manager to take their concerns before.
Q: Since Covid has dissipated have you seen things returning to normal, and if not, in what ways have they changed?
A: Nothing seems to be as it once used to be. Currently the condominium realm is experiencing a large lack of workers in all trades causing delays and higher costs due to supply chain issues, material cost inflation that is not coming down. Some auditors are just now coming out of a large backlog, due to new processes having to be implemented, staffing shortages which unfortunately can cause delays in holding AGMs.
Q: What do you feel the members of the Condominium community need to be aware of regarding Management/Managers that they may not consider?
A: Respecting time. A timely response is expected but this is a two-way street.
The current expectation for owners, boards and sometimes contractors is an immediate response. These parties need to understand that the Manager is not sitting idly at their computer awaiting an email to arrive. They cannot always respond immediately and an industry standard is an approximate 48 response time unless a dire emergency. However, I would caution that if a dire emergency you not email but rather pick up the phone and call the management office so that the situation is addressed much faster. Your email may not be seen the day you send it, and that is not the fault of the Manager.
Communication responses need to be efficient and timely in coming from the Board to the Manager as well. If a Manager is seeking feedback, approval, comments, etc. the Board should attempt to provide that feedback in a timely manner or at a minimum acknowledge receipt and give an approximate time frame on when the Manager can expect a response.
A suggestion is to have one Board member act as the communication liason person, who can receive the information and contact the individual board members to obtain their feedback, collect and put this information into one communication back to the manager for all to see. This simplifies the back and forth process, cuts down on many unnecessary emails, and gets “the job done” much faster.
I also ask Boards to recognize a need to be reasonable. Over the years, there have been some that send a laundry list of questions and expected a response to all items the next day or in the very near future. This is not reasonable. The Manager can receive the list, and will begin working on some items at a time, but Boards must be patient. Please give the Manager time to do their job and report back on items. When sizeable lists are received in this fashion it needs to be understood that the Manager does have other work to do and cannot necessarily stop all other work to complete the list sent. Perhaps discussing the priority items at the next meeting, and then asking the Manager to complete a couple items each month as time permits. There is no way a large list should ever be formed on “urgent” items, unless under special circumstances.
Dan Webb is a Operations Manager at Property Management Guild Inc.
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