Condo-Ology® 10 Principles is based upon a Direct Democracy vs Representative Democracy (as practice by Federal, Provincial, and Municipal Governments) as the means to effectively operate a successful Condominium Corporation or a Home Owners Association (HOA).
The starting point for Condo-Ology® was the collaboration of the thousands of Condominium Owners, hundreds of Directors, fellow staff members, vendors, competitors, Realtors®, government officials, condominium advocates and educators which I have had the pleasure to learn from and work with since 1982.
I have researched many aspects of condominium ownership, here in Ontario as well as globally; it should not be too surprising but regardless where you live, communal real estate ownership is difficult and continues to be a work in progress.
The Ten Principals of Condo-Ology® (Updated 16-06-16)
- A Board of Directors is a Direct Democracy government
- Direct democracy: Gives citizens an extraordinary amount of participation in the legislation (in our case – the Corporation’s governing documents) process and granting them a maximum of political will.
- Government legislation is the minimum standard
- The current Condominium Act of Ontario (“Act”) constitutes the bare minimum requirements for the operations of Condominium Corporations, as would any future Act or Code.
- Minimum requirements are not the standards one should strive for.
Mike Holmes, a television personality and champion of good building practices. Mr. Holmes has a trademarked saying “Make it Right™” and is an outspoken critic of builders that simply meet the minimum standards under Ontario’s Building Code. With respect to minimum standards, Mr. Holmes has been quoted as saying, “Even if they are minimum standards, codes matter. I’m not a fan of people who build only to code because the building codes are minimum standards. I want to see people build past minimum standards so that every homeowner has the safest possible living environment.”Mr. Holmes’ opinion regarding building codes holds true for the Condominium Act.
- Governance documents are owned by those being governed
- Governance is the process of decision-making by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Superior governance is developed and owned by those being governed.
- Extreme transparency is mandatory
- Transparency is necessary for real engagement of the Owners which has to include;
Access – General By-laws must give all Owners access to all pertinent records of the condominium corporation. Access is an absolute right.
Communicate – There should be no secrets. The more open and engaging the Board is, the greater likelihood unsettling rumors and mistruth will disappear
Understandable – Comprehension is key to transparency. It is up to the Owners to demand documentation such as by-laws, studies, reports, financial statements to be presented in a manner that can be understood by all Owners.
It’s impossible to have meaningful engagement with documents that are overwhelming confusing and are prone to require legal interpretation.
- Accountability by numbers
- Similar to the Principal Extreme Transparency; understandable internal financial reports (from budget to the auditor report) is a must for both engagement as well as adds additional fiscal controls for the Corporation. Accounting for condominium corporations does not have to be complicated.
- Consistency and familiarity have value
- In the pursuit of the lowest prices, the value is often lost, specifically the immense value of consistency and familiarity; a significant characteristic of a long term, well run Corporation.
- Every Corporation is uniquely different
- There is no such thing as one size fits all, hence the necessity of engaging the Owners.
- Share lessons with others (Pass it forward)
- Unfortunately, Boards rarely share costly information and lesson learned with Fellow Boards. The money to be saved would be in the millions and millions and lessons learned would never be ending. Within this site, there is an example of a community sharing their new Declaration and By-laws for all to learn from and to improve on.
- Embrace the whistleblower, listen to all.
- There can be a fine line between a troublesome individual and a whistleblower. Way too often is the whistleblower dismissed and ridiculed by those that govern until it is too late. Regardless of the nature of the concern, all concerns must be understood and if necessary investigated.
- Directors (via Board ) to direct – Managers to manage?
- Owners have an extremely wide range of management options; from self-management to full fee condominium management and beyond including the unlimited possibilities between.
- Owners must clearly understand the difference between directing, managing and clerical.
- The above understanding must be incorporated in the management agreement. (Guesstimation – majority of Owners and possibility Boards are under the delusion they are being managed by a competent manager; in reality management services are no more than providing clerical and administration services on behalf of the Board)
- Management agreements must be available to Owners; Owners need to know who is responsible for what in order to determine accountability.