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Who's Managing Your Condo?
Things to Think About When Hiring a Manager For Your Condominium
By Catherine Murdock | Other articles by Catherine Murdock
Since November 1, 2017, it has been required by law that if you are paid to manage a condominium corporation in the Province of Ontario then you must be licensed. This applies to the manager for the corporation and the management company that may employ them. If you are managing a corporation free of charge on a volunteer basis, you are not required to be licensed.
I have concerns about volunteer management. There are many rather distasteful tasks that must be done to support a condo community, (e.g. chasing collections, letters regarding rule infractions, dealing with resident issues that require mediation, etc.). Are they all being done? How is your privacy being handled in such an environment? Is the board being advised to allocate time during board meetings for in-camera discussions of private and confidential information that should not be in the regular minutes, which would require redaction should an owner ask for copies of these core records?
There Is a Truth We All Know – You Get What You Pay For
The Auditor General of Ontario's 2020 value for money audit of the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) revealed that 315 or 10% of all managers are unlicensed, and 156 or 33% of management companies are not licensed. Furthermore, less than 1% of the companies and managers were ever inspected by the CMRAO. This is shocking! What is more surprising is that only 50 management companies (10%) go to the trouble of getting Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) 2000 Certified and being thoroughly audited for best practices every three years. It is an exhaustive audit of policies and procedures covering every aspect of the company's operation.
The investment you have made in your home is probably the biggest one you will ever make, and yet it could be left to chance if you happen to purchase a condominium managed by an unlicensed firm or manager.
This brings me to the status certificate. It is not just a few pages of information. It contains your corporation's declaration, bylaws, and rules, and while the declaration must contain certain information legislated by The Condominium Act, 1998, they can contain differing site-specific conditions which must be known to the manager. Also included in the status certificate package are several agreements, such as the management agreement, an insurance trustee agreement, an audited financial statement (if not a brand-new corporation), an insurance certificate, along with a current operating budget for the year. This is basically the roadmap to your community and how it has set out its operation. Did you receive your copy when you closed the sale? If you are like most new owners, you likely did not know to ask for it. This adds an extra dimension to the manager's job.
As an instructor of the ACMO courses for about 16 years, I personally do not understand why every condo corporation does not want to hire a Registered Condominium Manager (RCM) to help protect their investment. In addition to holding their general license (GL) through the CMRAO, they are active members of ACMO and have pursued a higher standard by achieving their RCM designation. The RCM manager was tested more stringently, required more experience (3,500-4,000 hours vs. 2920 for the general license), and must participate in 10 hours of continuing education annually to ensure they are staying current. I am also required to conduct myself according to 3 different Codes of Ethics: one for my RCM from ACMO, one for my license from the CMRAO and one for my company, an ACMO 2000 certified company.
Remember, You Get What You Pay For
Just for conversation: does your manager prepare the annual planner, maintain fire logs, and a list of those who need assistance in the event of building evacuation? Do you have a Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy (required under the Ministry of Labour, Occupational Health and Safety Act, since 2010 with updating in 2016) or an Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) policy in effect? If your manager is unaware of the requirements of Bill 106, Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015, you may need to have a conversation.
Condominium managers with their RCM and ACMO 2000 Certified management companies have demonstrated their preference to be outstanding. They are driven to go above and beyond the minimum requirements of a simple general licence and have done so voluntarily. These are not ordinary people that settle for minimum requirements. They strive to learn as much as they can and hope to make a difference for their clients and communities. They value their career and understand the nature of the responsibility they've taken on, which means being on call 24/7 and limiting their plans if their community needs them. Their values are at the core of how they manage and care for a property and how they interact with the community of residents.
Condominium managers have been struggling for decades with low pay and extreme scrutiny from residents, and poor working conditions. It is not unusual for the manager's office to be located on the parking level with exhaust fumes and no window or back door for safety.
It seems counter-productive that you would not pay the manager an appropriate salary when they are in the best position to save the corporation money and protect resident's investments. Managers are simply not earning salaries that reflect the responsibility they carry 24/7, making this a rather undesirable occupation.
What this thinking has accomplished is a massive shortage of qualified managers during a condo building boom. Large condo buildings are worth hundreds of millions – just take a look at your insurance certificate!
These are a few things to think about when hiring a manager for your condominium property. Shouldn't the management be of the highest standard for your home and lifestyle?