Tag Archives: condominium corporation
Each condo has one, and you know what they say: If you can’t beat them, join them
By Daniela Andrews, National Post
Canada’s borders span thousands of kilometres from coast to coast. The country is known for its vast expanse and abundance of space. In its urban centres, however, it has experienced steady increases in population density, creating the opportunity, and necessity, for an entire industry of condominium development. I should know. In my zeal to move from the north end of the city to the downtown King West neighbourhood, I became a condo owner, finding it the most convenient (and affordable) way to live downtown. It’s a decision that hasn’t disappointed. My “commute” to work is a five-minute walk. Everything I need, from a dry cleaner to my favourite yoga studio, is just outside my door. And I no longer have to deal with summers of grass-cutting or winters of driveway-shovelling. But I do have to deal with the condo board.
Oh, the condo board. The focus of a love-hate relationship for many owners. Here’s a little background on the way a condo runs.
Where the owner of a detached freehold house may act as the king of their kingdom, the owner of a condominium is more like a citizen in a democratic land. Owners (considered the members of the official-sounding Condominium Corporation, a.k. a the condo) elect a board of directors (also known as the condo board) whose main responsibility is to make decisions about the building, its rules and its maintenance, on behalf of the owners. The board, in turn, hires a property management company, which runs the day-to-day activities of the building, including arranging for maintenance, cleaning and superintendant services.
Members of the board are typically elected on staggered one-, two-or three-year terms, so that the composition of the board is constantly changing to reflect a broad range of expertise and experience. Boards are usually made up of three to seven members (the actual number will be listed in the condo rules and regulations) who are all owners, and new members are elected at the annual general meeting as terms expire. The main responsibilities of the board are to ensure that the building runs smoothly, that owners’ best interests are represented and that the value of the condo and its units is maintained. In practical terms, that means the board makes decisions on everything from the condo bylaws, to repairs of common elements. They also set the annual budget, which may include deciding whether there should be a change in maintenance fees paid by owners. With all their power, it may sound like the condo board has the final word on all things condo-related, but board members have their own set of rules to follow; they are governed by the provincial Condominium Property Act, which outlines how they must administer condo rules, how funds are accounted for and how the corporation must save for large expenses.
With condo boards representing such a large and diverse group of owners, all with different ideas, interests and beliefs, it’s not surprising that there is often dissent among some owners and the board. While one group may agree with a board decision wholeheartedly, there will no doubt be others that oppose the decision with a vehemence rivalling Lady Gaga’s opposition to pants. In my condo, tensions between the board and some owners once rose to a level necessitating lawyers’ letters and Internet rants, creating an uncomfortably tense atmosphere that has thankfully subsided. It’s understandable how tensions can arise, however, since there seems to be a central belief that, as a homeowner, I can do whatever I want with my property. In a condo, this freedom is significantly limited. Renovations, outdoor decor, even the colour of my blinds, are all governed by the rules of my building and administered by the condo board. As we all learned in the sandboxes of our youth, when you share space with others, you have to learn to share and play nice.
One way to ensure your ideas are heard is to become a member of the board. It’s not for everyone. Sitting on the board requires a significant investment of time and effort, but board members have the power to vote on decisions that directly affect their home. On the other hand, they’re also on the receiving end of owners’ questions, comments and complaints on what can feel like a daily basis. So before volunteering to run for any board position, weigh the pros and cons, and figure out if you’re the right person for the job. Board members should have the time and energy necessary to serve their position well and become educated about the inner workings of the Condo Corp.; the condo board at my building meets monthly, but communicates informally with owners on a day-to-day basis. They need to have excellent listening skills, great teamwork skills and a sense of diplomacy that will come in handy during disagreements with owners, or even the other board members. They need to be patient, hardworking, flexible and, above all, they must keep the owners’ best interests as the central focus for every decision.
Love them or hate them, condo boards are a fact of life for condo owners. The best way to handle them is to become well-versed in the condo’s rules and regulations, to maintain a sense of humour and grace and, if you’re up for some hard work, run for a position on the board and become a key player in running your building.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.