Land of No … and Path to Yes

December 2019

Condo management has the difficult and complex job of looking out for the corporation.  Condo owners tend to be more focused on personal interests.  In the eyes of condo owners, condo management may at times appear unreasonable, unyielding or difficult.

Condo management, including directors, have a fiduciary obligation to adhere to their governing documents; Condo Act, declaration, by-laws and rules.  Fulfilling this obligation while protecting assets and finances of the corporation can lead to difficult decisions.

Most owner requests of management and directors affect finances.  An owner wanting more money spent on outdoor amenities or garage signs means less available for other purposes.  Since most owner requests involve spending money, the response to most requests is likely to be “no”.  From an owner’s perspective, management and directors are perceived as difficult to deal with.  Management should appropriately consider these requests for unbudgeted expenditures as items to be considered during budget time for the “next” fiscal year.

Good condo management will always refer to governing documents when addressing owner requests.  They understand that granting one request means similar requests by other owners need to receive the same response.  Treating everyone equally means that even apparently small requests can lead to large expenditures.

Failing to adhere to governing documents, and treating owners differently, are sure ways to increase legal expenses while paying for things the corporation is or becomes obligated to pay.

Noise and odour are areas where owner and community interests may diverge.  One resident may be particularly susceptible to sound or smell.  Noise or odour below a certain threshold, particularly if it originates beyond the walls of the building, may be reasonable to most individuals that live under similar circumstances.  In these cases, noise or odour complaints may not be considered reasonable to some thus receiving an unfavourable response from the perspective of a resident.  Making the resident happy could mean establishing a precedent for all that may be impossible to maintain or excessively costly to all.

Condo management and directors prefer to avoid conflict by never saying “no”.  This is an impossible expectation.  The best approach to avoiding “no” is to work with management toward a “yes” compromise.