Donna Haley is a local property manager who owns some of her properties and manages some properties for others. Some of the properties are rented to students to whom Donna can be very motherly and protective if she wants to be. Some of the properties are condominiums, which are a special kind of joy.
Condominiums differ from the traditional picture of a home because there is a kind of joint ownership. She noted that there are roughly 600,000 condo units on Ontario with roughly 1.5 million people living in them. Sometimes, all of the owners in the condo need to decide on what to do about what is owned jointly. As in any human activity, resolving differences of opinion is not always easy. Donna noted that being a property manager for a condo has an extra layer since the Board of Directors for the Condominium Corporation is rarely filled with experts. They may be learning on the job, while resolving disputes and while overseeing a very expensive asset.
In theory, the job should be simple since anybody who joins the condo also agrees to the condo’s rules. As part of her discussion, she offered three situations where enforcing those rules is not as easy as it seems. These situations demonstrated 3Ps of Property Management
Managing a condominium in Ontario may become easier in the near future. Recent announcements indicate that the provincial government is nearly ready to revise the Condominium Act (last passed in 1998). One change will be to establish a certification as a Registered Condominium Manager. Another change will be to recognize an owner’s right to quiet enjoyment.
The most important change may be to change the rules governing the condo’s reserve fund; since every building depreciates, the condo corporation needs to ask its owners to set aside some money now to pay for the future repairs. But, some financial tricks (and a little bit of human greed) can reduce the amount being set aside regularly. As Donna said, “Do not confuse a cheap place with an inexpensive place to live”. In the future, new rules will govern the amount of reserve funds, based on proper and regular engineering studies. This process should reduce the shock to owner 10 or 20 years from now when the condo needs to replace the roof immediately.
Donna Haley had two final bits of advice. First, financial questions take up 25- 50 percent of her time: budgets, reporting financial questions to others. So, make sure that you know what the numbers mean.
Second, clear communication cures many problems and, if not, the disputes can be resolved in front of the Landlord– Tenant Board. (She encouraged students who are thinking of becoming property managers to attend a local hearing of the Landlord Tenant Board, in part to see the difference between doing a good job and the consequences of doing a bad job. Or, read some selected decisions of LTB.)
Donna likes communicating. She also noted that communication is not just talking; listening actively is also a valuable skill.