Following is an insightful unbiased overview I found on the internet about Board of Managers for Condominiums:
“Authentic leaders, according to Harvard Professor Bill George, genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership. They are more interested in empowering the people to make a difference than in their own power – guiding with passion and compassion as well as thoughtful leadership grounded in skill. They lead by example with meaning and values. Integrity is in essence the foundation of authentic leadership and ultimately determines the quality of a person’s impact. Authentic leadership involves developing good relationship building skills and enjoying and appreciating the differences in others.
Boards of Directors:
All condos have a board of directors or an equivalent group by any other name, such as a council.
What Should Be Done to Improve Condo Governance and Help Owners?
There is wide agreement among groups of owners, especially those who have encountered problems, that condos as a category of residence suffer from serious difficulties. There are a few urgent changes that could be implemented.
Changes for Boards:
- Boards of directors should be better informed about their legal duties and take them more seriously.
- Boards should communicate regularly and truthfully with owners and be more accountable to them.
A shift in mentality on the part of boards is needed so that owners are informed more fully. Secrecy needs to be replaced by transparency and accountability. Boards and managers should understand that the monies they are spending are owners’!
What Are Boards’ Duties?
Boards of directors run condo corporations on behalf of owners: They represent owners. As an entity, they are responsible for making all major decisions regarding the maintenance of buildings and grounds, condos’ finances, and must uphold and enforce the declaration, by-laws, and rules.
It is a prime board duty to ensure that rules and the declaration are applied uniformly and not just from time to time as suits directors or management.
Boards cannot refuse to enforce rules just because only one owner complains that a particular rule is not followed.
Failure to enforce rules fairly and consistently (and follow them) generally leads to problems down the road. These can result in a lowering of the standards of comportment in the building, degradation of civility and property, maltreatment, abuse of power on the part of one or more board members, as well as financial problems—all potentially lowering the value of owners’ units on the real estate market.
Boards of directors plan and oversee the fiscal health of the corporation and are responsible for hiring a management company to carry out the tasks associated with their duties and day-to-day work.
Boards have to ensure that the staff is humanely treated and is qualified; that the management company collects all fees from owners in a timely fashion; that invoices are paid, proper records are kept, the budget is duly prepared, contracts are awarded after a tendering process, and adequate insurance is maintained. Reserve funds have to be sufficient, and annual general meetings carried out. Boards are also responsible for the reliability of status certificates.
Boards have to address residents’ complaints, make sure that their needs and rights are respected, and that they can enjoy their units peacefully. Boards are also responsible for communicating with residents, and particularly owners, so that owners are informed and feel empowered.
Boards should not turn into exclusive social clubs protecting members or managers who fail in their duties. Rather, board members owe their allegiance to their condo, the rules and by-laws. Boards do not represent themselves nor the management: They represent owners and should be accountable to them.
It is the duty of boards to maintain dignity, respect for others and property, and general civility in a condo building or townhouse complex.
Since this website has been posted, countless letters of complaint have been received from owners and many board members regarding abuses on the part of various boards and particularly presidents.
Boards cannot refuse to be contacted. Furthermore, boards should allow owners to make reasonable complaints without threatening them or withholding help.
What is a Good Board?
This section is new and is based on the letters received.
A Good Board:
1. Communicates with owners and residents on a regular basis, explains its decisions, openly discusses problems and victories, has a policy of transparency and truthfulness. Postings on bulletin boards accessible to all residents are key in this respect. Information meetings may take place.
2. Addresses residents’ complaints/concerns/requests and respects useful suggestions.
Lack of communication and disregard for owners and condo assets are at the root of most condo problems. It’s the main red flag and it is reflected below in many problems in the section on what constitutes a “bad” board.
3. Follows and enforces condo rules consistently and for everyone: Board members have to follow rules themselves if they expect others to follow them and should not show favoritism.
4. Exercises due diligence regarding contracts for repairs, maintenance, and staffing. In other words, a good board seeks tenders. When maintenance problems arise, a good board not only seeks advice from non-interested parties (to avoid conflicts of interest), but also asks if there is a better and less expensive solution than the one suggested by contractors.
5. Is constituted of members who have no axe to grind or a vested interest or a personal agenda.
6. Always respects a condo’s finances, assets, and owners’ monies.
7. Makes certain that the premises are well maintained and that the staff is competent and hard working.
A Bad Board:
a. Forms a clique, sometimes with management, against owners, and fails to understand that a board represents owners and not themselves nor the management/staff.
b. Rarely communicates with owners on substantive issues and prefers to inform them as little as possible. This seems to be a key ingredient in a lowered quality of life in condos and is reflected in the many other problems that seem to accompany this issue.
c. Responds dismissively or angrily when owners complain to them about problems (such as noise and broken rules) and lack of services (such repairs, cleanliness, garbage, recycling, and odors).
d. Threatens owners with legal action when they complain or make suggestions; or yet when owners complain about management, staff, and contractors.
e. Mistreats, harasses, threatens, or refuses services to owners who have complained or made useful suggestions.
f. Rubberstamps decisions made by the manager, administrator, superintendent or contractors without independently studying the issue.
g. Refuses owners’ requests to view corporation records and documents.
h. Does not supervise manager and staff sufficiently. As a result, the work and services may be of lower quality or very little work may be accomplished. Or, yet, the staff is actually the power in the condo.
Owners’ Rights and Responsibilities
All owners and residents of a condo have the right to the quiet enjoyment of their unit and surroundings, to receive an annual budget, a reserve fund study every three years;
- to attend meetings … but few owners attend… and, in too many condos, owners are not allowed to ask questions;
- to access most condo records… but, in too many condos, this does not happen
- to be represented by a board of directors who is accountable to the corporation. Yet, the section on boards is one of the three most frequently consulted in this website. In addition, this topic and that of managers represent a majority of the letters of complaints received.
I have received letters of persons who are “troublemakers” like you. You all have in common the fact that you are trying to force the board/management to face a problem. They label you as such and use you as a scapegoat to deflect the blame. These people are not necessarily troublemakers: They are simply exercising their right to obtain a redress. Complaining to a board and raising issues do not constitute harassment. it is your right to complain to your board: In fact, it’s your board’s duty to listen to owners and hear them out.
More examples of rights are provided throughout this website. But the writers of the letters are very clear to the effect that owners do not actually have many rights and the rights they do have are too often not enforced. Owners are left without protection and recourse.
The second large issue is that owners do have responsibilities: Think of it–a condo is for most owners their main investment. Thus, it is also their main financial responsibility. However, condos are promoted and sold as a “hassle-free” environment and a “responsibility-free” lifestyle. Although it is true that a condo is far simpler to own and take care of than a detached home, it carries responsibilities and when these are not met, problems arise.
In other words, owners do have responsibilities and should not wait for a crisis to arise in their condo to do their duty. But, then again, it is often difficult for owners to exercise their responsibilities in condos where their rights are not upheld.
All in all, condo residents should be able to live in an environment that offers dignity, a sense of purpose, and community. In these respects, much depends on residents’ civility as well as on boards’ and managers’ ethics, leadership, transparency, and the dignified way in which they carry out the business of leading the condo.
New Residents Are Not Sufficiently Informed
In condos that experience turnover of residents, people move in with very little knowledge about the building and even less about rules. They may not know what to do about garbage, where the green bins are, how or when to use facilities, or what to do about guest parking. New tenants generally do not know that problems in their suites should be brought to the attention of their landlord—not to the manager’s office.
This lack of information can create a hectic pace in a condo with people running around not knowing where they are and what to do. They end up throwing garbage in the wrong place, parking in someone else’s spot, treating maintenance as a personal servant.
New residents should receive information, face to face, either from the concierge, the superintendent, or the manager: a personal orientation session. They will remember details far better than if they just receive a package of rules—that will be promptly lost!
The PRESIDENT’s role resides in the general supervision of the business and affairs of a condo corporation. Efficient presidents are “movers” who present issues and projects to their board, develop policies for board approval, communicate with residents and owners, are faithful to the declaration and rules, and inspire boards to move ahead with projects and solve difficult issues.
In other words, efficient presidents are leaders on behalf of their boards and owners. They inspire trust among owners and board members. They also try to establish links with various organizations in their neighborhoods. Presidents oversee managers’ duties and activities. As well, they chair board meetings and owners’ meetings.