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How you interact with your property management company impacts your relationship. Here we offer tips on how to improve condo board/management relationships to ensure you both remain effective.
Understanding the Property Management Role
When you define roles from the start, you help avoid conflict. In simple terms, the board is the governing body while property management is the administrative authority. Therefore, appreciation for the expertise a property management company brings to the table is the best way to form a respectful relationship. A strong board utilizes the expertise of their property management company. A good property manager respects the duty the board has to the Condo Act, condo owners and residents. As a result, property management listens to board input, and uses their expertise to manage those needs. This ensures they protect the safety and financial health of the condo and its residence.
Understanding the Law
Remember, the law requires a Licensed Manager to manage a condo: No person or entity can supervise employees or contractors hired or engaged by the corporation without a licence from the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO). Therefore despite your Directors’ training, it is not enough to officially manage a property. As such, even the Board President does not hold what would be considered a role of authority.
Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
Property managers help avoid issues such as conflict of interest. Even the most honest board members can allow a personal agenda to interfere with decisions. As a result managers take a neutral stance where their decisions reflect the best interests of the condo and residence. From voting on motions to tendering out and hiring suppliers, the neutrality of the property manager keeps procedures on the up and up.
Boards and property managers can become frustrated if they don’t take time to set out expectations. Therefore expectations should be discussed including:
- Frequency and method of communication
- Meeting processes including minute taking, leadership and follow up methods and timing
- Addressing urgent issues between meetings and during major projects
- The assignment of key liaisons for the board and property managers
- Notification of issues that arise in daily property management from both teams
- The use of technology and proper training and communication for that technology
- Project management progress reports and decision making
Always discuss new expectations in a timely manner.
Productive Meeting Format
Be sure your meeting format promotes productivity. First, assign a person to chair the meetings and keep things moving. Second, assign a minute taker and provide a date when the minutes must be sent out. Finally, prepare an agenda to ensure everyone has the opportunity to discuss their important issues. Keeping things open and honest promotes transparency at the meetings. Focus on constructive discussions that resolve issues.
Annual Performance Reviews
Annual performance reviews between a condo board representative and the property manager, helps support a stronger relationship. The conversation should present feedback in a constructive manner identifying both positive and negative aspects of the work performed. Important topics to discuss include:
- Benchmarking performance based on the defined expectations presented at the beginning of the relationship
- Discussing whether the work required for projects was complete and any issues or praise for that performance
- Evaluating condo budget criteria
- Discussing frequency of complaints from residents and owners of concern (this should be addressed as soon as a pattern seems to be forming)
- Addressing other issues specific to performance
The topics of discussion will vary depending on the points you need to cover. Just be sure to factor in your input and approvals when measuring performance. Your decisions could interfere with management’s ability to perform their duties effectively.