Volume 26, Issue Number 4, Summer 2022
Purchasing/Living in a Condominium


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The Fundamentals of Condo Living

An Outline of the Respective Responsibilities and the Importance of Communications and Teamwork Between Boards And Property Manangers

By James O'Hara | Other articles by James O'Hara

Overview
Building upon last issue's Fundamentals of Condo Living article, this second and final article in the series is written to cover the topics of board governance, the role of property management, and to outline their respective responsibilities while stating the importance of communications and teamwork required to deliver the best experience for condominium owners and residents alike.

What is a condominium property management company?
A condominium property management company is an Ontario licensed provider of management services and is defined under the provincial Condominium Management Services Act, 2015. Condominium property management companies understand the Condominium Act inside out and manage multiple properties, giving them deep knowledge and experience.

Generally speaking, the property management company fulfills two critical roles in condominiums' successful operations and management needs. The first of which enables them to deliver the expertise required to successfully execute the day-to-day operational requirements of condominiums. The second, and less obvious, role the property management company and property manager play, is in the provision of real-time and ongoing guidance on the fiduciary, regulatory, legal and safety requirements to condominium boards - the importance of this is impossible to overstate.

A reputable and capable property management company delivering these services and guidance through an experienced Property Manager is any condominium board's most important partner.

What are the property management responsibilities?
While the particular contracted services will vary from condominium to condominium, as an agent of the board, the property management company is the execution arm of the board. It is primarily responsible for the day-to-day operational management of the property as defined in the contract and specified by the board. It works closely with the board as an advisor but acts at the sole direction of the board and is not technically a member of the board.

Their licensed property manager is an onsite point representative of the property management team and brings the collective resources, experience, and knowledge of the property management company to bear. This critical role provides guidance and support to the board to assist them in making the best decisions possible to take care of the condo corporation.

The primary responsibilities of the property manager are:

  • Manage the community's daily operations to ensure everything is running smoothly.
  • Carry out policies set by the condo board.
  • Keeping regulatory, financial, and other records for the condo corporation.
  • Ensuring maintenance and repair of the property.
  • Monitoring service companies and overseeing staff and contractors.
  • Implementing an emergency management plan and responding to emergencies.
  • Preparing status certificates.
  • Issuing meeting notices and reporting on the affairs of the corporation.
  • Organizing board meetings and overseeing the administration of all owners' meetings.
  • Monitoring the corporation's insurance.
  • Advising the condo board on compliance with the Condominium Act, 1998
  • Advising the board on its financial responsibilities (e.g., contributions to the reserve fund, long-term reserve fund planning).
  • Taking the lead on owner correspondence and managing the communications flow to and from the board. This includes any questions or concerns owners and residents would like the board to address.

Why is a property management company needed?
A typical condominium board is a volunteer- based governing board comprised of various people from the community with differing experience levels, knowledge, and backgrounds willing to donate time and effort to their community. Condominium board experience can vary greatly from corporation to corporation and director to director. Building management is a time-consuming and demand-driven function. It's both essential and incumbent on the board to source, attract, and retain a highly qualified professional building management service provider upon whom both the board and owners can rely on. Given this is a core and critical function to the successful operation of a condominium, it's incumbent on a board to select the very best property management company to match their own particular needs.

Why is board and property management teamwork important?
To ensure the smooth daily running of the operations while maintaining a safe environment for all owners and residents in the condominium community. It's imperative for the board and property management to collectively work together and build an effective and highly functioning team. To be effective, board and property management must build and maintain a strong and effective working relationship on an ongoing basis from which to succeed for the condominium community.

Why are building records so important? A very important but not widely known challenge these days is the digital conversion and preservation of engineering and technical drawings, plans, and building records. Given the age of some buildings (yes, some were constructed during the analogue age), these records are often still in an analogue form.

The mitigation of this risk requires both initiative and the joint effort of the board and property management combining together to ensure critical intellectual property such as engineering drawings and other knowledge-based assets, that are in both print form and potentially in the collective memories of individuals/property managers, are preserved for the future. Knowledge and building artifacts unique to each property must be retrieved, preserved, and digitized for ongoing building management success and future planning.

Summary Through the journey taken over both articles we have covered the fundamentals of condominium living. We explored what a condominium actually is, that condominium living means much more than the selection of a type of dwelling, what a condominium board is, what a board is responsible for, what a property management company is, the key interactions a board needs to have with the property management company. Last, but far from least, we've covered the importance of board and property management teamwork and community communications for the benefit of all.

As a result, the combination of these two articles has given us a complete 360-degree view of the essentials and fundamentals of any condominium and I hope this series has provided as much information as it has given me the pleasure of writing them.

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Summer 2022
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