One of the many attractive aspects of condominium living is the opportunity it gives residents to be part of a community within a community.
In fact, a 2010 study by Brigham Young University points to community involvement as a key to longevity, improving the odds of living a long life by up to 50 per cent.
Like any community though, the key to a condominium development’s harmonious and efficient operation lies in its governance, which rests with its board. Recognizing their importance to a condominium community’s culture, it is worthwhile for condominium boards to periodically take a critical look at how effectively they operate.
At the outset of every term it is helpful for a board to allot some time for members to get to know each other. As is the case with coworkers, it’s not necessary for members of a condominium board to forge friendships, but it is useful to have established a basic level of trust and respect before getting down to business.
Trust also stems from a commitment to follow the tenets of the Condominium Act and the building’s rules, and as such, it is imperative that every member is conversant on both scores. This also decreases the likelihood that conflict of interest matters and other undesirable scenarios may occur.
A commitment to putting the condominium community ahead of personal interests is essential in every director – a principle that often demands they have the strength to enforce its rules and the flexibility to revisit them as the community evolves.
Fostering transparency is also vital to a harmonious condominium community. While certain confidential information such as employee matters or outstanding litigation must be safeguarded, most information should be communicated to residents on a regular basis through newsletters, websites and information sessions. And when a board communicates with owners, it should do so as one voice, regardless of the different perspectives asserted prior to reaching a decision.
Given that board members are accountable to residents, varying opinions at the table are in fact very beneficial, as are established rules of decorum, which allow discussions to remain professional and on topic. Indeed, much of a board’s effectiveness hinges on established procedures with respect to its meetings. Expectations regarding board members’ responsibilities, voting procedures and length of meetings are among the protocols that should be clearly outlined.
Furthermore, board members should expect to receive an agenda and information package with updated financials in advance of monthly meetings, and opinions should be solicited from professionals such as engineers, lawyers and auditors when exploring areas outside of members’ scope of knowledge. In addition to monthly activities, there are a number of measures that should be undertaken annually. These include budget planning and auditing, insurance and investment reviews, physical property and reserve fund studies, a corporate records update, and an annual general meeting.
If there are concerns that your board isn’t performing to its potential, it’s never too late to right the ship: a professional mediator may be all that is needed to set your condominium building back on course to becoming a desirable, efficiently run community.