How to Do Your Best As A Condo Board Member
If you are a condo owner, there is no more esteemed role to take on than that of a Condo board member for the building in which you reside. Suddenly, people you didn’t even know say hi to you in the elevator, you get invited to more neighborly shindigs and you find out the ins and outs of your beloved building. Yes, being a member on a condo board can be wonderful and rosy but what about those trying moments when you are so challenged by issues and individuals in your building that the proverbial bloom falls off the condo board membership rose?
You field a complaint between one neighbor and another and you think you do an excellent job of being objective but still, you get accused of taking sides? Or you try to decide as a board who to hire to clean the building windows and you suggest a relative of yours and you are accused of nepotism? Perhaps the touchiest of subjects is that of the special assessment, when the residents of a condo building have to cough up thousands of dollars to fix a building issue. So you and your board members have to deliver the news of a special assessment and you send out letters to notify your fellow condo owners of such, only to be cornered and confronted by angry neighbors in the building lobby the next day.
Being a member on a condo building board is a prestigious and well-respected role. Some people even make note of this kind of volunteer position on their resumes. But what do you if you are happily plotting a long as a condo board member and then suddenly a contentious issue, like any of the ones noted above, arise?
First of all, stay calm and try to remember not to take it personally. Living in any community has its challenges and it is important to be patient with your neighbors and yourself. The good news is that beyond exhibiting the fruit of self-control there are hard and fast rules you can follow if you want to make your time as a member on your condo board as stress-free and effective as possible.
- Hire With Transparency
When hiring for building wide work, never use a relative or someone who lives in the building. This way you avoid any conflicts of interest. Also, be sure to get multiple quotes from multiple companies for any work needing to be done in the building. Share this information with your fellow condo board members and condo residents so that you can make a well-informed corporate decision that is considered transparent by all.
- Consider the Negative Effects of a Condo Assessment
Remember how big an impact a condo assessment can have on a building, such as forcing residents to sell and lowering the value of the building. In light of this, make sure you carefully review the need for a special assessment. Does the work need to get done right away? Can the work be modified? Is there another pool of money where the fees for this work can come from? Can the money be borrowed from a lender so there is no need for a giant assessment immediately?
- Be Up Front About Condo Fee Increases
Condo fees should not increase more than 2% to 5% per year so try to foresee as a board any building needs that could increase the condo fees more than this and plan for them ahead of time in the budget as best you can. If you must increase condo fees by a notable amount, be sure to give detailed explanations to all residents about what these higher fees are covering. Also try to give residents as much notice as possible before the increase begins so they can ready their finances.
- Keep Your Condo Board Goals in Mind
Remember the goals of your condo board; to keep the building well run and to maintain or increase the property value. Long-term, short-term and immediate planning should be done with these goals in mind at all times.
- Be Transparent with Financial Information
Be transparent with financial information, sharing news about repairs, condo fee increases and possible special assessments as soon as possible. Make sure to provide detailed information about all building wide financial topics and issues so that everyone is in the loop. If you do this, there is less likely to be confusion or anger among residents regarding building-wide financial issues and decisions.
Lara Brighton is a journalist and real estate aficionado living in Toronto.