ACMO http://acmo.org The Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:44:38 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Building a Kid-Friendly Condominium Community http://acmo.org/building-a-kid-friendly-condominium-community/ Thu, 14 Jun 2018 13:55:36 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16927 Much has been written recently on the growing number of families choosing to put down roots in condominium communities. Many developers are even beginning to design condominiums with families in mind by including special facilities and playgrounds from the planning stages.

But what do you do as the manager of an established condominium to respond to the needs of this growing demographic?

Meet with families and gather feedback

First find out who has children in the building. This could be done with a survey or by just speaking with owners who have families and getting feedback on what is nice about the corporation and property and what is problematic.

Often times getting feedback directly from people will give direction on what would be the best course of action or steps to take. Setting up a meeting or responding to feedback in a constructive way and giving some outline for what is being considered is important.

Be mindful of managing expectations. Some ideas and suggestions may never be possible because they might contravene a declaration and require 80% approval for the change, which is very challenging in the best circumstances.

Review potential play areas or unused space

Once you have some ideas and feedback to fuel some actions, review the spaces available in the corporation for various types of uses. Maybe there is a portion of the gym that is closed off or not in use frequently. Maybe a scheduled play time could be arranged.

What areas are families and children congregating at naturally?

Organize programs, events, and volunteer activities

For any successful extra curricular (extra from the day to day management and Board duties) activity, there needs to be community-minded individuals who are willing to make arrangements and coordinate volunteers.

The events may be weekly, monthly or even annually as a community BBQ with a few games. In either case there needs to be willing individuals to take on the work.

Boards should consider the various ways these events may affect the corporation and note any potential for risk or liability. Determine if there should be a committee formed for this purpose, or if due to the activity and nature of the events, that organization be managed in another way.

Make your property safe for children

We tend to think about adults when ensuring the property is safe. Obvious trip hazards and other concerns are quickly dealt with. Try to view the property from a child’s perspective. This coupled with the feedback from families should help to improve site safety.

Arrange information sessions with the Fire Department, Police Department or other organizations to teach families about safety.

Determine the corporation’s ability to be kid-friendly

The physical limitations of your Corporation will have a large impact on the overall kid friendliness. However, the decision to accommodate a kid-friendly community and atmosphere is ultimately up to the Board of Directors and volunteers in the community. If your community’s facilities are unable to provide space for children, consider other opportunities to serve your condominium’s smallest residents. For example, is there a traffic jam of families at the elevators before and after school? Perhaps adjustments could be made to the moving elevator’s availability during this time.


Darryl Fulton, RCM, is Division Manager – Condominiums at Goldview Property Management Ltd.

]]>
Building Trust with Your Condo Board http://acmo.org/building-trust-with-your-condo-board/ Tue, 05 Jun 2018 18:51:34 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16880 Trust is defined as reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, or surety of a person or thing; confidence.  A relationship with your clients built on trust is extremely important because, as a Condominium Property Manager, you are entrusted to manage what will often be the largest investment for an individual – their homes.

Developing a relationship based on trust is most easily accomplished through clear expectations, honesty, and integrity.  In working with a new Board, you may find they are hesitant to trust you based on negative experience in the past.  So where should you start?

Set Clear Expectations

Clear expectations are the foundation to successful relationships.  Your contract with the condominium corporation is a good place to start as it will define the Property Manager’s scope of authority.

Beyond that however, each Board will have different expectations of their Manager.  Some may wish to have weekly reporting on the Manager’s activities, while others only want to have reports from their Manager to review at their monthly Board meetings.

You also may have spending limits outlined within your management agreement, but does the Board wish for you to make discretionary expenditures within that limit, or necessary expenses only?

Having an upfront discussion about expectations will help to prevent disagreements about how you’ve implemented your scope of authority as the Manager.

Be Reliable

Showing up when you’re supposed to is a good start.  But reliability goes beyond just sitting in your office during business hours.

A reliable Property Manager proactively manages the assets of the Corporation through regular physical inspections, discussions with Residents, and Staff meetings.  Being an active, reliable member of the community will help you to advise the Board about what is uniquely right for their Condominium Corporation.  Being proactive makes you the first person aware of any issues that may arise, therefore, the Board will trust your leadership and advice.

Be Accountable

Occasionally, despite your best efforts or intentions things can go wrong.  You missed a deadline or provided advice that led your clients down the wrong path.  When this happens, the best way to move forward while maintaining a positive relationship is to acknowledge your part in the problem, apologize, and offer solutions.  Being upfront and honest in any relationship goes a long way to building and maintaining trust.

Address Facts not Rumours

Condominiums are communities, and so a little gossip between neighbours is normal and expected.  What’s important for a Property Manager is to not participate in gossip and rumours.  Mr. & Mrs. Jones’ divorce is no one’s business but their own.  If they are screaming in the halls at all hours of the night, then the Manager must take some action to ensure that behaviour stops. Otherwise, let people keep their personal business personal.

Getting wrapped up in the rumour mill makes you appear untrustworthy.  But also consider this – Mr. Jones might find himself on the Board one day.  Will he respect you for how you handled the gossip about his personal life?

Communicate

I can’t stress enough that communication is the key to maintaining trust in a relationship.  You need to make sure you communicate with the Board about your activities as they are the ones responsible for your actions while carrying out their delegated authority in managing the community.

But also consider that communication and building a trusting relationship goes beyond your relationship with the Board.  Individual unit owners need to trust you too.  Help the Board understand why communication about how money is spent is important.  The same holds true for communication about how projects are planned, access to records when required, or even just having an open door when they have questions.

Lyndsey McNally, RCM, is a Team Leader at Malvern Condominium Property Management.

]]>
When to Get a Professional’s Opinion http://acmo.org/when-to-get-a-professionals-opinion/ Fri, 25 May 2018 15:21:04 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16745 The first skill I harnessed very early in my career is to be extremely humble.

As property managers we are often looked upon to wear several different hats regardless of our training in a particular field.

How many times has it gone through my mind that ‘I am not an engineer’ or ‘I haven’t actually paved a driveway myself?’

At our company we are very fortunate to have a condominium manager who is also a licensed Civil Engineer.

At times some of our Boards as well as owners believe that because we have this valuable team member that we should also be able to answer every technical answer under the sun.

If you are not 100% sure — or even if you are — it is always good practice to involve someone who is skillfully trained to give the insight required, and this will also cover any liability the property manager may be faced when making a decision that is out of your scope of work.

On some occasions corporations Boards are frugal which begs the question I hear all too often ‘do we really need to spend this money on an opinion?’

The answer should always be yes!!

There is a ton of responsibility bestowed upon property managers, but nobody should put themselves in a compromising position.

This can also alleviate some of the pressures the Board and property managers may receive from angry home owners who may be faced with a special assessment on top of the monthly common element assessments.

We are currently working with a corporation that discovered last spring that there was significant structural damage to an elevated concrete walkway and staircase.

Once we identified that this was out of our scope of work the first item on the agenda was to consult with a structural engineer, even after our in house expert had a look and mentioned that this was not a civil engineer work and we had to call in an expert.

The structural engineer gave an initial estimate of $350,000 for the entire project. We all know that these quotes tend to be on the low side, and I was not very surprised when the contractors came back with an additional $85,000 to complete all the work.

Asking an expert for his professional opinion alleviated some additional stress on the Board of Directors, as well as my firm, and provided answers to the questions the owners would ultimately have.

Ultimately it is inevitable for the `”%&$`to run downhill and everyone to start pointing fingers when a special assessment is given to owners. But I feel we protected the unit owners, the Board of Directors and my firm by being extremely diligent with our process and practice of getting the professional opinions when we didn’t have the answers.

Be good and always get a professional’s opinion even if you feel you are only 99% confident.

 

Michael Feherty, RCM, is President of Feherty Property Management Inc. and serves on ACMO’s Board of Directors.

]]>
New Changes to Condo Act Forms http://acmo.org/new-changes-to-condo-act-forms/ Fri, 11 May 2018 18:43:12 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16666 The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) has issued new changes to the Condo Act forms. Follow the link below to view the statement and access the forms:

 

Statement from MGCS

]]>
Building Community Among Your Residents http://acmo.org/building-community-among-your-residents/ Wed, 02 May 2018 14:29:47 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16599 Throughout my career, I have been committed to ensuring our communities are maintained at a high standard in an ongoing effort to meet and exceed the expectations of the residents. To be successful in this, it is critically important to build a sense of community among all residents. From observing others, and through my own experience, I have seen many positive outcomes when residents feel they are an integral part of their community and share the following for your consideration:
  1. Although our industry is commonly defined as Property Management we should consider it  “Community Management” given our close relationships, wide range of duties, and size of most properties that share many characteristics similar to a village or small town. From this understanding, it is worth observing and learning how governments and other organizations at various levels succeed or fail to bring residents and community’s closer together.

  2. Passion for a community and its residents can be contagious and initiated by anyone. The manager will usually have more avenues and resources to help achieve this goal and should play a key role to move these efforts along.

  3. Understand your communities and determine common interests shared by the residents and work towards a common goal that will help to unify and strengthen the community.

  4. Foster an atmosphere that reminds residents they all share a vested interest, are equals, and are “in this together”.

  5. Whenever possible, invert the traditional administrative hierarchy and place residents at the forefront followed by the board of directors and manager. Resident committees working at arm’s reach from the board to bring forward recommendations and oversight for gardening, special events, excursions and projects can also be a successful approach.

  6. Since communities have a diverse and unlimited talent pool, give residents a chance to participate in community forums and surveys. This can yield results that may not have been considered before, and for continued engagement, share the outcomes with all residents in community newsletters.

  7. Arrange community-minded events and try to appeal to all ages. In the Spring 2013 Condominium Manager Magazine I wrote about the first BBQ planned for the Kennedy Green community (that later became known as Summerfest), and due to its overwhelming success has since been held annually, attracting large numbers of volunteers, participants and positive feedback.

Although I have achieved many of these objectives, my understanding and appreciation of the community element continues to grow and evolve. In closing, I encourage all community managers to challenge themselves to plan and participate in at least one new community event this year. This exercise will give you the greatest opportunity to engage residents and directly witness often long term and lasting benefits when residents can get to know and better understand their neighbours and their manager in a casual and fun environment.

Thomas Kortko, RCM is Client Relations Manager at Maple Ridge Community Management Ltd.

]]>
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations http://acmo.org/electric-vehicle-charging-stations/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:12:48 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16500 ACMO was pleased to be in attendance early this morning for the following announcement.


Released by: Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

 Starting May 1, 2018, new changes will be in effect to make it easier for condo residents to charge their electric vehicles at home as part of Ontario’s plan to fight climate change. 

 Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, along with MPP Arthur Potts, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, made the announcement today in Toronto.

 The new changes will:

  • Reduce current requirements to make it easier for condo owners to get approval from their condo corporations to install an electric vehicle charging system in their condominium.

  • Prevent condo boards from rejecting an owner’s application to install an electric vehicle charging system on condo property when the owner meets certain conditions.

View Full Press Release

]]>
Election Canvassers Allowed Access to Multi-Residential Buildings http://acmo.org/election-canvassers-allowed-access-to-multi-residential-buildings/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:45:48 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16495 Released by: Elections Ontario

Elections Ontario would like to remind landlords and condominium corporations about changes to the Election Act that allows candidates and canvassers access to multi-unit residential buildings.

Under new legislation, a candidate, or his or her representative, is legally entitled to have access to the common areas of multiple-residence buildings that contain seven or more self-contained units (such as an apartment or condominium) to distribute materials and canvass residents during an electoral event. The 2018 General Election period will begin when the writs of election are issued on May 9 and runs through to Election Day on June 7.

However, the right of access to a multiple-residence building does not apply in the case of a building whose residents’ physical or emotional well-being may be at risk, a university or college residence, or a building occupied by residents who require assistance in living.

Canvassers must follow the following rules in order to access a multi-unit residential building:

  • Access is limited to between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., from Monday to Friday, or between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday or Sunday;

  • At least one person seeking access must be at least 18 years of age;

  • Every person seeking access must, on request, provide valid identification; and

  • Every person seeking access who is not a candidate must, on request, provide a valid Canvasser Authorization Form (Form F0436) from the candidate.

Owners or condominium corporations who fail to provide timely access, and who subsequently fail to comply with the prescribed form requiring access, will face monetary administrative penalties. The requirement forms for canvassers and the administrative penalties are listed on Elections Ontario’s website.

If you have any questions regarding the administrative penalty process, or the related forms, please email penadmin@elections.on.ca or call the Compliance Division at Elections Ontario at 1-866-566-9066 or 416-325-9401.

View Full Press Release

]]>
How to Successfully Transition to a New Condominium Property http://acmo.org/how-to-successfully-transition-to-a-new-property/ Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:27:23 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16464

Taking on a new property can be a little scary, even for an experienced Condominium Property Manager.

Every condominium corporation is unique, and so there is a learning curve as it relates to the governing documents of the condominium, Board policies, construction-style, amenities, and Reserve Fund Study.  An experienced Condominium Property Manager should be well-equipped to learn about these items fairly quickly.

What tends to be the bigger challenge is unraveling the current priorities for the community and learning what has been delayed as a result of the transition to a new Manager or Management Team.

In taking a planned analytical approach, it becomes easier to develop a plan to overcome the period of transition.  I suggest the following steps for success.

Introduce Yourself

Board members, Residents, Building Staff and Contractors all now have a new point of contact for the operation of the Corporation.  Take a moment to prepare correspondence to circulate introducing yourself as the new Property Manager.

You may find that once you introduce yourself, people will help you to understand the current issues in the community because they will reach out regarding any ongoing matters.

Review the Paperwork

Review the Declaration, By-laws & Rules of the Corporation.  This will allow you to understand the Corporation’s obligations to its Unit Owners.

This should be followed by reviewing all minutes of the Corporation for the last 12-month period (including any management reports if available).  This will help you to learn what projects have recently been completed, which are ongoing, and which need to begin.  Compare the priorities in the minutes to the Operating Budget and the Reserve Fund Study for the Corporation to determine if these priorities are realistic.

Finally, complete a full review of what records exist for the Corporation.  It is important to ensure that all necessary records exist at the time of transition so that follow-up with the previous manager may still be possible.  You certainly don’t want to find six months later that the AGM minutes you need for mailing have been lost in transition.

Meet with Building Staff and Suppliers

Building Staff and Suppliers can be valuable resources during a transition.  They are a point of continuity and can help you to understand the history of the community.  Try to allow their knowledge to help guide you down the right path.

Contract terms should be reviewed with Suppliers to ensure that everyone is on the same page.  If possible, have the Supplier tour the areas they service with you.  This will help you get more familiar with the mechanical components of the property.

More important, however, is that building staff now have a new Supervisor and are likely feeling anxious about the change.  Take this opportunity to set the relationship up for success and have a discussion about mutual expectations/key performance indicators.

Review your Findings with the Board

The Board will be looking to you to help guide them through this transition process, but they also likely have their own ideas for the direction of their community.

At your first Board meeting, take a moment to have a discussion about what you’ve reviewed and where you think you should focus your energy.  Listen to their feedback as well.

Create a Prioritized Action List

Once you’ve completed all the above items, you’re ready to get to the normal day-to-day operation of the Corporation.  Before you do, I find it helpful to create a prioritized action list.  If you take the time to get yourself organized then you will be more likely to stay on track and not overlook items that may be less urgent.


Lyndsey McNally, RCM, is a Team Leader with Malvern Condominium Property Management

]]>
Advancing your Career as a Condominium Property Manager http://acmo.org/advancing-your-career-as-a-condominium-property-manager/ Wed, 28 Mar 2018 15:35:27 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16357 Advancement in your career is a very common goal.  Whether you are motivated by recognition, financially, or you are naturally drawn to challenges; most individuals will reach a point where they are ready to take a step up.

Career advancement isn’t something that just happens.  Property Managers need to take interest and action to find challenges in their careers which will lead to more opportunity.  Ultimately, you need to put yourself out there and work hard to accomplish your goals.

Know Your Goals

Success means different things to different people.  The first step in moving upward is to understand what success means to you personally.  Is your goal to advance to management of a high-end community?  Do you want to supervise other property managers?  Or open your own management firm?

Goals are very important in that they establish a state of mind that keeps you focused on achieving them.

Once you have established what your goals are, you can better understand the action steps required to meet your targets and establish timelines to meet each step.

Seek out Success

You can’t expect positive changes in your life if you are surrounded by negativity.  Energy is contagious and so you need to develop associations with like-minded individuals that will bring you up instead of hold you back.  Engaging with other professionals in the property management field through industry events is a good way to seek out others sharing a common goal.

Volunteer

Volunteering can give you access to a variety of challenges and relationships.  You can consider taking on volunteer opportunities as part of your action steps in achieving your overall goals.  The key is to determine what your own strengths are and how you can use your skills.  If you have a strong focus on educating others, consider writing or speaking opportunities.  If project management interests you more, seek out opportunities to help effect change and advancement in the industry.

Learn

In understanding your goals, you’ll likely identify some areas where skill development is required.  If you lack a particular skill or information, you will need to find educational opportunities to set yourself up for success.

If you’ve already completed the education requirements for your RCM designation through the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario, this is a great start.

A commitment to continuous learning will serve to keep your skills and information current, and will allow you to complete your continuing education requirements to maintain your RCM designation.

Communicate

You’ve set your goals and are taking the steps to achieve them, but are the people in a position to give you opportunities to advance your career aware of them?  If your senior team is not aware of your desire to advance, you could very well be overlooked for promotion or another opportunity in your workplace.

There is an additional thought you should consider about communication.  Property management is a career in which you work in an intensely personal environment.  Working in people’s homes can create many challenges for which you need to be prepared for difficult conversations.  The more you advance, the greater emphasis there will be in resolving conflict through conversation.   This is a key skill for anyone seeking to advance in the property management field.

Push Yourself

This could be the most important point to focus on.  You need to believe that you are capable of achieving the goals you have set out for yourself.  Focus on the power of positive thinking and you will be able to stay motivated for success.

You also need to be willing to put the work in!  Successful people live and breathe their goals, and constantly work to targets.  Going the extra mile can be hard in the property management field.  Our days are long and very busy, and we all have personal lives that need attention.  Take some time to really think about priorities and realistic workload.  You’ll surely find some time-saving opportunities to work on your career development.


Lyndsey McNally, RCM, is a Team Leader at Malvern Condominium Property Management.

]]>
Planning for Success: Tips for Short- and Long-Term Planning http://acmo.org/short-and-long-term-planning/ Tue, 20 Mar 2018 19:18:18 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=16298 We all know that Condos are “not-for-profit” corporations acting within specific regulations set by governments, Corporation’s Declaration, rules and policies with a view to all other Acts, Codes and Laws with limitations. But with so much at stake, why not take some best practices from other successful organizations and businesses and apply them to our industry? Why not operate like a successful business?

While a condo doesn’t operate to turn a profit, it should act to protect the investors’ property and develop the value of the real-estate by maintaining and advancing the facilities and infrastructure.

What tools and knowledge does a property manager need to reach maximum benefit for investors, tenants and shareholders?

One of the practical tools is to have a Strategic Plan for each Condo. I will explain some basic information for condominium managers to consider when creating a Strategic Plan, including short-term and long-term goals.

Strategic Planning is a process involving a number of steps and analysis that identify the current status of the organization, including its mission, vision for the future, operating values, needs, goals, prioritized actions and strategies, action plans and evaluation strategy.

A strategic plan includes more than day-to-day activities and future preventative maintenance. Every condominium needs strategy plans, goals (short and long terms), and policies to guide future leaders, Board of Directors and operational decision makers. With a clear and concise strategic plan, your board and unit owners will enjoy a roadmap that helps them stay focused on the important tasks and goals that will provide high-quality lifestyle and long-term benefits to the community.

Other benefits of a strategic plan include activities that advance the condo’s goals, expose the factors that may impact condo resident’s quality of life, and reveal the external perception of the condominium and how it may influence the marketability and value of its properties.

How to Start

One of the best and important tools to use for effective Strategic Planning is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis:

  1. Strengths. Identify the organization’s internal characteristics that enhance the condo’s ability to meet its mission and vision. Some examples: Property location, facilities, committee volunteers and access to public amenities.

  2. Weaknesses. The internal characteristics that detract from the corporation’s ability to meet its mission and vision or put it at a competitive disadvantage over other neighbourhood condos. Examples include poorly reserve funded projects and deferred maintenance.

  3. Opportunities. The external factors that may enable a condo to meet its mission and vision. Some examples include property management company support, technological advances, professional contractors and government subsidies for community enhancement projects.

  4. Threats. Capture the external factors that may prevent the condominium from meeting its mission and vision. Some examples include theft, weather conditions, natural disasters, a high foreclosure rate, undesirable local government projects and new neighbourhood development that may undermine resale prices.

Once the SWOT is complete, you can move on to short- and long-term planning.

A short-term plan (annual plan) is something you want to do in the near future for your condo. The near future can mean today, this week, this month, or even this year. A short-term goal is something you want and have to accomplish soon.

long-term plan is something you want to do in the future. Long-term goals always require time and planning. They are not something you can reach this week or even this year. Long-term plans usually take 12 months or more to achieve.

Tips for Setting Long-Term Goals and Plans

  • Work backwards. Think about what you want to achieve in the future then plan steps going back to what you can do right now.

  • Create a picture of where you want to be in 5 and 10 years from now.

  • Think about what you need to do in three years, in one year, and in six months to get to your long-term goal.

  • Write down what you need to do each month to achieve your objectives.

  • After each monthly objective is achieved, look at your long-term goals and adjust them as needed.

After identifying and evaluating the SWOT for your condominium and setting SMART goals with action plans which support your mission and vision, your condo will be well on its way to becoming a well-oiled machine that meets the needs of the owners and tenants in the community. Depending on the size and complexity of your buildings, a modest investment in strategic planning can return large dividends in the form of satisfied owners and increased property values.

You may ask why a reserve fund study isn’t enough for short- and long-term plans.

Generally a condo board along with management will rely on a reserve fund study to map out future projects and major expenditures, but unless otherwise guided, reserve funds studies will aim for major replace or repair within the scope of current drawings.

If windows are set to be replaced in 15-years, the engineer will set cost guidelines to replace the windows at a similar grade. It won’t factor in the opportunity to replace it with new and better energy efficiency and functionality plans or designs.

I strongly recommend all property managers to have an annual plan on their desk and a binder of wish lists, long term plans for projects and activities for their usage, Board’s decision making and budgeting proposals.

Daniel Mousavi, MBA, RCM is a Property Manager with Dell Property Management.  

]]>