Great Condo Boards (2020)

March 2020

Great condo boards deal with the same problems and challenges as everyone else.  How they deal with problems and challenges make them great.

A few boards have undertaken efforts allowing residents to remain in their home when the power goes out.  There are costs and challenges to making this work.  Not everything goes as planned or hoped.  Yet they have made the commitment.  These boards have gone above and beyond typical board decisions, and their fiduciary responsibilities.  They have undertaken initiatives to improve their communities such as making them less dependent on a power grid that can fail during severe weather.

Great condo boards are formed when residents elect good directors with a diversity of experiences and skills.  These are individuals willing to work together for the betterment of the community.  They make substantial and minor decisions affecting everyone, and involving large amounts of money.  Their decisions are more likely to be well considered and from the proper perspective.

The treasurer, who should also be chairperson of the finance committee, should have a better understanding of the corporation’s financial situation than any other individual.  While all directors have an equal vote on all matters, a treasurer’s perspective on financial matters should carry more weight than that of other directors.  A director who is an engineer should likewise have greater influence on infrastructure matters.  The president’s job should be to engage these individuals and ensure their opinions are heard and given serious consideration.  Likewise, every other director should have a clearly defined role.  Condo boards where every director is a generalist and none have management expertise are unlikely to be effective.

Conflicts of interest should be avoided.  A director that rents their property to tenants should not be voting for lower condo fees allowing their business to be more profitable.  This personal agenda conflicts with the interests of the community.

Good board members tend to have better and more productive board meetings.  Management reports are brief, taking no more than a few minutes, and limited to essential items.  Individual topics should not require more than ten minutes of discussion.  To ensure everyone is on the same page they have an agenda and distribute materials in advance.  Making decisions takes little time if everyone has read background materials in advance and come prepared with questions.  Meeting minutes are available after each meeting.

Trends, preferences and technologies are constantly changing.  Keeping up with what is current in the marketplace is what keeps a condo community desirable.  Directors resistant to change lead to amenities and common areas that are outdated, underutilized and ineffective for their intended purposes.

Board meetings are not social events.  Snacks and beverages are acceptable.  Full meals should be avoided.

Ineffective condo boards find it easier to spend more time deciding on minor changes to rules or aesthetics.  They are more likely to more quickly approve spending millions of dollars repairing failing infrastructure, updating interiors or enhancing amenities without sufficient planning or understanding.