Condominium Management Challenge

October 2022

A shortage of condominium managers has created angst within the industry and the communities they serve.

Theories as to the cause of this problem include the volume and type of work, salaries, hours, and treatment by condo boards and owners.  The reality is much simpler.

A nationwide shortage of people in the workforce has impacted on the condominium management industry.  This shortage has been blamed for product shortages, inflation, poor health care and a great many ills.  The reason for this shortage is demographic.  Millennials are now approaching 40 years old.  Among them and younger generations, fewer have chosen to get married.  Of those who have married, they are having fewer children.  After more than two decades of this, there are now fewer people entering the workforce than leaving it.  While Canada has partially compensated for this by increasing immigration, it has not reversed this trend.  Our response to Covid made things worse, caused a wave of early retirements, and likely brought us to this point a few years earlier.

This problem is not caused by a decrease in condominium managers.  In fact, Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) reports that the number of General License condominium managers in Ontario has increased for four consecutive years.  More likely, the shortage results from an increase in condominium buildings and their growing populations.  The field of condominium management is not yet experiencing the declines seen in other industries.

In the future there will be fewer people available to work and condominium management will not be an exception. 

In the future there will be fewer people available to work and condominium management will not be an exception.  Condominium communities will need to adapt.  Licensing and training requirements for condominium managers may be relaxed to attract more candidates to the industry.  Condominium communities will have to counter this if they want to maintain or improve current standards of service and expectations.  Individuals with a broad set of business skills, experience and knowledge will find that the industry offers stable employment, a good salary and an enjoyable working environment.  Those who are less capable will be able to find work at a reduced salary and less job stability.

Reduce Turnover

It is not uncommon for some communities to replace their manager every two years, with some increasing frequency to one per year.  Condo boards will have to develop a better understanding of what it takes to obtain, support and retain good management if they hope to maintain their communities at a high level.

Develop a Job Description and Document Expectations

Management contracts outline core responsibilities, some expectations, financial compensation and termination provisions.  What they lack is the detail required to establish and evaluate expectations.  A job description can better detail condo board expectations and should exist prior to signing a management contract.  It specifies specific requirements of the job, working hours, and tasks the manager is expected to undertake.

Undertake an annual performance review.  Review the job description.  Identify areas of excellence and where improvement is needed.  Document expectations for the coming year – areas of improvement and tasks to achieve future goals or targets.  Identify what tasks the manager should undertake to ensure the board achieves its goals.  At the next annual performance review, look closely at the effectiveness of management based on these requirements.

More frequent reviews are preferable.  A semi-annual performance review provides an opportunity to look at progress or changes to address concerns by management or the board in relation to what is documented in the annual performance review.  For a new condominium manager, quarterly reviews are preferable to help establish expectations and contractual terms.  Dissatisfaction by either party should be openly discussed and mutual expectations clarified.  Each performance review should be summarized in writing.

This approach ensures management is clear on what is required of them, how their employer feels about the work they are doing, and provides direction for the coming year.  Link salary increases to a positive annual performance review.

Do More with Less

In a world with fewer employees, communities will have to focus on making available employees more productive where possible.

It may not be possible to obtain the services of two managers, or a manager and administrator, as is common in many communities.  Finding a single manager to work full-time for a community may be difficult.

The best condominium managers will find ways to manage building operations, communications and other duties more efficiently.  The effort it takes to write a poorly worded notice or e-mail, deal with confused or upset residents and vendors, then reissue the communication is unnecessarily wasted time.  Expand this to the number of communications that management sends daily and it is not a stretch to believe that efficiency can be improved by more than 25 percent simply by reducing the volume of e-mails, texts, letters and calls from building residents.

A single manager with good communication and management skills can be more productive by utilizing proven practices, systems and technologies.  They can operate more efficiently and at lower cost while providing the board and management with a higher level of service.  Salaries, job descriptions and daily tasks will adapt.  More competent condominium managers will excel and stand out.  Less capable managers will continue to encounter lower salaries and high turnover until their competency improves.

Condo management software, already a necessity for efficient communications and management, will become essential.  Printing, distributing and searching archival documents will not be feasible with reduced staffing.  Communities will be unable to manage package deliveries without technology for managing record keeping or smart parcel lockers which remove this task from concierge/security duties.

Time consuming accounting practices can be replaced with electronic systems.  Fewer people become necessary to ensure payments are made to vendors, fees are received, and reports prepared more quickly and without errors introduced by manual processes.  Accounting costs are reduced.

Security will become more dependent on video cameras, electronic access systems and remote concierge services.  These technologies allow for current or reduced staffing levels without degradation in service.

Electronic communication will be more necessary than today.  The cost, both time and money, of printing and distributing paper will be more problematic with fewer people to do this work.  Printing, posting and subsequently removing paper notices from elevators, hallways and mail room is time consuming.  Management will have less time to search paper records.  An electronic solution reduces the manpower necessary to sustain a paper-based system thus allowing employees to address other matters.

Investing in improved technology, services and practices requires more in the way of competence than funds.  Savings from reduced staffing will likely be greater than additional costs.

Much of this can be accomplished without an impact on budgets and condo fees.  Investing in improved technology, services and practices requires more in the way of competence than funds.  Savings from reduced staffing will likely be greater than additional costs.

A future with fewer employees is to be embraced if management competency is enhanced, board and resident relations are improved, and condominium boards can incorporate a greater awareness of what is occurring in their community when making decisions.


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