ACMO http://acmo.org The Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario Wed, 19 Sep 2018 19:07:17 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Advice for New Condominium Managers http://acmo.org/advice-for-new-condominium-managers/ Tue, 21 Aug 2018 14:38:57 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=17259 Condominium Property Management can be an exciting and rewarding profession.  In a single day you can find yourself building relationships, organizing a complex construction project, and navigating human rights or other legal matters.

The challenges in this field also come from having so much variety – you need to be skilled in many different areas.  This does not mean however that you need to know everything to be successful!  Consider the following:

Get Organized

In a previous blog, we reviewed tips to successfully transition to a new condominium property.  As a manager entering the industry, you should appropriately introduce yourself, familiarize yourself with the governing documents of the Corporation, meet building staff and suppliers, review your action plans with the Board of Directors, and create a prioritized action list.

In addition to these tips, as a new manager it is important that you familiarize yourself with the various legal deadlines surrounding the Corporation’s year-end.  For example, ensure you know when you need to hold the AGM, prepare the budget for the Corporation, update the Reserve Fund Study, renew the insurance, and circulate periodic information certificates.

Be Responsive

As a property manager, you are not producing a tangible product for sale.  Your service is your product.  You’ll want to be known long-term as a manager that meets their obligations and provides service in a reasonable time-frame.

This means that phone calls and emails must be responded to promptly, but more importantly you must follow-up on unresolved matters to ensure they are completed to the client’s satisfaction.  There are many tips and tricks that can be used to make this happen; but an old-fashioned action list can be a powerful tool.

Know Your Strengths

Everyone has areas where they are strong and areas that they are weak.  Perhaps you have excellent mechanical knowledge, but lack computer skills.  Or you communicate better in person than through written correspondence.

In knowing what area(s) you might struggle with, you can better plan your time and effort.  Additionally, in being honest with yourself about areas requiring improvement you can develop your own personal improvement plan through education and experience.

Know Your Limits

It is important for a new manager to understand that they have an ethical obligation to ensure they are not providing advice that they are not qualified to give.

In this regard, a manager should never allow a client to rely on advice that they may provide if they lack the necessary education, credentials, or skill.  From time-to-time, it may be difficult to convince a Board to spend extra funds on an engineer when undertaking a major project (as an example).

It is sometimes easier to try and make the client happy by giving in – but this never pays off in the long run.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

With so much variety in our roles and in dealing with so many different people, condominium property management can be stressful.  In work, and life, it’s important to pick your battles and focus your energy where it’s really needed.

In my mind, this is the single most important piece of advice that can be given to someone entering this profession.  If you worry about the small things, you can find yourself without energy to fulfil the rest of your role.  Further, it can begin to have an impact on your personal life.

Pick and choose what you need to worry about wisely and do your best to leave the stress at the door when you head home after a long day.

Lyndsey McNally, R.C.M., is a Team Leader at Malvern Condominium Property Management.

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Ontario Ends Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive Program http://acmo.org/ontario-ends-electric-vehicle-charging-incentive-program/ Thu, 12 Jul 2018 17:47:16 +0000 http://acmo.org/?p=17166 The Ministry of Transportation has announced that the Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive Program is cancelled effective July 11, 2018.

According to the statement, charging stations purchased and/or installed before this date will be eligible to receive incentives if the application is submitted within 60 days of July 11.

You can read the full announcement below:

Statement from the Ministry of Transportation

We strive to keep you up to date on the latest industry news. Visit our News page on our website for updates.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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