Boards of Management Committees
All condos have a board of management committees or an equivalent group by any other name, such as a council, depending on the country.
What Are Boards’ Duties?
Management Committees run condo corporations on behalf of owners: They represent owners. As an entity, they are responsible for making all major decisions regarding the maintenance of buildings and grounds, condos’ finances, and must uphold and enforce the Strata Act, the declaration, by-laws, and rules.
It is a prime board duty to ensure that rules and the declaration are applied uniformly and not just from time to time as suits directors or management.
Boards cannot refuse to enforce rules just because only one owner complains that a particular rule is not followed.
Failure to enforce rules fairly and consistently (and follow them) generally leads to problems down the road. These can result in a lowering of the standards of comportment in the building, degradation of civility and property, maltreatment of staff, abuse of power on the part of one or more board members, as well as financial problems—all potentially lowering the value of owners’ units on the real estate market.
When boards fail to enforce or follow rules and the Strata Act, owners may be able to seek a court order forcing them to comply. This is why it would be so important to have a Strata Act that is overseen by a special agency like the COB to better protect owners.
Boards of committees plan and oversee the fiscal health of the corporation and are responsible for hiring a management company to carry out the tasks associated with their duties and day-to-day work.
Committees have to ensure that the staff is humanely treated, is qualified, and actually works; that the management company collects all fees from owners in a timely fashion; that invoices are paid, proper records are kept, the budget is duly prepared, contracts are awarded after a tendering process, and adequate insurance is maintained. Reserve funds have to be sufficient, and annual general meetings carried out. Committees are also responsible for the reliability of status certificates.
Committees have to address residents’ legitimate complaints, make sure that their needs and rights are respected, and that they can enjoy their units peacefully, as per the Act. Committees are also responsible for communicating with residents, and particularly owners, so that owners are informed and feel empowered.
Boards should not turn into exclusive social clubs protecting directors or managers who fail in their duties. Rather, board members owe their allegiance to their condo, the Act, the rules and by-laws. Boards do not represent themselves nor the management: They represent owners and should be accountable to them.
It is the duty of boards to maintain dignity, respect for others and property, and general civility in a condo building or townhouse complex.
As well, numerous complaints have been received about managers who refuse to help owners get in touch with their board. It is imperative that there be a special email address or mail box that allows owners to contact their board in each condo. Boards cannot refuse to be contacted. Furthermore, boards should allow owners to make reasonable complaints without threatening them with legal action.
A Good Board:
- Communicates with owners and residents on a regular basis, explains its decisions, openly discusses problems and victories, has a policy of transparency and truthfulnes. Postings on bulletin boards accessible to all residents are key in this respect. Information meetings may take place occasionally.
- Addresses residents’ legitimate complaints/concerns/requests and respects useful suggestions.
- Follows and enforces condo rules consistently and for everyone: Board members have to follow rules themselves if they expect others to follow them and should not show favouritism.
- Exercises due diligence regarding contracts for repairs, maintenance, and staffing. In other words, a good board seeks tenders. When maintenance problems arise, a good board not only seeks advice from non-interested parties (to avoid conflicts of interest), but also asks if there is a better and less expensive solution than the one suggested by contractors. (Click here for Issues of Fraud, Kickbacks and Conflict of Interest for problems raised by readers.)
- Is constituted of members who have no axe to grind or a vested interest or a personal agenda.
- Always respects a condo’s finances, assets, and owners’ monies.
- Makes certain that the premises are well maintained and that the staff is competent and hard working.
Lack of communication and disregard for owners and condo assets are at the root of most condo problems. It’s the main red flag and it is reflected on what constitutes a “bad” board.
Source: Ontario Condo Information Center