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How to Prevent Costly Condo Board Mistakes

Volunteering for your Condominium Board means getting more involved in your community and helping oversee a multi-million dollar asset—possibly the biggest investment made by you and your neighbors. 

This might feel as intimidating as staring down at a slapshot from Bobby Hall – but it doesn’t need to be! We sat down with our top Community Managers in Alberta and Ontario to discuss common Board mistakes they've seen and how to avoid them.  

Share this article with a fellow Condo Board Member!


Overcome Knowledge Gaps: Understanding Condo Regulations & Bylaws    

Once our Condo Board mistake conversation began, a lack of understanding of the Condominium’s governing documents (such as the Ontario Condominium Act or the building’s bylaws), was the first pitfall identified. This mistake most commonly arose when working with a new Board of Directors.  

“I’ve had Condo Boards looking to send a violation notice or levy a sanction for something they disagree with without anything in the condominium’s bylaws supporting it. In one case that comes to mind, an Owner adopted a large dog of a certain breed that some Board members did not like. They wanted to have the dog removed and though I counselled them that the Bylaws did not have any size or breed restrictions, they persisted. Ultimately, it took the Corporation’s lawyer (and the legal fee expense) for the Board to understand their mistake” 

The fix for this Board mistake only requires you to read through over 200 pages of sometimes exceedingly dry legalese...easy right? As a hardworking Board of volunteers, not everyone has the time to do that on top of their regular jobs. To help Condo Boards navigate the Condo Act we’ve created the “Ontario Condo Act 101”, a straightforward guide summarizing all the need-to-know sections.  

Joining us from Wildrose Country? We’ve also created the handy Alberta Condo Act Guide for New & Aspiring Condo Boards to help your Calgary Condo Board!

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Tip: Whether a Board Member or an Owner, Tribe clients can access important documents (like their Bylaws, policies and rules) for free at any time through the Tribe Home Community Platform. The Tribe Home app is available on Android and Apple platforms in addition to desktop. 

The Dangers of Delaying: Why Proactive Repairs Save Time and Money  

One of the most recognized and important responsibilities of a Condominium Board is the creation and spending of the Condo Corporation’s annual budget. When approaching this crucial task, a Community Manager shared one Board mistake he’s seen arise in his experience: 

“Understandably, saving the Condo Corporation money is top of mind for a lot of Condo Boards when they consider the annual budget. While cost effectiveness is important, I sometimes see important preventative maintenance deferred to keep common expense fees low. Ultimately this can result in the work costing more, especially when it turns into an emergency repair. Being proactive instead of reactive can not only save dollars but also the headache of dealing with something like an unplanned water shutdown on a Friday night.” 

To steer clear of this Condo Board mistake, it is important to create a realistic budget that plans not only for the community’s needs over the coming fiscal year but also 5, 10, 15 years down the road. Planning for the future will protect the value of your Condominium Corporation and each Owner’s investment. 

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Tip: If your community is working with a licensed Property Management firm (like Tribe), your Condominium Corporation can often access to bulk pricing resulting in savings on items like insurance, waste management, maintenance services, and more.  


The Ontario Condo Board Guide to Success


Mixed Messaging: The Importance of Unified Communication 

Whether between Board members or with other stakeholders like Residents, Owners, or contractors, clear communication is the cornerstone of a successful Condominium Board.  

A Condo Board mistake emerges when the Board of Directors isn't presenting as a united front, which can lead to confusion or distrust among Owners and Residents. One of our Calgary Community Manager’s shared an example they had come across where the actions of a well-meaning Board member put the Condo Corporation in a tough spot: 

“The community had a hands-on Condo Board member who was often out and about maintaining the complex’s garden beds. This combined with their friendly nature meant they were well known to Residents. One day, an Owner approached them about a flooring replacement in their Unit. The Owner had found a limited time offer that required them to put down a deposit and book the work within the next week. The Owner wanted to know if the Board would be able to approve their renovation application that quickly and the Board Member, wanting to help, assured them wholeheartedly this wouldn’t be an issue. Based on the Board member’s promise, the Owner paid a deposit to the Contractor.” 

This promise by an individual Board member, though well-meaning, created a time-consuming and costly headache for the Board, the Condominium Corporation, and the Owner. Once the renovation application was submitted, it was discovered that the contractor was not properly licensed and insured and was not qualified to work at the property. The Owner lost their deposit and the Condominium Corporation incurred legal fees to resolve the matter.  

To avoid this Condo Board mistake, it is important that individual Board Members establish boundaries with neighbours. If someone asks you about a community request, kindly let them know that you cannot speak for the Condominium Board. Instead, ask the Owner to submit a written request for review at the next Board meeting. This ensures all decisions are made by the Board and will eliminate misunderstandings and frustrations for Owners.    

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Tip: While a penned letter will suffice and fax machines still exist (right?), one of the most efficient forms of written submission is by e-mail. For communities that work with Tribe, an approval request (like one for a renovation), can be submitted via our Help Desk feature. This feature provides Owners and Condo Boards with a trackable ticket that is updated in real-time ensuring transparency for all parties throughout the process.   

Final Thoughts: Enhancing Condo Board Success  

Being on a Condo Board can be challenging, but you have a crucial role in helping your community reach its goals. The Condo Board mistakes we’ve shared may dissuade some from serving on the Condominium Board. However, by becoming familiar with them, you are better prepared to avoid them.  

It’s important to remember that volunteering on your Condo Board can also be extremely rewarding. Being a Condo Board member is like being a gardener; while you may occasionally get a few weeds, your efforts to nurture the community and enhance Residents' quality of life will result in a blooming success! 

When your community chooses to work with a Property Management company like Tribe, the Community Manager and their team use their expertise and real-world experience to help you and your Board sidestep any Condo Board mistakes.  

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Looking for more information on Condo Board success but your community is located in Alberta? No problem! We also have the Alberta Condo Board Guide to Success available to download at no cost. 

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