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As Ontario remains in almost full shutdown mode, condo management services have been deemed an essential service by the provincial government. While this is good news for your tenants, it can pose some challenges for your team.
Your role has not changed, yet it might be more difficult for you to perform some of your basic duties.
Here are some tips to ensure effective condo management while COVID-19 precautions are in place.
Annual General Meetings
According to the Condo Authority of Ontario, you can postpone Annual General Meetings beyond the six-month deadline due to the ban on social gatherings of over five people.
However, they do provide guidelines to help condo management teams continue to remain functional. For example, adding a new by-law allowing electronic meetings and/or voting makes it possible for more owners to be present at meetings, or vote on important matters.
Your new bylaw will ensure you meet quorum and more votes for management matters. Your bylaw should include the following points:
- Owners are permitted to be
present and vote by telephone or electronic means.
- A list of which electronic means
- What new procedures are in
place to allow for attending a meeting and/or voting by telephone or electronic
- How votes and electronic
attendance and/or votes will be counted towards quorum.
- Instructions on how votes can
be cast and counted electronically.
While most of us have access to electronic means, you should still allow paper submissions to ensure the interest of all tenants are met.
Quorum is the minimum number of unit owners required to attend condo board meetings. Lost quorum is a possibility due to COVID-19 bans for both owner attendance as well as the required number of board members. To establish lost quorum, you can implement:
- Electronic voting once authorized by a new by-law
- Allowing votes in groups under five at a given location
Note, the third option poses a risk for spreading the virus, so we don’t recommend it.
Hold Regular Condo Management Meetings
Effective condo management and “business as usual” means holding regular condo management meetings. As with Annual General Meetings, your team can meet remotely via teleconferencing. You should also keep everyone up to date on day to day operations and urgent matters. Team members can make decisions and continue to keep in contact via email and key workers should remain working full time, to remain effective. If you are faced with employees reluctant to work, you should consider working with a property management company during the crisis.
Deferring Owners’ Common Expense Fee
According to the Condominium Act in Ontario, CEFs are still expected to be collected during the COVID-19 crisis. While both the federal and provincial government is urging leniency for many consumer expenses, refunds or deferment of CEFs is not recommended. Here is why:
- Most condos do not have surplus
funds available to allow for deferment
- The Condominium Act does not
allow the use of reserve fund accounts for operating expenses.
- You might incur more costs to
manage the COVID 19 crisis such as using expensive disinfectants and
potentially extending hours to keep up with cleaning.
- You do not have the authority
to refund CEFs even though amenities are closed during the COVID crisis.
As well, you should continue to follow your
established statutory procedures in the case of late payments. If you fail to follow
the same collection procedure you are putting your corporation at risk of not
having funds to cover expenses.
CPO Management can assist in introducing new bylaws, offering advice on how to manage Annual General Meetings, and provide management team members to assist during the COVID-19 crisis. Reach out to us today to ensure effective condo management is in place during these challenging times.