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As a condo board member, you are responsible for ensuring all owners are treated equally and fairly while adhering to your condo bylaws and the Condo Act. However, owners aren’t always easy to get along with, which means you could encounter unpleasant interactions. Here we share practical strategies for dealing with difficult condo owners.
Often condo owners gradually become difficult, building frustration with your process over time. To avoid conflict, it is vital to introduce a formal communication strategy that makes life easier for owners. This might include modes of communication such as:
- A community portal
- A chat line
- An owner-specific text number
- An owner request/complaint form
- A phone line
- An email address
Ensure all owners have this information and assign a team member to manage complaints and requests within 24 hours. Following etiquette also helps set communication off on the right foot, limiting frustration, establishing respect, and minimizing negative consequences.
When you receive owner communication, regardless of the method used, always clarify what the owner is saying. Read the information in their message or listen carefully, then repeat the issues in point form. This ensures you understand what the owner is upset about and allows you to have actionable points you can address and help resolve.
Avoid interrupting the person and allow them to explain their concerns. If you continuously interrupt them, even with valid questions, you make them feel you are unwilling to hear them. Instead, listen carefully so you can repeat their concerns and follow up with well-thought-out questions to get the information needed to act or respond.
It is difficult to stay calm when someone is raising their voice, swearing, and acting aggressively. However, staying calm can help de-escalate the encounter and avoid getting into an argument. Make it clear you are willing to help, even if their requests seem unreasonable. Suggest a date and time you’ll get back to them and provide your contact information so they can reach out if they need to follow up.
Acknowledge Their Concerns
Acknowledging the person’s concerns is very important, focusing on valid issues and accurate comments first. By addressing the valid complaints first, you are more likely to avoid getting into a heated argument over exaggerations or “untruths.” For example, if a person is angry because you sent a late payment notice in error but also throws in a false statement such as “This always happens,” first apologize and offer to rectify the situation. You can then politely point out that you have a process that usually works. This helps maintain your authority and shows the owner you stand behind your team and process.
Aggressiveness and Harassment
If you feel threatened by unacceptable or aggressive behavior, keep yourself and fellow board members safe by calling 911. Also, your bylaws likely have rules in the declaration outlining unacceptable behaviour that allows you to take action based on issues such as harassment, bullying, aggressiveness, inappropriate language, etc. Make sure you understand how the bylaws apply before you act.
If the issue escalates into a formal dispute, condo owners and condo corporation representatives have a right to file a complaint using the Condominium Authority Tribunal’s Online Dispute Resolution System (CAT-ODR). This is the easiest way to help streamline the process and find a resolution.
CPO Management Inc, a Toronto property management company specializing in condo management services, is here to help. We support condo boards across the GTA, help avoid conflict, and effectively deal with disputes. For more information, reach out to us today.