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Owning a deluxe condo in the sky comes with rules

Living in a condominium complex is kind of like living in a small town. There are the residents and then there are those who oversee the ins and outs of the town - in this case, the condo building. A condominium board of directors protects the interests of individual condo owners and the condo community as a whole.

All unit owners have the right to cast votes to elect the members of the board and even in doing so, many residents don’t really understand what the board actually does. It’s not about gathering in the penthouse and sipping cocktails to discuss wallpaper patterns for common areas - being on a condo board can be quite involved, especially since members are volunteers.

Board duties

A condo board of directors represents the building’s unit owners. They make all major decisions when it comes to any building and grounds maintenance, look after the financial interests of the owners and enforce and uphold the bylaws and rules of provincial condominiums acts.

The board is responsible for hiring a property manager and makes sure he or she carries out duties such as collecting any fees from owners, making sure invoices get paid on time and that records are kept of all transactions.

Not just anyone should be on the board

There is a distinct difference in the management of the building and what the condo board should do. In essence, the board should oversee the manager who should be independent of the board.

Board members should actually live in the building and conflicts of interest are a no-no. For instance, board members should sign and adhere to a condo code of ethics and should never be involved in any business undertakings with the property manager.

Use your specs to read the specs

Many condo owners throw their building’s charter or constitution into a drawer without even bothering to read it. Owners should also acquaint themselves with any bylaws fashioned by the board. Prospective unit purchasers should take any statement of disclosure given to them by the developer to a lawyer experienced in condominium law.

A competent board

There are certain things a well-run condo board does:

  • Communicates with owners regularly about its decisions and invites feedback
  • Addresses complaints and concerns that are founded and takes credible suggestions into consideration
  • Gets tenders for repairs, renovations, etc. and does so without conflict of interest
  • Is respectful of the building’s assets, finances and the money of owners
  • Ensures the building, both inside and outside, is well-maintained and that staff is competent and works hard
  • Made up of members who have no personal agendas

First fueled at the provincial level

Provincial governments make the rules that govern condo living, while the board puts a declaration into play for their building using these rules. The election of a board is much like any other election where promises are made by candidates vying for positions and many aren’t kept.

So, as in the political arena or a business setting or even at home, rules aren’t always followed. Realistically, however, a condo is made up of all these: homes, a business and is overseen by an elected body.

There are more than one million Ontario residents living in condominiums and condo boards of directors have a considerable amount of power over owners, especially considering that there is not yet a government tribunal or watchdog in place for any dispute mediation.