Condo Director Confessions

November 2015

Two Perspectives on Serving as a Condo Director

Why I Ran for a Second Term

During my initial attempt to serve as a condo director, I focused on addressing high maintenance fees. I believed that other directors lacked proper experience and that the property management company was providing management lacking in experience. I failed to win that election and learned the importance of canvassing other residents and collecting proxies.

Once elected as a condo director, I found that apathy and personal agendas prevented the board from being effective. The roles of Treasurer and President were held by the same individual because nobody else was prepared to do the necessary work.

I soon assumed the role of President. The first thing I did was provide residents with a quarterly newsletter. To address apathy among other directors, I suggested that those unprepared to undertake the necessary work reconsider their decision to serve. I actively recruited other owners to replace those who decided that serving as a condo director was not for them. The result of these efforts was a new condo board comprised of five engaged condo directors – four who were employed full time and one retiree. This competent group includes an Accountant, Engineer, Marketing Professional and Project Manager.

Prior to each board meeting, the board conducts a monthly building inspection with the property manager. Each year there is a review with the property management company to find ways to improve communication and performance. These efforts foster an environment of continuous improvement.

For three years our maintenance fees have not increased. We have also been able to implement numerous energy saving measures.

I ran for a second term to continue what was started during my first term.

One person can make a difference. It takes perseverance, determination, time and a positive attitude.


Why I did not Run for a Second Term

When first voted in as a condo director, I felt my management and business experience would help to provide better management for my condo corporation, reduce waste and improve the lives of my neighbours. Little did I realize that experience and willingness to work at improving things were irrelevant in a condominium corporation.

Here are some of the reasons I did not run for a second term.

Board Composition and Mindset

What I found was a board composed individuals with no understanding of management and no interest in doing more than attending a periodic – not monthly – meeting. There was always a reason for doing nothing in response to residents who desired change or improvement.

One person cannot initiate change in a condo corporation. Change requires that condo owners vote in suitably minded and capable people. Only in this way is the board composed of individuals with the skills and desire to effect meaningful change and improvement for the community.

Not Everyone is a Retiree

I used to believe that condo board decisions were based on supporting the community they represented. I found that the community, according to fellow board members, was dominated by retirees who had little to no use for common amenities such as usable outdoor space and active common areas. There was no acknowledgement of the desires of families, singles, renters or anyone under 60.

Effective Management Takes Time and Effort

Many who serve as condo directors are not interested in condo management. They have the time and enjoy attending a monthly meeting. The focus seems to be on maintaining the status quo and doing as little work as possible.

Condo management seems to be a diversion for those with time on their hands or a level of personal prestige. It is easier to do nothing, and justify inaction, than expend effort enacting change. Unless there are a majority of board members prepared to work at change, doing nothing is the option of choice.

Resident Meetings

Resident meetings are a time when residents feel inclined to delegate work to their condo board. I am not an employee. I am a volunteer and they have no right to tell me how to spend my time.