Trust does not appear in documents governing how condominium corporations operate. Yet it is essential for good governance.
Where trust exists condo boards are busy discussing, researching and making decisions. Committees are created to aid the board. Debates are vigorous with strong disagreements and meetings are well-attended.
The opposite is true where there is a lack of trust. Residents are less aware of what their board is doing, less likely to pay attention to communications, and less willing to abide by board or management directives. Residents complain more frequently about more things and meeting attendance is poor. Frustration grows as boards and management spend more time defending their actions.
The best condo boards speak with a single voice
The best condo boards speak with a single voice. Directors disagree and debate prior to votes, after which the decisions receive full board support. All information from the board comes through a single channel. Directors do not discuss board business with others or share opinions through alternate channels.
Information, particularly bad news, is sent to everyone at the same time
Information, particularly bad news, is sent to everyone at the same time. Nobody receives preferential access to the board or information. Condo records accessible to owners are made available to all. While distribution via paper may occur, electronic channels are faster, easier, cheaper and accessible at any hour of the day.
The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) has established a process allowing weeks to pass before basic information is provided to owners making a request. Such delays are poor form indicating to owners that management is slow, disorganized and inefficient. These traits are then applied more broadly to a range of board and management activities. Far better to be proactive and make information available electronically. When an information request is made, residents can be directed to the proper location in minutes. More commonly, residents know where to find the information they require and don’t bother management with a request.
Finally, provide residents with regular updates. A monthly or quarterly newsletter keeps residents informed and comfortable they are being well-represented. When questions are asked, assume others have the same question and provide a public response in the newsletter.
While maintaining trust requires time and effort, loss of trust is far more problematic.