Condo Community Priorities for 2018
Another year behind us!
2017 was eventful in many ways. The new Condo Act legislation will top most lists. Toronto’s Airbnb regulations and recent short-term rental court decisions are also near the top. These will reverberate in 2018. Condo corporations will continue to refine their rules with regard to short-term tenancies. Condo budgets will likely reflect higher legal and condo management costs resulting from the new Condo Act. Directors and condominium managers will seek to understand the myriad ways our new Condo Act impacts on their corporation.
In 2018 the economic slowdown that has been building for many years may reach critical mass. More people are having difficulty managing mortgages and other forms of debt. Condo corporations dealing with more owners failing to pay their condo fees will need to stay on top of collections. Understanding protections afforded to condo corporations with regard to the condo lien process will become increasingly important.
Should housing prices continue their decline and mortgage rates increase as anticipated, condo owners unable to pay condo fees will be forced to sell their home. Those selling may find that what they receive for their home is inadequate to pay outstanding condo fees along with mortgages and other outstanding debt. When this occurs, only those condo corporations adhering to the condo lien process are likely to recover outstanding condo fees.
Rising interest rates are likely to make many things more expensive including management and maintenance of the condo building. The new Condo Act will add to these costs. Higher interest rates will allow reserve funds to earn slightly more in interest income.
- New Condo Act – Compliance, management, decision making
- New Condo Act – Dispute resolution
- New Condo Act – Communications and disclosures
- New Condo Act – Cost implications
- Short-term rentals
- Rising interest rates – Impact on expenses, collections, resale prices and condo fees
- Rising electricity costs – How to pay for these costs or reduce them
- Legalization of marijuana – Rules creation, enforcement and cost
- Drones – Privacy and operational matters
- Two elections – provincial and municipal – Electing representatives with a condo community focus
Countering cost increases, condo corporations are likely to take a stronger interest in electronic communications and updating their website. Making more information available to condo owners and residents in more convenient ways reduce the demands on management staff and directors. Condo management software is likely to take on increasing importance in the coming year. Those using this technology will make more use of it while those without the technology will look at implementation. All of this should provide tangible value to condo residents while reducing costs throughout the condo corporation.
With utility costs accounting for up to 40% of all expenditures for older condo buildings, more will look at sub-metering, or suite metering, to reduce these costs as an alternative to raising condo fees.
According to Wyse Meter Solutions Inc., their case studies for sub-metered condos show an average consumption reduction of 35% amongst suite owners who pay for their own hydro, benefitting their resale values significantly. Condo corporations should carefully evaluate the monthly administration fees, as some sub-metering providers charge 35% less than others.
It will become easier to diagnose infrastructure problems as drone technology continues to evolve. A flying drone overhead taking pictures is easier, safer and more economical than having people climb a building trying to diagnose problems. Increased use of drones is likely to come with privacy and liability concerns.
An ongoing problem is condo residents who desire the convenience of condo living while refusing to accept condo rules. They want a free-standing single-family home environment without the cost and responsibility. Some may find that condo living was the wrong choice. Dealing with these recalcitrant condo owners and residents, some of whom will utilize the new condo dispute tribunal, may require changes to condo rules and enforcement. Representation at the condo dispute tribunal is likely to increase legal costs.
Legalization of marijuana, should it come to pass, could have widespread implications to condo management. In anticipation of more air quality concerns an increase in smoking-free condo buildings, increased restrictions within buildings allowing smoking, and greater focus on improved air quality systems are all anticipated in 2018.
A new year comes with many changes. These are just a few of the issues we anticipate condo corporations and residents will have to adjust to in 2018.