Property Management Issues

January, 9 2020 Published by Toronto and Area Chapter - By Brian Horlick

Fair Pay for a Fair Day’s Work: Licensed Condominium Managers Are Not Being Adequately Compensated, Resulting in an Industry-Wide Labour Shortage

From the Winter 2019 issue of the CCI Toronto Condovoice Magazine.

Condominium managers shoulder significant and wide-ranging responsibilities in their daily work. Condominium boards rely on condominium managers to control, manage and administer the corporation's common elements and assets. Condominium residents entrust their condominium manager to protect the value of their homes. Managers with a knowledge of finance, mechanical skills and interpersonal skills, among other competencies, are highly sought out.

In today's high growth condominium market, the need for qualified and capable condominium managers has never been more acute. There are currently 1.6 million people who live and invest, or purely invest, in over 800,000 condominium units across Ontario. Of the new homes built in the province from 2018 to 2019, approximately 50% were estimated to be condominiums. Despite this, there are now just over 3,300 condominium managers actively licensed under the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO), while there are over 11,500 condominium corporations in Ontario. This less than 1:3 ratio is unhealthy for the industry.

One symptom of this problem is the unreasonably low level of remuneration paid to the majority of condominium managers. One might think that the limited supply of and high demand for condominium managers would be reflected in an attractive salary package. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. According to Payscale, a website that compiles aggregate salary data, the average annual salary for condominium managers in Toronto is $61,318. That is less than the average annual salary for all jobs in Toronto, which is $62,000.

In this author's view, a significant cause of this issue is the approach and mentality adopted by condominium boards of directors, in response to political pressure from their unit owners. Directors may feel pressured to treat their condominium manager's fee like any other line item in the corporation's budget, and strive to keep the manager's fees to a minimum by either not paying for enough hours or days per week, or not paying for someone who has sufficient experience and expertise.

This approach may save a condominium corporation a few dollars in the short term. However, in our experience, corporations that employ this approach suffer in the long term, as years of accrued poor management or under-management can have a catastrophic effect on the overall health of a corporation. By contrast, those older corporations that have consistently paid for high quality management tend to age much more gracefully. Since a home represents the largest asset that most owners will ever acquire, the need to protect its value through the stewardship of a capable condominium manager should be readily apparent.

To address this problem, the industry should avail itself of the following solutions:

  • The board must educate its owners about the value of proper condominium management, and help its owners to understand that proper condominium management will benefit the owners' investment in the long term.
  • The board must resist the inevitable political pressure to reduce the amount paid to the condominium manager in order to avoid or reduce common expense increases.
  • The provincial government should incentivize prospective entrants into the condominium management field by providing funding to cover the costs of condominium management-related college courses.
  • In order to generate a greater volume of condominium managers, the provincial government and/or an industry oversight body should make greater efforts to promote condominium management as a viable and respectable profession. This should include efforts to teach those members of the public who reside in condominiums the value that sound condominium management can bring to their living environment.

My hope is that the above solutions will lead to a favourable change in the industry for the mutual benefit of all condominium managers, condominium corporations and unit owners.

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