If you have lived in a condominium community, you have probably heard a few phrases used on a regular basis. You may have heard about common elements and condo units, property managers and boards of directors, and various other terms.
One thing that many condo owners often have questions about is how the board of directors works. Are these people the ones responsible for managing the condo building? What duties and functions do they fulfill? How do they help with maintaining the community?
More than 12% of Canadians live in condominiums across the country, representing a significant portion of the population, these are good questions. More than half of those (53.5%, to be exact) are living in the three major metropolitan areas of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
With this many lives impacted by condo living and property managers, it is more important than ever that people understand the important roles that a board of directors can play in running the community. Here are some essential facts you need to know.
Your board represents YOU.
A condo board of directors does not represent itself, the management company, outside vendors, or even staff members – the condo board represents the owners of the condo units. This is where they differ from the actual management company.
The condo board actually employs the management company – and any other staff members within the community – for the benefit of residents and owners. The board therefore has a duty to represent owners to the best of their ability, honestly and in good faith, including using community resources wisely, and making sure that condo owner complaints and concerns are addressed expeditiously.
Your board has several basic duties.
The board of directors is responsible for making big decisions about various aspects of condominium management in Toronto. These decisions include how to handle building maintenance, how to deal with staffing issues, taking care of the condo corporation’s financial issues, and ensuring the rules are being consistently upheld and enforced in compliance with the Ontario Condo Act.
When it comes to building maintenance in general, several potential questions arise about how responsibilities are divided up between the board and the residents. A general rule of thumb is that residents are responsible for maintenance inside of their own units, as well as for systems that are specific to their unit, such as wiring and pipes that specially serve their individual premises.
The board is also supposed to ensure that the declaration and bylaws are upheld, and for setting and enforcing special rules for day-to-day living, for the purposes of security and cleanliness throughout the communal areas.They must also ensure regular reserve fund studies are conducted to verify that the amount the community has set aside for long-term repairs and maintenance needs is sufficient.
Your board must enforce the rules consistently.
While property managers often end up dealing with rule violations on a day-to-day basis, it is up to the board to make sure that violations get addressed. These can include anything from noise complaints to ensuring residents are paying their maintenance fees. With residents in Toronto paying an average of $530.00 per month for a 900 square foot unit, failure to pay can add up quickly and jeopardize the community’s financial health.
This makes enforcement a key function for most condo boards. If the condominium management in Toronto is not functioning properly, it can lead to disgruntled owners and residents who feel unfairly treated, and whose communities have turned dysfunctional.
With many residents in communities throughout Toronto paying 50-80 cents per square foot in maintenance fees, it can make them worry about what they have paid for if the rules are not enforced as they were documented when they purchased the condo.
You can make your board follow the rules – but there’s a catch.
When a board is misbehaving and not ensuring certain rules are followed, it is possible for owners to force the board to comply via a court order under the Condo Act. However, if the condo corporation incurs legal fees in the process, it is possible to force the owners to pay both those and any costs related to compliance.
When disputes arise, therefore, it is often beneficial for owners to seek help from property managers in dealing with problems. A good property manager, such as those employed by ICC, can offer insights and help regarding what actions to take and how to deal with residents’ problems. We have a particular focus on working with both boards and residents in our communities, which leads to a better community experience overall.
If you are interested in learning more about condo management, we invite you to download our eBook, which is full of helpful information for condo owners, boards, and property managers. We also invite you to contact ICC directly for assistance with all of your condo management needs and “experience the difference”.